Sous Vide Asparagus at Its Finest: 3 Cook Times at 3 Temps and the Best Result
Sous vide asparagus deep dive to bring out the best version of asparagus—vibrantly green, crisp-tender, intensely flavorful, and nutritious. Ready in 30 minutes.
Cooking vegetables sous vide brings out the finest flavors of the season. Asparagus is a nutrient-dense, mild-tasting vegetable that makes the perfect canvas for experimenting with different seasonings and flavors. In this blog post, I will share my experience of sous vide cooking asparagus at three different temperatures for three different lengths of time and the best result from my experiment. We will also explore how to create sous vide asparagus for an unforgettable flavor experience.
- Why Sous Vide Asparagus?
- Sous Vide Asparagus Experiment: 3 Cook Times at 3 Temperatures
- What You Need
- How to Sous Vide Asparagus Step by Step
- StreetSmart Sous Vide Tips to Make the Finest Asparagus
- Ideas to Serve Sous Vide Asparagus
- What to Do with Leftover Asparagus
- Sous Vide Asparagus Recipe
Why Sous Vide Asparagus?
Did you know that vegetables are top candidates for sous vide? It’s a bigger topic that we will tackle in more depth soon. In this article, let’s look at the benefits of sous vide green vegetables like asparagus. It boils down to three areas that are much harder to achieve with traditional cooking methods.
- Appearance: When asparagus is cooked in a precisely heated water bath, it remains vibrantly green.
- Structure and Texture: It allows the asparagus to tenderize without losing its structure. The result is crisp-tender.
- Nutrient and Flavor: Asparagus is packed with nutrients, providing a good source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium. Cooking it sous vide keeps the nutrients in the vegetable itself. The cooking bag also helps to catch any nutrients that do leach out. Asparagus cooked this way is intensely flavorful.
In addition, asparagus is fairly quick to cook sous vide compared to other vegetables like carrots, corn on the cob, etc. The cook time is generally around 15 minutes or less once the water has been brought up to the optimal temperature.
Sous Vide Asparagus Experiment: 3 Cook Times at 3 Temperatures
What is the best temperature to sous vide asparagus? While I was doing my research online, I found that almost everyone sous vide cooks their asparagus at 180°F (82°C) for 10 minutes or less depending on the thickness of the spears. I did my asparagus at 183°F (84°C) for 15 minutes in my Complete Sous Vide Cookbook, so I know it works. Then, Chef Thomas Keller said in his MasterClass that he found 185°F (85°C) the perfect temperature for cooking all vegetables sous vide. He even joked that if the water bath is less than 183°F (84°C), you could cook vegetables “until doomsday,” and they would remain firm. He went on to sous vide white asparagus with a 1⁄2-inch diameter for 20 minutes.
By then, I was confused. All that information also sparked my curiosity, so I put on my big sous vide nerd hat, rolled up my sleeves, and did an experiment to test all three temperatures and three cook times. The goal was to find the optimal temperature and time combination for sous vide asparagus and eliminate the confusion for all of us StreetSmart home chefs once and for all.
Here is how it all went down.
Choosing the Right Asparagus
First and foremost, I went to the store and bought a ton of green asparagus. The main criteria for my sous vide asparagus experiment were freshness and size.
Select the Freshest Asparagus
One of the best practices when it comes to sous vide cooking is that you always want to choose the freshest ingredients. Remember that sous vide intensifies the natural flavor of the food, and it intensifies the not-so-good ones too. Therefore, the freshness makes a huge difference.
To select asparagus, look for stalks with tops that are still closed tightly and bottoms that look moist.
The thinner your asparagus, the less cook time it requires, and vice versa. For the sake of simplicity, I chose medium-sized asparagus for my experiment. The diameter of my asparagus was between ½ and ¾ inches.
Based on what I learned online about cooking medium-sized asparagus sous vide, I wanted to test the following:
|– 180°F (82°C) for 8 minutes|
– 180°F (82°C) for 11 minutes
– 180°F (82°C) for 15 minutes
|– 183°F (84°C) for 8 minutes|
– 183°F (84°C) for 11 minutes
– 183°F (84°C) for 15 minutes
|– 185°F (85°C) for 8 minutes|
– 185°F (85°C) for 11 minutes
– 185°F (85°C) for 15 minutes
That’s nine combinations. (Call me crazy, but I can’t help it!)
