~ This ultra easy Air Fryer Asparagus Recipe leverages 7 simple tips for great results! You basically need just 1 main ingredient and 10 minutes. And, we’ve got suggestions to tailor your delicious creation to whatever main dish you’re making! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Vegan (and Vegetarian) • Gluten Free • Paleo •
Remember how, just 1 year ago, I absolutely SWORE that Oven Roasted Asparagus was the #1 side dish I made allllll the time?
Yes. It really and truly was.
And then I fell in love with air frying!
Sure, oven roasting is still my classic go-to method for making great veggies. But when I need fast asparagus, my air fryer is my new, busy-night BFF.
I get virtually the same results with this air fry method as with my beloved, high-heat oven-roasting method … but even more quickly.
Since air fryers are much smaller than typical ovens, they heat up in a fraction of the time. And dinner is ready in a twinkling! (Total lifesaver when I’m running late … which is practically every.single.evening!)
Why You’ll LOVE Making Asparagus in the Air Fryer
First, let me walk you through all the handy tips I’ve learned after making air fryer roasted asparagus again and again … and again! (Yes, we seriously do eat a lot of asparagus. My devotion runs deep!)
7 Tips for the Best Air Fryer Asparagus
Tip #1 – Prep It Right
Hopefully you’re working with really nice, fresh asparagus spears that aren’t limp or dehydrated. If you’re new to selecting raw asparagus, our guide to Buying Asparagus at Its Very Best can help you out.
When you’re ready to air fry that gorgeous, perfectly selected asparagus, start by rinsing it.
Then, be sure to pat your asparagus dry. This is a minor tip that makes a big difference. You don’t want excess moisture to prevent the oil (which you’ll add in a moment) from slickly adhering to the asparagus stalks. In addition, too much moisture can encourage steaming rather than great high-heat air frying.
Next, you’ll want to remove the tough, woody ends, since they’re no fun to eat.
I usually just snap off the tough ends of the asparagus spears. If you’ve ever done this, you know it’s super easy.
Start to gently wiggle or bend an asparagus spear near the bottom. It should naturally tend to snap at the point where the woody portion ends and the tender part begins.
Alternately, you can cut the ends off cleanly with a sharp knife. But, if you decide to go this route, I still suggest that you snap at least a couple of the ends off with your hands first, to gauge the approximate place where most of the bunch will naturally want to be cut.
Tip# 2 – Use a Little Oil … But Use It Well
You might be wondering if you can completely skip the oil when you’re air frying. Isn’t the whole point of air frying that you’re frying with air instead of frying with oil???
I hear ya.
And it’s true that there are some workarounds to completely avoid oil in some air fried recipes.
But, trust me … your asparagus will be much better with just a tiny bit of oil.
Believe it or not, just a teeny weeny bit of oil actually helps to promote browning, so you develop those delicious, roasty-toasty golden-brown spots, without your asparagus becoming dried out. (If you want to do a deep dive into this, check out Food Network’s article on Everything You Need to Know About Using Oil in an Air Fryer.)
I like to toss my asparagus with extra virgin olive oil (and also season it with salt and pepper) directly on the cutting board that I used to lay out my asparagus while I patted it dry and snapped or cut off the woody stems.
If you prefer, you can use a large bowl to toss your trimmed asparagus with the oil and seasonings. I just don’t like to dirty both a cutting board AND a bowl … fewer dishes to clean up later, ya know!
Pro Tip: Making Sure Your Asparagus is Thoroughly Coated in Oil
I honestly think the very best, easy way to do this is with your hands. You want to be sure that the teeny bit of oil you’re using actually coats each asparagus spear thoroughly. Roll up your sleeves and get on in there!
Tip # 3 – Especially Get That Oil on the Tips
Be particularly sure to get oil on the tender tips of your asparagus.
They’re the most prone to drying out. So, they can easily get frizzled and dehydrated, instead of having that browned and roasty “fried” texture you’re actually hoping to achieve by using an air fryer.
Again, it’s easiest to do this by using your hands to rub that little bit of oil all over your spears in a thin, even coating, making sure to hit every singly tip as you go.
