How To Microwave Asparagus ♥

How to Cook Asparagus in the Microwave ♥ Weeknight Easy. Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegan.
Hey, asparagus lovers. I'm here to offer two big thumbs ups for asparagus cooked in the microwave, definitely quick, definitely easy and definitely delicious. Hands-down, we cook fresh asparagus in the microwave more than any other way. Here's how.

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How in bloody h-e-double-toothpicks in all these years of cooking vegetables did I ever miss this most basic way to cook asparagus? These are my explanations feeble excuses for somehow overlooking the microwave for cooking asparagus:

"Couldn't see for looking," my mother used to say when she couldn't find something and then suddenly, there it was, right before her eyes.
Some times the most obvious is least expected.
Some times it's possible to hide in plain sight.

When the first asparagus showed up in the supermarket a couple of weeks ago, Missouri was still a frozen, snowy place. Buying asparagus felt like defying winter, a determined act of spring hope.

I threw the first batch in the microwave for lunch one day, grabbing the camera after the first bite: perfect, absolutely perfect. That night, I put another batch in the microwave: again, a hit. I remembered my long-time favorite asparagus steamer and relegated it to the basement storage room year-round.

For a fast fresh vegetable, microwave asparagus is terrific!

How to Microwave Asparagus

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in three easy steps. You can do this!

PREP THE ASPARAGUS First rinse the asparagus, If the asparagus are already clean, rinse them anyway, the moisture is needed in the microwave. Then snap off the woody ends (here's how, Asparagus & Woody Ends (Step-by-Step Photos & Video) or just line up the asparagus on a cutting board and cut off the ends an inch or two from the base.

SET UP FOR THE MICROWAVE Arrange the asparagus spears in a microwave-safe dish, a single layer is fine, up to two or three layers deep is fine too. Dot little bits of butter across the spears (or for vegan asparagus, drizzle a little olive oil). Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap.

COOK FOR "SOME" MINUTES Cook the asparagus on high for "some" minutes, about 4 minutes for a pound of asparagus, 6 minutes for a pound and a half. Exactly how long depends on so many factors, including your microwave's power, the freshness of the asparagus, how done you want them, and so on. So just cook them for the suggested times, check and add more time as you see fit. Make a note for the next time, then you'll know!

SERVE & ENJOY! Sprinkle the spears with a little salt and pepper, then turn onto plates or a platter to enjoy.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

How Do You Know When the Asparagus Is Done Cooking? Well ...

... that depends too but this time, it depends on your own taste. After the suggested cooking minutes have passed, carefully lift up the plastic wrap (it's h-o-t under there, a little steam oven!) and grab one of the spears, maybe with a fork since it too will be hot.

Take a sniff. Does it smell nice and grassy? Good, when it's cooked, the odor of asparagus changes a bit.

Take a look. Is the color still bright green? Asparagus actually turns a bit brighter than raw asparagus when it's first cooked. So bright green color is good, the asparagus will turn a muddy green if it's cooked too long.

Now take a bite. Do you like the firmness? If so, great, it's done! Or would you prefer it a little softer? If so, cook for another minute, it pays to cook in short increments at this stage because there's no going back, once the asparagus gets overcooked.

Not Into Microwaves?

No problem but keep it to yourself. I know some people object to microwaves and strongly believe that a microwave removes nutrients from food. I don't share that idea but do respect your viewpoint. If you'd like to comment, okay, but be polite and respect my viewpoint as well. Impolite comments will be microwaved deleted. For those who do appreciate the speed and convenience of microwaves, check out the brand-new page, Microwave Vegetable Recipes.

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

How to Cook Asparagus in the Microwave ♥ Weeknight Easy. Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegan.
"Thanks for the tip about that yummy bite on the woody end. ... I just microwaved my asparagus following your instructions! It was just perfect." ~ Flo


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes

Fresh asparagus, thin or thick spears
Per pound, 1 teaspoon butter (cut into tiny dots) or olive oil, optional but delicious
Salt & pepper to taste

Wash the asparagus under running water. Snap the "woody ends" off each spear: each spear will have a natural breaking point, just gently bend the spear toward the end, if it doesn't break there with ease, move toward the tip a bit, bending-bending-bending until it breaks easily. (After you do this a few times, you'll do it without even thinking, just bend-bend snap-snap. Oh! And don't miss the cook's treat! On the end of that woody piece is usually a nice bite of fresh, raw vegetable while you're cooking dinner. Take a bite, it's great!) Need more detail? Here are Step-by-Step Photos and a Video.

Arrange the spears in a microwave-safe dish, two or three spears deep is fine. Dot with butter or drizzle with oil if you're up for that.

Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high:

For 1 pound asparagus (3 servings) – 4 minutes
For 1-1/2 pounds asparagus (4.5 servings) – 6 minutes
For 2 pounds asparagus (6 servings) – 7 minutes

Season with salt and pepper. Dig in! Also very good chilled for serving later.

THICK OR THIN? While thick asparagus spears are best for roasting and thin asparagus spears are best for raw salads, pick your pleasure for the microwave.
THOSE WOODY ENDS Those pieces we cut off asparagus spears really add up: start with a pound of asparagus, you'll end up with only about 2/3 pound edible vegetable. If that matters, plan accordingly.
TO STRIPE OR NOTE TO STRIPE? Some asparagus spears can be a little tough. If so, use a vegetable peeler to peel off the outer skin (especially opposite the tender tips) either entirely or in stripes. I find this more important with asparagus from the garden than with asparagus from the grocery store.
MICROWAVE The power on microwaves does vary but the times stated worked perfectly for me. Sorry, it's an older microwave without a power label.
VARIATIONS Instead of butter, try a squeeze of lemon juice, a glug of soy sauce, etc. Check your pantry and fridge for ideas. Go crazy because you're going to want to cook asparagus in the microwave all the time.

