Hands down, asparagus is my favorite spring and early summer veggie. And it’s not really hard to cook, but very easy to overcook—more on that in a minute!
Roasting and grilling asparagus certainly have their merits, but there’s something special that happens when asparagus is cooked sous vide. It’s almost as if the asparagus becomes the best version of itself. It rises to the occasion, transforming into picture-perfect asparagus—vibrantly green and intensely flavorful.
How Does Sous Vide Cooking Work?
How does sous vide work, exactly? Well, an immersion circulator creates a consistent temperature environment that ensures consistent cooking results. It’s a slow, gentle poach that helps food retain its moisture, too.
The asparagus in today's recipe become tender when cooked sous vide, but are also intensely flavorful. The inherent sweetness in this vegetable comes right out.
New to sous vide cooking? Start here!
- Everything You’ve Been Wondering About Sous Vide Cooking at Home
- How to Use Your New Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
- How to Seal Foods Without Using a Vacuum Sealer
- Sous Vide and Food Safety: What to Know
Why Cook Asparagus Sous Vide?
Asparagus is easy to cook, but it’s also easy to overcook. There’s a very fine line between snappy and soggy!
The real advantage of sous vide with vegetables like this is that it guarantees consistent results. The asparagus will be firmer and more intensely asparagus-y tasting than with other cooking methods.
Freshness also makes a difference with flavor when you cook asparagus sous vide, so look for local, just-picked asparagus if you can. Locally grown asparagus is just going to taste better. After being cooked sous vide, it's like you’ve created the most vivid snapshot of a veggie at its prime. Except, of course, you can eat this snapshot.
How to Select Asparagus
If you have freshly picked asparagus in your garden, hooray! You’ll be assured a tender and flavorful sous vide experience with asparagus this fresh.
If you're buying at a farmers’ market or grocery store, take a look at the tips and the cut ends of the spears. If the tops are still closed tight and the bottoms look moist, the asparagus is fresh. If it seems like the tops are flowering open and the bottoms are very dry, the asparagus has started to lose moisture. You can still eat it, of course—it just won’t taste quite as good.
How Long to Cook Asparagus Sous Vide?
In comparison to a lot of other sous vide recipes, asparagus cooks up fairly quickly—it can be ready within 6 to 10 minutes, depending on how thick the spears are. Longer cook times are required for more dense vegetables, such as potatoes, and large cuts of meat.
- If your asparagus is pencil-thin, cook them for 6 or 7 minutes and then check to see if they're tender.
- Cook asparagus that’s a little thicker for 7 or 8 minutes, then check it. If a fork doesn’t go into it easily, you need a couple more minutes.
When it's done, the asparagus ought to be vivid green and tender.
Ways to Use Leftover Asparagus
Asparagus cooked sous vide makes great leftovers, either on its own or in other dishes! I chopped up some of the leftover asparagus I had from testing this recipe and mixed it with some pasta, lemon zest, and Pecorino cheese for a quick dinner.
You can also cut up leftover asparagus and add to salads, or put them in an omelet or add them to something like Elise's Mini Muffin Frittatas. Feel free to chop up some of your favorite herbs with asparagus; I opted for simple salt and pepper, along with a shower of lemon zest. And you can certainly skip the olive oil or butter, but it adds some flavor, so why not?
More Sous Vide Recipes to Try!
- How to Cook Potatoes Sous Vide
- How to Cook Carrots Sous Vide
- How to Cook Pork Chops Sous Vide
- Sous Vide Teriyaki Salmon
- Sous Vide French Dip Sandwiches
How to Cook Asparagus Sous Vide
- 1 bunch asparagus, about 1 pound
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- Sea salt for garnish
Heat the water:
Fill a pot with water and place your immersion circulator inside. Set your immersion circulator to 180°F and let the water come up to temperature.
Prep the asparagus:
Wash the asparagus and, like a bunch of flowers, make a fresh cut on the bottom, eliminating any of the tough, woody ends.
Add the asparagus to a zip-top, gallon-sized plastic freezer bag. Add the black pepper and olive oil; save the salt for after it’s cooked, as the salt will turn this green veggie a little grey. Toss together in the bag to distribute the ingredients.
Add a few heavy soup spoons to the bag to help weigh it down. This will help keep the asparagus submerged, which will ensure that it cooks evenly.
Seal the bag:
Seal the bag as tightly as possible by using water-displacement method to help press out all the air. Just put the food in the bag and slowly lower it into the water, letting the pressure of the water press the air through the top of the bag. Once the air is out of the bag, seal it just above the water line. (Read more here.)
You can do this in the pot of water as it heats—just be careful if the water is already steaming!
Cook the asparagus:
Once the water has come up to temperature, submerge the bag of asparagus in the pot of water. Make sure the bag is completely submerged (if it floats, remove it from the water and add a few more spoons to weigh it down).
* Check the asparagus after 6 to 7 minutes if it’s pencil thin.
* Check average or thick asparagus after 8 to 10 minutes.
If you’re at all in doubt, pull them out after 8 minutes, open the bag carefully, and use a fork to determine how tender the spears are. If the fork is getting stuck in the asparagus, it’s not ready; reseal the bag and return it to the water for another minute or two.
Remove from the water, turn off the circulator and serve immediately. Sprinkle some lemon juice and zest over the top of the asparagus, along with some of the cooking oil or butter (if desired) and some flaky sea salt, such as Maldon.
Leftover asparagus will keep refrigerated for about 5 days.