I always thought I didn't like asparagus... until I tried roasted asparagus with soy sauce and garlic. This umami-rich flavor combo is exactly what your tastebuds crave, and is the kind of dish that turns asparagus haters into asparagus lovers.
Even better? The simple sauce for the roasted asparagus is SO practical and hands off to make. You’ll find yourself loving it more just because it takes you zero time at all to pull together.
Asparagus has only recently become one of my favorite vegetables to make on busy weeknights. As a neurodivergent chef who is constantly recipe testing in my ADHD kitchen, I love that it's super practical and low effort to prepare.
This oven baked roasted asparagus with garlic soy sauce is one of my favorite side dish recipe ideas. It's great on those nights when you really don't feel like cooking.
It's also a great recipe for beginners, or for anyone new to cooking with asparagus.
You can even make it in a countertop toaster oven instead of in your big oven which frees up your oven for other cooking. And it means your kitchen doesn't end up swelteringly hot!
Looking for another low effort roasted vegetable side dish? Try my best homemade sauce for roasted broccolini!
About This Recipe
Roasted asparagus with soy sauce and garlic is one of those happy accident recipes (like my flaky brown butter cinnamon roll pancakes) that started with me making a mistake and ended with me discovering a whole new thing that I like.
In this case it was a small note in an issue of Alicia Kennedy's fantastic food newsletter where she mentioned that she was enjoying "blistering string beans in the cast-iron with a little olive oil, then drizzling with soy sauce and dusting with garlic powder."
I read Alicia's email in the morning and, somehow, by the end of the day, when I placed my grocery delivery order, I was sure she had said asparagus. I've been trying to branch out and give foods I always thought I didn't like a second chance, so... asparagus was on the brain, I guess?
Since I had the asparagus, I decided I might as well give it a try with the soy sauce and garlic anyway.
So I blistered the asparagus in a cast iron pan over high heat, doused it with some aged soy sauce I picked up at an Asian grocery store, set off the smoke alarm (oops), and was shocked and delighted to learn I LIKE ASPARAGUS.
The next night, I made it again. I had to check that it wasn't a fluke — I really did like asparagus!
This time I used my oven to roast the asparagus, didn't set off the smoke alarm (woo!), tossed some whole garlic cloves on the pan to mash into the soy sauce before drizzling, and confirmed, yep — I like asparagus!
At high heat the asparagus buds get crispy and a little bit charred. The stems have a really satisfying bite to them without being stringy.
And the roasted garlic soy sauce and the garlic powder is like a little flavor bomb going off in your mouth.
Even more shocking? Jimmy loves this garlicky asparagus with soy sauce recipe too. He was way more skeptical than I was, and yet, over the next month, we found ourselves adding two, sometimes three, bundles of asparagus to our grocery cart.
There's a convenience factor here for sure — asparagus is way easier to fit in your basket than three crowns of broccoli.
But if we didn't actually love roasted asparagus with soy sauce and garlic so much, no amount of convenience could convince us to keep buying it.
Here's what you'll need to make this garlicky roasted asparagus with soy sauce! Everything should be pretty easy to find in your local grocery store. See recipe card for quantities.
- Asparagus - Thick or thin asparagus, whatever you prefer is fine. Thicker asparagus might need a longer cooking time, so just adjust as needed! Asparagus is in season from March through June, but you can usually find it into August and September pretty easily. Make sure to check the tops of the asparagus — you don't want any mushy ones!
- Olive Oil - Whatever your favorite type of olive oil is is fine here. You could even use a garlic infused olive oil to really bring those garlic flavors forward. Neutral oils will also work, but idk, I like the olive oil flavor.
- Soy Sauce - I use an aged soy sauce (also sometimes called "dark" soy sauce), but any type of soy sauce you like is fine. Aged soy sauces have been fermented longer and are usually thicker in consistency and less salty in flavor. I like the thicker consistency of the aged soy sauce for this recipe; thinner soy sauces don't cling as nicely to the asparagus.
- Garlic Powder - Make sure you're using garlic powder and not garlic salt. If you only have garlic salt, skip the salt in the recipe entirely.
