Celebrate Spring in style with roasted Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus. It’s easy, elegant, and one of my favorite ways to prepare tender, first of the season asparagus. Serve it as a fantastic appetizer or a luxurious side dish—it always makes a big impression.
Needing some nibbles? Some bites? A bit of finger food? Try Easy Deviled Eggs, because everyone loves them. Or your favorite crackers and a ramekin of Homemade Olive Tapenade. But then again, these dainty Cucumber Sandwiches are amazing, too. Then get the party started right with a batch of freshly mixed Tom Collins or Whiskey Sours.
This recipe is always the first thing I make when the best asparagus starts showing up at the market. No one can resist a tender spear that’s covered in salty, crispy, baked prosciutto.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it’s low-carb, made only of vegetables and a small but entirely delicious piece of smoked Italian ham. It’s always the first thing to disappear. That's pretty amazing, when most party tables are groaning with puff pastry, crackers, and chips!
But even better, it’s super simple to assemble. Nothing has to be exactly precise, because people will pick up that gorgeous spear of roasted asparagus and pop it into their mouth without hesitation. And you can make enough for an army or just two in a short amount of time.
Plan on using about half a slice of prosciutto for every asparagus spear you plan to serve—that should help you figure out what you need, for who you’re feeding.
Making Prosciutto wrapped Asparagus for a garden party, or a smaller special dinner? Just click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What you need to make this appetizer:
(Have a look at the recipe card for all of the ingredients, but these are the special ones you might not have on hand!)
- Asparagus. Look for thicker stalks (as opposed to thinner ones) that are firm, straight, and have healthy looking tips that haven’t gone to seed. Most grocery stores store the stalks upright in an inch or so of water, to keep asparagus fresh.
- Prosciutto. This delicately smoky, earthy tasting Italian salt-cured cured ham is sold in small, 3- to 4-ounce packages, or you can buy it from a well-stocked butcher. When buying prosciutto from a butcher, ask for the prosciutto to be sliced thin. Since prosciutto is so delicate, the butcher should wrap it with sheets of butcher paper between the slices to keep them from sticking together.As far as the pre-packaged variety, there are usually about 2 slices of prosciutto per ounce—sometimes 3. And yes, you can eat the rest, if you’re lucky enough to have extra. You don’t even have to cook it.
How to make Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, foil, or a silicone sheet to help with cleanup.
- Next, prepare the asparagus by trimming or snapping off the very ends of the stalks, which can be tough or woody.
- Then gently tear one slice of the prosciutto in half, down the middle—or as close to it—as possible. Don’t worry about getting things exactly even. Once the ham is wrapped around the asparagus, it will look gorgeous and no one will see anything.
- Prosciutto softens quickly, so work with only one spear of asparagus at a time. Wrap the prosciutto snugly around the middle of the asparagus. Then place the wrapped asparagus on the prepared baking sheet and repeat until all the prosciutto or asparagus (hopefully both) are used up.
- Brush the spears with some olive oil, making sure to cover the tips, which will dry out as they roast. Sprinkle a little fresh ground pepper over everything before baking.
- Bake the asparagus at 400 degrees until the spears are tender and the prosciutto is crisp—about 20 minutes.
- Garnish with a little lemon zest and Fresh Parmesan cheese, if you like.
Tips, tricks, and substitutions:
- Slightly thicker asparagus works best. Look for asparagus spears that are about the diameter of your little finger, instead of the pencil-thin variety that you can find year-round.
If the asparagus is very thick, you can pre-cook it by blanching. Peel them halfway up the spear with a vegetable peeler. Then plunge the asparagus in the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the asparagus and put them immediately into a large bowl of ice water to set the bright green color. Allow to chill for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and pat the asparagus dry before continuing.
- Prosciutto substitutions. Try Spanish Serrano ham or jamon Iberico. You could also try pancetta, another Italian pork product, if it is sliced thin enough. (Pancetta is also salt-cured, but not smoked, so it needs to be cooked before eating.)
Other delicious variations:
- Asparagus and prosciutto bundles. Wrap 5-6 spears together with one whole slice of prosciutto, and roast as directed. This makes a fabulous individual vegetable side for guests.
- Roasted asparagus with Parmesan cheese and prosciutto. Lay the ham slices flat, and sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese. Then roll the spears up around the prosciutto, so the cheese is up against the stalk. The cheese will melt as it cooks.
- Prosciutto wrapped asparagus with balsamic. Drizzle a small amount of syrupy balsamic reduction—a thicker concentrate of balsamic vinegar—over the platter of cooked asparagus just before serving.
- Add some cheese. Goat cheese, French gruyère, anything scattered over the top to melt as it bakes takes it, well, over the top.
- Cold asparagus with prosciutto. Blanch the asparagus and wrap the chilled tender stalks with prosciutto. Serve as a cold salad with a lemon vinaigrette or a balsamic vinaigrette.
Making ahead and storing:
These little beauties are a sure thing for making ahead of time the day before you need them. Get them ready and wrapped and then slide the baking sheet into the refrigerator. To save some room in the fridge, you can even layer sheets of parchment and wrapped asparagus over one another, then carefully pull the sheet off and transfer it to a baking sheet to roast when you need them.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can eat the prosciutto wrapped asparagus cold, at room temperature, or gently reheated in the oven.
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus Recipe
- 1 pound asparagus (look for thicker stems that are about 1-ounce each)
- 4 ounces prosciutto
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon zest or lemon wedges, for garnish, optional
- shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat for easy cleanup.
- Remove the woody, tough ends from the asparagus. To do this, grab a handful of stems (5-6 at a time) and start to fold near the bottom of the stem. Each stem should break at the spot where it starts to toughen.
- Cut each piece of prosciutto into quarters (you should have about 16 pieces). Working with one asparagus stem at a time, wrap a piece of prosciutto around the middle of the stem. Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining prosciutto and asparagus.
- Brush the wrapped stems lightly with olive oil, concentrating most on the flowery tops which dry out easily. Sprinkle with pepper to taste (I like 1/2 teaspoon).
- Bake until the asparagus stems are tender and the prosciutto is crisp, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.