We know that we’ve finally made it through the winter when fresh asparagus starts popping up everywhere. It’s a true delicacy and delicious when added to quiches and pasta but we really love to keep it simple to enjoy its unique flavor. This Grilled Asparagus with Parmesan will become a regular in your spring recipe rotation because it’s so simple to prepare and also makes a stunning addition to weekend brunches.
And hello to light and delicious side dishes like this grilled asparagus with parmesan that pair well with just about everything. While you can buy asparagus year-round these days we still associate the springtime with the tender bright green stalks and distinct flavor. We think you’ll love this stunningly simple side which can also be served as an appetizer. It can easily be made dairy-free by leaving off the cheese or substituting a dairy-free cheese of your choice for a dairy-free and vegan option.
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Don’t judge a stalk by its thickness
It’s a widely held misconception that thick stalks of asparagus are less desirable and indicate that it’s past its prime. The thickness of the stalks (which shoot up from the crown or rootball under the surface of the earth) is dictated by the age of the crown, not how long the stalk has been above ground. So thick stalks will still be tender and sweet and are, in fact, great for grilling because they’re less likely to fall between the grates if you’re not using a grill pan.
What You’ll Need to make Grilled Asparagus with Parmesan
You need surprisingly few ingredients to make this recipe:
- Fresh asparagus – Choose asparagus with spears (or stalks) that are smooth and firm to the touch with tips that are closed and compact and not soft or slimy. Stalks should not be withered or soft or unable to stand upright when in a bunch. The thickness of the spears is not an indicator of age or freshness so don’t worry about finding the thinnest spears possible.
- Oil – Avocado oil or olive oil will both work but because grilling asparagus requires high temperatures to get those crispy edges, we recommend using avocado oil because of its higher smoke point (and save the good organic olive oil for drizzling over a salad).
- Salt and Pepper – Fine salt and ground pepper are great but don’t be afraid to try coarse sea salt or flaked salt and fresh cracked black pepper for a little extra flavor and flair
- Parmesan cheese – The salty nuttiness of parmesan cheese perfectly compliments the natural sweetness of asparagus. Asiago, Grana padana, Romano, and Pecorino cheeses can also be used. For a dairy-free and vegan option, substitute your favorite non-dairy cheese. To make this grilled asparagus recipe Whole30-friendly, simply leave off the cheese and give the perfectly grilled spears a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice and an extra sprinkle of salt and pepper
- Fresh lemon – While optional, adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds a pleasing brightness to an already drool-worthy dish (plus an extra dose of vitamin C)
- Grill – Gas, charcoal, or wood-fired grills will all do the job!
- Grill pan – While not absolutely necessary for making grilled asparagus with parmesan, you’ll find that a grill pan like this one has so many uses (can you say grilled peppers and onions for fajitas?!). Using a grill pan means you don’t have to worry about losing those precious asparagus spears to the coals or flames.
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How to Make Grilled Asparagus with Parmesan
Even if you’re new to grilling, we think you’ll find this recipe surprisingly simple to pull off. Grilling vegetables is a great way to get comfortable with grilling because you’ll be relying on visual and tactile cues like color and texture rather than temperature to determine when they’re done. Grilled asparagus is one of our favorites for meal prepping because it’s delicious both hot and cold.
Step 1: Preheat the grill to medium heat (350-375℉) if using a gas or charcoal grill. If using a Traeger grill or other wood-fired grill that uses indirect heat for cooking, preheat the grill to 450-500℉.
Step 2: While the grill heats up, rinse the asparagus spears under cool, running water to remove any dirt or debris. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Using a sharp knife, cut the bottom 1-2 inches from each spear.
Step 3: Arrange the spears on a grill pan (if using) or a rimmed baking sheet (if not using a grill pan and plan to place the spears directly on the grill grate). Drizzle with oil and gently rub the oil onto the asparagus with your hands. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 4: Place the grill pan on the grill (or place each spear perpendicular to the grate to prevent them from falling through). Close the lid and cook for 6 minutes (over direct heat) or 8 minutes (over indirect) heat or until the spears are lightly grill-marked, bright green, and tender to your liking, using tongs to turn the asparagus spears halfway through.
Step 5: Remove asparagus from the grill and transfer to a plate or serving platter. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if using and serve with lemon wedges.
Grilled Asparagus is a nutritious addition to just about any meal
While asparagus is low in calories it’s surprisingly high in nutrition. It’s an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein (yes, protein), B vitamins including folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, selenium, vitamin K, and iron while also being very low in sodium. If you ask us, it’s the perfect side dish for any meal – breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
Leftover grilled asparagus can be mixed into Creamy Chicken Spaghetti Squash with Bacon and Asparagus or used to make a Crustless Asparagus, Leek, and Feta Quiche.
Other Grilled Recipes You’ll Love
- Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- Grilled Feta-Spinach Turkey Burgers
- Grilled Steak Kebabs
- Grilled Pork Kebabs with Peanut Sauce
- Grilled Salmon with Elote-Style Vegetables
- Greek Chicken Kebabs with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
- Mediterranean Steak Bowls
- 1 pound fresh asparagus spears
- 2 teaspoons avocado oil or olive oil
- 3 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese* (omit for dairy-free, vegan, and Whole30)
- Salt and black pepper
- Lemon wedges for serving, optional
- Preheat the grill to medium heat (350-375℉) if using a gas or charcoal grill. If using a Traeger grill or other wood-fired grill that uses indirect heat for cooking, preheat the grill to 450-500℉.
- While the grill heats up, rinse the asparagus spears under cool, running water to remove any dirt or debris. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Using a sharp knife, cut the bottom 1-2 inches from each spear.
- Arrange the spears on a grill pan (if using) or a rimmed baking sheet (if not using a grill pan and plan to place the spears directly on the grill grate). Drizzle with oil and gently rub the oil onto the asparagus with your hands. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place the grill pan on the grill (or place each spear perpendicular to the grate to prevent them from falling through). Close the lid and cook for 6 minutes (over direct heat) or 8 minutes (over indirect) heat or until the spears are lightly grill-marked, bright green, and tender to your liking, using tongs to turn the asparagus spears halfway through.
- Remove the asparagus from the grill and transfer to a plate or serving platter. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if using and serve with lemon wedges.
- Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
* For dairy-free or vegan, may substitute non-dairy cheese of choice
- Serving Size: ¼ recipe
- Calories: 40
- Sugar: 2
- Sodium: 39
- Fat: 2
- Saturated Fat: 1
- Carbohydrates: 3
- Fiber: 2
- Protein: 3
- Cholesterol: 3
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About Jessica Beacom
Jessica is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Boulder, CO with her hubby and two daughters. She’s been described as a ‘real food evangelist’ and loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them break free of the diet mentality and find their own food freedom. In her spare time she enjoys CrossFit, telemark skiing, mountain biking, teaching herself how to play the banjo and camping out under the stars.