Roasted Asparagus (or Grill It!) with Buttery Breadcrumbs
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Crisp, buttery breadcrumbs are like magic fairy dust that gets kids to devour roasted asparagus. We prep the spears in a tangy marinade and then quickly roast or grill them to perfection. Don’t miss this recipe, which has been in my family for many decades.
Why we love this recipe
Marinated asparagus, roasted or grilled to perfection and sprinkled with buttery breadcrumbs, is a modern twist on a recipe that’s been a favorite in our family literally for generations.
Growing up, my mom used to make blanched asparagus with buttery bread crumbs once in a while. I loved those bread crumbs so much that I basically lived from serving to serving just to get by. I think that’s why we started calling them “kid crack.”
30+ years later, feeding this slightly amped up version of the original recipe to my family, the nickname still holds. Also, you wouldn’t be totally out of line calling it “adult crack.” But you didn’t hear that from me.
This recipe is:
- Gently enhanced by a tangy marinade that augments the natural flavors of the vegetable
- Quick and easy to make
- Great warm or at room temperature
- Truly kid-friendly
- Flexible: make it in the oven or on the grill
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy recipe.
- Asparagus: It’s up to you what thickness to use in this recipe. If you prefer big, fat spears and they’re not über-fresh, you may want to peel the bottoms. See the FAQ section for details about prepping.
- Breadcrumbs: You can use any type of breadcrumbs you have on hand. Plain dry // seasoned dry // panko // and fresh all work well.
- Marinade: We love the added flavors of this quick and easy marinade, but you can skip marinating altogether if you’d like a simpler flavor profile or simply don’t have the time. Our original family recipe did not include this step.
How to make it
Here’s all you need to do to make our roasted asparagus. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post.
First you’ll make the quick marinade and let the veggies have a soak.
- Place all the marinade ingredients into a wide dish (I like to use a standard 9″x13″ glass baking dish because it fits the spears well) or a gallon-size zip-top bag.
- Give everything a good stir to make a nice emulsified marinade. The mustard helps the oil mix smoothy with the acids.
- Let the asparagus marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. You can easily prep to this step up to 24 hours in advance and pop the whole thing in the fridge.
- If you’ll be roasting, arrange the asparagus on sheet pans without crowding. (Crowding would make them steam rather than allow them to get gorgeously browned.)
Then you’ll make the buttery breadcrumbs. They’re super quick and easy. Here’s what you’ll do.
- Melt the butter in a small pan.
- Add the breadcrumbs and give it a stir. The crumbs won’t do much at first, but soon you’ll start to notice them browning on the bottom. Stir frequently and keep a good eye on them so they don’t burn. When they’re a gorgeous golden color, you’re done.
- Plate the roasted asparagus.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs overtop, or place a bowl of breadcrumbs at the table and let people sprinkle their own. (This can help convert skeptical kids at first.)
Expert tips and FAQs
Wash and dry it, focusing on the tips to carefully remove any grit.
Trim the bottom ends. There are two ways to do this. You can either cut off the dry or woody-looking parts with a knife or bend the spear with your fingers until it breaks. How much you remove will depend on the age and thickness of the spears.
If the spears are very thick or not super-fresh, they may be tough and slightly fibrous at the bottom. If so, you can peel just the parts that aren’t tender and leave the rest intact.
The beauty of this recipe is that it truly doesn’t matter. The results will be similar. If you’re already grilling or it’s hot out and you’d rather not turn on the oven, grilling is a great option.
You can marinate the spears up to 24 hours in advance and keep them in the fridge. Roast or grill and make the breadcrumbs just before serving. If you plan to serve this dish at room temperature, you can cook everything up to a few hours in advance.
The roasted asparagus will last for up to a week in the fridge and can be eaten cold or reheated. It’s great to add to salads.
The breadcrumbs are best eaten the day they’re made.
How to serve this recipe
This is a versatile side dish that pairs well with lots of meals. Try it:
- For brunch with poached, fried, or soft scrambled eggs.
- Alongside filet mignon or ranch steak.
- With roast chicken.
More of our favorite asparagus recipes
Love asparagus? So do we. Bigtime. You might like these other recipes, too.
- 1 1/2 pounds asparagus
For the marinade
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- A few grinds black pepper
For the bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup plain or Italian-style dry bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center, or heat grill to medium-high.
- Wash, dry and trim off the woody bottom portion of the asparagus.
Marinate the asparagus
- In a large zip-top plastic bag or a long, shallow dish, combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, mustard, and a few good grinds pepper.
- Using a chef's knife, chop and then mash together the garlic and salt until it forms a paste. Stir into marinade.
- Add asparagus and toss to coat.
- Marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or in the fridge for up to a day.
Cook the asparagus
- Remove asparagus from marinade and place in a single, evenly spaced layer on a baking sheet. (I sometimes use a wire rack on a baking sheet, but it's not strictly necessary.)
- Roast for about 15 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus, until charred in spots on the outside and just tender on the inside. Alternatively, grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Make the breadcrumbs
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until the crumbs take on an amber color and smell like you couldn't possibly resist eating them by the spoonful.
- Serve the asparagus with crumbs sprinkled overtop.
- Prepping the asparagus will depend on age and thickness. When trimming the bottom ends, you can either cut off the dry or woody-looking parts with a knife or bend the asparagus with your fingers until it breaks. If the spears are very thick or not super-fresh, they may be tough and slightly fibrous at the bottom. If so, you can peel just the parts that aren't tender and leave the rest intact.
- Be sure to watch the breadcrumbs carefully and stir frequently. They can go from perfect to burned pretty quickly at the end of cooking.
- You can save the used marinade for about a week to use as salad dressing or to marinate something else.