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How To Grill Asparagus Like a Pro
How To Grill Asparagus Like a Pro
Forget loosing precious asparagus spears down the grill grate or charring those tender tips to oblivion! Our fail proof method will teach you how to grill asparagus to perfection every single time without ever losing a spear!
Turns out, we learned how to grill asparagus all wrong!
Trying to keep slender asparagus spears above the grill grates can be a nightmare. Not to mention the fact that by the time you get the tough ends of the spears tender enough to eat the tips are often blackened and charred.
So, you can imagine our surprise when on a recent Zoom call with the California Grown team our resident asparagus aficionado, Cher, told us the folks at the former Asparagus Commission grill their spears completely different. They make asparagus rafts!
I wish you could have seen the confused look on all of our faces trying to imagine an asparagus raft, but once Cher explained the process of making them it actually all sounded super easy and BRILLIANT!!!
Naturally, we had to give it a try and report back to you!
Here is how to grill asparagus like a pro!
Forget everything you have ever learned about asparagus prep and give the following steps a try next time you intend to light up the grill!
When purchasing asparagus for this method of grilling it is important to use jumbo spears, thinner spears will not work for this method, they are best grilled in an actual grill pan.
Some people think that jumbo asparagus is old asparagus and is left in the field to get old or fat, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The larger sized asparagus comes from younger, more vigorous plants, while the smaller sized asparagus comes from older plants or plants that have been planted closer together than usual.
Prep the spears for grilling.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT remove the woody stems yet!
A gentle wash, then a quick toss with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper is all you need to do to prepare for grilling the asparagus.
Assemble the asparagus rafts.
Using metal kabob skewers or bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 min, carefully thread a seasoned asparagus spear onto one of the skewers about 1-inch into the woody stem.
Add a second skewer.
Move up the spear of asparagus an inch or so, then add a second skewer.
If a spear splits its ok, just keep threading additional spears staying as far away from the tender tips as possible.
Check out those asparagus rafts!
We found 8-10 jumbo asparagus spears to be the sweet spot per “asparagus raft”.
Once you reach that amount, begin threading a new raft. One large bunch of jumbo asparagus equalled 3 “rafts” for us.
Now that all of the asparagus spears are skewered into rafts, pour any of the remaining olive oil and lemon juice mixture over the asparagus rafts.
Preheat the grill.
Preheat a gas grill on high heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
Right before adding the asparagus rafts to the grill, turn the burners to low on one side of the grill creating different temperature zones for the spears.
Pay attention to the heat zones!
Place the side of the asparagus rafts with the tough, woody stems directly over the high heat area of the grill. Extend the tender tips towards the side of the grill where the heat has been reduced to low.
Set a timer for 4 minutes.
Grill the asparagus on the first side of the raft for 4 minutes. Then, using an oven mitt or thick kitchen towel, carefully, pick up the raft by both skewers and flip it over to cook for an additional 2 minutes on the other side.
Check for doneness.
Look how perfectly intact those tender asparagus tips still are after the cook time!
To check whether the asparagus is cooked through simply remove one asparagus raft from the grill and test a spear. If it still needs a bit more time add the remainder of the raft back to the grill for an additional minute.
Remove the asparagus from the skewers, cut off the tough, woody stems and discard them.
You are left with perfectly tender, grilled asparagus that is charred to perfection not oblivion!
See what we mean? Perfectly grilled asparagus spears – every time with tender, lightly charred tips still intact. Plus, did you notice that we didn’t lose a single spear to the grill grates?! Winning!
Looking for more ways to cook with fresh asparagus? Check out the links below!
This round up showcases 11 of our favorite asparagus recipes and a variety of asparagus cooking methods all in the same place!
The Bojon Gourmet really knows how to make grilled asparagus shine with these Grilled Asparagus Tofu Spring Rolls with Ginger Lime Dipping Sauce!
Share your creation with us by snapping a pic and tagging us on social using #CAGROWN.
Craving more CA Grown goodness? Follow us on Pinterest for fresh and fabulous recipe inspo!
How To Grill Asparagus
- Metal or wooden skewers. If using wooden skewers be sure to soak in water for 30 minutes prior.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 /2 lemon juiced
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 1 bunch jumbo asparagus
- coarse kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat the grill to high for 10-15 minutes while preparing the asparagus.
- In a shallow dish, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and grated garlic. Whisk to combine, then add the asparagus spears. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste, then toss to coat.
- Make an asparagus raft by threading the asparagus onto skewers. (See detailed how-to images in the blog post.) Start by inserting the first skewer about 1-inch in from the woody stem. Then insert a second skewer about 1 1/2 inches up the spear from the first avoiding piercing the stem near the tender tip.
- Continue this asparagus spear threading process until the "raft" has 8 spears, then begin another "raft" until all of the asparagus is threaded onto skewers.
- Pour any remaining olive oil, lemon juice mixture over the asparagus rafts.
- When the grill is preheated, reduce the heat on one side of the grill to low (or cut off completely) creating direct and indirect cooking zones. Lay the side of the "rafts" with the tough woody stems over the direct heat and extend the tender tips towards the side of the grill that has indirect heat.
- Grill for 4 minutes, then flip, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the asparagus spears are cooked through and are crisp tender. Remove from the grill.
- Before serving, remove the spears from the skewers and line them up in a cutting board, tips facing the same direction. Use a sharp knife to cut off the tough woody stems. Grilled asparagus is best served immediately. Leftovers can be stored, covered, in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Asparagus grows on a perennial plant raised in furrowed fields. Plants take about three years before they produce. This delicate plant needs a temperate climate to grow and requires much hand labor. Asparagus spears are cut by hand when they measure about 9 inches in length. Careful harvesting means more green and very little waste.
Asparagus spears should be handled like flowers. Trim the butt end of the spears, then refrigerate, upright, standing in an inch of water. Cover loosely with plastic. Or wrap the cut ends in a wet paper towel and store in a plastic bag with the top of bag left open. Stored this way, fresh asparagus keeps for two to three days refrigerated.
You can eat the whole spear except for the woody stem towards the bottom. Hold the asparagus spear on each end firmly. Gently bend the asparagus so that it bows out away from you. Keep bending until the asparagus snaps.
What time of year is asparagus in season?
The California Asparagus harvest begins in February – supplies peak in March, April, and May – then taper off into June.