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This lemon garlic sautéed asparagus is quick, fresh, simple, packed with flavor, and ready in just 20 minutes—perfect for serving with practically any meal!

completed Sauteed Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic against a white background
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The BEST Pan-Fried Garlic Lemon Asparagus

Asparagus isn’t always the most budget-friendly ingredient to source, but while in season (spring!) or on special offer, it’s really worth adding to your dinner table whether making a stir-fry, asparagus soup, sesame roasted asparagus, or this super quick and simple sauteed lemon garlic asparagus.

Not only is this pan-fried asparagus absolutely delicious, but this ingredient is simple to work with, ready in under 20 minutes when cooked on the stove, and makes a super versatile, diet-friendly (gluten-free, low-carb, vegan, keto, whole30) side for almost any meal.

The combination of fresh asparagus with bright lemon, moreish garlic, and crispy shallots is so simple but really makes this fresh spring ingredient shine. Better yet, asparagus is super nutrient-dense, loaded with antioxidants and several vitamins and minerals—including vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as potassium, iron, and folate – while remaining high in fiber and super low on calories.

Best of all, this sautéed asparagus is perfectly flavored, tender-crisp, and ready to enjoy alongside pasta, risotto, salads, and more. You might also enjoy other simple green sides like curry roasted broccoli or garlic baby bok choy.

The Ingredients

Relying on just a handful of simple and inexpensive ingredients, this sautéed garlic lemon asparagus recipe will steal the spotlight on your dinner table.

ingredients for Sauteed Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic measured out against a white surface
  • Asparagus: Sautéed asparagus works best with in-season medium-sized stalks.
  • Garlic: For the best flavored sautéed asparagus with garlic, use fresh garlic cloves. However, garlic powder will work in a pinch.
  • Fresh lemon juice: Add a little lemon zest for even more citrus flavor.
  • Oil: Use neutral-tasting cooking oil like canola, grapeseed, or vegetable oil. For more flavor and richness, use garlic oil or vegan butter (like Miyoko’s or Earth Balance).
  • Shallot: (optional) Shallots, sweet onion, or the whites from scallions would all create a crispy, oniony flavor that adds texture and flavor to the skillet asparagus.
  • Salt & black pepper: (optional) to season.

What Could I Add To Pan Fried Asparagus with Lemon?

Pan-fried asparagus doesn’t need to rely on tons of ingredients to make its flavors shine. However, here are a few more you can experiment with.

  • Spice: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or chili/cayenne pepper.
  • Nutritional yeast: To mimic parmesan for a nutty, ‘cheesy’ flavor.
  • Smoked paprika: To add a subtle smokiness to the pan-cooked asparagus.
  • Fresh herbs: This pan-fried asparagus recipe pairs well with several herbs, including fresh parsley, dill, chives, tarragon, and mint.
  • Chopped nuts/seeds: (like slivered almonds or pepitas) to add crunch and protein.
  • Balsamic vinegar: Instead of lemon juice, add a little balsamic.

When making pan-sauteed asparagus, you could add extra veggies to the skillet, as long as they’ll cook in a similar time frame, like green beans or thick-cut zucchini.  

How to Make Garlic Lemon Asparagus

There are just a few low-fuss steps to making pan-fried asparagus, making them great for a delicious, last-minute side dish.

  • 1) First, rinse and trim the asparagus by either trimming the bottom 2 inches or snapping the woody end from one spear (it should naturally snap where the woody part ends), then use a knife to cut the remaining spears to the same size. Meanwhile, juice the lemon, thinly slice the shallot (if using), and mince the garlic.

If using large asparagus stalks, peel them until about two inches below the tip.

  • 2) Heat the oil and sliced shallots in a large skillet over medium heat until they sizzle. Then add the garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the shallots turn golden-brown.
  • 3) Increase the heat to medium-high, add the asparagus, and toss everything to coat.
  • 4) Reduce the heat to medium once more, add the lemon juice, cover the pan, and allow the lemon garlic asparagus to cook for 3-5 minutes or until tender-crisp. Taste and optionally season with salt and pepper, then enjoy!
process shot of adding lemon to pan

FAQs

Do you need to blanch asparagus before sauteing it?

