This article was updated on 08/07/2023 and a new method was added; broiling.
Asparagus is my favorite vegetable, but there’s one problem. It’s notoriously hard to reheat without it going mushy.
So I decided to test out all the different ways you can reheat asparagus, and now I’m sharing the results with you.
In a rush?
The best way to reheat asparagus is in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and heat the asparagus for 4-7 minutes, or 3-4 minutes in a toaster oven. You can cover it with foil if you want a ‘steamed’ effect. You can also use the microwave, or fry the asparagus in a skillet.
How I tested reheating asparagus
I went to shop and found the best looking bunch of asparagus I could find, cooked it to perfection and ate some with my dinner, before putting the leftovers in the fridge overnight.
The next day, I tested 6 different reheating techniques:
- The oven (with and without foil)
- The microwave
- The air fryer
How to reheat asparagus in the oven
Time: 4-7 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Spread the asparagus out on a baking tray and sprinkle it with any seasoning you want to use.
- Cover loosely with foil if you want a steamed effect, or skip the foil for a roasted effect.
- Heat the asparagus for 4-7 minutes, or 3-4 minutes in a toaster oven.
The oven is a gentle reheating method, so it’s a bit slower than the other options, especially once you factor in the preheating time.
But don’t skip the preheating! If you put the asparagus in a cold oven, it will end up being exposed to heat for longer and then may end up overcooked.
Psst… to help the seasoning stick you can use a spritz of oil.
Results: This was an easy way to reheat asparagus and the spears still had some crunch to them. But if you’re only reheating one portion of asparagus, it’s a bit excessive to heat up the whole oven!
How to reheat asparagus in the microwave
Time: 20-30 seconds
- Lay the asparagus out on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a damp paper towel, or wrap the asparagus in the paper towel in a spiral shape (see the picture below).
- Microwave on high for 20-30 seconds.
After 20 seconds, my asparagus was hot and still had a bit of crunch.
I left a few spears in for longer to see what happened, and after another 20 seconds, they became overcooked and mushy. Short time intervals are the way to go with the microwave.
The damp paper towel created steam in the microwave and helps keep the asparagus moist, you can also microwave the asparagus with a glass of water next to them.
Results: The microwave is the most convenient way to reheat asparagus, but you need to make sure you don’t overdo it!
How to reheat asparagus in a skillet
Time: 2-3 minutes
- Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a pan.
- Add the asparagus and heat it for 2-3 minutes, continually rotating the spears so they heat evenly on all sides.
To add some extra flavor to your asparagus, fry some chili or garlic alongside it in the pan. Or if you’re feeling really indulgent, you can use bacon grease instead of oil or butter.
For best results, make sure the pan isn’t overcrowded. There should only be one layer of asparagus in the pan. If you start layering the asparagus, you’ll steam it instead of frying it.
Results: My asparagus spears were still crunchy and tasted great. The only downside to this method was having an oily pan to wash up, and potentially the extra calories.
How to reheat asparagus in the air fryer
Time: 1-2 minutes
- Preheat the air fryer to 375°F (190°C).
- Lightly spritz the asparagus with oil (optional) and sprinkle on any seasoning you want.
- Arrange the asparagus in a single layer in the air fryer basket.
- Heat the asparagus for 1-2 minutes.
The air fryer is quite a harsh cooking method, which is why the asparagus needs so little time to reheat.
As with the oven method, the oil is there to help any seasoning stick, so it’s totally up to you if you want to add it.
Results: The asparagus was nice out of the air fryer and still had some bite to it. It was also a very quick and easy method, but of course this is only useful if you have an air fryer!
Reheating asparagus in a steamer (avoid)
Time: 1-2 minutes
- Set up your steamer.
- Place the asparagus in a single layer in the steamer basket.
- Steam the asparagus for 1-2 minutes or until warm.
You can use water as the liquid in the steamer, but to add a bit more flavor I like to use stock. Or you can flavor the water with herbs and lemon juice.
If you don’t have a proper steamer, you can easily create a ‘makeshift’ one with a pan and a sieve or a colander.
Put some water in a pan and then rest the sieve on top to act as the ‘steamer basket’.