I vacuum-sealed two asparagus spears with a little olive oil in one bag. I skipped seasoning. Once I got nine bags of asparagus ready to go, I labeled each with the temperature it’d be cooked at and for how long.
Next, I submerged three bags labeled with 180°F (82°C) in the water bath at that temperature and pulled out the bags one by one at the 8-minute mark, 11-minute mark, and 15-minute mark according to my labels. I immediately placed the asparagus bags in an ice-water bath.
Then I repeated the above process with three bags each at 183°F (84°C) and 185°F (85°C).
From then on, it was time to check the results. I am pleased to report that all the asparagus came out vibrantly green with intense flavor. The differences from this experiment are more on the textural side.
There was only one way to find out—by taking a bite from each of the nine bags. (I know it’s a lot of asparagus to taste. I didn’t eat it all if that’s what you are wondering. I saved the rest for future use. More on this later.)
|Sous Vide Asparagus (½-inch diameter)|
|180°F (82°C)||Crunchy, slightly soft||Crunchy, slightly soft||Crunchy and getting a little tender|
|183°F (84°C)||Crunchy, slightly soft||Not much of a difference from cooking for 8 minutes||Crisp, slightly more tender|
|185°F (85°C)||Crisp, slightly more tender||Crisp, more tender (Good!)||Perfectly crisp and tender(The best!)|
Alrighty, here I present to you the final verdict of the StreetSmart Kitchen’s Sous Vide Asparagus (½-inch to ¾-inch diameter) Experiment: The best temperature and time to sous vide medium-sized asparagus is 185°F (85°C) for 15 minutes!
I hope this experiment helped bring some clarity when it comes to what time and temperature to use to cook asparagus sous vide. Feel free to use it as a benchmark to discover your own time and temperature combination to make the perfect asparagus that YOU prefer.
Now let’s quickly take a look at what you need in order to do that.
What You Need
- Fresh asparagus. In North America, asparagus is in season from February through June, reaching its peak around April. In general, the fresher the ingredient, the more flavorful and nutritious it is. With sous vide, this statement has double effects, so pick the freshest asparagus you can find for this recipe.
- Salt. As with most sous vide vegetables, a little salt, and pepper is sufficient for flavor without overpowering the natural asparagus flavor. You can always add more seasonings after sous vide if desired. Some people also suggest leaving the salt out of the sous vide bag for green veggies in order to preserve the green color.
- Olive oil. Adding fat such as olive oil, unsalted butter, or garlic butter helps to fix the aroma of the vegetables. To maximize the taste, I recommend making garlic-infused oil for your vegetables. It’s well worth the additional five minutes.
- A sous vide machine. I used an Anova Precision Cooker for my sous vide asparagus experiment.
- A large pot or a sous vide container. Anova makes a solid sous vide container that holds 16 liters of water. That’s what I use, but a large and deep soup pot is fine too.
- A vacuum sealer. When it comes to sous vide vegetables, I would highly recommend using a vacuum sealer as vegetables are much lighter and tend to float. Vacuum-sealing is the only way to remove all air from your cooking bag. Then you can easily weigh it down if it floats without worrying about water getting into the bag. It also preserves the freshness of your asparagus if you don’t plan on eating it right away.
- Vacuum-sealer bags. This is self-explanatory. These vacuum-sealer rolls come in very handy when you want to custom-size your own bags for your asparagus.
How to Sous Vide Asparagus Step by Step
Now that you’ve got everything ready. Let’s begin cooking!
Step #1: Setting up the Sous Vide
Preheat water to 185°F (85°C). Take the precaution to protect your countertop by placing a trivet underneath your cooking vessel, whether it’s a pot or a sous vide container since you are cooking at a high temperature here.
Step #2: Preparing Asparagus for Sous Vide
- Remove the woody ends of the asparagus by cutting them off using a chef’s knife. If you’d like to go the extra mile to peel the asparagus spears (I usually don’t), here’s how to do it—elevate the asparagus off the table while peeling. Peel the spear starting 1 1⁄2 inches below the tip.
- Prepare a sous vide bag and place asparagus inside; arrange all spears in one single layer. Add salt and a little fat of your choice; vacuum-seal the bag.
Step #3: Cooking Asparagus Sous Vide
When the water reaches 185°F (85°C), submerge the asparagus in the water. If it floats, add a lid or a rack on top to weigh it down.
- For pencil-thin asparagus, cook it for 6-8 minutes.