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Still Hungry?

More Favorite Asparagus Recipes

~ Six Years of Favorite Asparagus Recipes ~

~ Gorgeous Raw Asparagus Salad ~
~ Slow-Roasted Asparagus ~
~ Spring Garden Vegetable Soup with Asparagus, Artichokes, Peas & Spinach ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Roasted Salmon & Asparagus ~
~ Easy-to-Elegant Asparagus Soup ~
~ Asparagus Custard Tart ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2014, 2017 (repub) & 2021

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I've actually been microwaving loads of veggies lately. I'm pretty new to microwaving asparagus too -- this year, as a matter of fact. Thus far I've found the microwave does an excellent job of "steaming" almost every veggie I've tried. But if someone hasn't tried asparagus, they should -- it's a revelation. Good post -- thanks.

  2. John ~ Oh good, I’m not the only one then! It’s hard to imagine that someone hasn’t ever tried asparagus, it didn’t even occur to me!

  3. Alanna I love asparagus and honestly cannot remember when I cooked them in the microwave last. It had to be umpteen years ago. We has asparagus last night at dinner but I roasted them - my favorite way to prepare them. That said, the microwave is a great tool to use and best of all, it doesn't leave behind a mess to clean up. Thanks for reminding me microwaves aren't just for reheating.

  4. Oh you are brave. I just got attacked on my facebook page for a recipe that has microwaving cauliflower as one of the steps. (I have a zero tolerance policy for that kind of food police stuff, delete. But it's still annoying.) And don't feel bad, I haven't done this either, great idea!

  5. Yum! Is there a bad way to prepare asparagus? I haven't found one yet! I just microwaved asparagus for the first time the other day, as I was looking to "veggify" some leftovers I was having for lunch. I chopped a handful of spears into bite-sized pieces, two minutes on high, and voilà! They really perked up my pasta. As for the microwave police, sheesh. If you don't like a particular prep method, just adapt or ignore. Who feels it's their place to scold others for something like this? Would they want someone taking them to task for the way they, say, mop their kitchen floors? Manners, people!

  6. Have a look at the dangers of microwave cooking!

  7. It also completely zaps the nutrients out of foods. This is crazy advice to me. I think I am done with this subscription.

  8. Vicki ~ Oh I do love roasted asparagus too! Especially for the big fat asparagus!

    Kalyn ~ Some people are really passionate about microwaves, for sure. :-) PS Glad to know I’m not the only one!

    Heather ~ You are soooo right, there are so many ways to cook asparagus! I wonder if we like them so much because they just taste good or because we are just so ready for “fresh” and “spring”? Maybe! PS And thanks for your support re differing views on microwaves. It’s a good reminder, to me, when I have strong views about something to be “kind and generous” when speaking with others who don’t share the same ideas. PPS And I sure feel strongly about slow cookers! They mostly just don’t work out for me!

    Isobel ~ Thanks for sharing your perspective!

    Laura ~ Thanks for sharing your perspective! I hope you’ll stick with A Veggie Venture. I like to think that the occasional microwave recipe (maybe a dozen) is worth the vast majority of these recipes (some 1200 other non-microwave recipes). Another view: if I can turn someone onto eating asparagus at all, even if cooked in the microwave, I like to think that’s worth something too. But again, I do appreciate your concerns, I just don’t share them.

  9. I wanted to add one thought to microwaving. If you prefer to do so I strongly encourage you to always use a glass dish and dome glass cover. All plastics do leach chemicals into foods especially when heated. They are known endocrine disrupters and are therefore carcinogenic. No microwave police here, just adding what I choose to do when I microwave.

  10. Thanks for the tip about that yummy bite on the woody end. I would have never known that and I just tried it and it's good stuff. I just microwaved my asparagus following your instructions! It was just perfect.

  11. Question about the WW Points+ count of 1 --is that including the optional butter? I thought that all vegetables were zero points+?

  12. Kathy ~ Thanks for sharing that information! (And your “no microwave police” line made me laugh!)

    Flo ~ You’re welcome! It’s the cook’s treat! :-)

    FeatheredGems ~ For more information on how I calculate points, check the Weight Watchers link at the top of the page, sorry, I’d give you the link but the site isn’t let me insert a hyperlink for some reason. The short answer is that I include all calories, including for free vegetables, and then calculate points. But I also include the nutrition info you’d need if you wanted to calculate it yourself. I figure, vegetables are hardly our problem. :-)

  13. I try not to use the microwave. But two must do veggies are baked potato and spinach. For me, there's no other way to go. Saves a bunch of time and comes out just as good as conventional.

  14. I usually oven or pan roast asparagus but my mom did it recently in the microwave when we were visiting and I was surprised it works quite well - I was always worried it would instantly go slimy limp. Interesting about peeling, I know its necessary with the white "spargle" but in my experience if you really get fresh garden the stuff doesn't even make it to the kitchen to be cooked. The taste is so different from grocery store I can't help just eating it raw!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna