4 Simple Methods to Cook the Best Artichoke of Your Life

To the uninitiated, the idea of home cooked artichokes might seem delicious but daunting. They’re healthy, tasty, and make beautiful centerpieces, but they can be intimidating if you don’t already know how to cook them. Pickled artichoke hearts are all well and good, but how do you prepare the real thing; spikey, unwieldy, and fresh from the source? Luckily for you, I grew up right by the Artichoke Capital of the World—20-foot artichoke statue included—so their tasty secrets are known to me. And I’ll let you in on it—cooking an artichoke couldn’t be easier. I’ve prepared 4 recipes for how to cook artichokes, each one beginner-friendly and guaranteed to be delicious. 

Artichokes are considered a superfood, and it’s not hard to see why. Apart from being high fiber, fat-free, and low-sodium, they also have high levels of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, folate, phosphorus, and magnesium. A 2010 study for Nutritional Journal found that artichokes have among the most antioxidants of vegetables. On top of that, they’re also good for lowering cholesterol, regulating blood pressure, and improving liver and digestive health. Once you learn how to cook artichokes, you’ll never want to stop!

There’s no one right way to cook artichokes. The buds of gorgeous purple flowers, artichokes are hardy and versatile. No matter what kind of kitchen or equipment you have, there’s bound to be at least one method that’ll work for you. Each method has its merits, but they’re all easy, healthy, and tasty.

A field of artichokes growing under a blue sky.

Choosing and Preparing Your Artichoke

Before you can start cooking, you have to make sure to buy quality artichokes. When produce shopping, look for artichokes with tightly gathered leaves—the more densely packed and circular the better. Artichokes that have spread their leaves are older and less tender. Heavy artichokes are also a good sign—a lighter weight means some of the moisture has dried up. Some brown spots on the leaves are fine, but avoid any that are too brown. A slight purple tint to the leaves is normal and nothing to worry about. 

Once you have your artichokes chosen out, you’re ready to start your prep work. All methods start the same way—by preparing the artichoke itself.

To prepare your artichoke:

    • Remove any brown or cracked leaves and the small, dark leaves near the base.
    • Cut off the top of the artichoke, about an inch down from the top.
    • Trim off the spikey top of all the outer leaves with kitchen shears.
    • Cut off any stem longer than half an inch from the base. 
    • Wash carefully between the leaves to clear any grit.
    • Drizzle the artichoke with lemon juice to prevent browning.

This might sound like a lot of work, but it’s quick and easy in practice. If you’re really pressed for time, all you have to do is wash the artichoke and cut the stem. Trimming the artichoke ensures no one gets poked by the sharp tip of the leaves and will make a prettier end product, but when it comes to taste and cook time, there’s no tangible difference. While I believe trimming the artichoke is absolutely worth the extra effort, in a pinch all that matters is that they’re clean.

Now that you have your artichokes ready, it’s time to go over the different methods you can use to cook them.

A pile of artichokes stacked on top of each other.

1.

How to Cook Artichokes in the Oven

Baking artichokes in an oven is one of the most popular methods of how to cook an artichoke. Roasting allows you to season the artichoke as it cooks in a way steaming or boiling doesn’t, and is a very simple process. It requires a much longer time than any of the other methods, but it’s still easy and hands-off, and the results are totally worth a longer cook time and a little foil. 

Oven-Baked Artichokes  Author: Katie Merikallio                                          

Total Time: 5 minutes                                                        Difficulty: Easy to Medium

Ingredients:

2 artichokes

3 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup parmesan (optional)

Fresh herbs like parsley, rosemary, thyme, or sage (optional)

1 lemon, juiced (if using the juice to avoid browning during prep)

      Instructions:

    1. Preheat your oven to 425ºF.

    2. Prepare your artichokes as mentioned above.

    3. Separate the leaves to ensure they’re all fully coated and drizzle your artichokes leaves-side up with the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

    4. Spread the minced garlic between the leaves. Spread any fresh herbs you have (parsley, rosemary, thyme, and sage are all recommended, but most fresh herbs will make a nice addition) between the leaves, and if desired, sprinkle on parmesan cheese.

