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Italian-Style Asparagus Spears: Baked or Fried

Italian-Style Asparagus Spears: Baked or Fried
Home » Recipes by Ingredients » Vegetables » Italian-Style Asparagus Spears: Baked or Fried

This Southern Italian-Sicilian recipe for fresh asparagus can be served as a side dish or a snack, either hot or at room temperature. A light batter of Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, garlic, bread crumb, chopped Italian parsley and egg turn fresh asparagus into a special treat that Italians, and my family, devour in a flash. There will be no leftovers!

Fresh asparagus spears in a batter fried in a pan.
Italian-Sicilian fresh asparagus spears fried in a light batter

Jump to: RECIPE | Why This is an Italian Specialty | Ingredients & Substitutions | Illustrated Step-by-Step | What to Serve with Italian-Style Asparagus

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Why Southern Italians Love Asparagus – A Bit of History

My BFF’s family is from a small town near Bari in the Apulia region in Southern Italy, where all holidays are feast days with special dishes appropriate for the season. Every Easter her Sicilian aunt would prepare the banquet for the extended family, which included fresh asparagus made with this recipe and cooking method.

Since fresh asparagus is a favorite springtime veggie that isn’t available on Easter in many climates, we’re including it as an Earth Day treat also. Not an Italian tradition, but maybe it can become a spring tradition for those of you who live in cooler climates!

map of southern italy
Map of Southern Italy

Many people of many cultures love asparagus. However, I think the history of asparagus in Italy is the most fun and fascinating!

Cato the Elder (who died at age 85 in 149 B.C.) was a Roman soldier who described asparagus and how to cultivate this vegetable. It wasn’t until the 1500s, however, that asparagus was more broadly cultivated in Southern Italy.

Did you know? In the 10th century, the Salerno Medical School in Southern Italy determined that asparagus had aphrodisiac properties due to its phallic shape. The royal families of the Renaissance continued this belief in the “erotic” symbolism of asparagus.

My family didn’t know about this ancient erotic symbol of asparagus. We love this recipe, of course, because we love fresh asparagus, but especially because of the added taste of the light Italian cheese and garlic fried or baked coating.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here is a photo of the ingredients I used for this recipe. The details are in the recipe card below.

photo of ingredients for Italian style fresh aparagus, which includes asparagus, Italian parsley, olive oil, garlic power, grated parmesan cheese, eggs, flour, bread crumb.
Ingredients for Italian-style fresh Asparagus


  • Fresh Asparagus: I used the “thin” spears, however, the larger “thick” spears also work well. This recipe doesn’t work well with frozen asparagus.
  • Italian Parsley: I prefer chopped fresh Italian parsley, but I have substituted dried parsley, which also works well.
  • Garlic Powder: You can substitute jarred minced garlic. It works because it is moist and will cling to the batter.
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano: You can also use grated Pecorino Romano – or combine the two.
  • Bread Crumb: My “go-to” is Progresso Garlic and Herb Bread Crumbs, but Progresso Plain Bread Crumbs, Panko, or even homemade breadcrumbs work just as well.

Illustrated Step-by-Step

Here are the steps lined out with photos. For the details of the recipe itself, see the recipe card below.

Asparagus spears on cutting board with knife.
Step 1: Cut off the hard endss of the spears with a knife.
Asparagus spears parboiling in pan.
Step 2: Parboil spears in boiling water for 3 – 5 minutes.
Parboiled asparagus spears plunged into bowl of ice water.
Step 3: Plunge parboiled spears into large bowl of ice water for 2 – 3 minutes.
Three bowls for dipping the asparagus into the coating ingredients next to the sheet pan for baking.
Step 4: Assemble into 3 separate bowls: the breadcrumb, parsley, cheese mixture; beaten eggs; flour ready for coating the spears.
Breaded asparagus spears laid out on a sheet pan.
Step 5: Spears coated left to right 1) flour breadcrumb, pa2) beaten eggs 3) breadcrumb parsley, cheese mixture 4) back into egg mixture then placed in sheet pan for baking.
Fresh asparagus spears in a batter fried in a pan.
Step 6: Lightly and quickly fry coated asparagus spears in 1 tablespoon olive oil.

What to Serve with Italian-Style Asparagus

These spears can be served hot, warm, room temperature, or even chilled. My family loves these baked or fried Italian-style asparagus as a snack, on a plate on the kitchen counter, that they can grab any time during the day or evening. Believe me, they won’t last long!

Plate with pan fried coated asparagus spears.
Baked Italian-stylle spears.

These asparagus spears work really well as a vegetable side dish with roasted meats, or any Italian main course. Try them with one of the recipes below:

Like this recipe? It helps me out greatly if you leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below and maybe even leave me a quick comment too!

Italian-Style Asparagus: Baked or Fried

Fresh asparagus spears in a batter fried in a pan.
Parboiled fresh asaparagus dipped in Italian seasoned breadcrumb, egg and Parmigiano cheese then baked or fried.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 376



  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus about 20 stalks
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs I use Progresso
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese Or you can mix both cheeses
  • 3 to 6 eggs beaten
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley finely chopped
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F if baking.
  • Cut the hard ends off the bottom of the fresh asparagus.
    1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • Prepare a large bowl of cold water and ice and keep it near the stove.
  • Mix the bread crumb, grated cheese, finely chopped Italian parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper into a mixing bowl (or onto a dinner plate). Set aside.
    1 cup plain breadcrumbs, 2 cups grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, 1 bunch Italian parsley, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon ground pepper, 1 teaspoon salt
  • Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl and set aside.
    3 to 6 eggs
  • Put the flour into a mixing bowl or on a dinner plate and set aside.
  • Arrange the bowls (or plates), left to right in a straight "assembly line: 1) flour 2) beaten egg 3) bread crumb mix.
  • Line the sheet pan with parchment paper if baking. Get the non-stick fry pan ready by adding 1 tablespoon of olive oil if frying.
    2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Bring large pot of water of water to a boil. Parboil all the asparagus for 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Using the tongs, lift the asparagus spears out of the boiling water and place immediately into the bowl of ice water for 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Remove the asparagus from the ice water with tongs, and roll the bunch of spears into paper towels to dry them just a little. Then unroll them.
  • Do the "assembly line" process with groups of 3 – 4 asparagus spears at a time: 1) coat lightly in flour 2) coat floured spears in beaten egg 3) roll the spears in the bread crumb mixture 4) roll the spears a second time in the beaten egg.
  • FOR BAKING: Immediately place the coated spears, close together, on the parchment-lined sheet pan, if baking. Bake in -preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. You shouldn't need to flip the spears over. Remove from oven and, using spatula, place on dinner plate or serving platter. FOR FRYING: heat the olive oil on medium-high in the non-stick fry pan and begin frying, in batches, the coated spears. Fry until golden brown on the bottom, then flip the spears over with a spatula and fry the other side until golden brown. Remove spears with spatula and place on dinner plate or serving platter.


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Calories: 376kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 21gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 1093mgPotassium: 352mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1752IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 480mgIron: 5mg
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