Slow Smoked Asparagus Bundles with Lemon and Garlic is a recipe made in heaven! Placing these on cedar planks to bring out that classic Pacific Northwest flavors and paired it with another PNW classic – grilled salmon.
Using a cedar plank on just about anything on your grill and smoker (even without any seasoning) just makes everything taste so deliciously earthy. Traditionally, we all reach for the plank for our favorite fish recipes as the Salmon and Halibut but it doesn’t need to stop there. Grilling or smoking your veggies on a plank infuses a very gentle cedar flavor yet doesn’t overtake the flavor of the food itself.
🍽️ Why This Works
Easy – The most time you’ll spend actively working on the recipe is with tying the bundles together. Rest of the recipe is virtually hands off.
Portion Controlled – We had several friends over and it was easy just to grab a bundle and give it out. That way we made sure we had enough for everyone.
Great for Cookouts – Make these smoked bundles for your next BBQ as you can make a little bundle of 3-4 stalks for each person and then everyone can just grab a set to place on their plate next to their Grilled Hamburgers, Hot Dogs or Chicken.
📝 Ingredient Notes
Asparagus – Look for fresh stalks that are firm and crisp. If the ends have started to wilt or feel sloppy, go ahead and pass. They really won’t smoke well.
Lemon Juice – You can squeeze your own or buy the juice separately.
Garlic – It takes just a minute to chop this and really complements the flavor of the asparagus.
⏲️ Equipment and Tools
Cedar Planks – I used to buy the three packs found at the hardware store, but that got to be REALLY expensive! I since found that buying bulk online is a much more economical alternative. Save a few bucks as you’ll use these a lot in grilling!
Garlic Chopper – When you need to chop just a few cloves, I prefer the choppers with the wheels and the cutting blades. It makes life a lot easier.
Butcher’s Twine – You will find this at your local grocery store in the meat department, the little kitchen section and then just hanging on random hooks throughout the store. We buy ours from Amazon and Walmart and just keep 1-2 of them on hand as we use them more than we realize.
Step One: Set up the grill for indirect heat at about 250°. Start soaking your cedar planks. Even though we are cooking on indirect heat and the risk of it catching fire is small, it is a good habit to have.
Step Two: Trim off the hard ends of the asparagus.
Step Three: Grab three or four stalks to tie together for a single portion. If you have really think stalks, you may want a few more for a single serving. Tie them tightly using butcher’s twine.
Step Four: Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt & pepper together. Mix well.
Step Five: Place the asparagus bundles in a large Ziploc bag and pour the olive oil mixture in the bag. Carefully work it around so all of the asparagus is evenly covered.
Step Six: Add the wood chips to the grill. I used Pecan, but if you aren’t sure which wood works well with vegetables, check out my free Wood Pairing Cheat Sheet.
Step Seven: Remove the asparagus when they are fork tender and bright green. That should be about the 45 minute mark.
Note: Thinner asparagus shoots will smoke much faster, so check for tenderness early and don’t just rely on the time.
❗ Recipe Tips and Tricks
Use a Ziploc. This is one of my favorite tips. The large bags make marinating and coating foods so much easier than large bowls. Plus, it makes clean up really easy.
Let the cedar planks soak for 30 – 60 minutes before using. It helps to minimize any burning.
For a fun twist, use cedar wraps as we did in the Copper River Salmon to hold the asparagus together instead of twine. You will need to cut these down a bit, as you don’t want to wrap the entire stalk. They cut easy with scissors and still gives off that earthy, cedar aroma.
To achieve a stronger cedar plank flavor, don’t bundle the asparagus. This will take more planks and more space but you will have a stronger infusion of flavor.
🧑🍳 Storage and Reheating
One of the funny things about smoking on the grill is that the smoke flavor will intensify the longer you let it rest, especially with vegetables. If you think you may have leftovers, use a bit less wood for smoking.
Seal leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days.
Make the marinade ahead of time. It takes just a few minutes to make, but stores well in the refrigerator for a few days.
Wash and bundle up the asparagus bundles.
Additions and Substitutions
If you like things with a bit of a kick, add some red pepper flakes to the olive oil mixture instead of lemon.
Grated parmesan at the ends add a phenomenal, slightly-salty flavor that just works perfectly with smoked asparagus.
Make the asparagus plain and add on squeezed lemon juice at the end or serve with cut up fresh cherry tomatoes for a fresh farmer’s market vibe.
Pull out your favorite seasoning mixes like the Spiceology blends Greek Freak or Garlic and Herb.
This is a smoky spin on a classic Pacific Northwest dish, and works phenomenally well with smoked salmon, grilled Pacific rockfish, and grilled halibut. When you are rocking the block party, Grilled Kobe Beef Kebabs or Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters.
❓ Recipe FAQ
Yes, you should or they may catch fire.
250 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
It is cooked when you can gently push a toothpick through it AND still get resistance. You don’t want mushy asparagus, so it’s best to not allow it to smoke too long. You want the little bit of al dente crunch. Our 45 minutes allowed a crisp, yet tender result.
Cut off the bottom parts where it tends to be white and woody. As the stalk gets greener, that is where you make the cut. Generally, I find that is about ¾-1 inch.
There are a few tips to looking fo the best asparagus.
1. Look for uniform size. When the bundle at the store has some thin and some thicker ones, it’s hard to cook the veggies evenly.
2. Look at the tips to make sure they look crisp and fresh. No wet ends, no soggy looking tips.
3. Look at the bottom and make sure that there isn’t too much of the stalk that you will be cutting off. As noted above, you will cut off the white section so if there is a lot of the white, you are going to be cutting that off and tossing it. Move to the next batch if that’s what yours looks like.
Simply use foil instead. Don’t roll it up but make a large piece that you can lay the asparagus on.
Another option is to use a vegetable basket.
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- 2 lbs Asparagus
- ¼ cup Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- Salt and Pepper
- Lemon Zest optional
- Parmesan Cheese optional
- Set up the grill for indirect heat at about 250°. Start soaking your cedar planks. Even though we are cooking on indirect heat and the risk of it catching fire is small, it is a good habit to have.
- Trim off the hard ends of the asparagus.
- Grab three or four stalks to tie together for a single portion. If you have really think stalks, you may want a few more for a single serving. Tie them tightly using butcher's twine.
- Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt & pepper together. Mix well.
- Place the asparagus bundles in a large Ziploc bag and pour the olive oil mixture in the bag. Carefully work it around so all of the asparagus is evenly covered.
- Add the wood chips to the grill. I used Pecan, but if you aren't sure which wood works well with vegetables, check out my free Wood Pairing Cheat Sheet.
- Remove the asparagus when they are fork tender and bright green. That should be about the 45 minute mark. Sprinkle with lemon zest and/or parmesan cheese, as desired.