~ This ultra-easy Oven Roasted Asparagus leverages a unique high-heat roasting technique to give you HUGE flavor with almost no effort! We’re basically talking one ingredient here – it’s a quick, no-brainer side dish for practically any meal, from weeknight family suppers to special dinner parties and holidays. Plus, I’ve got lots of ideas to help you to change it up, depending on the main dish you’re serving! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Includes Make-Ahead Steps • Vegan (and Vegetarian) • Gluten Free • Paleo •
Need a side dish you can count on, time after time?
One that you don’t really have to think about – that barely even needs a recipe? And that your family will actually wanna eat? (As in … they’ll be reaching for seconds and you just might have to make a double batch!)
This EASY Oven Roasted Asparagus ticks all the boxes, perfectly!
If I absolutely had to pick the #1 most common side dish I make allll the time for my own family, it would have to be this one. (Followed closely by Blistered Green Beans in the #2 position.)
I seriously make this Roasted Asparagus at least once every week or two.
And, yes … I make a double batch!
Why You’ll LOVE This Asparagus Recipe!
Really, what’s not to love??
√ One ingredient! (I mean … plus salt and pepper and a spritz of oil, which nobody really counts.)
√ A couple minutes of prep (which can even be done ahead of time)!
√ A simple technique that elevates this humble veggie to whole new flavor heights. And will actually make your fam ENJOY eating veggies (woot woot)!
Blistered and caramelized, super-flavorful without being over-cooked inside.
Yes … YUM!
High-heat oven roasting is pure magic.
In fact, let’s talk more about why oven roasting is so fabulous ….
Why Oven Roasting is Pure Veggie Magic
I’ve said it so many times before (and no doubt will say it many more): when it comes to vegetables, roasting is pure magic.
The caramelization that happens during the roasting process creates those toasty brown spots. And, it also creates deeper, more complex flavors.
Flavors far beyond what you’d get if you steamed or boiled your asparagus instead.
I’ve talked to other moms on lots of different occasions, as they excitedly shared their amazement at watching their kiddos
eat gobble up roasted veggies. They were astonished that such a simple technique could actually make such a HUGE difference in getting kids to eat veggies.
It just works.
Here’s all you have to do (beginning at your grocery store!) …
How to Choose Asparagus for Roasting
This oven roasted recipe is such a wonderfully simple one, so asparagus quality really matters.
As I explain in much greater detail in my post on How to Buy Asparagus, the first step in making the very best roasted asparagus actually happens right in the supermarket.
When you select asparagus, look for firm stalks. Skip bunches that are starting to feel a bit soft or leathery or limp.
Check the tips, too. You want tips that are fresh-looking and tight – not dried out, frazzled or coming open.
As a generalization, for many other asparagus recipes, stalk size doesn’t matter as much as you might think. It’s more a matter of personal preference. Real Simple explains, “Size isn’t an indicator of quality or flavor; thick asparagus is just more mature than the thin variety … both can be sweet and tender, as long as they’re fresh.”
For roasting asparagus (which is what we’re doing here today), I definitely prefer to stay away from thick stalks, and most all of my recipe testing focused on thinner to medium stalks.
Why? Because they stay firmer (less soft and mushy) after roasting – so I get that gorgeous, golden-brown sear, without squidginess.
Surprised that thicker stalks actually get softer, and that thinner stalks remain more firm? Seems backwards, right? But there’s a reason!
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. Huh!
Hands-down, I personally prefer medium-thin stalks, particularly for this recipe (although not wispy, super-thin ones).
How to Roast Asparagus
Step #1 – How to Remove the Ends of the Asparagus
I usually just snap the tough ends off my asparagus spears. If you’ve never done this, it’s super easy.
Start to gently wiggle or bend an asparagus spear near the bottom. It should naturally tend to snap at the right point.
Alternately, for a tidier, restaurant-worthy appearance, you can cut the ends off cleanly with a knife.
If you opt to go the knife 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.
Step #2 – Prep Your Spears for the Oven
Next, rinse off the spears and pat them completely dry. You don’t want them to be damp, or they won’t roast as well.
Then, spread them out evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Pro tip: Arrange your asparagus so the tips are pointed in, toward the center.
Wait … why worry about pointing the tips inwards?
Glad you asked! Ovens tend to be hottest around the edges, so I like to have the thicker parts of the asparagus stalks at the edges of the baking sheet, with the delicate tips facing in toward the center.
Spritz your asparagus spears lightly with olive oil or cooking spray, and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Step #3 – Bake!
Just before the rest of the meal is ready to serve, pop those spears in the oven and roast them up, without turning … simply leave them on their own to get nice, seared spots.
And … get ready to enjoy perfectly roasted, flavorful veggies (that seem like they took waaaaay more effort than they actually did)!
So easy, right?!?
Now, let’s talk in a little more detail about the time and temp settings you’re going to want to use, because there’s more to those numbers than you might think.
What Is the Best Temperature for Oven Roasted Asparagus?
Hands-down, for the best roasted asparagus, go for 475°F.
I’ve seen a lot of recipes for roasting asparagus in the oven at 350 – 400°F. It’s definitely not as common to roast asparagus at 475.
But trust me – TRY THIS.
High-heat roasting produces results almost like grilling your asparagus … just indoors … and any time of year, no matter how cold it is outside!
High-heat roasting coaxes maximum flavor from your asparagus, through its process of caramelizing the spears, without creating that mushy, soggy, overcooked flavor that can make veggies like asparagus so off-putting (especially to kiddos).
Even though I’d been cooking my asparagus this way for years, at one point I started doubting myself, seeing so many other recipes for roasting asparagus at lower temperatures. But, when I saw Martha Stewart roasting hers at 475°, too … and Alton Brown (my foodie geek HERO) even roasting his at a powerful 500° … I knew I wasn’t wrong here.
That ultra-high 475° heat is just a tad shy of broiling. And, at that temperature, you get those wonderful caramelized areas just like you would from an outdoor grill.
Try it, and I bet you’ll never bother with that wimpy 350° setting again!
Pro Tip: If your oven runs really hot or really cool (a reliable oven thermometer can help you check this to be sure), you can ratchet the temp up or down accordingly, of course. Oven temperatures can vary by a surprising amount and can fall out of calibration over time.
How Long to Roast Asparagus?
As a starting point, I recommend that you roast the asparagus for about 8 minutes without turning.
For thicker spears, you may need to go for more like 10 minutes.
The exact timing can depend on how blistered you like your spears, and how thick the spears are. So, it may even vary slightly each time you make this recipe (which I’m betting will be often).
You’re looking for some nice, toasty-brown spots on the bottom of the spears and slightly blistered tips. But you don’t want mushy interiors that have an over-cooked-asparagus taste.
Assuming that your oven’s heating element is at the bottom (which is typical), remember to check underneath the spears for those caramelized spots.
As you can see, the top sides of the spears won’t really have much visible browning when they’re done roasting. The caramelization will be mostly on the bottom.
Pro Tip: You can vary the amount of “blistered,” roasted-brown spots to your liking, by where you place your baking sheet in the oven and how close it is to the heating element.
For example, I know that my own oven’s bottom rack is where the best caramelization happens (since it’s closest to the heat source). But, if I move my baking sheet toward the middle or even a little higher, I won’t have nearly as much blistering. You’re in the driver’s seat … roast ’em up your way!
How to Adapt Your Asparagus Side Dish to Match Your Main
This easy roasted asparagus is terrific just as it is … beautifully simple and so delicious.
No need to overthink things here!
But, the great thing about such a simple recipe is that there are nearly endless ways to adapt it to fit whatever else you happen to be serving!
Here are just a few ideas for ya …
- Sprinkle it with parmesan or another cheese that complements your main (think queso fresco for a Mexican dinner, feta for Mediterranean, etc.).
- Squeeze some lemon juice over the top for a bright, acidic note.
- Drizzle 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 beloved Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette.
- For a bit of crunch, toss on some toasted pine nuts, sliced almonds or other nuts you have on hand.
Ok … but still, you may be wondering … what main dishes are perfect partners for those yummy, roasty spears?
What to Serve With Your Asparagus?
Seriously … practically anything!
- Steak, for sure! I’d recommend some Rosemary Roasted Potatoes in that case, too.
