Learn how to smoke asparagus and elevate this often dull side dish to the next level!
Whether you're using a pellet grill like a Traeger, Camp Chef, or Pit Boss, an electric smoker like a Masterbuilt, or a traditional propane grill like a Weber, we've got you covered.
Why is Asparagus Smoked?
Asparagus, smoked or grilled
Let's face it, everyone and their brother has been offered "grilled asparagus" at a backyard BBQ by a neighbor or acquaintance.
While grilled asparagus may be excellent, it is often underseasoned, overdone, limp, and charred in flavor.
Usually, whoever cooked it was preoccupied with the burgers and steaks as the asparagus wilted away in the back corner of the grill at 700 degrees.
Convenience and Versatility of Smoking Asparagus
Aside from the improved tastes from the woodsmoke, smoking asparagus means you have a lot more discretion in cooking before the asparagus becomes overdone since you are cooking it at a lower temperature.
As a result, it tastes better, and you're less likely to make a mistake.
It's also quite handy since you can cook asparagus with your other foods on the smoker, barbecue, or pellet grill.
The secret is to place it on the smoker at the appropriate time and temperature and take it off before it overcooks, which we'll go over in more depth below.
Smoking Asparagus with the Best Wood
Your primary wood choice will most likely be determined based on your choice of protein you'll be smoking with the asparagus that day.
On the other hand, smoked asparagus is fantastic to cook while your large slab of meat is resting, or even if you're creating something else to go with it on another grill or inside the home.
So don't restrict yourself to whichever wood you smoked with the main course.
Hickory and Mesquite for your Smoked Asparagus
Mesquite and hickory are two excellent wood alternatives for asparagus that you should explore.
While the intense tastes of these two kinds of wood, especially mesquite, may dominate many types of meat when smoked for lengthy periods, they are ideal for smoking vegetables and seafood for shorter periods.
In a concise amount of time, you can impart many unique smoke flavors.
Plus, asparagus' robust flavor stands up to the smokiness of both kinds of woods.
Asparagus Preparation for Smoking
Getting the Ends Trimmed
Before smoking the asparagus, the woody, fibrous ends must be snapped off.
You can accomplish it with a knife and a cutting board, but there's a more straightforward and more efficient approach.
Expert tip: Hold the larger end of the asparagus with two hands, thumbs pushed on the stalk and pointing away from you, around 1/4-1/3 away from the future.
Then, as if you were breaking a trim stick or twig, push your thumbs away from you.
You won't have to guess where to clip the asparagus or leave too much woody root clinging to the end of the stalk for your visitors to chew through since the asparagus will snap in precisely the perfect spot every time.
Finally, for a more polished appearance, use a peeler to remove the exterior of the asparagus. This is optional but works excellent on particularly thick stalks.
Top Smoked Asparagus Seasonings and Sauces
Why do so many people forget to season their vegetables? You would never offer a gorgeous rack of lamb or an excellent ribeye steak to a visitor without seasoning, so why do so many people forget to season their vegetables?!
No matter how you cook asparagus, it needs salt and pepper at the very least.
A squeeze of lemon juice, squeezed on after it's cooked, is the next most crucial thing (a good rule of thumb is that citrus should usually be added to meats and veggies AFTER they cook)
Now you're in business. Add some butter and garlic, or go out with a bearnaise or hollandaise sauce.
Smoking Asparagus at the Best Temperatures
The beauty of smoking asparagus is that you can smoke it at any suitable cooking temperature between 225 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, whether it's a slow-cooking pair of lamb shanks at 225°F or a roasted bird or turkey crisping up at 350°F, you can place the asparagus there.
How Long Does Asparagus Take to Smoke?
The temperature you choose for your protein in the cooking chamber will determine how long the asparagus takes to cook.
The asparagus will take approximately an hour to cook at 225°F on the low end.
If smoking at 350°F, the asparagus should be ready in about 10-15 minutes.
What is the optimal temperature for smoking asparagus?
Whichever choice you pick, your asparagus will finally be thoroughly cooked. As a result, the obvious question arises: Which temperature is preferable?
The lower temperature will allow your asparagus to absorb a smoky flavor if everything else is equal. You will be less likely to overcook it due to the more extended cooking period.
The asparagus will undoubtedly be done sooner at the higher temperature, but you risk overcooking it if you take your gaze away from it for too long.
We split the difference in our recipe below and smoked our asparagus at 275°F for 35-45 minutes.
While the meat is resting, smoke the asparagus.
If you're smoking a giant roast like a lamb shoulder or a fresh ham at a low and moderate temperature like 225°F, one brilliant alternative is to add the asparagus after the meat has been removed from the smoker.
Large pieces of beef like this should rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.
This gives you the ideal opportunity to raise the smoker's temperature to over 300° F, add some additional wood, such as mesquite, that you may not want to use on your meat, and add the asparagus.
You may now devote your complete attention to the asparagus while the meat rests on the counter inside.
How can you know when your smoked asparagus is done?
Asparagus cooked to perfection should be soft yet still crisp, not limp.
