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You can steam asparagus without a steamer by using other kitchen equipment and utensils to suspend the spears over a pot of boiling water. Alternately, you can take advantage of the long, thin shape of the asparagus spears to prop them up in a pan so they won't actually be sitting in the water. You can also steam asparagus in a microwave. Wash the asparagus spears before you steam them.

How to Steam Asparagus With a Metal Colander or Strainer

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Steam asparagus in a metal pasta colander by placing the colander inside a saucepan with just enough water to cover its foot. Or use a wire mesh strainer by hooking the strainer onto the edge of a saucepan containing one inch of water.

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Trim the bottoms off the asparagus spears, cut them into two-inch lengths, and place them in the colander or strainer.

Bring the water to a boil, cover the pan, and steam the asparagus for about 1 minute, or longer if you prefer it very tender.

How to Steam Asparagus in a Saucepan

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Steam asparagus with just a saucepan by trimming the spears with a knife to a length that will enable you to place the stems on one side of your saucepan, and prop the tips about half way up against the other side of the pan.

Jason Crowgey/Demand Media

Put about half an inch of water in the bottom of the saucepan and arrange the asparagus in the pan. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pan, and steam the asparagus for about 1 minute, or longer if you prefer it very tender.

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When the spears are cool enough to handle, trim off the tips that were sitting in the water.

How to Steam Asparagus in the Microwave

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Steam asparagus in a microwave by arranging the spears on a plate with several tablespoons of water.

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Cover the plate with plastic wrap, leaving a gap for steam to escape.

Jason Crowgey/Demand Media

Microwave for 5 minutes.

Tip

Trim asparagus spears by bending them in a bow until they break. The point at which they break on the stem end is the point at which the spears become tough.

About the Author

Devra Gartenstein

Devra Gartenstein is a self-taught professional cook who has authored two cookbooks: "The Accidental Vegan", and "Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes". She founded Patty Pan Cooperative, Seattle's oldest farmers market concession, and teaches regular cooking classes.