Vegan Life > Recipes > Side Dishes > Perfect Air Fryer Asparagus

Perfect Air Fryer Asparagus

July 8, 2024

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Get restaurant-perfect tender and crisp asparagus at home with just 6 ingredients, 10 minutes, and your air fryer! Harmoniously balanced with lemon and garlic flavors, this air fryer asparagus recipe is naturally vegan and gluten-free.

Air fryer asparagus on a platter with a lemon slice.

This air fryer asparagus is the perfect simple vegetable side dish, with a light lemon garlic flavor. It's easy to make, healthy, and so delicious!

Ingredients and Substitutions

Air fryer asparagus requires just six simple ingredients. Below are tips for choosing these ingredients, and which ingredients can be substituted.

Ingredients for air fryer asparagus, labeled.

asparagus: Choose firm, bright green asparagus that turns white or purple at the bottom. The tips should be closed and dark green or purple.

extra-virgin olive oil: Any oil with a high smoke point can be used in this recipe, like canola or sunflower oil. Measure your oil carefully so you don't end up with soggy or oily asparagus.

lemon juice: Freshly-squeezed juice will give you the best flavor, but you could also use bottled juice if you prefer. You can also leave this out or replace it with another flavor (see flavor variations below).

garlic powder, salt, pepper: These seasonings enhance the flavor of your asparagus and can be adjusted to suit your taste. For more seasoning options, see the next section.

A top-down view of asparagus on a platter, next to a cutting board with lemons.

Air Fryer Asparagus Flavor Variations

I love the taste of lemon and garlic in this recipe because they enhance the flavor of the asparagus without overpowering it. But here are some other flavors you might enjoy:

  • Replace the lemon juice with orange juice or vegan Marsala wine.

  • Season with lemon zest, parsley, cayenne, smoked paprika, ginger, or basil.

  • Add vegan parmesan, bread crumbs, or toasted almond slices.

  • After cooking, drizzle melted vegan butter, balsamic glaze, or vegan hollandaise sauce.

Cooked asparagus in an air fryer basket.

Tips for Restaurant-Perfect Air Fryer Asparagus

Measure your oil: This is one recipe that you don't want to eyeball the amount of oil with. If you add too much oil, you'll end up with soggy, oily asparagus.

Don't overcook: If you overcook your asparagus, it will end up limp and soggy instead of tender and crisp. If you have thin spears, you will need to reduce your cooking time; for very thick spears, you should increase it. And air fryers can vary, so always keep an eye on your asparagus to avoid overcooking. It will soften a bit after it comes out of the air fryer, so remove it a little earlier than you think.

Where to trim your asparagus: The length of each stalk that needs to be trimmed will vary, with thicker spears usually requiring more trimming. Trim where the spear starts to change color from bright green to pale green, white, or light purple.

Asparagus on a cutting board, with the woody ends trimmed.

Adding asparagus to the air fryer basket: I have tested this recipe two ways: by cooking in batches, with the asparagus spread out in the basket, and also by cooking the whole bunch at once. There was no noticeable difference in the results, so I recommend cooking in one batch, unless your air fryer is very small.

What to Eat with Air Fryer Asparagus

This asparagus recipe is a perfect side dish to nearly any meal. I love it with my lentil loaf and vegan sour cream mashed potatoes. It's also great with General Tso's tofu, butternut squash ravioli, or lasagna. Or you can use the leftovers in a vegan frittata, tofu stir-fry, or butternut squash casserole.

Storage and Reheating

Air fryer asparagus tastes best when it's fresh out of the air fryer, but if you have leftovers, they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat them in the air fryer for 2 minutes at 400°F (200°C).

Air fryer asparagus on a plate with a fork and lemon slices.

More Easy Vegan Side Dishes

Perfect Air Fryer Asparagus

Yield4 servings

Prep Time5 minutes

Cook Time5 minutes

Total Time10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. asparagus, woody ends trimmed
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice*
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Instructions

  1. Install the grilling rack* into the air fryer basket, then preheat the air fryer to 400°F (200°C).

    An air fryer basket with the grilling rack installed.
  2. Add your asparagus to a large rectangular container* (preferably one with a lid). Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the asparagus, then add garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cover and shake the asparagus until it’s evenly coated. Or, if your container doesn’t have a lid, you can use a wooden spoon to stir it.

    Left: asparagus in a container topped with seasonings; Right: Asparagus coated with seasonings, after covering and shaking the container.
  3. Place your seasoned asparagus in the air fryer basket, then air fry for 4-6 minutes,* shaking the basket halfway through, until tender but still crisp.

    Asparagus in an air fryer basket; left: before air frying; right: after air frying.

Notes & Hints

Seasonings can be adjusted to taste, or changed. See the blog post for more seasoning suggestions.

If your air fryer doesn't have a grilling rack, air fry the asparagus spears directly on the bottom of the basket. The asparagus may require slightly more cooking time without the grilling rack.

To season the asparagus, you can also use a rectangular baking dish or large zip-top bag.

If your asparagus spears are particularly thick or thin, adjust your cooking time. Thinner spears require less cooking time; thicker spears will need more time. They're ready when tender but still crisp.

Nutrition Data

Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe; Calories: 47Fat: 2 g.; Saturated Fat: 0 g.; Cholesterol: 0 mg.; Sodium: 123 mg.; Carbohydrates: 5 g.; Fiber: 2 g.; Sugar: 2 g.; Protein: 3 g.; Vitamin A: 43 mcg. RAE; Vitamin B12: 0 mcg.; Vitamin C: 7 mg.; Vitamin D: 0 mcg.; Calcium: 28 mg.; Iron: 2 mg.; Potassium: 237 mg.; Zinc: 1 mg.

Note: This data should be used only as an estimate. Please see the nutrition section of my terms and conditions for more information on how this data is calculated.

Four vegan dishes: Creme Brulee, Detroit-style pizza, General Tso's Tofu, and Lemon Tart

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A top-down view of air fryer asparagus on a plate, with a fork and lemons.
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