How to prepare artichokes and how to cook artichokes in one of 5 ways: steamed, boiled, microwaved, roasted, or air-fried, with step-by-step instructions and FAQs!
Just like fennel (which I recently demystified), if you haven’t worked with artichokes before, these flower-like bulbs can be intimidating. However, they are beautiful and nutritious and surprisingly simple to prepare and cook in several ways. They will become melt-in-the-mouth tender & delicious – especially when served with the perfect dipping sauce!
Keep reading for a simple step-by-step guide on how to prepare and how to cook artichokes. That includes how to steam artichokes, boil them, and microwave, roast, or air fry them. Once you learn how, cooking artichokes will become a new low-carb, keto, paleo favorite appetizer or side!
What Is Artichoke?
Artichoke (aka Cynara cardunculus) is also called globe artichoke, French artichoke, and Green artichoke. It comes from a flowering plant in the thistle family and is the flower bud before the flowers bloom. They have a peak season of March-May and September-October, though they’re often available year-round in US grocery stores.
It contains a tough outer layer of fibrous leaves/petals (called “bracts”). The leaves cover a fuzzy/hairy center called a “choke” sitting over the soft, meaty core (artichoke heart).
The outside of the leaves and the choke aren’t edible. But the flesh at the inner base of the leaves and the artichoke heart are delicious. Even the stem is edible.
The flavor is creamy, satisfying, bitter-sweet, nutty, and slightly earthy!
Why Are Artichokes Good for You?
- They contain several beneficial plant compounds and enough antioxidants to be considered a superfood. Plus they have anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Artichokes are low fat, low calorie, contain moderate protein (about 4g per medium artichoke), & high fiber – perfect for heart & digestive health.
- Fresh artichokes also contain several vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin K, and vitamin C. They are also a good source of potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and several other micronutrients.
Studies show artichoke extract can also help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Plus they can improve liver health and IBS symptoms.
How to Pick Artichokes from the Store
- The globe should be firm and heavy for its size, with compact leaves with no major separation between them.
- A few brown spots are fine, but the overall color should be vibrant.
- It’s not dry – when squeezed, it should squeak (like sneakers on a gym floor).
- The leaves shouldn’t be shriveled nor be able to pull away from the globe easily.
How to Prepare and Cook Artichokes
You can boil, roast, grill, saute, air fry, pressure cook, and steam artichokes. Keep reading for just a few of my favorite methods.
How To Prepare Artichokes
Cleaning artichokes: This isn’t always necessary when you prep them. But if needed, gently pull apart the leaves (to allow the water to flow between them) and rinse them well.
- Pull away any small, tough leaves near/on the stem. Then use kitchen scissors, kitchen shears, or a sharp stainless steel knife to cut off the thorny tips from the leaves.
- Use a large serrated knife to remove the top inch of the globe, too. Immediately rub lemon juice over the cut parts to avoid oxidization/browning.
The edible part on the leaves is at their base, so you won’t remove anything edible.
- Trim the brown woody part off the stem and add more lemon. If it’s thick, peel the tough outer layer of the stem with a vegetable peeler.
If you aren’t cooking them immediately, transfer the artichokes to a bowl of cold water with the juice of one lemon, to slow oxidization.
- If you’re cooking whole artichokes, skip this step. Otherwise, slice the artichoke in half lengthwise. Immediately drizzle with lemon juice and use a spoon to remove the hairy “choke” from the center, above the heart. This part isn’t edible and poses a choking risk if left.
A simple steamed artichoke recipe is one of the most popular forms of preparing artichokes. It is really simple to do using whole globes.
- Place the artichoke globes in a steamer basket in a large pot containing at least 2 inches of water, simmering.
- Cover with a lid and steam the artichoke for 25-35 minutes. Cooking time varies depending on the size – it can take up to 45 minutes to 60 minutes for large artichokes. When cooked, the stem is knife-tender and it’s easy to pull away a leaf.
