While you can cook asparagus in all sorts of ways, asparagus is a shining example of how almost every vegetable is at its best after being cooked on the grill. Plus they cook very quickly, and need very little by way of preparation, so they are a delightful spring and early summer side for any cookout.
Both thick and thin asparagus (and anything in between) can be successfully grilled, it’s just a matter of adding an extra minute or two for fatter spears. If your asparagus is of varying thicknesses, try and group them by thickness, so you can take the thinner spears off the grill more quickly than the thicker stalks.
A common method for removing the woodier bottoms with their thick skins from asparagus stalks is to hold the stalk in the middle and by the bottom end and to bend it until it snaps, removing the fibrous bottom few inches from the stalk. I hate tossing some of a perfectly good stalk of asparagus, so I like to cut off in inch or so from the bottom and then, for thick asparagus, peel the bottoms of the stalks to remove the tough outer skin of the spear, going about 3-inches up from the bottom of the stalk. Use a vegetable peeler for this task.
If your asparagus are thin, however, the skin at the bottom of the stalks won’t be too tough, and you can just snap or trim the bottom inch or two from the bottom, and skip the peeling part, which saves time.
How to Grill Asparagus
Steven Raichlen, grilling and barbecue maven and author of many books on the subject, including How to Grill, recommends skewering groups of asparagus crosswise with thin bamboo skewers, brushing the asparagus with oil, then grilling them in these kind of asparagus “rafts”, which are easy to turn.
I usually grill the asparagus right on the grill, but take special care to make sure the stalks are perpendicular to the grill grates so they don’t fall in. You have to be careful when turning, or rolling them, so they stay at a 90 degree angle to the lines of the grill grate.
How Long to Grill Asparagus
The answer depends on the thickness of the asparagus, the heat of the grill, and if you are using a grill pan, how crowded the pan is. 2 to 4 minutes per side is a good guideline, again leaning towards a shorter cooking time for thin asparagus, longer for thick.
Keep in mind that the asparagus will continue to “cook” after they are removed from the heat. Take them off the fire just before they are as tender as you would ultimately like them to be after they sit for a bit. It’s very much a matter or preference as to how tender you like your asparagus to be, ranging from fairly crisp to meltingly soft.
Grilling Asparagus in a Grill Basket or Vegetable Grate
If you have a grill basket or vegetable grate, this is a great place to use that accessory. Place the trimmed spears into a grill basket on on the grate, making sure they are not layered too deeply. You want them to cook quickly and evenly, so while you don’t need only a single layer of vegetables in the basket or tray, you want to make sure everything has a chance to be at the bottom against the fire, so don’t stack them too thickly.
Toss them every few minutes as they grill, until they have some nice browned spots and are tender. This will take anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes total, depending on how many asparagus are in the basket, whether the basket was heat on the grill to start with, how high the heat of the fire is, and — again — the thickness of the stalks.
How to Serve Grilled Asparagus
You can serve this simply prepared vegetables just as is, or with some lemon wedges for squeezing over at the table. Some shaved Parmesan is also lovely. You can also consider some sauces for dipping or drizzling over the top of the asparagus.
How to Grill Asparagus: Perfectly grilled asparagus is a spring and summertime joy, a great side dish to all kinds of meals.Tweet This
Serve grilled asparagus with:
Or simply drizzle the asparagus with good balsamic vinegar. You can also use it, cut into-bite-sized pieces, to rev up pasta, grain and vegetable salads. Also try Asparagus Remoulade with Egg.
What Goes with Grilled Asparagus:
- New York Strip Steak with Jalapeno Butter
- Spinach, Mushroom and Chicken Quesadillas
- Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
- Loin Lamb Chops with Roasted Tomato and Garlic Sauce
Other Asparagus Recipes:
- Grilled Asparagus with Vinaigrette
- Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Butter Sauce
- Garlicky Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan
- Roasted Asparagus with Creamy Mustard-Oregano Sauce
- Asparagus with Herb Dipping Sauce
- Sesame Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms
- Simple Roasted Asparagus with Shallots and Parmesan
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How to Grill Asparagus
- Heat the grill to medium high.
- Trim the asparagus (see Note). Toss the asparagus spears with the oil in a shallow platter of rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt.
- Grill the asparagus with the spears perpendicular to the grate, or in a grill basket, 4 to 8 minutes, depending on thickness, and how tender you like them to be (see additional tips above). Turn them every minute or two. Don’t forget the will get a bit softer once they are removed from the heat, so take them off just before they are done to your liking. Keep checking, turning and moving them around as needed. Remove from the grill and serve warm or at room temperature.
Trimming Asparagus for GrillingA common method for removing the woodier bottoms with their thick skins from asparagus stalks is to hold the stalk in the middle and by the bottom end and to bend it until it snaps, removing the fibrous bottom few inches from the stalk. I hate tossing some of a perfectly good stalk of asparagus, so I like to cut off in inch or so from the bottom and then, for thick asparagus, peel the bottoms of the stalks to remove the tough outer skin of the spear, going about 3-inch up from the bottom of the stalk. Use a vegetable peeler for this task. For thin asparagus, you can just cut the bottom inch or so off the asparagus.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.