How to Cook Perfect Pan-Fried Asparagus on the Stove

Learn how to cook wonderfully flavourful and crisp asparagus in a frying pan on the stove with a touch of butter and squeeze of lemon with this easy pan-fried asparagus recipe.

How to Cook Asparagus in a Pan

Did your childhood include any mildly traumatic experiences with tasteless, wet, mushy asparagus? 

It’s a sad and soggy fate bestowed upon too many.

The truth is, properly cooked, well-seasoned asparagus is one of the most luxurious and decadent vegetables out there.

Asparagus can be eaten raw or cooked or added to salads, stir-fry, and soups.  It makes a wonderfully green addition to pasta or rice dishes and has enough flavour to serve as a side for everything from fish, to chicken, to a thick grilled steak.

Today, tender stalks hit the frying pan at just the right temperature in a perfect pan-fried asparagus recipe.

How to Trim Asparagus Stalk Ends for Cooking

Start with fresh, evenly sized stalks with tightly closed heads. Thicker stalks tend towards a woody consistency, so look for those with a diameter slightly thicker than a pencil.  Once you’ve chosen the perfect asparagus, rinse it thoroughly in cold water and pat dry.

Using a sharp knife, cut off the bottom inch of each stock (this can be composted, saved for stock, or thrown away.)

How Long to Cook Asparagus in a Pan on the Stove

For asparagus that is still bright green with a little snap to it, saute in a pan 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks (test with a fork).

Remember, food keeps cooking for up to five minutes once you remove it from the heat, so it’s “done” when it’s slightly less cooked than you prefer it to be.

Tent your cooked asparagus loosely in foil until ready to serve in no more than 10 minutes.

How do I know when asparagus is done cooking?

Asparagus will gradually turn bright green while cooking, then light green, and finally brown. Perfectly cooked asparagus should still be bright green.

Also, each stalk should be tender and flexible but still break (not just bend) when folded in half. This is referred to as crisp-tender.

Finally, your asparagus should still feel slightly firm when chewing, without any noticeable fibres.

This is a simple and delicious way to cook asparagus, especially when the oven is occupied with other dishes, yielding the same rich, earthy flavour as oven-roasting, in less time.

Perfectly Pan-Fried Asparagus

How to cook asparagus in a pan on the stove top - perfectly, every time.
Prep Time2 minutes
Total Time2 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: asparagus
Yield: 4
Author: Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 lb fresh asparagus trimmed
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice or to taste


  • Add butter to a heavy skillet over medium heat,
    covered, until butter begins to foam.
  • Add asparagus in a single layer, season well with salt, cover and cook,
    shaking the pan occasionally to roll the stalks. This should take 6-8 minutes.
  • Stir in lemon juice and taste. Add more lemon or salt if desired.

Last Updated on August 5, 2019 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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