Check out our step-by-step guide on how to cook artichokes, complete with tips, dipping sauces, and artichoke recipes!
How to Cook Artichokes
Cooking artichokes may seem daunting, but when you follow the right steps, you can find that they are easy and worth the effort. Eat them with a lemony dipping sauce to take them to the next level (my favorite way to eat them). You can also enjoy the fresh artichoke hearts in some of your favorite dishes. We included some of our favorites below!
Picking Your Artichoke
Artichokes are mostly in season in the Spring and early summer so you have a better chance of finding a good-quality one then. However, they can be found at most grocery stores year-round. When picking out an artichoke, you want to find one that seems heavy for its size. Look for one where the petals are tight and close together.
Anatomy of an Artichoke
Though many believe an artichoke to be a vegetable, it is actually the the bud of a large thistle before it blooms. If you cut an artichoke in half you can actually find the thistle inside. The image below shows all the different parts of the artichoke:
Parts of an artichoke:
- Outer petals: The hard, outermost layer of the artichoke. These petals are very tough and are edible, however, most people discard the tough petal part after biting off the meaty part.
- Inner petals: The inner petals are not quite as tough as the outer layer. These tender inner leaves can be cut up along with the artichoke heart and eaten or used in recipes.
- The “Choke”: The purple, hairy looking center is the thistle or the “choke”. It is spiny and inedible. I am guessing it is called the “choke” because that is what you will do if you try to eat it. It is easiest to remove after the artichoke has been fully cooked, however, some like to remove it before cooking. Either way works just fine.
- The “Heart”: This is the meatiest, most tender part of the whole artichoke. You can often buy just the artichoke hearts at most stores. Most people prefer to do this because it is easy, but fresh, tender artichoke hearts just can’t be beat!
- Stem: The stem of the artichoke is actually edible. It is tender but stringy, kind of like celery.
How To Prep an Artichoke for Cooking
- Rinse: When prepping an artichoke for cooking, you want to give it a good scrub first. Put it under running water and scrub it clean like you would a potato
- Trim the stem: As mentioned above, the stem is edible. Trim up about 1/4″ of the stem and remove any excess little leaves or petals.
- Cut off the top: Next, chop of the top 1/3-ish of the artichoke. The part where all the outer leaves come together into a tight tip.
- Prevent browning: Once you cut off the top, cut a lemon in half and rub some of the lemon juice over where you just cut. This prevents the cut edges from browning (they brown quickly after they are cut).
- Cut the petals: Using kitchen shears, snip off the top, pointy parts of all the petals around the artichoke. Now your artichoke is prepped and ready to cook!
Steaming vs Boiling
When it comes to artichokes, I prefer the steaming method. I have found that boiled artichokes tend to take on too much water and the bright, lemony flavor gets drowned out. Steamed artichokes come out tender and flavorful every time. You can also pressure cook them with similar results. You can place the artichokes on a steaming rack or in just a small amount of water, I haven’t really been able to notice a difference either way.
How To Steam Artichokes
- Fill up a pot with about 1″ of water (you can salt the water if desired).
- Place prepped artichokes directly in the water or on a steaming rack.
- Squeeze lemons over the top of the artichokes and place remaining rinds in the pot.
- Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a lid.
- Cook for 30-40 minutes or until you can easily remove one of the outer petals with your fingers or tongs (careful, it will be hot).
Instant Pot Artichokes (How to Cook in a Pressure Cooker)
To cook artichokes in an Instant Pot, place about 2 cups of water in the Instant Pot then add the lemons. Place the artichokes in the Instant Pot cut-sides-down (stem UP). Cook on high pressure for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your artichokes. If you remove the artichokes and find they aren’t tender enough, just add them back to the pot and pressure cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Want to take those artichokes to the next level? After steaming them, throw them on the grill! We have an incredible grilled artichoke recipe with detailed instructions on how to grill them here: Grilled Artichokes. Trust me, it’s worth the few extra minutes to get that deep charred flavor.
How to Eat an Artichoke
The first time I ate an artichoke, I peeled off one of the outer petals and popped the whole thing in my mouth. I learned quickly that this was the wrong way to eat an artichoke. When you are working on the outer layers of the artichoke, you will want to peel off a petal and scrape the meaty part (that was closest to the heart) off with your teeth. I like to use my bottom teeth to scrape is clean but I have seen people use their top teeth too. Once you get to the heart, you can just dive in with a fork and enjoy the whole thing.
Artichoke Dipping Sauce
You can enjoy an artichoke plain, but it is SO MUCH better when you dip each bite into a dipping sauce. Here are some of my favorite things to dip artichokes in:
- Lemon aioli (basically just mayonnaise with lemon, recipe below)
- Sriracha mayo
- Melted butter, garlic butter, or lemon butter
- Lemon infused olive oil or lemon infused balsamic (you can find these at Italian markets… YUM)
- Lemon juice
Recipes Using Artichoke Hearts
I love eating artichokes as an appetizer or side dish, but I also love adding the fresh artichoke hearts to pasta, salad, pizza, and dips. Here are some of our favorite artichoke recipes:
Frequently Asked Questions:
Artichokes are chock full of nutrients and antioxidants. They are also are high in potassium, fiber, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and more!
Technically, an artichoke is a member of the thistle family, which actually makes it more of a flower. But for all intents and purposes, it is used and enjoyed like a vegetable.
They CAN be eaten raw, but they are REALLY tough to eat. We definitely recommend cooking them first.
Easy Steamed Artichokes (How To Cook Artichokes)
- Clean the artichoke and trim the stem and any excess petals from the stem.Using a serrated knife, cut off the top part of the artichoke where all the petals are bunched into a point. Slice a lemon in half and rub the lemon over the part where you just cut. This will help prevent browning while you are prepping the other artichokes.
- Next, trim all the sharp points from all the petals using scissors or kitchen shears. Repeat with all artichokes.
- Place the artichokes in a large pot with about one inch of water. You can place artichokes in a steamer basket but it's not necessary. Add salt to taste. Slice remaining lemon and squeeze over the top (reserving ½ of a lemon for the artichoke dipping sauce). Place the lemon rinds directly in the pot with the artichokes.
- Bring water to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until a petal near the stem can be easily removed by simply pulling on it with your fingers. Remove artichokes and place on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the artichokes in half from the stem to the top.
- Remove the thistle from the artichoke halves with by placing the tip of a spoon at the bottom of the thistle and scooping under it. The thistle should come out easily and in one big piece. Discard the thistle (it is completely inedible).
- Enjoy your artichoke petals with lemon aioli or melted butter. Cut up artichoke hearts and eat plain or serve with pasta, salad, or in your favorite artichoke dip.
Artichoke Sauce for Dipping (Lemon Aioli)
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and serve with artichoke petals.