- For medium-sized asparagus (1/2-3/4 inch diameter), set the timer for 15 minutes.
- For really thick asparagus, let it cook for 20 minutes.
Step #4: Plating and Serving Your Finest Sous Vide Asparagus
Cut the bag open and use tongs to transfer the asparagus onto a serving plate. There are many ways to serve your perfectly cooked asparagus. I will explore them shortly. I opted for a Foolproof Sous Vide Hollandaise Sauce to top off my asparagus and sprinkled it with freshly ground black pepper. It’s absolutely delicious!
StreetSmart Sous Vide Tips to Make the Finest Asparagus
- Arrange the asparagus spears in a single layer. After asparagus is cleaned, trimmed, and/or peeled, you want to arrange them in a single layer in a sous vide bag before sealing the bag. This helps the asparagus cook evenly.
- Vacuum-seal your asparagus. This is the only way to guarantee the fantastic results that bring out the finest version of asparagus. If you use a Ziploc bag and the water displacement method, it’s much harder to submerge the asparagus fully under the water and keep it there for even cooking. Properly cooked, vacuum-sealed asparagus will also be fully pasteurized, so you can store it in the fridge for a long time without losing its freshness or freeze it without fear of freezer burn.
- Place cooked asparagus in an ice-water bath immediately after sous vide cooking to keep it green. This will stop cooking right away to prevent your asparagus from turning olive green.
- Add acidic ingredients after cooking. For the same reason, when green vegetables like asparagus come into contact with acidic ingredients during cooking, they’ll quickly lose their vivid color. So squeeze fresh lemon juice only after plating if you desire.
- Storage tips: If you don’t plan on eating your asparagus right away or plan on eating only part of it, it’s important to portion and spread it out into multiple bags before cooking. Once cooked, make sure to rapidly chill the asparagus in an ice-water bath before transfer to the fridge. Vacuum-sealed sous vide asparagus without opening can be stored in the fridge for seven days. You can also freeze it for a year.
Ideas to Serve Sous Vide Asparagus
To serve sous vide asparagus as a stand-alone side dish, I have some unique ideas in addition to showering it with sous vide hollandaise sauce.
- Fry some chopped garlic until crispy, add to your plated asparagus, followed by lemon zest and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Cut bacon strips into small pieces and fry them until crispy. Feel free to add some fresh garlic in the pan while the bacon is cooking. Drain, then top your asparagus with crispy bacon!
- Make Asparagus Mimosa from my Complete Sous Vide Cookbook. Drizzle some lemon vinaigrette over your plated asparagus, then top it off with a grated hard-boiled egg. To grate the egg, simply press it through a fine-mesh sieve. Voilà!
What to Do with Leftover Asparagus
Make a delightful and satisfying gnocchi dinner with bacon and leftover asparagus. It’s a super-quick one-dish meal for any busy weekday. You can substitute gnocchi for pasta if you prefer.
Still have more left? Freeze it. In my case, I chopped up the rest of the asparagus from my sous vide experiment and put it in the freezer for later. Please note that for the best quality, cooked asparagus can stay in the freezer for up to two months. However, if you vacuum-seal your asparagus for sous vide cooking, the cooked and chilled asparagus (still in its bag) can be stored in the freezer for up to one year!
Here you have it—the process and result of my crazy sous vide asparagus experiment along with everything you need to know to make the finest asparagus at home. Try it and share your experience in the comments below!Print
Sous vide asparagus at its finest—vibrantly green, crisp-tender, intensely flavorful, and nutritious. Ready in 30 minutes.
- Set up sous vide: Preheat water to 185°F (85°C) using an immersion circulator.
- Prepare and bag the asparagus: Place trimmed asparagus spears in a vacuum-sealing bag and arrange them in one single layer. Add some olive oil and a pinch of salt to the bag and vacuum-seal it.
- Cook asparagus sous vide: When the water is ready, submerge the asparagus under the water bath. Weigh it down if necessary. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
- Serve: Once the timer goes off, remove the bag from the sous vide bath. Cut it open, drain, and plate the asparagus. Sprinkle with some good salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve. One of my favorite ways to serve the asparagus is to drizzle it with Hollandaise sauce. It’s a must-try!
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 54
- Sugar: 2.1g
- Sodium: 583.8mg
- Fat: 3.7g
- Saturated Fat: 0.6g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 4.8g
- Fiber: 2.5g
- Protein: 2.6g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: Sous Vide Asparagus