How To Cook Canned Asparagus So It Isn't Soggy

Fresh asparagus is a wonderfully versatile ingredient that can pep up everything from salads and soups to stir-fried dishes and sides. However, its season is woefully short, usually running from April through June. While it may not seem as exciting, canned asparagus, picked at optimum freshness, can be a quick, cheap, and flavorful way to enjoy some of the taste and health benefits of the vegetable.

Some ways of preparing canned asparagus, however, can leave it soggy and underwhelming. If you've ever been disappointed by the limp texture of microwaved canned asparagus, or found it mushy in casseroles and bakes, don't worry. There are other ways to prepare the vegetable to make it much crispier and more delicious.

Removing the moisture from the canned asparagus is key for a crispy result. Whether you prefer to cook it on the stove, in the oven, or in an air fryer, it's important to drain, rinse, and pat dry the spears before they hit the heat. That way, whether it's sauteed or baked, it will remain firmer rather than soft or soggy.

Which cooking methods achieve the best results

Given that canned asparagus has already undergone heat treatments during the canning process, it doesn't need to be cooked from scratch. When seasoning the drained, dried asparagus, bear in mind that you may not need much salt, as canned asparagus can already be fairly salty, depending on the brand.

One of the simplest and quickest ways to crisp up canned asparagus is in a hot skillet. Sauteed quickly in a little butter or oil over medium heat, the asparagus becomes nicely crisp. Alternatively, try the grill or a stovetop grill for cooking canned asparagus with appetizing char marks; it only takes a couple of minutes on each side. Another easy way to prepare canned asparagus is to bake it in a single layer on a baking sheet in the oven at a high heat, which also intensifies the natural flavor of the vegetable by evaporating even more moisture.

Or try the air fryer for a fast result, which is arguably the best method for getting canned asparagus to the crispiest possible texture. It only takes a few minutes, depending on your air fryer, and there's no need to turn the asparagus during cooking.

Boost the flavor and texture to help canned asparagus shine

However you're preparing it, with a few key steps, canned asparagus can be a powerhouse pantry ingredient. It's especially handy during the winter months when fresh asparagus is not in season. Just drain it well and dry it properly before heating to achieve the crispiest possible spears.

To add extra umami flavor to canned asparagus, try sprinkling it with grated parmesan cheese, either before cooking in the oven or air fryer for a crunchier crust, or just before serving to enhance an asparagus side dish to pair with meat or fish. You could dress the oven-roasted or sauteed spears with a squeeze of lemon juice or a little butter to help the canned ingredient shine. Or spice things up by adding paprika, chili, garlic, or onion powder, or fragrant herbs such as thyme, before cooking the canned vegetable.

As for serving, the crunchy spears are great for adding texture and bite to salads, or sprinkled over a creamy risotto or homemade fettuccine Alfredo. Or, make the most of the crispy results when using an air fryer by eating the spears as a snack, with a dip of your choice. Because with a little tender loving care, canned asparagus can become something more special, and might just become a regular ingredient in your recipe repertoire, no matter the time of year.