How to Cook Artichokes

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Learn how to cook artichokes using two simple methods, boiling and steaming. Master the preparation technique for trimming the prickly leaves to make the plant meat easier to eat. I’ll also show you how to remove the inedible choke to enjoy the delicious artichoke heart in the center.

How to Cook Artichokes

Artichokes are beautifully colored olive green and sometimes purple globes that always stand out amongst the other vegetables at the market. They may look intimidating, but they’re actually really easy to cook.

Using simple cooking methods like boiling and steaming softens the protective outer leaves and the artichoke heart. It’s a delicious appetizer to share as it requires a hands-on experience to eat.

This veggie is a perennial thistle that’s a member of the sunflower family. It’s also loaded with nutritional benefits such as fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, calcium, iron, and potassium. Other methods like roasting and pressure cooking can also be used, but require a little different preparation.

How to prepare an artichoke

person using scissors to trim the leaves of an artichoke

To cook a whole artichoke the first thing to do is cut and trim the outer leaves. The tips can feel prickly like thorns, so you want to cut a few rows from the top first to expose the inside of the vegetable. Depending on the size, that’s about a ½ to 1 inch.

Use kitchen shears to trim off the very tips of each leaf. All of the edible meat is at the bottom of the leaves attached to the base, so you’re not losing any as you trim. Cut the stem off of the bottom so it can sit upright for serving. However, the stem is edible if the fibrous outer layer is peeled off.

Boiled Artichokes

how to boil artichoke

tongs removing a boiled artichoke from a pot of water

  • Prepare the artichoke and then bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add to the water, reduce heat to a simmer and cover.
  • Test for doneness by carefully transferring the boiled artichoke to a plate then tugging on one of the large outer leaves. If it’s easy to pull off the base, it’s ready. Otherwise if needed, add back to the water and continue cooking until it’s tender.
  • Cook time is between 20 to 35 minutes depending on the size.
  • Drain and cool slightly before serving.

Steamed Artichokes

how to steam artichokes

artichoke on a steamer basket inside a pot

  • Fill a pot with enough water so that it doesn’t go above the steamer basket.
  • Place the steamer basket in the pot and then the trimmed artichoke.
  • Cover the pot and steam over medium-high heat.
  • Once the steam builds up in the pot, cook until the outer leaves are easy to pull away from the base.
  • Remove the artichoke with tongs with the heat turned off. The steam is very hot so be careful when removing the cover.
  • This method takes 20 to 35 minutes depending on the size.
  • Allow the artichoke to cook slightly before serving.

How do you remove the artichoke heart?

how to remove the artichoke heart

After all of the leaves have been eaten and removed, you’ll find a meaty heart in the core. Just remove the inedible fuzzy, bristle-like piece on top. The heart will be tender from the selected cooking method, so it’s easy to cut in half and eat right away. You can also use it in a variety of ways such as coating it with breading for a crunchy surface or add it to salads, pasta, or pizzas.

What sauce do you serve with artichokes?

Artichokes can be eaten plain, or simply seasoned with salt and pepper. To kick up the flavor, serve it with a sauce like hollandaise, melted or browned butter, garlic mayonnaise or pesto sauce. It’s fun to dip each leaf in the sauce, and then scrape the meat away using your teeth. Cut up the heart enjoy with the toppings!

person holding an artichoke leaf in a white dipping sauce

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How do you stop the artichokes from turning brown after cutting?

Place the cut artichoke in lemon water so that the exposed trimmed leaves won’t brown. That exposed flesh oxidizes quickly when exposed to air. A dip in acidulated water can help prevent enzymatic browning of the vegetable by lowering the pH of the liquid environment and reducing enzyme activity.

