Grilling is a favorite pastime, and with a little practice, you can grill practically anything you set your mind to. This includes options such as vegetables to serve alongside favorite grilled proteins. Asparagus is a year-round favorite due to how well it freezes. It tastes awesome when grilled as it helps bring out the subtle flavors.
However, grilling vegetables can be a bit tricky as the high heat dries out these softer options, and can char them pretty quickly. Luckily, there are a few simple tricks you can use to grill the perfect asparagus every time you fire up the grill. This recipe takes advantage of bacon, but many other flavor opportunities exist and I’ll share other personal favorites below.
What You Need
Grilling asparagus is incredibly simple and pretty quick to do! I love to play with flavor profiles and do everything I can to inspire my children to get their greens, and adding bacon never hurts. Take a look at some ingredient options below to decide which is best for your flavor palette.
Charcoal or Gas Grill
Both charcoal and gas grill were perfectly fine for grilling asparagus. It does grill quickly, so I prefer a gas grill since it warms up quickly and requires little to no cleanup.
Fresh or Frozen Asparagus Spears
You can use either fresh or frozen asparagus for this. Because of how quick it cooks, I prefer frozen asparagus in order to infuse more flavor into the stalks. This is a great trick when using bacon as well since you can allow them to sit over heat for longer periods of time without drying out.
I prefer using thick cut bacon with frozen asparagus, and thinner bacon slices with fresh spears. Fresh spears also work well for just a quick oil and seasoning toss prior to grilling.
I’m not going to lie, this thing is a lifesaver when it comes to grilling veggies. They spread heat out in a uniform manner, allows for grill marks, helps keep direct heat from charring veggies, and keeps your vegetable from falling through the grate. If you don’t have a grilling mat, you can also use foil!
How to Grill Asparagus
Step 1: Pre-Heat Grill to Medium-High Heat
When wrapped in bacon, you want to preheat your grill to medium heat. I let it sit around 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure I have a good environment to begin frying the bacon once I place it on the mat.
This is a good temperature even if you aren’t cooking bacon, but will cook your spears quickly, so you need to stay close and keep an eye on them.
Step 2: Wrap Bacon Around Asparagus
While your grill heats, wrap your spear in bacon, overlapping the edges just a little bit. Don’t let them sit too long like this, especially if you have frozen asparagus. You don’t want them to start thawing yet, and you want the bacon still chilled from the refrigerator.
Step 3: Place Bacon Wrapped Asparagus on a Grilling Mat
When ready to grill, lay down your grilling mat over the heat. Leave your corners near the back or sides to allow any juices to drip away from the burners to avoid any grease flare-ups. Once ready, set your asparagus on the mat and then cover with the lid.
Step 4: Cook for Approximately 10 Minutes, Turning Once the Bacon Begins to Crisp
I generally let my bacon sit for about 4 to 5 minutes before turning it for the first time. You will start to hear the bacon ‘frying’ on the mat. The juices will collect around the stalks as well, and should drop off in a safe manner in the back.
You will want to turn the asparagus evenly while you grill to crisp up all sides. It is easy to lean them up against one another to get a side that doesn’t lay flat well. If you feel one is cooking more quickly than the others, simply move it to a cooler area on the mat.
This technique is the same one you use whether you use bacon or not, but you may want to adjust the cooking times as they will cook within 4 to 5 minutes. In fact, you may not want to close the grill lid, and simply keep them turning as they cook.
Step 5: Remove From Heat and Serve Immediately
All in all these should cook up in about 10 minutes if you use a frozen spear and thick-cut bacon. Always keep an eye on what you are doing to better adjust the cooking times.
These truly are best when served almost immediately (you may need to let them cool for a few minutes), and provide a crispy, outer crunch; a salty, smoky flavor; and a soft, flavorful asparagus core.
Serve alongside pasta salads, steak, chicken, or even eat just as they are for a quick snack or appetizer!
You don’t have to wrap your asparagus in bacon, even though it tastes superb. You can also add flavor to the bacon option as well. If you are looking to make a sampler platter of various flavors, or simple want asparagus in its full, vegetable flavor, look at these alternatives.
Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper + Other Seasonings to Taste
Simple but divine, give your fresh asparagus spears a toss in olive oil and then salt and pepper to taste. You can also add a little garlic or onion, as well as any other seasonings you prefer.
Lemon Herb Asparagus
A classic with a twist: Grill asparagus with a bit of olive or canola oil, then toss with the juice and zest of one lemon and a healthy crack of black pepper, along with grated parmesan cheese and your favorite herbs.
After grilling, toss hot asparagus spears with a tablespoon of unsalted butter, a grated clove of garlic, and plenty of salt and pepper.
Cream Cheese and Bacon
If you really want to get decadent, spread a layer of cream cheese along your asparagus spear before wrapping in bacon. I suggest using thinner bacon for this as you don’t want to cook the cheese out. Either fresh or frozen spears work well.
Grilling asparagus couldn’t be easier. And when you pair it with crisp bacon, even the most picky child won’t turn it down. Just be sure to follow the suggestions provided above concerning fresh vs frozen spears, as well as the thickness of bacon. If you plan on forgetting about the bacon altogether, just be sure to watch your cooking time and babysit your spears to avoid overcooking.
You can also use these basic techniques with other vegetables to make them flavorful and perfect for summertime side dishes.
We would love to hear about your results below, and as always, please share!