Tip #4 – Tips In
Just like with our oven-roasted asparagus … start by positioning the spears so that the tender tips are toward the center of the air fryer basket (if you have the room to do it).
That way, the thinly pointed, delicate tips will tend to get less seared and over-crisped than if they were near the outer edges of the air fryer basket.
This strategy also gives the thicker stems a chance to cook through and develop more roasty brown spots before the tender tips get over-cooked or burned.
Tip #5 – Don’t Overcrowd
If your air fryer is smaller than my 6-quart model, or if you want to make an extra-big amount (say, for a holiday gathering or dinner party) … simply do it in batches.
Or, to be 100% honest here, if you’re tackling several pounds of asparagus, you might consider using your oven to roast the asparagus instead. Yes, it will take slightly longer for the oven to heat up, but if you want to cook more than a pound of asparagus at a time, placing multiple sheet pans on different racks in your standard oven will allow you to finish all the asparagus at the same time. And using my high-heat method, the results are nearly identical to air frying. Just a thought.
But why is it so important not to overcrowd food in an air fryer?
Remember that air frying is a dry heat cooking method (often referred to as convection). It relies on hot air that’s blown or circulated around your food in order to create the terrific cooking results we’ve all come to love about air frying.
If your asparagus spears are piled and heaped on top of each other, that all-important hot air can’t circulate around it to give you the roasty-toasty results you’re hoping for.
You’re likely to end up with asparagus that’s not cooked very evenly, and that’s more steamed than roasted or “fried.”
Tip #6 – Timing
The precise cooking time can depend on several factors, including:
What Air Fryer Model Was Used in Testing This Recipe?
Again, when it comes to wattage, power, and interior cooking space, air fryers vary widely.
This recipe was tested in my 6-Quart Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer. I did a lot (like, hours) of research before making my purchasing decision, and I have to say that I do truly love this machine.
It’s 1700 watts, and the internal basket measurement is about 9.5″ x 9.5″.
But, regardless of your model, my recipe and timing should get you pretty darn close.
Tip #7 – Customize!
This is where it gets fun!
When your air fried asparagus is done cooking, you may want to sprinkle it with just a tad more salt. (I usually go with about an additional 1/8 teaspoon, if I’m serving it without any sauces or additional toppings.)
But, depending on how you’re serving it and how much of the pre-cooking salt managed to cling to the spears during air frying, you may find you don’t need any extra salt at all.
From there, the possibilities are practically endless! Customize your gorgeous, cooked asparagus spears to match up with whatever main dish you’re serving!
Here are just a few great options for ya …
- Sprinkle your asparagus with parmesan cheese, or another cheese that complements your main (think queso fresco for a Mexican dinner, feta for Mediterranean, etc.).
- Toss on some fresh herbs. (If you’re ever made our One-Pot Pasta with Asparagus, you know that fresh tarragon is lovely with asparagus!)
- Squeeze some lemon juice or grate lemon zest over the top, or serve this with a few lemon wedges for a bright, acidic note. (Check out our recipe for Grilled Asparagus with Parmesan, Lemon and Garlic for ideas on this!)
- Drizzle your spears with whatever sauce you’re serving with your main dish, or try the browned butter sauce from our Roasted Green Beans with Balsamic-Browned Butter. You could even try a salad dressing like our popular Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette.
- For Asian-inspired flair, a little soy sauce is simple but flavorful, and sesame seeds (especially black ones) add visual interest and a bit of alluring texture.
- For a nice crunch, toss on sliced almonds, toasted pine nuts, or other nuts you have on hand.
How to Serve Air Fried Asparagus
I’ve been know to serve asparagus next to so many different types of main dishes I make – from grilled flank steak to 15-Minute Pan Seared Salmon, and from pasta to chicken. It’s terrific alongside nearly any main course I can think of!
Whether I’m roasting it or air frying it, asparagus really has to be the #1 side dish I make the most frequently. And, with so many ways to customize it, I can honestly say that we never, ever get tired of it.