Blanching vegetables (cooking them briefly in boiling water before halting the cooking process with an ice bath) can help them maintain the best color and texture in several cases. However, for this super quick skillet asparagus, there’s no need.

Why is my sauteed asparagus tough and stringy?

Asparagus that isn’t fresh will become woodier/stringier over time. However, it’s also important to remove the tough woody end from the spears before cooking asparagus on the stove.

Can I use frozen asparagus?

It should work, but the asparagus will be mushier and require a longer cooking time.

Do I have to peel the asparagus?

This comes down to their size, as very thin asparagus (available pencil-thin to an inch thick) is usually more tender. Usually, the thicker the stalks, the tougher the peel.

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Use even-sized spears: This is important for them cooking uniformly. Also, medium-sized asparagus works best for sautéed lemon asparagus.
  • Cooking time may vary: Based on the asparagus size. Monitor them carefully to cook until tender-crisp. Very thin spears will take 1-2 minutes less, and large ones can take 1-3 minutes more.
  • Cut to size: We like to cook the spears whole (after trimming the woody ends) but cut them into 1-2-inch pieces if preferred.
  • Be careful not to overcook: Residual heat will continue to cook the pan-seared asparagus for a minute or two after you remove it from the heat, so be careful to remove them when they still have a ‘bite’ to them. However, if you prefer more tender asparagus, sauté them for 1-2 minutes longer.
completed Sauteed Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic against a white background

How To Tell When Sautéed Asparagus Is Done?

When ready, the asparagus spears should be a vibrant green and slightly bendy but still have a ‘bite.’ If you’d prefer them to be more tender, cook for 1-2 minutes longer.

Storage Recommendations

Freshly cooked pan-fried asparagus will always taste best. However, leftovers will store in an airtight container for 2-3 days (and soften over time). We don’t recommend freezing them, as they’ll become mushy.  

To reheat the leftover lemon asparagus, throw them back into a skillet with a little oil until heated. Optionally add more lemon/garlic if needed.

What To Serve With Garlic Lemon Asparagus?

This is a versatile asparagus side dish for almost any meal. We particularly like it with:

More Vegetable Side Dishes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Sauteed Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic [+ Shallots]

5 from 53 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 -4
This lemon garlic sautéed asparagus is quick, fresh, simple, packed with flavor, and ready in just 20 minutes—perfect for serving with practically any meal!

Ingredients 

  • 1 bunch of asparagus (mine had 17 spears), bottom inch cut off, and tough skin removed from about two inches below the tip on down
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • Juice of half a small lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of neutral oil (canola, vegetable, grapeseed)

Instructions 

  • Heat the oil and shallot in a large skillet over medium heat. When things start to sizzle, add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until the shallot gets dark golden brown and starts to caramelize.
  • Turn the heat up to medium high, and add the asparagus, let it cook a little, and toss it in everything to coat. Turn the heat back down to medium, add the lemon juice, cover the pan, and let it cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the asparagus bends a little when you pick it up, but not so much that it's mush. (You want it cooked through, not crunchy and raw, but still with some firmness and bite.)
  • Put it all onto a platter and serve.

Notes

  • Use even-sized spears: This is important for them cooking uniformly. Also, medium-sized asparagus works best for sautéed lemon asparagus.
  • Cooking time may vary: Based on the asparagus size. Monitor them carefully to cook until tender-crisp. Very thin spears will take 1-2 minutes less, and large ones can take 1-3 minutes more.
  • Cut to size: We like to cook the spears whole (after trimming the woody ends) but cut them into 1-2-inch pieces if preferred.

Nutrition

Calories: 79kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 5gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gSodium: 7mgPotassium: 521mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1702IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 65mgIron: 5mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Stefan
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: French
Method: Stove
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve only recently started liking asparagus and this recipe is one of the reasons why! So fresh, savory and fabulous. A really excellent side dish for any meal.

    1. That’s so awesome! It’s still growing on me but this recipe does make me enjoy them more too!