- It’s also great with fish. An absolute must with our 15-Minute Pan Seared Salmon and our Broiled Fish Matecumbe. In fact, this asparagus actually played a supporting role in the photoshoots for both of those recipes … take a peek and see …
- Mmmmmm … and asparagus is so lovely with baked chicken. Try it with the savory flavors of sun-dried tomatoes in our Sheet Pan Chicken … YUM!
- Definitely Easter ham, too. Asparagus is in its glory in the springtime, just in time for Easter.
- And, asparagus is the perfect green vegetable alongside pasta with marinara sauce. Or, serve it up with our Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach for DOUBLE the green-veggie power!
I could go on and on here, listing all the ways I serve this Roasted Asparagus. I am 100% serious that I make it constantly.
Absolutely! In fact, I almost always make a double batch for my family, because just one pound of asparagus simply isn’t enough for the four of us (it’s tooooo yummy)! The important thing is not to overcrowd the asparagus on your baking sheet. Overcrowding can make your asparagus steam more than roast, and can also prevent those really terrific spots of caramelization from forming. For larger batches, use additional baking sheets as needed, preferably rotating them around in the oven halfway through the baking time. (But be sure to open and close the oven door FAST, or you’ll let out too much heat and compromise the high-heat roasting process.)
I find that it’s best not to stir the spears during the short roasting time. It’s too difficult to actually get them all rolled over to the opposite side, without getting piled on top of each other (and to do it fast enough that they’re not already starting to cool down before you get them back into that high-heat oven). And, with such a short roasting time, if you flip them partway, neither side gets really deep caramelization.
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. Lightly cover it in plastic wrap (don’t smash the delicate tips!), and stash 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.
If you want, you can use a vegetable peeler to peel any thick outer layer from the bottom inch or two of your asparagus spears after you’ve removed the tough ends. But, if you’ve properly removed all of the tough, dried-out ends (snapping them off or cutting them away), you really shouldn’t need to do any peeling. I personally never do – probably because I never purchase overly tough asparagus in the first place.
While that’s somewhat of a personal preference, I definitely recommend selecting medium-thin stalks over really thick ones. Thinner asparagus actually stays more firm during cooking, allowing fast, high-heat roasting to produce great caramelization without soft, mushy interiors. Don’t go super-thin, though. I avoid asparagus that’s much thinner than a standard pencil.
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. If yours varies by a lot, though, it’s easy to slightly adjust this recipe with a tiny bit more or less of the salt and pepper, to compensate.
Over the years, this asparagus recipe has absolutely become my go-to vegetable side dish for just about every type of dinner.
When I don’t know what to make, I grab asparagus … problem solved, and everyone’s happy-happy!
Try my high-heat roasting method, and you’ll never look back. This’ll be your new go-to side dish, too! (And you just might be surprised how many veggies your family’s eating. 😉 )
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
- olive oil spray/cooking spray
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/16 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Snap or cut the tough ends off the asparagus spears and discard ends. Rinse asparagus and dry completely.
- Arrange asparagus in a single layer on the baking sheet, with tips pointing toward the middle of the baking sheet. (Don't over-crowd them, or they won't roast properly.)
- Spray asparagus lightly with olive oil spray/cooking spray, and then sprinkle asparagus with salt and pepper.
- Roast asparagus for about 8-9 minutes (no need to stir or flip the spears partway), until some browned, blistered spots are beginning to form underneath, but asparagus is still a little crisp-tender (or until asparagus is done to your liking). The exact timing will depend on how thick your spears are.
- Immediately transfer to a serving platter. Taste and adjust seasoning (depending on how much of the salt and pepper stuck to the spears during roasting, and on what you're serving it with in terms of sauces, etc.).
Doneness: For this "blistered" recipe, I do truly like for there to be deeply roasted spots on the asparagus. However, if you would like yours to be slightly less roasted and blistered, you can control this by how close to your oven's heating element you place your baking sheet. For example, I like to place mine toward the bottom of my oven, closer to the heating element. But, if I move the sheet pan up toward the middle or top of my oven, I'll have less blistering.
Make-ahead tips: You can snap the ends off the asparagus, rinse and dry the spears (making sure the spears are thoroughly dry), spread the prepped spears on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and then wrap the whole sheet in plastic. Refrigerate for up to a few hours, until you're ready to continue with the recipe.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 servings Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 26Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 148mgCarbohydrates: 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.