Pan Roasted Asparagus with Tarragon Butter Sauce

Pan roasting Asparagus gives the vegetable a charred, smoky flavour while offering up a firm bite.

Serves 4

What is Pan Roasting?

Pan roasting is a simple concept with a name that says it all. It’s a piece of food cooked in a pan. Traditional roasting, the kind we do in modern ovens, is done with dry heat circulating over food, and it’s no different in a pan.

Pan roasting differs from pan frying. Pan-fried foods are cooked quickly at a high temperature while pan-roasting takes things slower, at a lower temperature. For this recipe, the heat is applied from below on a medium heat, and hot air is circulated with the help of a lid covering the asparagus.

What Pan Do I Use for Pan Roasted Asparagus?

A cast iron pan is probably best. However, any frying pan, or griddle pan with a heavy bottom will work. A lid is required but it doesn’t need to be a tight-fitting lid. The lid will just need to cover the asparagus.

And the Tarragon Butter Sauce

It might not be the healthiest sauce, but it is delicious. Butter adds richness to the dish that will help boost the sweetness of the asparagus. Freshly chopped tarragon complements the sweetness of the asparagus. In fact, the menthol-tasting herb pairs well with most things we associate with spring such as fava beans and artichokes.

Tips for Making the Butter Sauce

It’s important to keep the butter chilled before making the sauce as it will melt slower and allow the sauce to emulsify. The sauce should be smooth and creamy.

The butter should also be cut into small cubes so too much butter isn’t added in one go. An overload of butter may cause the sauce to split. If the sauce should split, simply, bring another splash of water to a boil, and slowly whisk in the split butter sauce.

Serve the sauce warm and use it immediately. If the sauce gets too hot it will split, while too cold will solidify the butter.

Preparing the Asparagus

It isn’t necessary to peel the asparagus, but it will need to be trimmed at the bottom where the stems tend to be quite woody. However, most supermarkets sell asparagus spears that have already been trimmed.

The woody stem is easy to identify as it will feel harder to the touch, and the colour will fade from green to a purplish grey. To trim simply cut off any excess with a sharp knife.


30ml Olive Oil

400g Asparagus Spears, Trimmed of Tough Woody Stems.

1 Tbsp of Water

100g Butter, Cut into Small Cubes, and Kept in the fridge.

1 Tbsp Fresh Tarragon Leaves, Chopped

Juice of ½ Lemon, Approx 20ml


  1. Heat the oil in a large cast iron pan over medium heat.
  2. Once hot, gently add the asparagus and roll in the hot oil. Leave the asparagus to gently roast in the pan for 8-12 minutes depending on thickness. Shake the pan every 2-3 minutes to ensure even cooking.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small milk pan, bring the water to a boil, then immediately remove it from the heat.
  4. Slowly whisk the butter cubes into the hot water until it fully melts. It’s important to whisk continually and not add any more butter until the last batch has been incorporated.
  5. Finish the sauce with chopped tarragon and lemon juice.
  6. When the asparagus has roasted, it should be lightly charred and tender, transfer to warm serving plates and spoon the tarragon butter sauce over the top.

Leave a Reply