a close up of roasted asparagus on a sheet pan with garlic cloves

roasted asparagus with soy sauce and garlic

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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 taste buds crave, and is the kind of dish that turns asparagus haters into asparagus lovers. Even better? It is SO hands off to make, you’ll find yourself loving it just because it takes you zero time at all to pull together.

a close up of a small bowl of soy sauce with garlic powder floating on top sits on top of rows of roasted asparagus

Roasted asparagus with soy sauce and garlic is another one of those happy accident recipes 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 briefly 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 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.

At such high heat the asparagus buds at the end get crispy and a little bit charred. The stems have a really satisfying bite to them without being stringy. And the soy sauce and garlic powder is like a little flavor bomb going off in your mouth.

Even more shocking? Jimmy loves this roasted asparagus with soy sauce and garlic 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.

how to roast asparagus

I’ve made so much roasted asparagus in the past month that I have my favorite preparation down to a science at this point. I don’t bring it all the way to a blister anymore. Instead I just give it a gentle but decisive roasting, like I’m an insult comic trying to turn over a new leaf.

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 switched to using a quarter sheet pan in the oven lined with aluminum foil or a silicone mat. A drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a light sprinkle of garlic powder is really all the asparagus needs before heading into the oven.

If you’re feeling ambitious, throw a few whole garlic cloves onto the pan with the asparagus and let them get all nice and soft in the oven — you can mash them up and toss the asparagus with them before serving. But honestly, that’s an optional step.

Pop the asparagus in a 400-425F oven for about 10-15 minutes and that’s basically it. Once it comes out of the oven, finish with a very light drizzle of soy sauce. Soy sauce has a really strong flavor, so less is more, imo.

a few quick recipe notes

  • If you’re new to working with asparagus, it might take you 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 one end of a stalk in each hand and 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.
  • Always drizzle the soy sauce on last so it doesn’t burn in the oven.
  • 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 off the heat.
  • I like using aged soy sauce because it tends to be a little thicker and more flavorful, but whatever your favorite soy sauce is will be just fine. You can also serve the soy sauce in a little bowl on the side for dipping with some garlic powder or a mashed roasted garlic clove mixed in.
  • I’m giving a range of cook temps — 400-425F — mostly because it really depends on how cooked through you want your asparagus to be. If you prefer it to be a little more green and fresh use the lower temp. For darker, softer asparagus, use the higher temp.
  • I’ve also tried this with broccoli, broccolini, and yes, even string beans as Alicia initially recommended. It’s great with all of them.
  • Bonus tip: My friend Emily suggested I try roasting the asparagus with mayonnaise instead of olive oil, which I had never heard of before. So I gave that a try with this recipe (tossed the asparagus with about 2 TBSP kewpie mayo + seasonings before roasting) and 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!
a close up of roasted asparagus on a sheet pan with garlic cloves

roasted asparagus with garlic and soy sauce

Rebecca
The umami-rich flavor combo of roasted asparagus with soy sauce and garlic is the kind of dish that turns asparagus haters into asparagus lovers. Even better? It is SO hands off to make, you'll find yourself loving it even more just because it takes you zero time at all to pull together.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 3 people

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bunch asparagus (ends trimmed)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ tsp diamond crystal kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ TBSP aged soy sauce (adjust to taste)
  • 3 whole garlic cloves (skins still on, optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°-425°F. Line a sheet pan with a silicone mat or aluminum foil.
  • Arrange asparagus in an even layer on the sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, the sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Roll the asparagus stalks around on the pan until coated.
  • If using, place whole garlic cloves on sheet pan nestled in with the asparagus.
  • Roast asparagus for 10-15 minutes or until desired level of doneness.
  • Remove from oven, drizzle with soy sauce. If you used the whole garlic cloves, remove the papery skins, mash them with a fork, and toss them with the asparagus and soy sauce before serving. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Measurements here are entirely adjustable to taste. You don’t need to measure anything precisely. Just eyeball it. 
  • If you dont want to drizzle soy sauce over all of the asparagus, you can serve it in a dipping bowl on the side with a bit of garlic powder, or mashed roasted garlic cloves mixed in. 
  • I’m giving a range of cook temps — 400-425F — mostly because it really depends on how cooked through you want your asparagus to be. If you prefer it to be a little more green and fresh use the lower temp. For darker, softer asparagus, use the higher temp.
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