How To Make (And Eat) A Perfect Steamed Artichoke

by | Apr 10, 2013
Perfect Steamed Artichoke

Perfect Steamed Artichoke

A perfect artichoke can be elusive. If it’s undercooked, it’ll be tough and stringy. If it’s overcooked, slimy and mushy. When it’s perfect it will be silky, creamy and hold together well.

The perfect recipe starts with the perfect vegetable. Choose a large bulb, with leaves packed as tightly as possible. Open leaves indicate an older artichoke that is more likely to be tough and woody.

Don’t worry if your artichoke has light brown blemishes. These are typically caused by frost that can sometimes occur in the later winter and early spring. Though it doesn’t look pretty, these “frost kissed” artichokes are rumored to be sweeter and more flavorful than their clear-skinned counterparts.

Artichokes pair beautifully with aioli of almost any flavor, but I prefer mine prepared simply with olive oil, lemon and parsley.

How To Make A Perfect Steamed Artichoke

Serves 1

  • 1 large artichoke
  • 1/4 lemon
  • high-quality olive oil
  • coarse sea or kosher salt
  • fresh chopped parsley
  • lemon oil (optional)

Use a large, sharp knife and cut off the top third of the artichoke. Peel off the smallest bottom leaves, and use scissors to trim the sharp thorn tips off each of the remaining leaves. Use the knife to cut the stem off close to the bulb, making the cut as straight as possible so the artichoke can easily sit upright without tipping over.

Fill a deep stock pot with 1/2 inch of water and bring to boil. Place cleaned artichoke face down in the water, reduce heat to simmer, cover with a lid and set a timer for 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid during this time.

When the timer goes off, use tongs to turn the artichoke so it sits upright. Gently drizzle olive oil over the artichoke, being sure it drips down between the leaves and into the heart. Sprinkle generously with salt. Add another 1/2 – 1 cup water to the pot so the depth is back to 1/2 inch. Cover again and reset timer another 20 minutes.

After the second timer goes off, use tongs to try and remove an outer leaf. If it pulls off easily, turn off the pot and transfer artichoke to a serving plate. If the leaf does not tear off easily, replace the lid on the pot and steam an additional 5 minutes, no more.

Squeeze lemon slice over the leaves and sprinkle parsley. If you have lemon oil, gently drizzle it over the artichoke. If you don’t have lemon oil but would like some additional lemon flavor, a little lemon zest will create a similar effect; drizzle with some regular olive oil if you don’t use lemon oil. Add a few more sprinkles of salt and serve.

How To Eat A Perfect Steamed Artichoke

An artichoke is a wonderful, dramatic hors d’oeuvre usually intended to serve several people. Provide an additional bowl for guests to place their discarded leaves.

To eat, remove a leaf from the artichoke bulb and scrape the meaty part off with your teeth. Discard the rest of the leaf. When the artichoke is cooked perfectly, as yours should be, the inner leaves should be tender enough to be eaten whole.

When you get to the center of the artichoke, remove the remaining tiny leaves with your hands, and use a large spoon to scoop out the fuzzy hairs in the center of the heart, as demonstrated in the video below. Cut the heart into 6-8 pieces and make sure everyone gets a slice.

Eat slowly and enjoy.

Originally published April 24, 2011.

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44 Responses to “How To Make (And Eat) A Perfect Steamed Artichoke”

  1. claypotclub says:

    Thanks for the video. I’ve been on an artichoke craze lately and I can’t seem to figure out if I’m cutting them up right.

  2. thomas says:

    you should link to your dog ‘trying’ to eat the artichoke 😉

  3. marilee says:

    Thanks for the recipe! Except this part: “Cut the heart into 6-8 pieces and make sure everyone gets a slice.”

    I refuse to share the heart because it’s too tasty! hehe

  4. parisbreakfast says:

    It’s so much easier to nuke an artichoke in the microwave, then boil it for 20+ minutes.
    Just sit it in a small bowl, squeeze lemon juice or rice vinegar on top and cook according to size.
    Small ones take 3+ minutes, larger artichokes 4-5 minutes each.
    A snap and way less mess.
    Also a fresh artichoke will squeek a bit if you pinch the leaves on the top. Don’t buy one that doesn’t squeek!

  5. Jacqueline says:

    Thank you for posting this TODAY! I had two arties I planned to cook tonight, usually just steam and dip in olive oil or butter. This is an awesome recipe! I’m so glad I had lemons–wonderful touch. And I agree with marilee (and you)–“share” it? Forget about it!

  6. Liz says:

    After the success of your recipe for pan-fried artichokes, I sense I’m going to have to try this! Me and my tastebuds are breathless with anticipation! 🙂 Liz

  7. Greg says:

    I’ve never been able to get artichokes right. They always come out on the mushy side. I like your approach of breaking it up into several stages.

  8. Peggy says:

    Loved the video! What a great post and I can’t wait to get my hands on some artichokes!

