How many calories are in grilled asparagus with olive oil?

Asparagus is a nutritious vegetable that is low in calories and high in important vitamins and minerals. When grilled with a drizzle of olive oil, asparagus becomes a healthy and delicious side dish or light main course. But exactly how many calories are in grilled asparagus with olive oil?

Calories in Asparagus

To determine the calories in grilled asparagus with olive oil, we first need to look at the calories in asparagus itself. Asparagus is one of the lowest calorie vegetables, providing only about 20 calories per 100g serving.

Specifically, 100g of raw asparagus contains:

  • 20 calories
  • 2.2g protein
  • 0.12g fat
  • 3.88g carbohydrate
  • 2.1g fiber

Asparagus gets most of its calories from carbohydrates. However, it is low in sugar and high in fiber, making it a healthy choice.

Does Grilling Change the Calories?

When it comes to calories, cooking asparagus does not significantly alter the calorie content. Whether steamed, roasted, or grilled, cooked asparagus has about the same number of calories as raw.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. Asparagus is very low in fat, so it does not gain many calories from added oils during cooking.
  2. Asparagus is composed mostly of water, which evaporates during cooking. This water loss offsets any calorie gains.

So grilling does not add any meaningful calories to asparagus. You can expect about 20 calories per 100g serving, just like raw.

Calories from Olive Oil

To grill asparagus, it is common to coat the spears lightly with olive oil. This adds flavor and prevents them from drying out.

Olive oil is very high in fat and contains 120 calories per tablespoon (13.5g). Even a light drizzle of olive oil over asparagus can add 30-50 calories.

For example, if you use 1 teaspoon (4.5g) of olive oil to coat 1 pound (450g) of asparagus before grilling, that works out to:

  • 1 tsp olive oil = 40 calories
  • 450g asparagus = 90 calories (raw)
  • Total = 130 calories

So olive oil does contribute meaningful calories. But because asparagus itself is so low calorie, the total remains low.

Nutrition Facts

Here are the full nutrition facts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of grilled asparagus with 1 teaspoon of olive oil:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 60
Fat 5g
Saturated fat 0.7g
Carbohydrates 4g
Fiber 2g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A 15% DV
Vitamin C 15% DV
Vitamin K 60% DV
Folate 15% DV
Iron 5% DV
Potassium 5% DV

As you can see, grilled asparagus with olive oil is low in calories but high in important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Calories Per Serving

To determine total calories, we also need to consider the serving size. Asparagus spears are generally 4-8 inches long when served.

A typical side dish portion of grilled asparagus is about 4-5 spears, or around 85g. So the calories per serving would be:

  • 85g grilled asparagus = 17 calories
  • 1 tsp olive oil = 40 calories
  • Total per serving = 57 calories

If eating grilled asparagus as a main dish, the portion size might be 8-10 spears, or about 170g.

For a 170g main dish portion with 1 teaspoon olive oil, the calorie count works out to:

  • 170g grilled asparagus = 34 calories
  • 1 tsp olive oil = 40 calories
  • Total per serving = 74 calories

Tips for Serving

Here are some tips for serving grilled asparagus to keep it low calorie:

  • Use cooking spray instead of olive oil to coat the asparagus before grilling. This eliminates nearly all the added calories from oil.
  • Season with just a squeeze of lemon juice instead of oil after grilling.
  • If using olive oil, brush lightly. You only need about 1/2 teaspoon for 1 pound of asparagus.
  • Avoid dips or heavy sauces, which can add significant calories.
  • Portion asparagus spears appropriately as a side dish rather than main meal.

In Recipes

You can also add grilled asparagus to recipes like salads, pasta, pizza, omelets, and more. This introduces new variables for calories.

For example, a salad with 2 cups mixed greens (20 calories), 5 spears grilled asparagus (50 calories), 2 tbsp reduced fat dressing (60 calories) and 1 oz feta cheese (75 calories) would have about 205 calories total.

The asparagus still contributes minimal calories, allowing room for more high-calorie ingredients.

Benefits of Asparagus

Beyond being low calorie, asparagus offers additional health benefits. It is high in:

  • Folate – important for metabolism and pregnancy
  • Vitamin K – helps blood clotting
  • Vitamin A – supports immune function
  • Vitamin C – boosts immunity and collagen production
  • Vitamin E – antioxidant that protects cells
  • Iron – required for oxygen transport in blood
  • Inulin – prebiotic fiber for gut health
  • Rutin – antioxidant that may reduce inflammation

The vibrant green color indicates high levels of antioxidants. Asparagus has been linked in studies to reduced risk of certain cancers, heart disease and diabetes.

Downsides of Asparagus

Asparagus does contain moderate amounts of purines, which people with gout or kidney stones may want to limit. The most concentrated sources are in:

  • Skin
  • Bottom white end of stalks

Peeling the skin and trimming the ends can reduce purine levels. Asparagus also has minor effects on urination odor.

Cooking Methods

Some cooking methods add more calories than others:

Cooking Method Added Calories
Raw None
Boiled Minimal
Steamed Minimal
Sauteed Moderate
Roasted Moderate
Grilled Moderate
Fried High

Healthiest options are boiling, steaming, and grilling with minimal added fat. Frying significantly increases calories and diminishes nutrition.

Substitutions to Reduce Calories

There are several substitutions that can further reduce calories in grilled asparagus recipes:

  • Use cooking spray instead of olive oil to coat spears
  • Substitute fresh lemon juice for dressing or dipping sauce
  • Swap feta cheese for parmesan cheese sprinkles
  • Use lower fat cream-based sauces in place of hollandaise
  • Serve asparagus warm or room temperature instead of hot with melted butter

Low Calorie Asparagus Recipe Ideas

Some healthy and low calorie recipe ideas with grilled asparagus include:

  • Asparagus salad with lemon vinaigrette
  • Grilled asparagus pizza with goat cheese
  • Asparagus frittata made with egg whites
  • Pasta primavera with asparagus and other vegetables
  • Asparagus tacos on corn tortillas
  • Grilled asparagus with herb rub as a side dish
  • Asparagus soup pureed with low fat milk
  • Asparagus stir fry with chicken and ginger sauce

Asparagus pairs well with lean proteins like fish, chicken, eggs and legumes. Combining with whole grains and other non-starchy vegetables keeps calories low.

Should You Eat the Asparagus Stalks?

Asparagus spears have a thick white stalk at the bottom. Sometimes people discard this part, but the stalks are edible and contain many nutrients.

The stalks make up about half the asparagus spear. By not eating them, you would cut the edible portion in half. The stalks are not any tougher or more fibrous than the tips if cooked properly.

Peeling the fibrous outer skin can improve texture. The stalks are slightly higher in calories than tips but otherwise have the same nutrition profile.

Eating the stalks along with tips allows you to get full nutritional and calorie value from the asparagus.


Grilled asparagus with olive oil is a healthy vegetable side dish option. Four to five spears typically provides about 50-60 calories, while a larger 8-10 spear portion may have 70-80 calories.

Exact counts vary based on olive oil amount and vegetable size. But the asparagus itself contributes minimal calories, making it ideal for adding bulk and nutrition to meals without spiking calories.

Grilled asparagus also supplies vitamins A, C, K as well as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that provide additional health benefits beyond the calorie content.

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