I love adding 2 slices of lemon for aromatic flavor. You could also add bay leaves or garlic cloves. Monitor the water level to add more if needed.
You can also steam them in an Instant Pot.
Boiling artichokes requires no special tools and is easy to do with consistent results.
- Add the trimmed artichokes to a pot of boiling water (optionally add salt or aromatics like lemon, garlic, etc.). Reduce to a simmer.
- Boil for 20-40 minutes, depending on their size, until an outer leaf pulls away easily.
If you’re short on time, learn how to cook artichokes in 10 minutes with a microwave.
- Place the trimmed artichokes in a microwave-safe dish with ¼ cup of water.
- Microwave over high heat for 8-10 minutes. Then test and continue to cook in 30-second increments until tender and the outer leaves pull away easily.
My roasted artichokes recipe uses halved artichokes and caramelizes, crisps, and enhances their flavor. Plus you can stuff them too. I’ve shared my full recipe for roasted artichokes here.
- Transfer the artichoke halves to a high-sided baking dish after drizzling them with olive oil and seasoning them.
- Bake at 400ºF/200ºC for 25-35 minutes (60-80 for very large ones). Cover the tray tightly with foil after 15 minutes to trap steam.
Air Fryer Artichokes
Air frying is best for smaller artichokes, yielding similar results to roasted in less time.
- Preheat the air fryer to 340ºF/170ºC.
- Rub the artichoke halves with oil, season them, then transfer them to your air fryer basket.
- Air fry for 11-15 minutes, flipping after 10 (up to 20 for larger artichokes), until tender.
Storing Cooked Artichoke
Once cooked, store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Pr keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Nutritionally speaking, steaming artichokes maintains more nutrients while keeping them moist and tender. It also avoids the potential of waterlogging the vegetable, which boiling can do (making them mushy with diluted flavor).
Enjoy the cooked artichokes hot or cold by pulling off the leaves, one at a time. Dip them light-end (the bottom) into the dip (optional). Then use your teeth to scrape the soft pulpy flesh from the bottom of the underside of the petal.
Repeat, discarding the tough outer leaves, until you reach the inedible fuzzy-looking “choke”. Scrape that out with a spoon and discard it to reach the delicious artichoke heart. Read my post on how to eat artichokes for more details.
Cooked artichokes taste amazing with my citrus artichoke dipping sauce. You could also use melted butter, lemon garlic butter sauce, garlic aioli, mayo, etc.
You can also enjoy it alongside pasta, grains, and cooked proteins like chicken and fish.
It pairs particularly well with lemon/lime, mint, parsley, truffle, creamy dairy, potatoes, spinach, avocado, and eggplant.
You should be cooking artichokes until the stem is knife tender, and you can easily pull off an outer leaf.
If you’re all about moisture, steaming is the tastiest, most nutritious option. However, roasting artichoke caramelizes it to bring out more flavor and is great for stuffing!
More Ingredient Guides
If you try any of these methods for how to cook an artichoke, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
How to Steam Artichokes
- 3 artichokes or as many as needed
- 2 slices lemon you could also add bay leaves or garlic for more flavor
- Pull away any small, tough leaves near/on the stem and then use kitchen shears (which is easiest) or a sharp stainless steel knife to cut off the thorny tips of the artichoke leaves.
- Optional step: use a large serrated knife to remove the top ¾-inch of the artichoke globe (I always do this with larger artichokes). Then, immediately rub lemon juice all over the cut parts of the plant to avoid oxidization/browning.The edible part on the leaves is at their base, so you won’t remove anything edible.
- Trim the brown woody part off the stem and add more lemon. If it's thick, peel the tough outer layer of the stem with a vegetable peeler.
- Place the artichoke globes in a steamer basket in a large pot with at least 2 inches of simmering water.
- Cover with a lid and steam the artichoke for 25-35 minutes (40-60 minutes for very large artichokes), until the stem is knife-tender and it's easy to pull away a leaf.Monitor the water level to add more if needed. It should never get below about an inch in the pan.