Asparagus with Brown Butter and Capers is truly the best asparagus side dish recipe. We take advantage of seasonal produce by grabbing up some fresh asparagus and sauteeing it until it is tender. We top it with indulgent brown butter, tangy capers, and crispy breadcrumbs to create an easy and delicious dish your whole family will love!
We love the tender and thin green asparagus that shows up in spring. It’s a sign that spring is really coming, despite the still-cold temperatures outside here in the Midwest. They cook quickly, making them perfect for weeknight dinners. Plus, we get something a little fresh and different than the veggies we’ve been eating all winter.
Yay for spring veggie variety!
Choosing and Trimming Your Asparagus
We use green asparagus here, as it’s plentiful in the stores right now. We love the thinner stalks, which are more tender and require less trimming. Grab those if you can but the thicker stalks will also be delicious if that’s what you’ve got at your store.
Prep for the Best Asparagus Side Dish Recipe
Prep it by cutting off about an inch at the bottom of each stalk. This will remove the dry and woody part of the stem without unnecessarily throwing away too much.
I don’t know about you, but I was taught to trim asparagus by holding each stem and snapping off the end. The theory was that it would break at the exact place where the woody, inedible end meets the more tender part of the stalk.
Turns out that’s not really true and the stalk will break at various places depending mostly on where you place pressure on the stalk with your fingers. This article from Cook’s Illustrated was super helpful in knowing how to properly trim this veg.
Peeling the Asparagus – Prep Step 2
If you have thicker spears, you may also need to peel the outer edges of the stalks, leaving the tender interior. For our thin stalks, we didn’t need to do this. To see if this is needed, look at the bottom of the stalks after cutting off an inch. You will be able to see a tough outer ring if it is there. Simple peel off the tough outer edges with a vegetable peeler.
Technique – Browning Butter
Browning the butter here brings out nutty, toasted notes that complement the sharper flavors of the asparagus and capers. It’s the perfect pairing and so simple. Heat the butter gently, stirring often, until it melts and the milk solids begin to brown at the bottom of the pan. Keep a close eye on it, as these solids can go from perfectly browned to burnt in the blink of an eye. When you see that golden brown color, remove it from the heat immediately.
What to Serve with the Best Asparagus Side Dish Recipe
This dish tastes amazing alongside simple proteins, such as grilled or sauteed chicken. It’s simple enough for a weeknight family meal, but elegant enough for guests. Try it with grilled steak!
Of course, we need dessert, too! Always! Try these fresh and fruity options:
- Lemon Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
- Simple Fresh Strawberry Pie
- Fresh Blueberry Pie
- Strawberry Marshmallow Cookies
- Velvety Vanilla Cake (try it with fresh berries!)
Asparagus with Brown Butter and Capers
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound asparagus washed and trimmed
- 1-1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons capers drained and roughly chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- Saute Your Asparagus: Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet, big enough for the asparagus to lie flat. Add the asparagus and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, until it is fork-tender, 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your asparagus.
- Brown Your Butter: While the asparagus cooks, cut the butter into pieces and place it into a pot over medium heat. Stirring often, cook the butter until it turns golden brown. Keep a close eye on it so that the milk solids that fall to the bottom don’t burn. Remove it from the heat when those solids are golden and the butter smells toasted.
- Toss it Together: When the asparagus is tender, turn the heat to low and add the capers, brown butter, and remaining salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then remove from the heat and transfer to a serving platter.
- Toast Your Breadcrumbs: In the same skillet, reserve a bit of the butter. Add the breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Toast over low heat until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring often so that the butter does not burn.
- Finish and Serve: Sprinkle the toasted, buttered breadcrumbs over the asparagus just before serving.
- We like the thin, young asparagus for this dish because they cook quickly and are super tender, but any asparagus will work.
- If you don’t have a skillet large enough for the asparagus to lie flat, cut the asparagus in half, then lay it flat inside your skillet.