How to Cook Asparagus on the Stove

Here's the quickest and easiest way to cook asparagus on the stovetop! Takes only 10 minutes tops.

How to Boil Asparagus
Elise Bauer

Hello spring and hello asparagus! What's your favorite way to cook asparagus?

I love them grilled, roasted, baked in to a frittata, or made into soup. But if I'm honest with you, the method I use most often to cook asparagus is to shallow boil them on the stovetop.

What's shallow boiling (or shallow poaching)? It's is sort of a cross between boiling and steaming. You don't use much water, so it hardly takes any time for the water to heat to a boil.

You don't have to submerge the asparagus completely in the water. If the water doesn't cover the asparagus, use a lid to cover the pan to capture the heat of the steam.

boil water for steam boiled asparagus
Elise Bauer

You can season the water with salt, garlic, herbs, or lemon zest. I usually use a large pinch of salt, a unpeeled garlic clove cut in half, and a strip of lemon zest.

You could add some thyme, oregano, or bay leaf, or just skip the seasoning and use plain water (I do recommend adding salt at least).

cover pot to boil asparagus
Elise Bauer

You can of course use more water if you want, it just takes longer for the water to heat up, and any flavoring agents you add will not be as concentrated.

That said, if you already have a pot of boiling water going, for example for pasta dish that will be using the asparagus, you can easily boil the asparagus in that.

How Long Should You Cook Asparagus?

How long you cook the asparagus depends on their size and how old they are. Skinny asparagus spears will cook up in only a minute or two.

Your average asparagus will take about 5 minutes. Large asparagus can take 6 to 7 minutes, and if they are a bit old and tough, even longer.

How to Keep Cooked Asparagus Vibrant Green

Cook the asparagus no longer than 6 minutes, then rinse them with cool water for a few seconds to stop the cooking. Vegetables will go from vibrant green to olive green at about the 7 minute mark of cooking.

How to Cook Asparagus on the Stove

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 2 to 4 servings


  • 1/2 to 1 pound asparagus spears

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half, optional

  • 1 strip lemon zest , optional


  1. Prep the asparagus:

    Snap or cut off any woody bottoms of the asparagus spears. If working with medium sized or large asparagus, if you want (for a fancy presentation) you can use a vegetable peeler to peel the outside of the lower inch or two of the asparagus.

  2. Heat water in a large skillet:

    Fill a large, wide skillet with about 3/4-inch of water. Add salt. Add the cut garlic and lemon peel if using. Bring the water to a boil on high heat.

  3. Boil the asparagus:

    Add the asparagus in an even layer. If the water doesn't cover the asparagus, cover the pan. If using thin asparagus, cook only for 1 to 2 minutes. Medium asparagus, 5 minutes. Large asparagus 6 to 7 minutes.

  4. Rinse with cool water:

    Rinse briefly with cold water to stop the cooking and then transfer to a serving dish.

    Sprinkle with salt and pepper, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil or butter to serve.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
12 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 12
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 140mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 4mg 22%
Calcium 13mg 1%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 127mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.