This is somewhat of a personal preference, but I definitely prefer medium-thin stalks over really thick ones. Why? Because thinner asparagus actually stays more firm during cooking, which allows quick, high-heat air frying to produce great caramelization without too-soft, mushy interiors. As Michigan State University’s Extension Service explains, after cooking, thinner stalks are firmer than thick ones because the fibers of thinner stalks are more closely packed together. (I do try to avoid overly delicate, extra thin asparagus spears – thinner than a standard pencil – for air frying, though.) Medium-thin for the win on this question!
Nope! There’s no need for that extra step.
You shouldn’t need to peel it if you’ve bought fresh stalks of tender asparagus, and properly trimmed the woody ends. I personally never do – probably because I never purchase overly tough asparagus in the first place. If you do happen to find yourself with a bunch of overly tough asparagus, though, there’s no harm in using a vegetable peeler to peel any thick outer layer from the bottom inch or two of your asparagus spears after you’ve removed the woody ends.
There actually isn’t a specific, standard guideline, and this can vary from one grocery store to the next, or depending on the source. I’ve found that the asparagus from my local store generally weighs in at about 1 pound per bunch (weighed before the tough, woody ends are removed).
After a lot of testing, I’ve found that the best way to store it is to treat it just like a bouquet of flowers. Snap or cut off the dry ends (although, to be honest, I’ve been known to skip this step when I’m in a hurry). Then, stand your asparagus up in a wide-mouthed jar or drinking glass that’s filled with enough water to submerge the bottoms of all your asparagus spears. If you want to go a step further, you can tightly cover it in plastic wrap (don’t smash the delicate tips!). Store it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it. I don’t remember where I first learned this trick, but it’s the same tactic used by experts at Food Network and The Kitchn.
Although I know I’ll still use my classic oven-roasting technique from time to time (especially when I’m making a big double- or triple-batch all at once), now that I’ve fallen in love with this super-fast air frying method, I’ve got a terrific second weapon in my busy-day cooking arsenal. Air frying is just so darn fast!
If you’ve been searching for an extra-quick, goes-with-practically-anything, EASY side dish, I think you’ve found your new go-to recipe!
1 ingredient (more or less) … 7 handy tips … and just 10 minutes … what’s not to love!?!
Give it a try for dinner tonight!
Love the Recipe? • Were My Tips Helpful?
Please leave a star-rating in the recipe card below – I truly appreciate all your wonderful feedback!
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (plus an optional, additional 1/8 teaspoon for serving)
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Set your air fryer to 400°F. (See notes section below, regarding whether your air fryer requires preheating.)
- Rinse asparagus and dry completely. Snap or cut the tough ends off the asparagus spears and discard ends.
- Drizzle the asparagus with oil and toss it (preferably with your hands) to be sure every spear (and especially the delicate tips) are evenly coated with a thin slick of oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and gently toss again to distribute the seasonings.
- Arrange asparagus in a single layer in your air fryer basket, with the tips pointing toward the middle of the basket if possible. (Don't over-crowd the spears, or they won't roast properly. If you have a smaller air fryer, you may need to do this in two batches.)
- Air fry the asparagus for about 7 minutes (shaking them to flip them a bit, partway through – my Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer prompts me to do this about two-thirds of the way through the cook time). Air fry until some browned, blistered spots are beginning to form, but the asparagus is still a little crisp-tender (or until the asparagus is done to your liking). The exact timing will depend on how thick your spears are and on the wattage of your air fryer model.
- Immediately transfer to a serving platter. Taste and adjust seasoning (I sometimes add about an additional 1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt, depending on what I'm serving it with in terms of sauces, etc.).
Preheating: Some air fryers have a built-in preheating cycle of a couple of minutes, and some – particularly smaller ones with the basket closer to the heating element – do not. If your air fryer, like mine, does have a brief preheating cycle, then you'll wait to add the asparagus until after that preheating stage. If yours doesn't automatically require preheating, just be aware that you may need to add a minute or two to the total cooking time.
This recipe was tested in a 6-Quart Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer, which is 1700 watts, with an internal basket measurement of about 9.5" x 9.5".
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 servings Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 35Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 95mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g
Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.