    5. Tightly wrap your artichokes with heavy-duty foil twice, making sure both layers fit snuggly.

    6. Bake artichokes for 1 hour 20 minutes.

    7. Let cool, then unwrap and enjoy!

    Cooking artichokes in an oven takes more time and just a touch more prep work, but the results are consistent and delicious. Though as you’ll see, using the oven is far from the only method for cooking artichokes, and if you’re in a time crunch, the next option is perfect for you. 

    2.

    How to Cook Artichokes in a Microwave

    Cooking artichokes in a microwave is the fastest method and the most readily available to anyone without access to a full kitchen. It only varies slightly depending on the size of the artichoke and the strength of the microwave, but it’s still easy to make consistently delicious artichokes in the microwave if you know what you’re doing. However, when you cook artichokes in the microwave, you’re steaming them very quickly, and you won’t get the same depth of flavor as baking it or steaming for a longer time in flavor-infused water. But basic steamed artichokes are still delicious, and the speed and simplicity of this method make it worth its inclusion on this list.

    Microwave Steamed Artichokes  Author: Katie Merikallio                                          

    Total Time:  15 minutes                                                        Difficulty: Easy to Medium

    Ingredients:1-2 artichokes

    • 1-2 artichokes
    • 1/2 cup water
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 lemon, juiced (if using the juice to avoid browning during prep)
    • Olive oil (optional)
      Instructions:

    1. Prepare your artichoke(s) as mentioned above.

    2. Place your artichoke(s) in a microwave-safe bowl with ½ cup of water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap. The fit should be snug to ensure steaming.

    3. Microwave your artichoke(s) on high. 6 to 7 minutes is best for a single artichoke, and 8 to 9 is best for two artichokes, with the shorter time for smaller artichokes and the longer for larger ones. Because different microwaves have different cook times, you can check if your artichoke is done by inserting a knife into the stem to see if it can be removed smoothly.

    4. If need be, squeeze out any excess water that’s accumulated from the steaming.

    5. Dress your artichoke with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs, or serve it as-is with a dipping sauce.

    As you can see, it’s easy and incredibly fast to cook artichokes in the microwave, but there’s also a little more room for error. It might take a few tries to learn what the proper cook time is for your microwave, but if you need a delicious side dish quickly that looks like it took twice the time to cook as it actually did, microwaved artichokes are your new best friend. Microwaving isn’t the only method that’s super speedy, though, and our next one takes only a few minutes longer.

    Close up of an organic artichoke cut in half, exposing the heart.

    3.

    How to Cook Artichokes in an Instant Pot

     

    With how handy they are, it’s pretty easy to understand the Instant Pot rage—and why people immediately figured how to cook artichokes with them. Cooking artichokes in an Instant Pot takes slightly longer than in a microwave, but only by a few minutes, and has very consistent results. If you own an Instant Pot, this method is probably the most hands-off but reliable method to get consistently steamed artichokes.

    Instant Pot Steamed Artichokes  Author: Katie Merikallio                                          

    Total Time: 20 minutes                                                        Difficulty: Easy to Medium

    Ingredients:

    • 2-4 large artichokes
    • 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups water
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 sprig rosemary
    • 1-2 slices of lemon
    • 1 lemon, juiced (if using the juice to avoid browning during prep)1 lemon, juiced (if using the juice to avoid browning during prep)
        Instructions:

      1. Add water to your Instant Pot: 1½ cups for the 6 qt size, and 2½ for the 8 qt.

      2. Prepare your artichokes as mentioned above.

      3. Optionally add aromatics to the water to infuse the artichokes with flavor as they steam. Good options for aromatics include lemon slices, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, and salt.