Results: Steaming is a good way to cook asparagus, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a reheating method. It cooked the asparagus too quickly and it turned out mushy. The transition from slightly warm to hot but limp and soggy was speedy!
Psst… based on this I would also not advise boiling your asparagus to reheat it.
How to store asparagus
Tips on how to store asparagus. It’s more complicated than you think!
Storing raw asparagus
The best way to store raw asparagus is to cut the woody stems off and then store the spears as you would a bunch of flowers – upright in a jar, with the bottoms submerged in an inch of water. Then put a plastic bag over the exposed tips to protect them.
The asparagus tips will last around 5 days submerged in water, and you should replace the water if you notice it becoming cloudy.
This might seem strange, but it’s a proven method to ensure your asparagus lasts as long as possible. The asparagus will absorb the water, so the spears stay nice and moist rather than becoming dry and limp.
If you don’t have space in your fridge to keep the asparagus upright, an alternative is to wrap the root end of the stalks in wet paper towels then place them in an open airtight container or plastic bag.
Storing cooked asparagus
To store cooked asparagus, wait for it to cool to room temperature, then put the asparagus in an airtight container in the fridge. The asparagus will last for 4-5 days. If you know in advance that you want to store the asparagus, slightly undercook the spears to ensure they stay crunchy after reheating.
The best way to cook asparagus you want to store is to quickly blanch or steam it. Only cook the asparagus for 1-2 minutes so it’s just turning tender. The reheating process will finish cooking it.
Sauteed or roasted asparagus also holds up well after storage as long as the spears are still al dente.
Avoid boiling the asparagus as this encourages mushiness.
How to freeze asparagus
Asparagus season is short but sweet. I like to buy a load of asparagus in peak season and then freeze it to use throughout the year.
However, it’s important to know that your asparagus will not be the same after freezing. The spears will lose their crispiness and will only be suitable for dishes like curries or stews where you want tender asparagus.
I also never freeze cooked asparagus. It comes out way too mushy.
Always pick the freshest asparagus possible for freezing. This will give it the best chance of surviving. Also, thicker asparagus stands up better to freezing than thin stalks. Go for stalks at least as thick as a pencil.
Freezing raw asparagus
To freeze raw asparagus, you need to blanch it first. Prepare the asparagus by cutting the woody stems off, then cook it for 1-3 minutes (depending on stem thickness) in boiling water before immediately submerging the asparagus in ice water. Dry the asparagus and freeze it in heavy-duty freezer bags.
The asparagus will last up to 6 months in the freezer before the quality starts to deteriorate.
Blanching stops enzymatic activity that would otherwise lead to loss of color, texture, and flavor. You can also steam the asparagus to blanch it. Steam thin stems for 2-3 minutes and thick ones for 4-5 minutes.
When the asparagus is cool, dry it thoroughly. Any water left on the stems will turn to frost in the freezer and increase the chances of freezer burn.
Then I like to flash freeze the asparagus by laying it out on a parchment-paper-lined baking tray and freezing it for an hour before transferring it to a freezer bag
This means the asparagus won’t stick together in the bag.
When you put the asparagus in the freezer bag, squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible before putting it in the freezer. The less air in the bag, the less chance there is of the asparagus developing freezer burn.
I always use a straw to suck the air out. Works a treat!
There’s no need to thaw the asparagus before you cook it. You can chuck it into whatever dish you’re cooking frozen. Frozen asparagus works best in dishes such as risottos, soups, and pasta sauces where you want a tender texture, it won’t be crispy enough to serve on its own or in a salad.
Freezing cooked asparagus
I don’t recommend freezing cooked asparagus. Upon thawing, the asparagus will turn to mush and will only be suitable for making soup. If you really want to freeze it, wait until the asparagus is cooled to room temperature, then freeze it in a freezer bag with all the air squeezed out.
The BEST Way To Reheat Asparagus [Tested]
- 1 portion asparagus
- 1 sprinkle seasoning of your choice
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Arrange the asparagus on a baking tray in a single layer and sprinkle with a seasoning of your choice.
- Cover loosely with foil (optional).
- Heat the asparagus for 3-5 minutes.