Anyone else find artichokes intimidating? We were definitely in that camp but decided to overcome the fear and now wish we had done it sooner! It turns out artichokes are delicious, fiber-packed, and surprisingly easy once you learn a few tricks.
In this step-by-step guide, we walk you through everything you need to know, from how to choose and cut an artichoke to how to prevent browning and how to eat one (including two delicious sauce options for dipping!). Just 1 pot and an artichoke stand between you and becoming an artichoke pro! Let’s do this!
Artichokes 101 + Health Benefits
Artichokes are beautiful flower buds that come from a type of thistle. They thrive in climates where it’s warm, sunny, and temperate, like California, the Mediterranean, and North Africa. They’re in season beginning in March through early summer and also have a brief season in the fall.
Artichokes have been enjoyed for centuries for both their taste and health benefits. They’re rich in a type of fiber called inulin that feeds healthy gut bacteria. They also supply folate, vitamin K, magnesium, vitamin C, phosphorous, and a variety of phenolic compounds (meaning they’re antioxidant-packed!). And in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, they were used as a digestive aid for liver and gallbladder health.
How to Cook an Artichoke
Artichokes can be grilled, roasted, boiled, or steamed, but we’ve found steaming to be the easiest and most approachable method.
Step 1: Choosing an Artichoke
Once you’ve decided you’re ready to brave the mighty artichoke (it’s easier than it looks, we promise!), you’ll want to choose fresh artichokes. When choosing an artichoke, try to make sure it has a tightly closed bud, feels heavy, and is mostly green without much browning or bruising.
Step 2: Prep It
You’ll want to cut off and discard the top third of the artichoke (~1 inch). Using a large serrated knife works best because it is tough (use a motion similar to what you would do to cut through a loaf of thick, rustic bread).
Step 3: Preventing Browning
Then rub the artichoke with lemon to prevent it from browning.
Step 4: Steam the Artichokes
Add a few inches of water to a large pot and bring it to a boil. Place the artichokes in a steamer basket over the water and steam for 25-35 minutes. Smaller artichokes will take ~25 minutes to cook and large ones will take ~35 minutes. You may need to add more water to avoid scorching the pot.
Once the time is up, you can transfer the artichokes to a plate and let them cool slightly. You’ll know they’re done cooking when the petals slide out easily when pulled.
Artichoke Dipping Sauces
Artichokes are delicious paired with anything rich and lemony! After much testing, we found two sauces to be our favorites:
- Lemon Dill Butter – this one is light and lemony and includes melted butter (vegan or dairy), lemon juice, garlic, dried dill, and salt.
- Lemon Dill Yogurt Dip – this one is similar to classic mayo-based dips for artichokes but is lightened up with coconut yogurt (dairy yogurt works, too!). It also has lemon juice, garlic, dried dill, and salt.
How to Eat an Artichoke
Place the artichokes on serving plates with one or both of the sauces nearby.
Starting from the outside of the artichokes:
- Peel off one petal at a time.
- Dip it in your sauce of choice.
- Use your teeth to scrape the slightly thicker bottom part of the petal where it was attached to the artichoke.
- Discard the rest of the petal (it’s difficult to chew) and repeat!
Where is the Artichoke Heart?
Eventually you’ll begin pulling petals with pink on them and without much edible flesh. This means you’re getting close to the artichoke heart (the tender center — so yummy!).
You’ll then see something that looks like a bunch of hairy fibers. It’s called the choke, and we’re thinking that name isn’t a coincidence (ahem, lesson learned). The choke is very fibrous and inedible.
Use a spoon to scoop away the choke and you’ll be left with the tender, buttery artichoke heart perfect for slicing and drizzling with any remaining sauce.
We hope you find this guide to artichokes helpful! Artichokes are:
& Surprisingly easy to prepare!
They make a beautiful starter before a meal or as a side with our Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup, Creamy Vegan White Pasta with Summer Vegetables, Lemon Baked Salmon With Garlic Dill Sauce, or Lemon & Herb Roasted Chicken.
More Helpful How-Tos
- How to Make Kale Taste Good (Guide + Recipes)
- How to Stock Your Pantry (Beginner’s Guide)
- Plantains 101: Perfectly Roasted Every Time!
- How to Cut Butternut Squash
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke (2 Sauces!)
- 2 whole artichokes (any size — smaller will cook faster // the artichokes we used were ~320 g with the stems attached)
- 1 medium lemon, sliced in half
LEMON DILL BUTTER
- 2 Tbsp melted vegan butter (or dairy butter if not vegan/dairy-free)
- 1-2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic, crushed or minced
- 1/4 tsp dried dill
- 1 healthy pinch sea salt
- TO CUT ARTICHOKE: With the artichoke held on its side on a cutting board, use a large serrated knife to cut off the top third (~1 inch), creating a flat top revealing the inner petals. Then cut off the stem right to the base of the artichoke so it can sit flat on the cutting board.
- TO STEAM ARTICHOKE: Add ~2 inches of water to a large pot with a steamer basket insert over the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut a lemon in half and rub the outside of the artichoke petals and flat top with the lemon to prevent browning. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to medium and place the artichoke(s) top side down in the steamer basket and cover with a lid. Steam for ~25-35 minutes (depending on the size of your artichokes), adding more water after 15 minutes to avoid scorching your pot.
- SAUCE: While the artichoke is cooking, prepare your choice of sauce for dipping (Lemon Dill Butter or Creamy Lemon Dill Dip). The Lemon Dill Butter is lighter and more lemony and the Creamy Lemon Dill Dip is more of a classic, mayo-based dip that’s lightened up with coconut yogurt. To prepare either dip, stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. Adjust by adding more lemon juice for tartness or salt to taste.
- HOW TO KNOW YOUR ARTICHOKE’S COOKED: Use tongs to carefully transfer the artichokes to a cutting board or serving plate. To check if they’re done, pull out a petal — it should pull straight out easily. If it doesn’t, return the artichoke to the steamer basket and cook for ~5 minutes more, or until the petals slide out easily.
- HOW TO EAT ARTICHOKE: When ready to eat, place the artichoke on a serving plate. Working from the outside, pull each leaf/petal out one at a time. The edible part is the slightly thicker bottom part of the petal where it was attached. Dip that into the sauce and use your teeth to scrape out the small soft bit at the bottom while holding the top of the petal. Discard the remaining petal (it’s difficult to chew). Repeat this process until you get petals with pink on them (they don’t have much edible flesh).
- ARTICHOKE HEART: The pink petals are a sign you’re almost to the artichoke heart (the tender center). Peel off and discard all the petals until you get to a part that looks like a lot of hairy fibers. Use a spoon to go around the edge where the fibers join the soft flesh and scoop in a circular motion to remove and discard the hair-like fibers called the choke (they’re inedible). The remaining round portion is the heart, and it’s edible, buttery, and tender. Slice it up and dip it in the sauce or spoon the sauce on top.
- Artichokes are best served warm and fresh as an appetizer or side, but leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with large artichokes and with lemon dill butter for dipping.