- Garlic Cloves - Toss one or two small garlic cloves onto the pan still in their papery skins to soften and roast along with the asparagus spears. This will soften them and mellow their flavor. When they come out of the oven, cut off the root end of the cloves and use a knife or fork to smush the soft garlic clove out of the paper wrapper to mix with the soy sauce.
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which half as salty as other brands. If you're using a different brand of salt, even a different brand of kosher salt, cut the amount of salt in half.
- Pepper - Freshly cracked or pre-ground black pepper, either one is absolutely fine here.
The first step of making any asparagus dish is to trim the asparagus. You can either snap the ends off or use a knife to remove the bottom 2-3 inches.
Basically try to get rid of the tough, woody bits at the bottom. They are no fun to eat.
If you really want to be sure there's no tough woody bits, you can take a vegetable peeler to the ends of the asparagus to shave them off. I think that's a bit extra, I don't want to spend time doing that, but you do you.
I've made so much roasted asparagus at this point that I have my favorite preparation down to a science at this point. Most of the time I don't bring the asparagus all the way to a blister. But you do you!
Usually I just give the asparagus a gentle but decisive roasting, like I'm an insult comic trying to turn over a new leaf (but not quite there yet).
Instead of the high heat of a cast iron on the stove which reliably set off the smoke detector every time I made it, I now use a quarter sheet pan in the oven or in my countertop toaster oven. Line it with aluminum foil or a silicone mat for easier clean up.
A drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a sprinkle of garlic powder is really all the asparagus needs before heading into the oven.
Throw a couple whole garlic cloves onto the pan let them get all nice and soft in the oven with the asparagus — you'll mash them up with the soy sauce before drizzling it over the asparagus.
Bake this asparagus at a temperature anywhere between 400F and 425F for 10-20 minutes. I usually do 425F for 15 minutes because it's faster and I like my asparagus to get a little crisp at the ends.
However, you can roast the asparagus for as little as 10 minutes if you prefer your asparagus to be more gently roasted.
Choosing the right temperature and time for your roasted asparagus depends on how you like to eat your asparagus!
- For roasted asparagus that's bright green, and a little firmer after roasting, use a lower temp and shorter roasting time (e.g. 400F for 10-15 minutes).
- For roasted asparagus that's dark green with blackened tips and a softer center, use the higher temp and a longer cook time (e.g. 425F for 15-20 minutes).
Finishing Asparagus with Garlic Soy Sauce
When it comes to the perfect sauce for asparagus, less is more! Once the asparagus comes out of the oven, you'll finish it with a very light drizzle of the garlic soy sauce and toss to coat the asparagus.
Carefully remove the roasted garlic cloves from their papery skins. Mash them into the soy sauce, then use a spoon to drizzle a few spoonfuls over the asparagus.
Soy sauce has a really strong flavor, so less is more, imo. Drizzle a bit, then taste. Add more if needed, and serve any remaining garlic soy sauce on the side as a dipping sauce.
Honestly, you can skip mashing the garlic cloves into the soy sauce if you want; just plain soy sauce drizzled over the garlicky asparagus is an extremely tasty shortcut version of this dish!
This roasted asparagus with garlic soy sauce is best eaten same day. However, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
To reheat, give it a quick saute in a skillet over medium heat, or pop it back in a 350F oven for 10 minutes before serving.
Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- If you're new to working with asparagus, it might take a couple tries to figure out what your ideal asparagus stalk looks like. Sometimes you'll find really thick, chonky asparagus with woody stems and other times you'll find asparagus with very thin stems and dainty tops. I prefer the thinner asparagus, but it's really up to you.
- To trim asparagus, hold the bottom of a stalk in one hand and hold above the woody part of the stem with the other. Bend until the tough end (which you don't want to eat) snaps off. You might be surprised at just how much comes off! If you're making huge batches of asparagus, you may want to use a knife instead — just cut off the bottom 2-3 inches.
- Soy sauce can burn in the oven or in a skillet, so it's best to always drizzle it on after cooking, rather than roast the asparagus in it.
