Marinated, grilled asparagus is a delightful, no-fuss way to enjoy the springtime stalk. An orange marinade infuses the spears with a citrus punch. And the blazing hot grill creates an enticing feast for the eyes. Even if you don't marinade in advance, a simple balsamic vinaigrette makes for a lovely finish to a springtime side dish.
Fresh asparagus is the quintessential springtime stalk. Bright green, pungent, and slightly sweet when treated with the right amount of heat. The spears play nice with a variety of cooking methods, flavors, and textures. And that includes light, fresh vinaigrettes. You can truly use any vinegar you have on hand. But sherry vinegar or a rich, syrupy balsamic vinegar is a great match for the bitter notes of asparagus. Lemon juice is a great replacement for the orange juice in the recipe, too.
This is a quick and easy recipe I created when cooking for private clients in Malibu a few years back. True to much of SoCal cuisine, the simple marinade takes well to additional international ingredients like soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and minced garlic. Clementine segments or Parmesan cheese are winners for the finish. And both look beautiful on the plate!
Many of the ingredients for a marinade are pantry staples. Feel free to reach for any oil and vinegar you happen to have on hand. And brown sugar or coconut sugar can replace the honey.
- butter (for cooking minced shallot in vinaigrette, optional)
- orange juice
- sherry or balsamic vinegar
- avocado oil
- extra-virgin olive oil
- dijon mustard, optional
- tangerines or clementines
- kosher salt or sea salt (or any kind)
- ground black pepper
For an in-depth tutorial on how to clean, store and prepare asparagus, read this.
The culinary ratio at hand here concerns not the asparagus, but the marinade and balsamic vinegar dressing (vinaigrette). The professional formula for a vinaigrette of any kind is three parts oil to one part vinegar (3:1). But this is a guide, not an absolute.
3 parts oil + 1 part vinegar
I find when marinading, less oil is needed since it's the vinegar and aromatic ingredients that will do the most work. And when whisking up a dressing to finish a dish, sweeter vinegar like balsamic or aged red wine vinegar tends to need less oil than more sour kinds.
Get your grill - gas, or charcoal - ripping hot. Scrape it clean and oil it well. Avocado, coconut, and canola oil all have a high smoke point. Save your olive oil for finishing, especially the extra virgin variety. It's likely to smoke and burn at higher temperatures.
You don't have to marinade asparagus for a delicious plate of grilled spears. But it doesn't take long and infuses them with more nuanced flavors. If you're in a pinch for time, whisk up a quick vinaigrette to drizzle on at the end of cooking.
- Trim about an inch off the bottoms of the asparagus spears.
- Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a shallow prep dish or large zipper food storage bag. Place the asparagus in the marinade and store chilled for at least an hour, or up to overnight.
- Preheat your outdoor gas grill on high, or prepare your coals to be as hot as possible (but no longer flaming excessively). You can also use a grill pan on the stove at medium-high heat.
- Remove the marinated asparagus from the bag and wipe off any excess liquid. If you didn't marinade your bunch, coat the stalks with avocado or canola oil.
- Season the spears with a couple of small finger pinches of salt.
- Scrape the grill grates clean with a grill brush, and rub on a high-heat oil like avocado with a dishrag.
- Grill the asparagus until evenly charred and tender to the bite (taste one to know!). Flip the spears over once halfway through cooking, once the first side is deeply charred. Medium-thick stalks take about ten minutes to cook on a blazing hot grill.
- Serve warm tossed with the segments of a few clementines or mandarins and balsamic vinaigrette (optional). Or even just a squeeze of lemon and a little olive oil.
Grilling any food requires high heat and not much else. Fight the urge to flip. The goal is to get those beautiful grill marks. And the grates can't brand your food if you keep tossing it around with your long tongs.
For grilled asparagus, chose thicker stalks at the market. Thin spears can go from perfect to charred in just one brief moment of distraction.
This springtime side dish is naturally gluten-free and can be dairy-free and/or vegan if you sauté the shallots for the balsamic vinaigrette in a vegan "butter" or oil. The dish fits easily within many natural healing diets, including the GAPS diet protocol and paleo.
Keto or low-carb. Simply ditch the honey in the marinade for a completely sugar-free and low carbohydrate dish. Give a nice healthy drizzle of olive oil after grilling. Or instead of garnishing with the vinaigrette, serve the grilled asparagus with a hollandaise sauce, a keto lover's delight! Or here's a dirty keto-style recipe of bacon-wrapped asparagus.
Frequently Asked Questions
You don't need to soak asparagus spears before grilling. However, you will want to coat the spears in oil to help prevent sticking. If you are grilling with any cedar planks or wood skewers, you should definitely soak those in water before grilling to prevent them from catching fire.
