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How To Cook Asparagus In A Can

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Canned asparagus is great for people who don’t want to spend time cooking it separately. But there are a few shortcomings of the canned variety that makes it (in some cases) inferior to fresh asparagus!

Since canned asparagus is pre-cooked, it requires a more delicate touch when it comes to heating or cooking as it is extremely easy to overcook this canned vegetable! 

How can you cook asparagus in a can? Canned asparagus can be grilled, microwaved, pan-fried, and baked. It can also be added with other pre-cooked ingredients and heated for just a few minutes to retain its texture and flavor.

Read below to learn more about canned asparagus and how you can prevent them from overcooking!

The Benefits Of Canned Asparagus

Asparagus is an extremely popular and common vegetable that is available across North America and other regions around the world. 

It is known for its strong nutty and earthy flavor and is sometimes compared to mushrooms and broccoli.

It can be seasoned and prepared in different ways and when it is cooked right, it offers an excellent bite that is satisfyingly crunchy. 

The fresh variety of asparagus is preferred by many as you can control its texture while it cooks but not everyone can properly cook asparagus, this is especially true for people who have little cooking experience. 

With the canned variety, you can simply just heat and eat the asparagus without applying any technique!

However, the thing with canned asparagus is that it is usually mushier since it is cooked which means that it doesn’t require a lot of time on the pan or oven. Just heat it enough so that it is warm and start munching!

This mushy and at times, soft texture, is the primary reason why many people prefer fresh asparagus over the canned variety. 

Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to make canned asparagus just as great as fresh asparagus!

Methods Of Cooking Canned Asparagus

As mentioned, canned asparagus only requires a slight touch as you don’t have to cook them out of the can. In other words, you will have to work with them a bit differently to get the most out of their flavor and texture.

Here are a few ways to cook canned asparagus:

Oven Method

The oven method is an excellent way to prepare multiple types of asparagus-based meals. You can either just heat the asparagus as it is or add different ingredients with it to make it more interesting! 

For example, the best way to cook canned asparagus would be to drain the water and lay out the vegetable on a lightly greased baking tray.

Set the oven to 425°F with the fan on and cook the asparagus for about 6-8 minutes

You don’t have to leave them in the oven for longer because they are already pre-cooked! This moderate cooking time will allow the vegetables to retain their flavor and texture without getting overly mushy. 

Want more? Line the asparagus in stacks and then add salt, pepper, and a few pieces of your favorite cheese.

We recommend trying gouda cheese with asparagus! Cook at high heat until the cheese has melted or has a slight char and serve hot! 

Pan-Frying Method 

This method requires you to work quickly! 

To preserve the crunchy flavor of canned asparagus, you must first heat the pan with just a bit of extra virgin olive oil. 

When the oil starts to smoke, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the drained canned asparagus and cook for another 2 minutes on each side. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!  

You can also top the dish with lemon zest for a richer and fresher flavor. Remember, cook the asparagus fast using high heat and then turn off the flame as soon as they are warm.

This will caramelize the skin of the vegetable without overcooking them. 

Microwave Method

Microwaves are an excellent way to cook canned asparagus within a minute.

That’s right. Canned asparagus will only take up to 30 seconds to heat in the microwave at the medium setting. If your microwave is set at the high setting then we recommend heating it at intervals of 10 seconds

Don’t continuously heat it for more than a minute to prevent it from losing texture. Cooked asparagus should be crunchy and flavorful. A great tell telltale sign of appropriately cooked asparagus is to pierce a piece using a fork.

If the vegetable breaks apart then it would indicate that it has been overcooked, however, if the fork pierces the skin and is notably crunchy, then the asparagus is ready to serve! 

Air-Frying Method

Air-frying is another great way to retain the texture and flavor of canned asparagus while also effectively heating it. 

The easiest and quickest way to cook it would be to drain the asparagus, spray some cooking oil on the air-fryer basket, and then season the asparagus with salt and pepper. 

Cook the asparagus at 400°F for about 4-5 minutes or until adequately heated. Make sure that you shake the basket every 2 minutes so that the asparagus warms up on all sides.

This strategy will also help you reduce the chances of cold spots on the vegetable. 

If you don’t have an air fryer but are interested in getting one, we’d definitely recommend this brand!

Grilling Method

If you plan on making steaks for dinner then we highly recommend that you cook canned asparagus on the side too. It’s quick and it will complement the steak while adding variety and flavor to the plate as well.

Drain the asparagus and set it aside. When you’re done cooking the steak, just add the canned asparagus to the already hot grill and cook each side for about 2 minutes.

You can also lightly press down on the vegetables using a spatula as they cook so that they sear and char!

Make sure that the vegetables don’t spend more than 3-4 minutes on the grill or you will end up with mushy and soft asparagus.

Which Method Is The Best?

If you are looking for the definitive way to cook asparagus while retaining its versatility and flavor then you should go for the oven or air-frying method

Both of these methods indirectly heat the vegetable which means that the asparagus warms up without directly cooking. 

This prevents it from getting too soft. The oven and air-frying method will also allow you to easily pair the canned asparagus with other ingredients like cheese or condiments without overcooking them! 

However, the other methods mentioned above can be great in certain cases. For example, the grilling method is excellent for canned asparagus as you can just cook them on the side without having to take out extra utensils.

Just add them to the grill and serve them with the steak within minutes! 

Similarly, the microwave method is a fantastic way of heating the asparagus too. Heat it in under 15 seconds and add it as a side to almost any dish.

You can even have them on their own by adding a layer of cheese and then topping them with lemon zest! 

Tips And Tricks

  • Always drain and pat dry the vegetable before cooking it. You don’t need the extra moisture while cooking asparagus as it may increase the cooking time. Just cook them dry using any of the above methods to get crunchy asparagus within minutes!
  • When frying canned asparagus, always add the vegetables dry to a hot pan for about a minute, and then add a splash of extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat all the vegetables and continue cooking for another minute. This method will help retain their flavor and will also add a bit of a crunch to every bite!
  • Canned asparagus might not need extra seasoning because it is stored in brine. So, before you add it to any recipe, please taste the vegetable by cutting and tasting a small piece and then adjusting the seasonings accordingly. 
  • Always add canned asparagus at the very end of any recipe. Think of it as more of a garnish than an ingredient that requires cooking. In some cases, the ambient heat and steam from the dish are enough to heat canned asparagus!

Related Questions 

While canned asparagus may not be able to compete with the fresh variety, it is still a highly convenient way of adding asparagus to your diet without having to cook it. Just heat it and eat it within minutes! 

Now that you know how to cook and what to look out for when using canned asparagus, here are some related questions!

Can you eat asparagus directly from the can?

Yes, you can eat asparagus directly from the can but we would advise that you first drain the brine to avoid its overly salty flavor.

Also, it would be a great idea to check the back of the packaging for preparation tips, as each manufacturer has different ways of pre-cooking and storing canned food.

Is canned asparagus always very mushy?

No. Generally, canned asparagus is softer than raw or even freshly cooked asparagus, but it shouldn’t be mushy.

In some cases, it can also be described as being a bit mushy, but it won’t be overly mushy. If it is, then please check for signs of spoilage before consumption to rule out rot as the cause of the extra softness. 

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