How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke
Don’t be intimidated by artichokes - they're easy to clean and cook. Here’s how.
By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen
Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.
Artichokes are one of those restaurant-worthy foods that sound and look fancy. In reality, they’re easy to prep and cook if you follow a few simple steps. Here, we walk you through how to buy artichokes, how to prep them and how to cook them several different ways, from steaming to cooking in the Instant Pot.
How to Buy Artichokes
Cooking artichokes starts with selecting and buying them. Look for firm artichokes that are heavy for their size. The stem should be two to three inches long, otherwise the heart at the bottom could be dried out. If you see dry, slightly browned patches on the leaves, that’s not a bad thing; in fact, it’s a delicacy: these artichokes are called frost-kissed and their flavor is intensified, taking on nutty notes. Frost-kissed season is short – right around when fall turns to winter and the temperatures dip slightly below 32 degrees – so get them while you can.
How to Prep an Artichoke
When prepping a lot of artichokes, you’ll see your hands start to brown, especially around your fingernails; you may want to wear disposable gloves.
Holding the artichoke firmly on its side, with your hand covering the stem end, slice off the top 1/2 inch or so of the artichoke (slicing off part of the spiny end). Raw artichokes oxidize and turn brown very quickly. You can prevent this by rubbing a lemon half against the cut surface or putting it in a bowl of lemon water.
Cut off the artichoke stem close to the base to allow it to sit upright. Rub the cut end with a lemon half
Remove the smaller tough leaves around the base by pulling them off or slicing them off with a knife, and rinse the artichoke under cool running water, separating the leaves to get any bits of soil that may be between them.
Using kitchen shears, cut the spiny tips off the leaves. If you’re making a stuffed artichoke recipe that instructs you to remove the choke as part of the prep, now’s the time to do it. Using your fingers, spread the leaves apart as much as you can. Then use a melon baller to scoop away the purple tipped leaves and the satiny threads of fiber (that’s the choke).
How to Steam Artichokes
What you need: a steaming basket, a pot that fits the artichokes in a single layer and tongs.
What to do:
- Place the steaming basket into the pot and fill the pot with water so it’s just below the basket. Arrange the artichokes in the basket in a single layer.
- Cover the pot, bring the water to a simmer over high heat, then lower the heat and continue to simmer the artichokes until a knife slides easily into the stem end or a leaf pulled from the artichoke comes out easily, 25 to 40 minutes. The time really depends on the size of the artichokes. Baby artichokes will go faster.
How to Boil Artichokes
What you need: a large pot and tongs.
What to do:
- Fill a pot large with enough water to cover the artichokes; season the water with salt. To infuse the artichokes with flavor, you can add aromatics like peppercorns, fresh or dried herbs (think: thyme, rosemary, parsley or bay leaves) or slices of lemon. Or use stock instead of water.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Add the artichokes in a single layer; reduce water to a simmer, cover and cook until a leave can be easily pulled off, 20 to 35 minutes.
- Drain the artichokes.
How to Grill Artichokes
What you need: a large pot, tongs and a grill or grill pan.
What to do:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat your grill.
- Cut the artichokes into quarters. Using a small, sharp knife, remove the choke from each artichoke. To keep them from browning, make sure you hold the prepped artichokes in lemon water until you’re done removing the chokes from all of them.
- Add the artichokes to the pot in a single layer and cook them until they’re crisp-tender, about 12 minutes.
- Drain the artichokes, brush them with oil and place them on the grill. Grill, turning occasionally, until charred in spots.
How to Eat Artichokes
You can eat artichokes hot, warm or cold.
To eat an artichoke, pull off each leaf, then place the part that was attached to the heart between your teeth with the fleshy side down, then pull it out, scraping the tender bottom of the artichoke off into your mouth. After you’ve made your way through all the leaves your reward is the heart, but there is a bit more work ahead. Using a butter knife, spoon or melon baller, scrape off the bristly hairs and discard. Cut the heart into pieces and fork it up.
Part of the fun of serving artichokes is that you can make all sorts of lovely sauces to dip the leaves and heart into. Two classic accompaniments are drawn butter or hollandaise sauce. But feel free to get creative and serve the artichokes with compound butter or another sauce like chimichurri.
Fresh Artichoke Recipes
The stuffing in this recipe has it all: breadcrumbs, two cheeses, garlic, parsley and olive oil to bring it all together.
Baby artichokes are tender all the way through: no real prep is needed, they steam in a sauté pan and then they’re filled with the breadcrumbs to serve.
No need to form crab cake patties and flip them on the stove; instead, the crab cakes steam inside the artichokes while they cook – then get finished with Old Bay seasoning and a drizzle of lemon juice.
The technique used in these stuffed artichokes is the same technique most stuffed artichoke recipes use, but the big payoff is that you can set them in the slow cooker and forget them until dinner time.
We’ve packed these artichokes with a bacon-y stuffing that’s got ranch dressing mix stirred in for tangy flavor. Start them on the stove, then finish them in the oven.