You certainly can blanch (briefly boil then shock in an ice bath) asparagus before grilling. But it's another step, and not entirely necessary. Furthermore, the best part about grilling asparagus is the sweet, charred flavor imparted by the dry, high heat. If the asparagus is still wet or excessively moist when the stalks hit the grates, this caramelization won't occur.
Yes! Like many vegetables, asparagus grows in the dirt and residual soil often survives processing. A quick rinse in cold water is all you need to do. Be sure to pat the asparagus dry to remove all the moisture. Otherwise, with dry heat cooking methods like grilling or roasting, the water will steam the stalks. And prevent that golden, brown, and delicious crisp texture.
If you don't have the petite, super sweet mandarins or clementines, grilled asparagus with any vinaigrette is delicious in its own right. And truly any vinegar works. Or if you happen to have white wine on hand, feel free to swap in a nice sauvignon blanc or chardonnay. No judgment here.
Marinated, Grilled Asparagus Recipe
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minuntes (1 hour inactive)
- Yield: 4-5 servings 1x
- Category: Recipes
- Method: Grilling
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Gluten Free
An amazingly simple, quick way to cook a flavorful springtime vegetable! The sweet citrus vinaigrette balances out the earthiness of the asparagus.
- 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
- 2 small tangerines, peeled, segmented
- Avocado or coconut oil, for grilling
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 small shallot, minced
- ½ cup fresh-squeezed or cold-pressed orange juice
- ½ cup sherry or balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Balsamic Vinaigrette (Optional)
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil (to cook shallots in, optional)
- 1 small shallot, minced, optional
- 1 teaspoon mustard, yellow or dijon
- ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup of olive or avocado oil
- ½ teaspoon of flake salt (less if using iodized or table salt)
Before you begin, gather and clean all of your ingredients and collect your equipment. Then prepare the ingredients according to the ingredient list. If the shallots need to be minced, mince them. If the oranges need to be peeled and segmented, do it before you start cooking. Getting everything in place will make the process much smoother and simpler.
- For the balsamic vinaigrette, sauté the minced shallots over medium-low heat in a small pan. Stir occasionally and cook just a few minutes until the shallots soften and begin turning translucent.
- Combine the cooked shallots in a small bowl with the dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar.
- Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking constantly. This will emulsify, or bind and thicken, the dressing. Set it aside. The dressing can be made in advance and stored chilled. Whisk again (or shake the container) to recombine the dressing before serving.
Marinated & Grilled Asparagus
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade, then transfer to a shallow prep dish or large zipper food storage bag. Place trimmed asparagus in the marinade and store chilled for at least an hour, or up to overnight.
- Preheat your gas grill on high, or prepare your coals to be as hot as possible (but no longer flaming excessively). You can also use a grill pan on the stove, aim for a medium-high to high heat.
- Remove the asparagus from the marinade (if using). If you didn't marinade your bunch, coat the stalks with avocado or canola oil.
- Season the spears with a couple of small finger pinches of salt.
- Scrape the grill grates clean with a grill brush, and rub a high-heat oil onto the grates. You can also use a cooking spray oil.
- Grill the asparagus until evenly charred and tender to the bite (taste one to know!). Flip the spears over once halfway through cooking with tongs, once the first side is deeply charred. Medium-thick stalks take about ten minutes to cook on a blazing hot grill.
- Serve warm tossed with the mandarin segments and the balsamic vinaigrette. Sprinkle or grind a bit of black pepper, if you like. Or even just a squeeze of lemon and a little olive oil.
Reheating... For best results, reheat any grilled asparagus on a baking pan in the oven at 350° F.
On vinegar and orange juice... You can use any vinegar you have on hand. Apple cider, sherry, white wine, or red wine vinegar would all taste lovely. In the absence of orange juice, simply add a bit more vinegar to the marinade or even a little white wine.
This springtime side dish is naturally gluten-free and can be dairy-free and/or vegan if you sauté the shallots in a vegan "butter" or oil. The dish fits easily within many natural healing diets, including the GAPS diet protocol and paleo.
Keto or low-carb. Simply ditch the honey in the marinade for a completely sugar-free and low carbohydrate dish. Give a nice healthy drizzle of olive oil after grilling. Or instead of garnishing with the vinaigrette, serve the grilled asparagus with a hollandaise sauce, a keto lover's delight!
The calorie and nutrient counts below are for an average bunch of asparagus served with the mandarin segments and balsamic vinaigrette. Depending on how much dressing you use, the calories and fat will be significantly less.
Keywords: marinated asparagus, grilled asparagus, balsamic vinaigrette, how to grill asparagus
I love balsamic dressing on my salads, but I’d never considered it on asparagus (which is usually my least fave veggie). I’ve also never thought to marinade my asparagus. Mind-blown! This was a game changer. Thanks for another great recipe and a new way to get veggies into the rotation that my family is willing to eat!
That's what I'm here for, to convert the haters! 😂