I have it from two sources that asparagus should be peeled before being cooked in simmering water (Julia Child) or fried in butter (Heston Blumenthal). I tried Julia's method once and I've been discouraged from peeling them again ever since.

I probably overcooked on that attempt; they turned out a bit limp. But even so, don't asparagus look nicer with the skin on? And what's wrong with the skin anyway?

The asparagus spears I buy are quite thin with tender skin. Does the advice to peel only apply for thick asparagus spears?

6 Answers 6


I've heard the same recommendation before - the idea is that if asparagus is very thick (say, 1/2 inch or more in diameter), and if the bottom is much thicker than the top of the spear, then peeling it will help it to cook more evenly.

If you have particularly thick asparagus that seem tough, you may want to peel the bottom section. First, chop or snap off the bottom inch or so, as it will most likely be inedibly tough. Then peel the next 2-3 inches up. You'll want to lay the asparagus down on a flat surface to do so, so as not to snap it while peeling.

I've never had asparagus from a grocery store that was tough enough to warrant this, but it can happen with homegrown, for whatever reason.

  • 1
    I agree -- I never peel more than about 2" (5cm) of the bottom, and only then then they're fiberous and tough.
    – Joe
    Aug 14, 2010 at 2:34
  • no mention of green vs white?
    – Izzydorio
    Apr 26, 2011 at 9:39

As a rule of thumb that would pretty much coincide with what JustRightMenus said: green asparagus is generally not peeled, but white asparagus should definitely be peeled. I think it's the same plant, just cultivated in a different way. (And interestingly, in Germany and the Netherlands, the green stuff is much less common, whereas in North America I've never seen the white ones.)

  • 1
    You're right about green vs. white. White is just the same plant grown without light.
    – DustyD
    Aug 16, 2010 at 2:40

Strange, I've never heard of peeling asparagus. Ive never done it even with the thickest of stalks. The only thing you have to make sure you do is snap off the woody ends of the stems. I also only steam, roast, or grill my asparagus.


My grandmother used to peel her asparagus (the thick-stalked ones) so that it would cook up tenderly and look pretty on her platters. She used to peel her celery, as well (apparently because she believed that thick celery skin was bad for the digestion in addition to being ugly. I've seen similar ideas in some of my old cookbooks).

In several of my old cookbooks, the peeling of asparagus is presented as having to do with being able to eat the late, woodier pickings (peeling it ensures tenderness) and aesthetics. Frankly, I think unpeeled asparagus looks just fine, so I don't peel mine---and thick asparagus is great for the grill!


Normally, I just snap off the woody ends, but if the asparagus is particularly thick I will slice it length-wise on a diagonal. It all comes down to preference, and which is more labor-intensive. In general, I disagree with peeling fruits and vegetables because so many vitamins and good-for-you stuff are in the peels!


I have never peeled green asparagus just removed the woody ends and have always cooked it the same way - in my trusty 30 year old Panasonic microwave which never seems to break down! It is perfect every time, just like steaming I guess.

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