How to Cut Asparagus: 3 Simple Methods

published Mar 24, 2023
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Cutting board with chopped asparagus. Knife is in photo
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Although we often think of asparagus as being synonymous with spring, you can use it year-round. Simple roasted asparagus is straightforward and reliable, creamy asparagus soup is the perfect way to use up leftovers, and bacon-wrapped asparagus is an all-around crowd-pleaser. Before you get to any of this, however, you’ll need to know how to prep your produce.

Each asparagus spear has a tough woody end that’s unpleasant to eat and should be removed. In this guide, you’ll learn the best way to remove it, plus different methods for cutting and preparing asparagus.

Method 1: Trimming the Asparagus

What You’ll Need

  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board

The first method for cutting asparagus is the easiest and arguably the most common. When you get fresh asparagus from the grocery store or farmers market, they will almost always come in a bunch held together with a thick rubber band. Keep the rubber band around the asparagus until it comes time to cut it.

  1. Remove the rubber band from around the bunch of asparagus. Rinse the asparagus spears in a colander or large bowl filled with water, drain, and pat dry. Lay the asparagus flat on a cutting board.
  2. Use both hands to hold each end of the asparagus spear. Carefully bend the asparagus spear until it snaps. Make a note of where the asparagus spear naturally snaps into two pieces.
  3. Use the spot where the first asparagus spear snapped in half as a reference for where to cut the others. Line the rest of the asparagus together so that they are more or less aligned with the already-snapped spear of asparagus.
  4. Use the knife to cut off the ends of all the asparagus at once, at the same spot as the already snapped asparagus. Use the spears for roasting, air frying, or grilling. Discard the ends or reserve for later use (the tough ends are best used in dishes in which they will be broken down or blended).

Method 2: Cutting the Asparagus into Bite-Size Pieces

What You’ll Need

  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board

The second method for cutting asparagus isn’t technically different from the method explained above, but more so an extension of it. This method for cutting asparagus is best for things like pasta dishes, salads, soups, and other dishes you’d likely eat with just a fork or spoon without a knife.

  1. Prep and cut your asparagus according to the directions above, trimming off the ends (and discarding or reserving them for later use).
  2. Cut the remaining asparagus spears into 1- to-2-inch pieces on the cutting board.

Method 3: Shaving the Asparagus

The third method for cutting asparagus is less of a technique for cutting and more of a style of preparing the asparagus spears. This method involves shaving the asparagus. Some people prefer to shave asparagus rather than snap or cut it. You can either peel the asparagus spears lightly and prepare them as-is, or you can peel them entirely in order to make a dish with shaved asparagus.

What You’ll Need

  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Y-shaped vegetable peeler
  1. Prep and cut your asparagus according to the directions above in the first method. Trim off the ends of the asparagus spears and discard or reserve for later use.
  2. Lay the asparagus spear flat on the cutting board. Hold down the thick end of the asparagus spear with one hand and hold the vegetable peeler in the other hand. Shave the side of the asparagus spear, starting at the thick end and moving down toward the tip of the spear. Continue this process until the spear is completely shaved.
  3. Avoid trying to shave the asparagus spear in the opposite direction, as the ridges and sharp edges at the tip will create friction against the peeler and you won’t get clean pieces of shaven asparagus.