- If you prefer using a skillet you can follow all of the same instructions, just toss the asparagus into a skillet over high heat for about 10 minutes or until they're as cooked through as you want. Add the soy sauce to finish once you take it off the heat. Open a window and have your exhaust fan running — this will likely set off your smoke detector!
- I've also tried this recipe with broccoli, roasted broccolini, and yes, even string beans as Alicia initially recommended. It's great with all of them.
For this recipe, you can use any temperature between 400-425F. The higher the temperature, the quicker it will roast, and the darker it will be.
For this recipe, you can bake it anywhere from 10-20 minutes. The longer you bake it for, the softer and darker it will be.
There are so many great sauces for asparagus out there, it's really very subjective which one is "best." I think this is the best sauce for asparagus because it's so easy to make. I don't like complicated sauce recipes for side dishes — it's like making a side dish for my side dish! This simple garlic soy sauce for asparagus is so fast and easy to make, it takes hardly any time or energy at all. For me, that makes it the best!
Generally you can assume one pound of asparagus will feed 2-4 people. It depends on how much you and your dinner guests love asparagus, how thick or thin your asparagus spears are, and how much you've had to trim to remove the woody ends. I can only guide you so much here — you'll have to assess the size and quantity of the asparagus at your grocery store to make a final call on how much you need.
My friend Emily suggested I try roasting the asparagus with mayonnaise instead of olive oil, which I had never heard of before. So I tossed the asparagus with about 2 tablespoon kewpie mayo + seasonings before roasting.
While I still prefer EVOO just for simplicity, the mayo did really bring out the umami flavors and it helped the soy sauce cling to the asparagus once I tossed it all together. If you're a mayo fiend, this is something you might want to try!
Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and Soy sauce
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
- 1 bunch asparagus (ends trimmed)
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon diamond crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ cup aged soy sauce (adjust to taste)
- 2 whole garlic cloves (skins still on, optional)
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with a silicone mat or aluminum foil.
- Trim and arrange asparagus in an even layer on the sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Roll the asparagus stalks around on the pan until coated.
- Place two whole garlic cloves, still in their paper skins, on the sheet pan nestled in with the asparagus.
- Roast asparagus for 13-18 minutes or until desired level of doneness is reached.
- Pour the soy sauce into a small bowl. Use a knife to snip off the root end of the roasted garlic cloves (caution: they're hot!) and squish the soft roasted garlic out of the papery skin and into the soy sauce. Mash the garlic into the soy sauce with a fork.
- Drizzle a few spoonfuls of garlic soy sauce over the roasted asparagus. Serve any extra garlic soy sauce on the side for dipping. Serve immediately.
- Measurements here are entirely adjustable to taste. You don't need to measure anything precisely. Just eyeball it.
- If you dont want to drizzle the garlic soy sauce over all of the asparagus, you can serve it in a dipping bowl on the side.
- I'm giving a wide range of times for roasting the asparagus here. For darker, softer, more blistered asparagus, roast for longer. For more firm, crisply roasted asparagus, pull it out of the oven sooner. You could also roast at a lower temperature for firmer roasted asparagus with less blackening and blistering.
I made this for my parents when I was visiting and it was a hit! Super simple, and the only "complaint" was that I should have thrown several more cloves of garlic on the sheet pan for extra roasted garlic! Definitely going in my arsenal as a staple side-dish.
THIS IS SO GOOD! I was so surprised by how the flavors changed with that soy sauce at the end! I will absolutely be making this again and again and again.
Oh this sounds fabulous!!! I think I will also try it with green beans. Before covid, there was this little hole in the wall Chinese place by my office that had a little lunch buffet and it had the most amazing green beans in what must've been a sauce like this one. The place is still open, happily, but they no longer do the buffet and the green beans aren't on their menu. So I think this might give me a chance to recreate that taste! Thank you!
I hope they live up to those green beans you remember!
This was a success- mostly. Next time I will roast the whole head of garlic in foil like I usually do, instead of removing a few cloves, because most of them burned, so I could not add them to the soy sauce. The asparagus was perfect.
Sorry to hear that about the garlic cloves! It's possible your oven runs a bit hot, usually if you leave the cloves in the paper skin they're just fine. But roasting a whole bulb of garlic is also an A+ move!