Some culinary websites state that the asparagus should remain brilliant green after cooking; however, if the asparagus is cooked on a grill or smoker and exposed to woodsmoke and flammable gases such as charcoal, the beautiful green hue will fade soon.
Tasting your asparagus is the most accurate method to determine its quality. One spear will serve as your tester.
Take a nibble when you believe they're near to being finished. If it's not done, put it back on and keep testing this same piece until it's perfect.
When the asparagus is done, quickly remove it from the cooking chamber.
Expert tip: Spread them out on a pan rather than stacking them on top of each other.
If you stack them on top of each other, the bottom ones will probably overcook and become floppy and mushy.
When smoking asparagus, use a vegetable basket or a pan.
It's ideal to use a vegetable grilling basket when smoking smaller meals like veggies or shrimp since it keeps them confined and makes them simpler to move around and control.
Another excellent aspect of the veggie basket is that the perforations allow for more heat and ventilation than a pan if you're grilling directly.
We prefer this one from Weber because of its sturdy construction and low price. Still, many more variations are available in various forms and sizes and materials like stainless steel or cast iron.
Skillets and Pans
A pan is a way to go if you don't have a vegetable basket or want to prepare a sauce while smoking your asparagus, like the garlic and butter sauce we use in the recipe below.
You may use a disposable aluminum foil pan or an oven-safe skillet, such as a cast-iron skillet.
Getting your Asparagus Smoker Ready if you have Never Smoked Before
Here's a complete list of the best entry-level smokers for beginners.
As we previously said, you are most likely setting up your smoker to cook the main meal to accompany the asparagus, so be sure to follow THOSE directions for setting up your smoker.
If you only want to smoke some asparagus on its own, here are the most delicate directions for setting up various sorts of grills and smokers for that purpose.
Charcoal Smoker, Vertical or Offset
- Fill your firebox or lower charcoal basin with approximately half a chimney's worth of unlit charcoal, then hollow out a tiny depression in the middle to place your lighted briquets.
- Don't fill it just for asparagus if your smoker comes with a water pan, like the Weber Smokey Mountain.
- Fill a charcoal chimney approximately 1/3 complete with charcoal and let it burn for about 20 minutes.
- Once the briquets are lighted, please place them in the center depression you made.
- Keep the dampers half-open to 3/4-open until the temperature reaches 275-300 degrees F. Then gradually shut them until you maintain a 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.
- Once the smoker has reached temperature, add one piece of smoking wood and your asparagus, ideally in a pan or vegetable grilling basket.
- Set the temperature on your electric smoker to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add smoking wood chips to the smoking wood tray instead of pellets while it warms up.
- Close the door after placing your asparagus on the rack.
- Are you trying to decide between propane or electric smoker? CLICK HERE to see our COMPLETE COMPARISON GUIDE.
- If you're cooking asparagus and nothing else, fill the pellet hopper with your favorite smoking wood pellets, ideally mesquite or hickory.
- Preheat the pellet grill to 325 degrees Fahrenheit by plugging it in.
- Place your asparagus on the pellet grill after it has reached temperature, ideally in a vegetable grilling basket or pan.
- Have you ever used a pellet grill? Learn why pellet grills are so simple to use and how to set one up for success every time by reading our Ultimate Guide to Pellet Grills.
Grill (gas or charcoal)
- A smoker box loaded with wood chips or a pellet tube smoker packed with wood pellets will be required on a gas or charcoal grill.
- Do you believe you need a high-end smoker to smoke meals at home?
Points to consider when smoking food
- You can make delicious smoked food easily on your existing gas or charcoal barbecue.
- No worries if you're not acquainted with the gas mentioned above grill smoking equipment; we've covered you!
- Here's all you need to know about smoker boxes and a list of some of our favorite pellet tube smokers.
- We would use the smoker box with wood chips for asparagus since the asparagus would not take long to cook. Save your pellets for items that take longer to smoke.
- Set up your gas or charcoal grill for indirect cooking on one side with the burners or a small number of lighted briquets and the asparagus.
- Remember that we're cooking the asparagus INDIRECTLY, as in an oven, rather than DIRECTLY over the burners or embers.
- Place your smoker box or pellet tube smoker over the lighted burners after your grill reaches about 300 degrees F, and as smoke starts to come out, move the meat to the opposite side.
- Continue to raise the temperature to 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Best Smoked Asparagus Recipes
While asparagus is often served as a side dish, there's no reason it can't be the star of the show with whatever else you're doing.
Even with just some salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon to end, your smoked asparagus will stand out, but there are some more alternatives if you want to go a bit bolder.
You may either attempt your sauce recipe on the smoker or follow the recipe below to learn how we smoked our asparagus in a skillet with butter, garlic, and shallots.
Asparagus may also be smoked and served with a balsamic reduction, white wine cream sauce, or even a sophisticated bearnaise or hollandaise sauce.
Whatever sauce you choose complements the protein, grains, or other seasonings you're serving, since things will certainly mingle on the dish.