Steaming Asparagus

Tips for Steaming Asparagus

Steaming asparagus is simple once you learn the basics. Asparagus may just be one of the most overlooked vegetables. One reason for that may be that some people are a bit intimidated about how to cook this delicious and healthy food. Steaming is the best way of preparing asparagus because, when done properly, it allows the vegetable to retain all of its flavor and nutrients.

Choose Wisely

The first step is choosing asparagus that is at its prime. You want to look for a selection that is firm and on which the heads have not started to open.


Before steaming asparagus, you will need to thoroughly wash the vegetable. Next, break each stalk in two. The end without the head can either be thrown away or saved for use in making stock.

Steaming on the Stovetop

The easiest method of steaming asparagus includes the use of a steamer.  Simply prepare the steamer and then cook the asparagus for three to five minutes until a bright green color is achieved. When placing the asparagus in the steamer, try not to overcrowd the steamer. A single layer of the vegetable is best when steaming asparagus.

If you do not have a steamer, you can still easily steam asparagus using your stovetop.

In a large skillet, bring about a half inch of water to a boil. Lay asparagus in the pan in a single layer. This will allow each vegetable to cook evenly and fully. Cover and allow to cook for about two minutes.  Remove the lid to check the color of the vegetable. If it has turned a bright green color it is done. If not, allow to steam for additional two to three minutes, or until the green color has been achieved.

While both of the above methods will get the job done, some find that using a steamer provides vegetables that are more firm.  Using a steamer is a more foolproof method and if you overcook the asparagus when using the pan method, the result can be veggies that are quite soggy.

Steaming in the Microwave

Some people would rather use their microwave than their stovetop. While there is not much of a time savings by steaming asparagus in a microwave versus on the stovetop, it is simply some people’s preference.

Here are simple instructions for using a microwave for steaming asparagus.

Put a small amount of water in a shallow bowl. Place a layer of asparagus on top and place in the microwave. With the setting on high, cook for one minute and then check for doneness. If the asparagus is not yet the right color, continue cooking until the correct color is achieved.

In order to avoid overcooking, it is a good idea to check at one minute intervals.

Whether you use a steamer, a pan on the stovetop or a bowl in the microwave, proper cooking will result in asparagus that is firm and delicious. Remember, it is better to check frequently when steaming asparagus to ensure against overcooking.

Whether you serve plain or with a delicate sauce, asparagus is a green vegetable that is easy to include in your meals.