How to Cook Asparagus So It Doesn’t Get Soggy

First you saw those beautiful, bright green asparagus spears at the market, and absolutely had to buy them because… SPRING! Now, you’re frantically Googling how to cook asparagus because they turned out soggy and weird the last time you tried to make them. What went wrong, you wonder? What cooking method should you try this time? And how can you make asparagus that actually tastes amazing?

First of all, rest assured: You absolutely made the right move snatching up fresh asparagus while it’s in season—this is one of those seasonal veggie treasures that really shines when the weather gets warmer. “While asparagus is available year-round, it’s best bought in season in the springtime,” Alexis deBoschnek, a Catskills-based cooking pro and author of To the Last Bite, tells SELF. During asparagus season, you’re more likely to find stalks that are more fresh, flavorful, and tender, as opposed to tough and woody.

Something else to know about the bounty of asparagus you just brought home: Your body will thank you for it. While you’re probably buying asparagus mostly because you’re trying to cook up some bomb-tasting in-season veggies, there are also other notable asparagus benefits worth briefly touching on—like the fact that it’s, like, extremely good for you.

Along with micronutrients like vitamins A, C, and K, one cup of raw asparagus contains nearly three grams of fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s packed with a kind of fiber called prebiotics—naturally occurring fibers that help promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut and are linked to good digestive health, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

OK, but enough talk about asparagus nutrition! It’s time to get into the nuts and bolts of how to cook asparagus so you can make the most of your haul. Here are all the asparagus cooking tips you need to make the most of this veg—and make it official that spring has sprung in the most delicious way, baby.

How do you pick the best asparagus?

It helps when cooking asparagus to bring home the freshest asparagus in the first place, of course, so look for stalks whose tips are tightly packed and not at all soft or wet. These are good indicators of freshness, deBoschnek says—so you’ll not only get the best flavor and texture, you’ll also get a longer shelf life before you need to cook it.

By the way, as for whether to select a bundle of thinner or thicker spears, there are a lot of opinions out there—and it’s largely a matter of preference. Slimmer asparagus stalks have a more delicate texture and quicker cooking time, while thicker stalks take longer to cook and have a meatier, heartier texture (and medium-thick spears are somewhere in the middle). You might also find that it depends on the dish you’re making. “The medium is my favorite when I want it to be the star of the show,” Kristina Ramos, chief chef educator at the New York sustainability nonprofit Chefs for Impact, tells SELF. Meanwhile, “A thicker asparagus cut into smaller rounds is great for a salad or pasta-type dish,” Ramos explains, “and thinner spears are great as a side dish or on its own.”

Do you refrigerate asparagus?

Asparagus is perishable, so unless you plan on eating it ASAP after bringing it home, you definitely want to refrigerate it. “After a few days, it can get soft and have an unpleasant odor,” Karishma Pradhan, a recipe developer, cooking instructor, and founder of the Home Cooking Collective based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, tells SELF.

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