Simple Steamed Asparagus Recipe (Quick and Easy)

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Simple Steamed Asparagus Recipe (Quick and Easy)- bright green, tender, juicy, and full of fresh flavors. These steamed asparagus are a tasty and healthy side dish ready in less than 10 minutes with a few basic ingredients.

This easy side dish recipe is ideal for busy weeknights and a great addition to your Easter dinner or holiday menu. Serve with Fresh Roasted Ham or Bake Chicken and Garlic Mashed Potatoes or Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes.

Finished steamed asparagus in a serving dish.
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The delicious asparagus remain light, tender, and buttery while keeping its shape and flavor with a gentle steam and coating of light, extra virgin olive oil, and lemon. The trick to steamed asparagus is this: don’t overcook it! 

More asparagus recipes you’ll love: Creamy Lemon and Asparagus Ricotta Pasta, Easy Ravioli Piccata with Mushrooms and Asparagus, Authentic Italian Asparagus Risotto Recipe, Easy Roasted Asparagus, and Easy Lemony Asparagus and Potato Salad Recipe.

Simple Ingredients

ingredient shot for recipe.
  • Fresh asparagus (I prefer the thick variety)
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Lemon zest 
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges for serving 
  • Optional: freshly grated parmigiano cheese (parmesan cheese) 
  • Fresh basil for topping if desired

See the recipe card for quantities.

Simple Steamed Asparagus Recipe (Quick and Easy) on a plate with a fork. Lemon and basil as garnish.

How To Make Steamed Asparagus

Steamed asparagus with bright lemon and olive oil is a quick and easy way to cook this healthy vegetable! Here’s how to steam it correctly to come out bright green and tender. The trick to steamed asparagus is not to overcook it! I like the thicker variety for a “meatier” texture. They are also harder to overcook if they are thicker.

How to make simple steamed asparagus recipe: make lemon olive oil dressing.

Wash and dry the asparagus. Trim the bottom 1 to 1 1/2 inches to remove the tough end or woody stem from the bottom of the asparagus. 

Make Dressing: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, basil, salt and pepper, and parmigiano cheese. Whisk until combined. Cover and set aside. 

How to make simple steamed asparagus recipe: raw asparagus ready to steam in a shallow pot.

Steam Asparagus (without steamer basket): Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan- large skillet (about 3/4 cup for a 12-inch skillet).

Steam Asparagus (with steamer basket):  Add water to a pot to reach just under the steaming basket. Add the steamer basket and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, add the asparagus—steam with the lid on for 2 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Poke the thickest part with a fork to test for doneness.

How to make simple steamed asparagus recipe: steaming the asparagus in the pot.

Add the asparagus, cover with lid, and steam over medium-high heat until tender and bright green, 3 to 5 minutes. Poke the thickest part with a fork to test for doneness. 

Finished steamed asparagus in a serving dish.

Season: Place the asparagus on a serving platter using a slotted spoon or kitchen tongs, draining away any water. While warm, toss gently with the prepared dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy. 

Variations

  • Hollandaise Sauce- make a hollandaise sauce and pour it over the top of the steamed asparagus for a creamy feel.
  • Garlic Cloves- add crushed garlic cloves to the boiling water, and it will infuse in the asparagus as it steams.
  • Red Pepper Flakes- sprinkle red pepper flakes on top of the cooked and seasoned asparagus for a spicy kick.
  • White Asparagus- swap the green asparagus variety for the white kind.
  • Balsamic Vinegar- swap the lemon for balsamic vinegar. You may also like Italian Flat Green Beans Recipe (with Tomatoes and Garlic).

Enjoy steamed asparagus with a side of Creamy Parmesan Rice.

Simple Steamed Asparagus Recipe (Quick and Easy) on a plate with a fork. Lemon and basil as garnish.

FAQs

Do you need a steamer to steam asparagus?

While a steamer can be a convenient way to cook asparagus, having one is unnecessary. You can steam asparagus using various other kitchen tools, such as a large pot with a steamer basket or a colander that fits inside a pot with a lid. You can also steam asparagus by using a little water in a large pot and laying the asparagus on top of that. The water will evaporate while cooking and cause a steam effect.

What’s the best way to cook asparagus

There are several ways to cook asparagus. The best method may depend on your personal preferences and the equipment you have available. Here are a few popular methods for cooking asparagus: roasting, grilling, sauteeing, and steaming. I like steaming the asparagus for its bright and light texture and taste.

How to prevent asparagus from getting mushy

No one likes mushy asparagus! The best way to prevent it from getting mushy is to slightly steam it for 3-5 minutes and quickly remove from heat and place it in a water bath, or cold serving dish.

