With our two easy methods, you can learn how to cook artichokes by either boiling or steaming them. The key to the perfect steamed or boiled artichokes is carefully removing the prickly leaves. This makes the delicious part of the plant much easier to eat. We’ll also show you how to remove the inedible parts so that you can enjoy the best part of the artichoke: the artichoke heart.
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With their gorgeous olive green or purple globes, artichokes are one of the most unique vegetables. While they look somewhat intimidating, artichokes are actually super easy to cook.
When you cook artichokes with methods such as steaming or boiling, you can soften the protective leaves on the outside of the vegetable to get to the delicious artichoke heart. Artichokes are a wonderful appetizer that is great for sharing.
What is an artichoke? This vegetable is known as a perennial thistle, and it’s in the same plant family group as sunflowers. Fresh artichokes are full of wonderful nutrients, including vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, calcium, folate, potassium, and iron.
You can roast artichokes or even cook them in a pressure cooker, but the preparation to pressure cook artichokes is different. Find a good pressure cooking recipe for Instant Pot steamed artichokes and enjoy! In addition to Instant Pot artichokes, you can find an artichoke recipe for stuffed artichokes. We love a stuffed artichoke and grilled artichokes.
How to Choose Artichokes
Are you wondering how to choose the best artichokes for steaming or boiling? The freshness of your artichoke will largely determine how your finished dish turns out. Follow these guidelines.
- Artichokes should feel heavy. If an artichoke feels too light, it may be dried out. This will result in boiled or steamed artichokes that aren’t as meat as you would like.
- The artichoke’s leaves need to be closed. The leaves should have just a bit of separation but shouldn’t be played wide open. Keep in mind that artichokes are actually flower buds, so as they age, their inner leaf and petals begin to open up. If an artichoke’s leaves are wide open, they’re probably aged too much to be tender and tasty.
- Squeeze the artichokes to see if you hear a small squeak. If so, you know your artichoke is fresh.
- Frost-kissed artichokes are just fine. If frost burns your artichokes, don’t worry about that. In some cases, frost-bitten artichokes may be even tastier than those that haven’t been exposed to frost.
Preparing an Artichoke
If you want to boil or steam a whole artichoke, you need first to trim and cut the outer leaves of the vegetable. The inner leaves are the most tender, and the outer leaves are largely inedible. Fresh artichoke has prickly tips that are similar to thorns, so you need to cut a few rows from the artichoke’s top so that you can expose the vegetable’s inside.
It depends on the size of your artichokes, but you’ll usually trim between 1/2 to 1 inch of the tips. To trim the tips of the leaves, use kitchen shears. The artichoke meat that’s edible is attached to the base near the bottom of the leaves. So when you trim the artichokes, you’re not losing any of the delicious meat.
Using the kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife or paring knife, cut the stem from the artichoke’s bottom. This will allow it to sit upright when you serve it. If you remove the fibrous outer layer of the artichoke, the stem is actually edible.
Removing the Artichoke Heart
Once you have removed all of the leaves from your artichoke (and eaten them!), the delicious artichoke heart is just sitting there waiting for you. What you need to do is remove the bristle-like fuzzy piece at the top. This piece is inedible.
The tender heart is super simple to cut in half, and you can eat it immediately because it’s cooked after you steam or boil your artichokes.
What are some ways to use artichoke hearts? You can put them on pizzas, in salads, roast them with other veggies for pasta dishes, and more. You can even coat the artichoke hearts with breading, so you’ve got a crunchy exterior. And don’t forget the beloved spinach artichoke dip that is usually made with canned artichokes. Roasted artichokes are delicious, and you can cook them with other roasted vegetables with a little olive oil and serve them over pasta with fresh herbs.
How to Steam Artichokes
Follow these steps for steaming artichokes.
- Prepare the artichokes as instructed.
- Fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water. You want your water to be below the bottom of the steamer basket so that the water doesn’t touch your artichokes.
- Put the steamer basket into the pot.
- Add the prepared artichoke to the pot.
- Put a lid on the pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Allow the steam to build.
- Once you have steam building up in the pot, cook the artichoke until the tough outer leaves pull away from the base easily.
- The cook time for steaming artichokes is between 20 and 35 minutes. The cooking time will depend on how large your artichokes are. Baby artichokes or a medium artichoke will cook much more quickly, while a large artichoke will take longer to cook.
