Once you learn how to cook artichokes, you won't be able to get enough of them! In the spring, I make this steamed artichoke recipe on repeat.
A few years back, when I saw a fresh artichoke at the farmers market for the first time, I knew immediately that I’d be taking it home. It was so pretty, with its tightly packed petals and thick stem tinged with purple. How could I resist it? But when I got back to the house, I realized that I had one tiny problem….I had no clue how to cook artichokes.
That spring, I passed off the artichoke prep to my mom, who happened to be visiting (thanks, Mom!), but since then, I’ve mastered how to cook artichokes myself. I wanted to share my method today because it’s peak artichoke season, and fresh artichokes are just too good to miss out on. The leaves are meaty and satisfying, with a nutty flavor that’s bright with lemon. Serve them with a tasty dipping sauce or melted butter for a fresh spring appetizer that simply can’t be beat.
How to Prepare An Artichoke
Preparing artichokes for the first time can be daunting, but don’t let it intimidate you! Once you learn how, it’s a breeze. Here’s what you need to do:
First, make sure you have the right equipment. Artichokes start to brown as soon as you cut them. To reduce this oxidation, you’ll need a quartered lemon to rub on the cut surfaces of the artichoke. I also recommend using a stainless steel knife instead of a carbon-steel one, which can increase browning. In addition, you’ll need a cutting board, a peeler, a large pot, and a steamer basket.
Start by preparing the stem. Peel off any tough, small petals on the artichoke stem.
Then, use your knife to trim the end of the stem. You only need to cut off a little bit! The stem is completely edible, and it has a wonderful meaty texture. You’ll definitely want to cook and eat it.
After you trim the stem, gently score it to help it cook more quickly. Now’s the time to use that lemon! Rub it over the stem’s cut surface to prevent browning.
Next, grab your peeler. Use it to trim away the tough outer skin of the artichoke stem. Then, rub the peeled sides of the stem with lemon juice.
Next, prepare the artichoke leaves. Slice 1/2-1 inch off the top of the artichoke.
At this point, your artichoke will have a flat top with a few rows of pointy leaves around the sides.
Rub the cut, flat leaves liberally with lemon juice…
and use kitchen shears to trim off the pointy tips of the lower leaves. (Fun fact: artichokes are the flower buds of a member of the thistle family. From those prickly leaves, you can tell!)
It’s time to cook!
How to Cook Artichokes
My go-to method for how to cook artichokes is to steam them. Steaming artichokes is easy and hands-off, and it’s a perfect way to prepare them if you want to peel off the leaves and dip them in a sauce or melted butter.
Once you’ve prepared the artichoke, add 1 inch of cold water to a large pot, and squeeze in any juice remaining in your lemon. Drop the juiced lemon segments into the water, too. Place a steamer basket inside the pot, and nestle in the artichoke. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 35-45 minutes.
The artichoke is ready when the stem is fork-tender and you can easily peel away the outer leaves.
Unless you’re working with baby artichokes, there’s one more step before you eat! You need to remove the choke (in baby artichokes, the choke is edible). To do this, slice the steamed artichoke in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop out the hairy choke, which sits between the cup-shaped artichoke heart and the tender inner leaves.
Note: The choke has not been scooped out of the artichokes in the photo below. It’s the fuzzy section right under the small, purple-tipped leaves.
Steamed Artichoke Serving Suggestions
So, you learned how to cook artichokes…but what about how to eat them?
Steamed artichokes have three edible parts: the leaves, the stem, and the heart. To eat the leaves, you’ll peel them off one by one and scrape off the tender meat with your teeth, discarding the tough, fibrous shell. They’re tasty on their own, but they’re really not complete without some sort of dipping sauce. Melted butter is a classic choice, and creamy sauces are also delicious. Try serving them with Caesar dressing or tartar sauce.
Once you eat the leaves, you’ll be left with the cup-shaped artichoke heart and the stem. They’re meaty and flavorful – enjoy them with olive oil, sea salt, and lemon juice, or dip them in whatever sauce you served with the leaves.
Steamed artichokes are a wonderful appetizer for spring recipes like this Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Peas, Pesto Pasta, or Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. They make a great side dish, too. Pair them with my Asparagus Soup or any protein you like. Enjoy!
More Favorite Spring Recipes
If you loved learning how to cook artichokes, check out one of these spring cooking guides next:
- How to Cook Asparagus
- Grilled Asparagus
- What is Fennel? (And How to Cook It)
- What are Leeks? (And How to Cook Them)
- Roasted Radishes
- How to Use Radish Greens
How to Cook Artichokes
- 1 globe artichoke
- 1 lemon, quartered
- Melted butter or dipping sauce, for serving
- Prepare the artichoke stem: Pull any leaves off the stem, and use a vegetable peeler to peel off the stem's woody exterior. Use a sharp stainless steel knife to trim off the end of the stem and gently score the trimmed end with an "X" pattern. Rub the stem all over with the cut side of one of the lemon segments to prevent browning.
- Prepare the artichoke bud: Cut off the top quarter off the artichoke, about 1/2-1 inch. Rub the cut leaves all over with the lemon. Use kitchen shears to snip off the pointy tips of the remaining leaves.
- Steam the artichoke: Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water, and squeeze in any remaining lemon juice. Add the squeezed lemon segments to the pot. Place a steamer basket in the pot, add the artichoke, and bring to a boil. Cover and steam for 35-45 minutes, or until the artichoke stem is fork-tender and you can easily peel off the outer leaves.
- Remove the choke: Allow the artichoke to cool slightly. Slice it in half lengthwise, and use a small spoon to scoop out the hairy choke.
- Serve the artichoke halves with melted butter or another dipping sauce of your choice. To eat, dip the leaves into the sauce and use your teeth to scrape off the meat, discarding the tough, fibrous shell. You can eat the artichoke heart and stem in their entirety.