Learn how to cut asparagus with step-by-step photos and a short video. You’ll see how to trim asparagus spears and shave or cut asparagus for salads, roasting, pasta, stir fry, or grilling.
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Asparagus imparts a delicate, earthy flavor and pretty color to recipes. It’s in peak season during the spring and can be found in green, purple, and white shades.
Before cooking asparagus, you should at least trim the spears. Many recipes will then call for whole spears of asparagus, while others require sliced or shaved asparagus. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to cut asparagus in different ways, including how much to cut off spears when trimming them.
How to Clean Asparagus
Before working with asparagus in the kitchen, it’s important to clean it. Start by rinsing the spears under cold water to remove any dirt. You can pat asparagus dry with a clean dish towel or roll the spears between two towels to blot all of the water if desired.
How to Trim Asparagus Spears
If you want to cut asparagus for roasting or grilling, trimming asparagus spears but otherwise leaving them intact is the way to go. You need to trim the asparagus to remove the tough, woody ends. They aren’t very appetizing! Here are two ways you can trim asparagus.
- Snap off the end of each asparagus spear with your fingers. Many chefs swear that this is the best way to trim asparagus, since the spears often naturally snap where the woody part ends and the tender part begins. However, other chefs believe you lose too much of the spear with this method. It’s up to you what you prefer.
- Or use a knife to trim off about ½-inch from the bottom of all spears. This is the quickest way to trim asparagus. However, some spears may need more cut off from the bottom than others.
How much do you cut off?
Sometimes, asparagus spears will show you where the woody part ends and the tender part of the rest of the spear begins. The woody part may be white, pale green, and/or purple, while the rest of the spear is bright green. However, that’s not always the case.
As a result, it’s usually best to snap or slice off at least ½-inch from the bottom of all spears to cover your bases. If some spears need more removed, you can trim those until you get rid of all of the woody bottom.
How to Slice Asparagus
Sliced asparagus can be used for pasta, stir fry, or salad recipes, among others. After trimming the spears, you can slice asparagus into any size you need. Many recipes call for 1-inch pieces.
- Cut across the spears to yield pieces of sliced asparagus of your desired size. You can cut on a diagonal for a pretty presentation if you want.
How to Shave Asparagus
Shaved asparagus is a beautiful style of preparation! It’s usually eaten raw in salads. Here are two ways to shave asparagus.
- Use a swivel peeler or Y-peeler to shave a spear of asparagus from top to bottom. Repeat until you have shaved as much of the asparagus as possible. Use a knife to cut up what’s left.
- Angle a sharp chef’s or paring knife to thinly slice a spear of asparagus from top to bottom.
Here are the tools I recommend for trimming, slicing, and shaving asparagus:
Now that you know how to cut asparagus, let’s talk about ways to eat more of this vegetable! You can use whole asparagus spears for roasting, pickling, or grilling, sliced asparagus pieces for pastas, soups, and stir fries, and shaved asparagus for raw salads. If you have too much asparagus on hand, you can freeze it following my steps in How to Freeze Asparagus.
Here are my favorite recipes with asparagus:
Watch How to Prep Asparagus
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How to Cut Asparagus
- Chef's or paring knife if trimming or slicing
- Swivel or Y-peeler if shaving
- 1 bunch asparagus
- First, clean the asparagus by rinsing the spears under cold water to remove any dirt. Pat with a clean towel to dry.
- Trim the asparagus spears to remove the woody part in 1 of 2 ways. You can snap the end off each spear with your fingers.
- Or you can use a knife to slice off at least ½-inch from the bottom of the spears. If some spears need more removed to get rid of the woody parts, continue trimming them with your knifie.
- Trim the asparagus then cut across the spears to yield slices of your desired size.
- Trim the asparagus spears. Use a swivel or Y-peeler to shave the spears into thin pieces from top to bottom. Use a knife to cut up what's left after you have peeled as much of the spears as possible.
- You can also use a chef's or paring knife to shave asparagus. Thinly slice the spears at an angle from top to bottom to yield thin shavings.
Enjoy your asparagus! – Lizzie
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