      4. Place your prepped artichokes stem-side up in the Instant Pot. Close the lid and set the steam vent to “Sealing.”

      5. Manually set the pressure cooker to 10 minutes. Larger artichokes might need up to 15 minutes, and smaller ones might only need 8 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when you can smoothly stick the stem with a knife. If they’re not done, cook for another 2 minutes.

      6. When 10 minutes are up, quick release the steam by turning the knob from “Sealed” to “Venting,” making sure not to scald yourself on the steam.

      7. Let them cool then enjoy!

      Cooking artichokes in an Instant Pot is incredibly fast and easy. It also has the benefit of letting you infuse some flavors in the steam better than you can in a microwave. If you have an Instant Pot, this method is highly recommended. But if you don’t, don’t worry! We still have you covered. 

      4.

      How to Cook Artichokes on the Stove

      As a child, my mother always boiled our artichokes. This is a perfectly reasonable method to cook artichokes, and among the simplest—trim the artichokes, boil them for 30 minutes, and you’re done—but boiling waterlogs the artichokes, so I’ve switched to steaming my artichokes on the stovetop when I cook them myself. Steaming on the stovetop takes longer than steaming in a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot, but it allows you to be more exact in your timing to avoid over-cooking.

      Stovetop Steamed Artichokes  Author: Katie Merikallio                                          

      Total Time: 5 minutes                                                        Difficulty: Easy to Medium

      Ingredients:

      • 1-2 artichokes
      • 2 cloves garlic
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 2 bay leaves
      • 1 sprig rosemary
      • 1-2 lemon slices
      • 1 lemon, juiced (if using the juice to avoid browning during prep)
      • Water, as needed
          Instructions:

        1. Prepare your artichokes as mentioned above.

        2. Fill a pot with a few inches of water, not high enough to reach the steaming basket. You can flavor your water with aromatics if you like (garlic, lemon slices, rosemary, bay leaves, salt, etc.) Place in a steaming basket.

        3. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

        4. Place your prepped artichokes in a steaming basket, stem side down, and cover.

        5. Steam the artichokes for 30 minutes, or longer if needed. Your artichokes are done when the leaves pull off easily.

        6. Remove, cool, and enjoy!

        Steaming on the stovetop is the method that allows for the most oversight, and is the least likely to overcook or undercook your artichokes, as you can monitor their progress easier. It takes longer than the microwave or Instant Pot, but shorter than the oven, and it doesn’t need any equipment other than a pot and steaming basket. 

        Artichokes and tomatoes stacked together in a tin tub.

        Dips For Artichokes

        Now that you know all your options for how to cook artichokes, it’s time to think about how to serve them. While you might like artichoke dip for your chips, artichokes themselves need a dipping sauce to be enjoyed fully. Truly, artichokes and dip are inseparable.

        Most dips you’ll find for artichokes have a mayo or butter base—delicious, but not exactly healthy or vegan friendly, which is a shame considering how nutritious and versatile artichokes are.

        The secret to a sauce that’s healthy, delicious, gluten-free, and vegan? Tahini! You’ll throw away your mayo and butter sauces after a taste of this tahini-garlic dip.

        Lemon-Garlic Tahini Dip  Author: Katie Merikallio                                          

        Total Time: 5 minutes                                                        Difficulty: Easy

        Ingredients:

        • 1/2 cup tahini (make sure your brand is gluten-free)
        • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
        • 2 tbsp lemon juice
        • 1-3 tbsp warm water
        • 1/4 tsp salt
        • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
        • 1/4 tsp paprika (optional)
            Instructions:

          1. Whisk all ingredients together, using as much or as little warm water as it takes to reach your preferred thickness for a dipping sauce

          It’s really that simple to make a delicious, healthy dipping sauce that anyone can enjoy. And with your artichokes cooked and your dip prepared, it’s time to get down to the best part—the eating!

