How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke
How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

Artichokes are so good for you and so delicious! Here’s how to cook and eat them.

I imagine that unless you grew up with artichokes and are encountering them for the first time, they might seem a little intimidating!

The artichoke is actually the bud of a thistle – a flower. The leaves (called “bracts”) cover a fuzzy center called “thrush” that sits atop a fleshy core called the “heart.”

The heart is fully edible (and incredibly delicious). The fuzzy choke is too fibrous to eat in regular artichokes, but is edible in baby artichokes. All but the innermost leaves are tough and you have to scrape them off with your teeth to eat the tender parts.

Video: How to cook and eat an artichoke


How to cook and eat an artichoke

You can boil, grill, stew or stuff and bake artichokes. But my favorite way to cook artichokes, and the easiest way to cook them, is to steam them. I find that boiling artichokes tend to water them down, but steaming artichokes cooks them with just the right amount of moisture.

The following is a method I’ve used to steam artichokes for more than 30 years. I add a bay leaf, some garlic and a slice of lemon to the steaming water to add even more flavor to the artichokes.

You can steam artichokes on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker will cook the artichokes faster, but you have less control over the outcome and it’s easy to overcook them.

How to choose which artichokes to buy

Here are a few guidelines on what to look for when shopping for artichokes:

  • Choose artichokes that are heavy to the touch when you pick them up. If they feel light, they’re probably a bit dried out and not as meaty as they should be.
  • When you squeeze the artichoke, the leaves should “squeak”. This is another way to tell if the artichoke is fresh.
  • The leaves should be closed with only a small separation, not wide open. Remember, an artichoke is a flower bud, as it ages the leaves open. So an artichoke with leaves wide open may be on the old side.
  • “Frost Kissed” is a-okay. If an artichoke looks like it’s been burnt by the frost, don’t worry. In fact, these less-than-beautiful artichokes can taste even better than those untouched by the frost, and often command a higher price as a result.

Love artichokes? Try these recipes

  • Baked stuffed artichokes
  • Grilled artichokes
  • Braised marinated artichokes
  • Pasta with spinach, artichokes and ricotta
  • Asparagus Artichoke Breakfast Casserole

How to cook and eat an artichoke

preparation time
5 minutes

cooking time
35 minutes

total time
40 minutes

1 artichoke per person


  • 1 or more big globe artichokes

  • 1-2 cloves garlichalved (can leave skin on)

  • 1 Bay leaf

  • 1 disc lemon


How to cook an artichoke

  1. Cut off leaf tips:

    If the artichokes have small thorns on the ends of the leaves, take kitchen scissors and cut off the tips. This step is mostly for aesthetics, as the thorns soften as they cook and pose no danger to the person eating the artichoke. But if you cut them off, the artichokes are easier to manage.

  2. Cut off the top part of the artichoke:

    Snip off about 3/4 inch to 1 inch from the top of the artichoke. A bread knife with a serrated edge is ideal for this.

  3. Remove small leaves at the base:

    Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and stem.

  4. Cut off the protruding stem:

    Cut off excess stem, leaving up to an inch on artichoke. The stalks can be more bitter than the rest of the artichoke, but some people enjoy eating them. The inner cores of the stems taste like the heart.

    Alternatively, you can leave the entire long stalk on the artichoke, simply snip off the end of the stalk and use a vegetable peeler to peel the tough outer layer of the stalk.

  5. Wash artichokes:

    Rinse the artichokes under cold running water. As you rinse them, open the leaves up a bit to make it easier for the water to get in. (Here it helps to cut off the thorny tips, the artichoke is easier to open without being pierced!)

  6. Put a pot with some water, flavorings and a steamer basket on:

    In a large saucepan, add a few inches of water, the garlic, a slice of lemon and a bay leaf (this gives the artichokes a wonderful flavor). Insert a steam basket.

  7. Steam artichokes:

    Place the artichokes on top of the steamer basket. Cover the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.

    Cook for 25 to 35 minutes or more, until the outer leaves peel off easily. Note that you may need to add more water to the pot if the level is too low, so keep an eye on it.

    Note: Artichokes can also be cooked in the pressure cooker (about 5-15 minutes on high pressure). Cooking time will depend on how big the artichokes are. The larger, the longer they take to cook.

How to eat an artichoke

Artichokes can be eaten cold or hot, but I think they’re much better hot. They are served with a dip made from melted butter or mayonnaise. My favorite dip is mayonnaise with some balsamic vinegar.

  1. Peel and dip leaves:

    Peel off the outer leaves one at a time. Dip the white, fleshy end in melted butter, vinaigrette, or sauce.

  2. Place the light end in your mouth, dip side down, pull and scrape through your teeth:

    Grasp the other end of the petal firmly. Place in mouth, dip side down and pull through teeth to remove a soft, mushy, delicious portion of the petal. (Why dip-side down? Your tongue is where most of your taste buds are, so you’ll get a fuller flavor by stripping the leaves off this way.) Discard the rest of the petal.

    Continue until all the petals are removed.

    When you get to the delicate purple-tipped inner leaves, you can remove them all at once. Dip and eat only the light-colored parts of these leaves.

  3. Scrape out the choke:

    Using a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible, fluffy part (called “suffocation”) covering the artichoke heart.

  4. Cut the heart into pieces and eat:

    Under the artichoke is the heart. Cut the heart into chunks and dip in melted butter, vinaigrette, or edible sauce.

    My favorite artichoke dip? Stir in some mayonnaise with some balsamic vinegar.


Wikipedia on artichokes

Anatomy of the Artichoke

More on artichokes from LA Times’ Russ Parsons


Grill artichokes

Baked stuffed artichokes

Braised marinated artichokes

Quick and easy artichoke dip

nutritional information (per serving)
139 calories
1g Fat
31g carbohydrates
7g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!