How To Cook Frozen Asparagus The Right Way

Versatile veggies like asparagus are the perfect kitchen staple to keep in the freezer. When it's time to cook them, more than a few techniques come to mind. From air fryers to ovens, which method works the best? When you're heating asparagus from a frozen state, opting for a frying pan is the right way to do it.

To make this wholesome appetizer come to life, start by taking the asparagus out of your freezer and laying a pan on the stove. Whether it's been frozen in pieces or full spears, this technique will work for both. Make sure the pan is hot, then add in a dash of olive oil. Now, sear the frozen asparagus until tender, which should only be a few minutes. Once the asparagus is cooked through, remove the pan from heat and plate the vegetables. From here, you can add sea salt and black pepper, or whatever other seasonings you have on hand.  

Fresh asparagus is a fragile vegetable, but frozen asparagus is a whole other beast. It doesn't need low heat and long cooking times to turn out exactly right. In fact, it needs the exact opposite to succeed.

Why this method works best

Some chefs might be more familiar with baking or roasting a bundle of asparagus. While these methods work well when asparagus is fresh, pan-frying the veggie when frozen helps ensure the texture and taste remain intact.

Because of the high heat of the pan, the asparagus will not need as long to cook, which prevents it from becoming wilted and limp. You have much better control of temperature when using a pan, too, compared to other methods, and this will prove vital when dealing with sensitive veggies like asparagus. Pan-frying frozen asparagus also allows the veggies to really sizzle in the oil or butter, lending a better flavor in the end. As a final bonus, pans often have one of the fastest cooking times out of all the other methods too.

Fresh and frozen asparagus are just not the same, and you can't force them to be. Frozen asparagus won't defrost like with other veggies because the excess water will leave it limp and undesirable. The bottom line: a fast sear while it's still frozen is the way to go. Don't waste the excess cooking time, and stick to the pan.

Other quick tips for frozen asparagus

As previously mentioned, if you swear by the use of an oven or air fryer, by all means, follow your heart; just know it might not be the same. Plus, while frozen asparagus might not be the best thing to roast, you can perfectly roast other types of frozen vegetables. Let's dig a little more into why frozen asparagus is the way to go — and why the pan is worth it.

While we dug a little into why you should pan-fry frozen asparagus, there are a lot of reasons why keeping the vegetable frozen is a good idea in the first place. Asparagus is notorious for going bad quickly and typically only lasts a few days in the fridge when it's fresh. Sticking the bundle in the freezer can extend its shelf life by eight or nine months, depending on how you prep it. 

Even after it's frozen, it can taste just as good as fresh, too — if you cook it right, that is. Asparagus is 93% water, so once it's frozen, it's very easy for it to turn into a mushy mess once you reheat it. Remember, when it's time to cook, you only need to heat it up fast in a pan, and you're good to go.