          How to Eat an Artichoke

          No matter how you cook artichokes, they’re fun to eat—like unwrapping a present that just so happens to be good for you too. Artichokes were my favorite vegetable as a kid because the process of eating them felt like an adventure.

          To eat an artichoke

            • You start with the outer leaves, which are mostly tough and fibrous no matter how long you cook them. At the base of the outer leaves is a tender morsel of perfectly cooked artichoke, a lighter-colored portion. You dip the leaf in your tahini-garlic dipping sauce and scrape away the edible part between your teeth. 
            • Further into the artichoke, the leaves become more tender and purple-tipped. For these, discard or eat just the light green base of the leaves. 
            • Underneath the leaves but above the heart is the “choke” of the artichoke, fibers almost like little hairs. Using a spoon or knife to scrape away all the fuzz, revealing the heart.
            • Cut the heart into little pieces, or use it as a bowl for the remaining dipping sauce.

          This might sound like a lot of effort, but it’s easier when you try it for yourself, and totally worth it. Part of the joy of artichokes is in the process it takes to eat them. Artichokes are an experience for your hands and tastebuds alike! An experience that’s now readily available to you.

          Oven-roasted artichoke dressed with olive oil, garlic, and herbs.

          Artichoke Dips

          Now that you know how to eat your artichokes with a dip, it’s time to cover how most people know artichokes: dip made out of artichokes! Artichoke dips are made with pickled artichoke hearts rather than fresh artichokes, but they’re unbelievably delicious. Most artichoke dips are loaded with lots of fatty cheese and cream—not exactly as healthy as our artichoke recipes. Luckily, we have the solution to all your dairy-clogged artichoke dip problems. 

          Maja Lewicz is the food photographer, food stylist, and vegan recipe creator behind the lovely veggie_intervention Instagram. She brings style and creativity to both her photos and her recipes, and she’s shared with us her amazing vegan spinach and artichoke dip. Whether you’re vegan or not, once you try this, it’ll be the only recipe you want to use.

          Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Dip  Author: Maja Lewicz                                          

          Total Time: 20 minutes                                                        Difficulty: Medium

          Ingredients:

          • 1 ½ cup unroasted unsalted raw cashews (soaked in hot water for 1 hour or in cold water overnight)1 big onion finely chopped3 cloves garlic minced

            2 tbsp vegetable oil

            1 cup water or plant milk

            ¼ cup white wine (optional, can be replaced by water or plant milk)

            4 cups raw spinach

            4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

            1-2 cans/jars marinated artichoke hearts roughly chopped

            ¼ cup artichoke water

            A handful of walnuts roughly chopped

            ½ tbsp sea salt

          • Instructions:

          1. Blanch the spinach for just 2 minutes, rise with ice cold water to preserve the beautiful green colour. Squeeze any excess water and set aside.

          2. Heat up the vegetable oil in a pan and sauté the onions for approx.. 8 mins, add minced garlic, chopped artichoke hearts and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add spinach and mix well.

          3. After the cashews are soaked, rinse and move them to the high speed blender together with the water or plant milk, wine (if using) nutritional yeast flakes, and the artichoke water and salt.

          4. Blend until creamy. Add the creamy mixture to the spinach/artichoke mixture. Mix well, add chopped walnuts and enjoy!

          Yum! If you like marinated artichoke hearts, you have to try this recipe out. No matter if they’re fresh or pickled, artichokes make everything taste better.

          A woman in a white sweater dips crusty bread in a bowl of Maja Lewicz's vegan spinach artichoke dip

          Lewicz, Maja. Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Dip. 2021.

          Artichokes are a nutrient-packed and delicious addition to any meal, and deceptively easy to prepare. No matter the kitchen equipment or level of experience you have, one of these four methods of how to cook artichokes is guaranteed to be perfect for you. Artichokes are currently in season and it’s the perfect time to try them. For other healthy, vegan food, check out our post on Meatless Mondays Motivation for more tasty options.

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