Feel a bit thorny about this unique vegetable? Have no fear: Our Test Kitchen will walk you through every step of how to cook artichokes (and how to enjoy them alone or in artichoke recipes).
Artichokes are the edible immature flowers of a cultivated thistle. There are more than 50 varieties of globe artichokes (the "true" artichoke that is no relation to the Jerusalem artichoke, which is a tuber) grown around the world. Roasted artichokes, in particular, possess a distinctly sweet, nutty flavor and are popular in French, Spanish, and Italian cuisine.
Now that you’ve selected the veggie star of your recipe, it’s time to learn how to cook artichokes. The ways to cook artichokes almost outnumber the delicious leaves on the beautiful piece of produce! For the unacquainted, we'll share how to eat artichokes and include some choice artichoke recipes, plus dish on the best way to serve stuffed artichokes and grill artichokes.
How to Cook Artichokes
Step 1: Wash the artichokes.
- Wash artichokes just before you’re ready to use them. If you wash artichokes before storing, the moisture could cause them to spoil more rapidly.
Step 2: Slice off the stem end of each artichoke.
- Cut off and discard the end of the stem. Or remove the entire stem at the base if you plan to serve the artichokes standing upright for recipes like stuffed artichokes (try our slow cooker variation filled with sausage and sweet peppers!).
Step 3: Remove outer leaves.
- Peel off the outer leaves closest to the stem.
Step 4: Remove the top from each artichoke.
- If you are making stuffed artichokes or simply want to remove the majority of the prickly leaf tips for safer eating, trim the top off each artichoke. Use a sharp, sturdy knife to cut off about 1 inch from the pointed top of each artichoke.
Step 5: Trim leaf tips.
- To remove the remaining prickly tips from the outer leaves, use scissors to cut off each leaf tip.
- Brush all cut edges with lemon juice to prevent browning.
Step 6: Choose how to cook artichokes.
There’s no one best way to cook artichokes—there are many! Try them all or start with whichever method is closest to the artichoke recipe you’ve enjoyed most while dining out.
Test Kitchen Tip: How long to cook artichokes varies based on size. For all methods, you’ll know they're done when you can slip off a leaf near the center of the artichoke without struggling or having to pull too hard.
- Fill a large stainless-steel or enamel pot with lightly salted water; bring to boiling.
- Add artichokes; return water to boiling.
- Reduce heat; simmer, covered, about 20 to 30 minutes or until you can easily pull out a leaf from the center of an artichoke.
Tip: Cooking whole artichokes by boiling doesn't impart flavor. If you're looking for the purest artichoke flavor, try boiling. Or add butter, sauces, or other toppers to make boiled artichokes more flavorful.
The first step in how to cook artichokes on the grill is to boil them first, so be sure you feel confident in that method of cooking artichokes.
- Fill a large stainless-steel or enamel pot with lightly salted water; bring to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, about 20 to 30 minutes or until you can easily pull out a leaf from the center of an artichoke.
- Heat grill or grill pan to high. Cut artichokes in half lengthwise, then scoop out the choke and the delicate inner leaves close to the heart. Season to taste with salt and black pepper; drizzle with olive oil.
- Place artichokes on the hot grill, flat sides up; cook until golden brown (about 4 minutes). Flip and cook 4 minutes more.
Get the recipe: Grilled Artichokes
- Fill a large stainless-steel or enamel pot with 1 inch of water.
- Place a steamer basket inside the pot.
- Bring the water to boiling.
- Using tongs, place artichokes, stem side down, in the steamer basket.
- Reduce heat to simmering, cover the pot, and allow artichokes to steam about 20 to 25 minutes or until you can easily pull out a leaf from the center of artichoke.
Test Kitchen Tip: Be sure to use a stainless-steel, enamel, or other nonreactive pot to cook artichokes to prevent discoloration or off flavors.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Gently separate the artichoke leaves from the choke.
- Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil; season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Tightly wrap in aluminum foil, place in an oven-safe baking dish, and cook 70 to 80 minutes.
Test Kitchen Tip: In a hurry? Here’s how to cook an artichoke in the microwave: Place two artichokes in a microwave-safe casserole dish with 2 tablespoons water. Cover with waxed paper, vented plastic wrap, or the lid of the casserole dish. Microwave, covered, on 100 percent power (high) 7 to 9 minutes, flipping artichokes once for even cooking.
How to Eat Artichokes
Now that your artichoke recipe is ready, it’s time to peel and dig in.
To eat a whole cooked artichoke:
- Break off each leaf, one at a time; dip the leaf into melted butter, mayonnaise, or other sauce (see below) and draw the base of the leaf through your teeth to remove the tender portion.
- After all the leaves have been removed, scrape off the inedible prickly "choke" to expose the inner artichoke heart.
- Cut the heart into pieces (and prepare to battle over the last bite).
To use the cooked artichoke heart in a recipe:
- Peel leaves from artichokes. Scrape off the inedible prickly "choke" to expose the heart.
- Cut the heart in half or as directed in a recipe (psst...spinach-artichoke dip is always a hit!).
Related: Party-Ready Make-Ahead Dips
Optional Sauces to Serve with Your Artichoke Recipe
Whether steamed, boiled, grilled, or roasted, artichoke leaves taste even better when dunked into one of these stir-and-serve sauces:
- Herb-Butter Sauce: Melt 1/4 cup butter. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon snipped fresh dill, tarragon, or oregano (or 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed, tarragon, or oregano, crushed). Makes 2 servings.
- Lemon-Mustard Mayo: In a small bowl stir together 1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing, 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard. Season to taste with ground black pepper. Serve with warm or chilled artichokes. Makes 4 servings.
- Curry Dip: In a small bowl stir together 1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, 1 teaspoon finely chopped onion, 1 teaspoon curry paste or curry powder, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours before serving with chilled artichokes. Makes 4 servings.
How to Choose and Store Artichokes
Use these Test Kitchen tips to select the very best artichokes and store them properly:
- The peak season for leafy green globe artichokes lasts from March to May.
- Look for artichokes with tight leaf formation and a deep green color. They should seem heavy for their size, and the leaves should squeak when squeezed together. Avoid artichokes that are dry-looking or have split leaves. The color should be a vibrant green, and the outside should be unblemished. Generally, the smaller the artichoke, the more tender it will be. However, plump, round-looking artichokes tend to have a larger heart, which is the sweetest part of the artichoke.
- Store unwashed artichokes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
Tip: Don't confuse Jerusalem artichokes, also called sunchokes, with globe artichokes. They are actually a tuber from a type of sunflower plant.