How to properly steam asparagus with a steamer basket

Fill a large pot with 1-inch water and fit it with a steamer basket. Make sure the water level is below the bottom of the steamer basket. Cover the saucepan with a lid and bring the water to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus spears to the steamer basket in an even layer. Cover and steam until tender and bright green, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and steam immediately.

Can I make Steamed Asparagus Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can steam asparagus and store it until ready to eat. Make ahead: Fill a large bowl with ice water. Cook the asparagus as directed in this recipe. Once the asparagus is crisp-tender (a little underdone), transfer it to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Once cooled, dry with paper towels —Refrigerate in a paper-towel-lined airtight container. When ready to serve, heat in a saucepan over medium heat with olive oil for 2 minutes to warm. Add a squeeze of lemon, and serve.

Is it Better to Boil or Steam Asparagus?

Boiling or blanching: When boiled, the spears can overcook quickly, turning them into a drab olive hue and making them taste water-logged — especially if the spears are thin. Some water-soluble vitamins can leach into the water when the vegetables are boiled instead of steamed. Blanching is slightly different because the veggie is briefly boiled and then plunged into ice water to stop the cooking.
Steaming: Asparagus is not in direct contact with boiling water. Instead, the spears hover over it and are cooked from the steam. Steaming also cooks asparagus quickly, but because the spears aren’t submerged, the flavor concentrates instead of dilutes, and water-soluble vitamins aren’t lost.
Source: TheKitchn

How Long Should I Steam Asparagus For?

About 3-5 minutes depending on your texture preference. The shorter the cooking time, the more crisp the asparagus will be.

Storage

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Top tips

  • Do not overcook the asparagus. Since the cooking time is short, keep an eye on them and only cook until bright green and fork tender.
close up of steam asparagus recipe with simple lemon zest sauce.

What to Serve with Simple Steamed Asparagus Recipe

These are my favorite dishes to serve with Simple Steamed Asparagus Recipe:

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Steamed Asparagus Recipe

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Simple Steamed Asparagus Recipe (Quick and Easy)- bright green, tender, juicy, and full of fresh flavors. These steamed asparagus are a tasty and healthy side dish ready in less than 10 minutes with a few basic ingredients.

  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 large bundle of asparagus (I prefer the thicker variety)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese (parmesan cheese)
  • Lemon wedges for serving
  • 3 Fresh basil, torn into small pieces

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry the asparagus. Trim the bottom 1 to 1 1/2 inches to remove the tough end or woody stem from the bottom of the asparagus. 
  2. Make Dressing: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, basil, salt and pepper, and parmigiano cheese. Whisk until combined. Cover and set aside. 
  3. Steam Asparagus (without steamer basket): Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan- large skillet (about 3/4 cup for a 12-inch skillet). Add the asparagus, cover with lid, and steam over medium-high heat until tender and bright green, 3 to 5 minutes. Poke the thickest part with a fork to test for doneness. 
  4. Steam Asparagus (with steamer basket):  Add water to a pot to reach just under the steaming basket. Add the steamer basket and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, add the asparagus—steam with the lid on for 2 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Poke the thickest part with a fork to test for doneness. 
  5. Season: Place the asparagus on a serving platter using a slotted spoon or kitchen tongs, draining away any water. While warm, toss gently with the prepared dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy. 

Notes

Top Tips

Do not overcook the asparagus. Since the cooking time is short, keep an eye on them and only cook until bright green and fork tender.

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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16 Comments

  1. I love steamed asparagus for Easter dinner. But I am having a large crowd, and pretty much need to have everything prepared ahead of time.

    Can I prepare these the night before, or several hours before guests arrive? And bring them up to room temperature about an hour prior to serving?

    Let me know your best advice on how to achieve the best results with this asparagus recipe… And my time restrictions.

    Many thanks!

    1. Hi! I would prepare the dressing the day before and store in a jar in the fridge. Steam the asparagus (it’s fast!) before ready to eat and top with the prepared dressing! You can steam the asparagus ahead of time, store in the fridge, and reheat a bit- the only down side is the will get a little softer. They will taste great either way. Have a great celebration.

  2. Seriously I have not had asparagus so perfectly cooked. Just the right texture since I followed the recipe to steam the asparagus.

  3. Definitely a perfect veggie side dish. Loved the lemon and parmesan on these. I actually roasted them in the oven and it worked great.






  4. I made this tonight and it was so good! my family loved it! I will definitely be using this recipe again and again!






    1. I’ve made my own lemon parm asparagus before but Elena’s so much better I’ll do it this way from now on! That basil takes it a new level and I now consider it essential.






      1. Yes! That light dressing is everything and is super easy to make. So happy you loved the asparagus prepared in this way.