- Turn off the heat. Use tongs to remove the artichoke from the pot. Be careful as you do this because the steam will still be coming up from the hot water.
- To be sure your artichokes are ready to eat, transfer them to a plate. While tugging at an outer leaf, check to see if it pulls off easily at the base. If so, your steamed artichoke is ready to eat. If the leaf doesn’t come off easily, you need to cook your artichoke for a few more minutes until it’s tender.
- After cooking artichokes, allow them to cool a little bit before eating them. If desired, squeeze lemon slices or freshly squeezed lemon juice over your easy steamed artichokes. You can also drizzle your cooked artichokes with olive oil.
How to Boil Artichokes
Follow these steps for boiling artichokes.
- Prep artichokes as instructed.
- Bring a large pot of cold water with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to a boil.
- Add the artichoke to the water, then immediately reduce the heat until it’s simmering. Cover the pot.
- How long to boil artichokes? The cooking time for boiling artichokes is between 20 and 35 minutes. Cook time will depend on how large your artichokes are.
- You can test your artichokes for doneness by transferring the artichokes carefully to a plate. Tug at one of the outer leaves. If it pulls off easily at the base, your artichoke is ready to eat. If the artichoke leaf doesn’t pull off easily, it will need to be cooked until it’s tender.
- After cooking artichoke, drain it and allow it to cool slightly before you serve it. If desired, squeeze lemon slices over your boiled artichokes.
Dipping Sauce to Serve with Artichokes
While you can eat artichoke leaves and hearts plain or lightly seasoned with sea salt and black pepper, you can kick the flavor up a notch when you serve your artichokes with yummy sauces. When you grill artichokes, it’s also delicious with dipping sauce.
Some sauces to eat with your cooked artichoke or Instant Pot artichoke include browned or melted butter, hollandaise sauce, pesto sauce, garlic aioli, garlic butter, or garlic mayonnaise.
Drizzle artichokes with olive oil for a simple and delicious treat. You can dip the individual leaves in the sauce and scrape away the meat from the tender inner leaves with your teeth.
How to Keep Artichokes from Becoming Brown After You Cut Them
The secret to keeping your artichokes from browning after you cut them is to soak them in lemon water. This will ensure that the trimmed leaves don’t turn brown.
The flesh that’s exposed quickly oxidizes when it becomes exposed to air. Also, the acidulated water will help keep enzymatic browning from happening because it will lower the pH and reduce enzyme activity.
How to Cook Artichokes
- Kitchen Shears
- 2 small artichokes or 1 large
- Water for steaming
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2.5 quarts water
- 2 small artichokes or 1 large
- 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 quart water
Prepare Artichokes (Both Methods)
- Holding the artichoke's base, use kitchen scissors to remove the sharp thorns on the ends of the leaves. You don't need to trim the top two rows of leaves.
- As you hold the artichoke at the base firmly, use a large knife to cut the two top rows of the tips of the leaves.
- Remove the stem so that it's flush with the base of the artichoke bulb.
- Add 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to a medium bowl with 1 quart of water.
- Submerge the trimmed artichoke in the lemon water until you're ready for cooking it. The lemon water will help prevent the artichoke stem and leaves from turning brown.
- Remove the prepared artichokes that are soaking in the lemon water. Shake to remove the excess water.
- In a large pot, add water until it reaches about 2 inches. You want to be sure that the salted water is below the steamer basket once you insert it.
- Add the steamer basket to the pot, then add the artichokes.
- Place a lid on the pot, then turn the burner to medium-high heat.
- As soon as the steam builds up in the pot, set your timer to begin your cooking time.
- How long to steam artichokes? Steam the artichokes until you can easily pull the leaves away from the bulb. This process will take between 20 and 35 minutes, depending on the artichoke's size.
- Remove the artichoke that's soaking in the lemon water.
- Bring salt and water to a boil, making sure there's sufficient water to fully cover the artichoke.
- Add the artichoke to the boiling water.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the artichoke and boiling water with a lid.
- Cook the artichoke until the leaves can be pulled off easily. This process will take between 20 and 35 minutes, depending on the artichoke's size.
- Drain the water and allow the artichoke to cool before you eat it.
Do you need a visual for how to cook artichokes? Check out this video.