How To Steam Asparagus in the Microwave

updated Jul 29, 2023
How To Steam Asparagus in the Microwave
The fastest way to make steamed asparagus is in the microwave. All you need is a damp paper towel to pull of tonight's easy veggie side.

Serves4

Prep10 minutes

Cook3 minutes to 4 minutes

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Credit: Laren Volo

Despite all the ways we love to prepare fresh asparagus, microwave steaming might be the very best. You’ve got to trust me here, because microwave steaming eliminates the need to boil water, takes just a few minutes, and makes perfectly tender asparagus spears without turning on the oven (though if you want to toss asparagus in the oven we’ve got you).

Let me alleviate any further doubts on this method by noting that I learned this asparagus steaming trick from Alton Brown — so now you’ve got to try it, right?

Quick Overview

Keys to Microwave Steamed Asparagus

  • Rinse and trim the asparagus before steaming asparagus.
  • Make sure the paper towel is damp, not soaking. Wet four layers of paper towels with a quarter-cup of water and squeeze the paper towels to remove any excess water.
  • Roll the asparagus into a bundle and lay it flat in the microwave.
  • Use tongs to remove the bundle from the microwave.

Microwave Asparagus Is Fast Feasting

Let’s say you bring home a bunch of asparagus from the market and you really want to enjoy their sweet, grassy flavor and snappy texture immediately. Microwave-steamed asparagus is the fastest route from farmers market to feasting.

The Best Asparagus for Microwave Steaming

You can steam any green or purple asparagus varieties in the microwave, but note that thicker stems will take longer to cook and can cook less evenly. Medium and thin asparagus are the very best for microwave-steamed asparagus.

How To Serve Microwave Asparagus

I love microwaved steamed asparagus for eating simply dressed in butter or vinaigrette. Steamed asparagus is also marvelous for cold dishes like salads, terrines, or cold noodle bowls.

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Trim the asparagus: Trim the bottom 1 to 1 1/2-inches of woody stem from the bottom of the asparagus. Rinse the asparagus. (Image credit: Laren Volo)

How To Steam Asparagus in the Microwave

The fastest way to make steamed asparagus is in the microwave. All you need is a damp paper towel to pull of tonight's easy veggie side.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 3 minutes to 4 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    asparagus, preferably thin or medium thickness

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Paper towels

  • Chef's knife

  • Cutting board

  • Tongs

Instructions

  1. Trim the asparagus: Trim the bottom 1 to 1 1/2-inches of woody stem from the bottom of the asparagus. Rinse the asparagus.

  2. Dampen the paper towels: Dampen 4 large paper towels with 1/4 cup water. Wring out any excess and stack the paper towels on top of each other. Lay the asparagus on the paper towels in a single layer.

  3. Season the asparagus: Sprinkle the asparagus with the salt.

  4. Roll the paper towels around the asparagus: Roll the paper towels into a bundle with the asparagus. You should have a spiral of asparagus with paper towels in between.

  5. Microwave the asparagus: Place the bundle in the microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes. Check for doneness — the asparagus should be tender crisp. Microwave for 1 minute more on high if needed.

  6. Remove from the microwave using tongs: Using tongs, carefully remove the asparagus from the microwave.

  7. Serve: Dress the warm asparagus with a pat of butter or hollandaise sauce.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.