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How to Cook Artichokes

Learn how to cook artichokes perfectly every time using the boiling and steaming methods to create a delicious shareable appetizer or snack.
4.94 from 94 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American


Lemon Water

  • 1 quart water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Boiled Artichoke

  • 2 ½ quarts water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large artichoke, or two small

Steamed Artichoke

  • water, enough for steaming
  • 1 large artichoke, or two small


Preparing Artichoke (For both methods)

  • Hold the base of the artichoke and use kitchen shears to trim the ends of the leaves to remove the sharp thorns. The top two rows of leaves do not need to be trimmed.
  • Hold the artichoke firmly at the base and use a large chef’s knife to cut the top two rows of the leaf tips.
  • Cut the stem off flush with the base of the artichoke bulb.
  • Add to a medium bowl with 1 quart of water and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
  • Submerge and let it sit in the acidulated water until ready to cook. This helps to prevent the leaves and stem from browning.

Boiled Artichoke

  • Remove artichoke from lemon water.
  • Bring water and salt to a boil. There should be enough water to cover the artichoke.
  • Add artichoke to the water, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the leaves can be easily pulled off, about 20 to 35 minutes depending on the size.
  • Drain and cool before eating.

Steamed Artichoke

  • Remove artichoke from lemon water, shaking off the excess moisture. 
  • Fill the bottom of a large pot with about 2-inches of water, so that it's below the steamer basket when inserted.
  • Add in the steamer basket and then the artichokes. Cover the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high.
  • Once the steam is built up in the pot, start the cooking time.
  • Cook until the leaves can be easily pulled away from the bulb, about 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the size.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 2 servings
Calories 38kcal (2%)Carbohydrates 8g (3%)Protein 2g (4%)Sodium 76mg (3%)Potassium 299mg (9%)Fiber 4g (16%)Vitamin C 9.5mg (12%)Calcium 36mg (4%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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18 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Dennis Murphy says

    Used the steaming method for years. Recently switched to pressure cooking. About 7-9 min. at pressure depending on size of choke. Perfect every time.
    Biggest challenge is finding “good” chokes in Asheville, NC.

  2. Rosie says

    Is it possible to OVERCOOK them? Mine is still tough. I left them in hot water, low heat for way more than 30 min. And how to you know how to buy a good one?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Fresh artichokes should have bright great leaves, not look dry, and make a squeaky sound when pressed. I always test for doneness by seeing if a leaf from towards the center is easy to pull out.

    • MICHAEL BROCK says

      Are you trying to eat the whole leaf. Even cooked correctly the leaf will be tough. You scrape the bottom of the leaf with your teeth. You don’t eat the whole leaf.

    • Bev says

      You will know when they are done when the leaves pull off easily. I start checking around 25 min. then check every 5 min after. I like mine cold so I put them under cold running water to stop the cooking, Over done is mushy

  3. Rich Allman says

    I have just purchased a artichoke. How do you store them until the next day. Put them in water or stere in the refrigerator?

  4. JC says

    This is the best sauce I’ve ever had with artichokes. I don’t really have a recipe I just prepare to taste. For 1 choke, use about 2-3 tablespoons mayo, about 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt to taste, onion powder to taste, slight amount of ground white pepper, and dried parsley. Let sit while choke is cooking to combine flavors. Mix altogether and let sit while choke is cooking to combine flavors. Enjoy! The BEST!

  5. Sammie says

    Thank you for doing such easy instructions! I haven’t had an artichoke since I was 9 years old visiting my aunt in California. A local store her in Colorado had them for .99 and I thought since I’m having to stay home why not try to do them myself. I got 3 and they turned out great. The dipping sauce added just the right amount of flavor. It was fun educating my husband and son on how to eat one. Thanks again for all the how to instructions.

  6. marti says

    cooked artichokes can be kept in a covered container, chilled up to 4-5 days

    another really easy, delicious dipping sauce if good EVOO, a pinch of fine sea salt, few drops of fresh lemon juice; stir ’til salt dissolves; taste, adjust seasoning – enjoy

  7. Connie Allen says

    Someone said to cook in boiling water with a bay leaf butter melted with lemon juice for dipping ?

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