  9. Stella says:

    As a life-long avid artichoke eater from the Bay Area, I have to disagree with some points… Cook them tips-up in an inch or two of simmering water with a couple of lemon slices, garlic cloves, and bay leaves. Putting oil on them while cooking makes them messy to eat and slippery. Poke with a fork in the bottom to determine done-ness. Only cut the spines off the leaves if you are cooking for fancypants people or small children. I eat mine with mayo or plain, but melted butter is more traditional. I would not share an artichoke on a bet, they are a vegetable dish in my family.

    • Patti says:

      Thank you for your remarks…I began to think I have been cooking them wrong all these years, but they are so good I had no intention of changing….and everyone should get a whole one! Love artichokes!

  10. Marilyn says:

    Grew my own artichokes this year. Followed these directions. The artichokes were perfect! Thanks……………M

  11. peony says:

    Hello – just wanted to ask for clarification – I tried these instructions last week and ended up with a burnt pan and artichoke! Maybe it was implicit, but was I supposed to either turn off the pot or bring it down to a simmer at this point?
    – Fill a deep stock pot with 1/2 inch of water and bring to boil. Place cleaned artichoke face down in the water, cover with a lid and set a timer for 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid during this time.

    I left it boiling for 20 minutes as I worked on other parts of my meal but once I opened it, the water had long burned off as well as the tops of my artichokes.

    • Darya Pino says:

      D’oh, sorry. That has never happened to me. You should be able to resolve this by adding more water next time and keeping a closer eye on the pot. You can always add more water at any time.

      • peony says:

        Thanks! I guess I feared I’d lose steam by opening the lid and checking on it. I’m thinking I should just bring it down to a simmer next time instead leaving it at a boil – so that it continues to steam without burning off all the liquid… definitely lesson learned this time! They were still edible so not all was lost fortunately.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Ok cool. Sorry again about the confusion.

  12. Tom French says:

    I’ve tried this recipe about 4 times and am still in a learning curve.

    I’ve been counting on steam to do the heavy lifting, but now I think that I need to keep applying heat during the entire process. Instead of turning off the burner, next time I’ll take it down to a low setting.

    It’s hard to monitor the water level without lifting the lid from the pot … and we know that’s illegal.

    This recipe has re-ignited my interest in cooking. I had never purchased chives before this weekend.

    I’m in agreement with the folks that do not want to split up their artichoke. I think 1 per person is about right. Oink.

    Although I think the recipe steps need to be made clearer for the novice, it is a lovely recipe with a pluperfect photo.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Hey Tom,

      I’m really confused why you’re turning off the burner. The artichoke should be simmering the entire time. You can lift the lid to check water levels if you think it might be burning, but generally it won’t burn in less than 20 min if you have at least half inch of water and the more steam you let out the more likely it will need to cook longer. Let me know if you have more questions.

      • peony says:

        oh so that’s what was unclear to me from the instructions – that you bring it down to a simmer once you close the lid – i left it at a boil! thus the water burning off.

      • Darya Pino says:

        OK, I clarified that in the text.

      • Tom French says:

        Yes, “simmer” was the key word for me.

        My 5th try was a huge success.

        My wife said it was the best artichoke she’s ever had.

        Drizzle is my new favorite word.



  13. Virginia Griffey says:

    My dad and I shared one tonight as an appetizer. So yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

  14. I love freshly cooked artichokes but am also obsessively into the marinated hearts. They cost an arm and leg but are the best hangover cure ever (SERIOUSLY!) – and they are amazing for the liver to boot!

  15. Amy Robinson says:

    Mmm, artichokes! I had one just last night, and might have an encore tonight! I simmer them for about 45 minutes with some lemon halves in the pot (squeezed over all the cut edges before cooking helps to prevent unsightly browning). They have always come out great. I peel the stem and leave it on- it is as delicious as the heart. Doesn’t sit upright, but I don’t care. 🙂

  16. Squish says:

    my friend just mentioned trying it with mango powder, have you tried it that way? 😀

  17. yum yum says:

    I am attempting to steam my first artichoke. I think you instructions are very simple and I have everything but lemons but I figure, I am sure it’s going to tasty without it anyway. I’ll let you know how it comes out 🙂 hopefully edible!

  18. kfish says:

    nice technique. highly recommend an olive oil dip saturated with grated parmigiano reggiano and some kosher salt.

  19. Adrienne says:

    Got one for each of us in the steamer now! Thanks!! 🙂

  20. Heather says:

    Perfect directions and perfectly cooked artichokes!

  21. Bev pasquariello says:

    These are all great but for the novice if you prefer you can also boil them for 50-60 mintues and drain well i prefer steaming and nothing bad will happen to you if you remove the lid once and check the amount of water in the pan while steaming. Throw them in your rice steamers and do them if you like. And for dip i use mayo, red wine vinegar salt peppar and garlic fresh yum.

  22. Joy says:

    Artichokes were the first solid food I had as a kid, and I’ve loved them ever since. Couple of points here: (1) we always removed a few outer leaves while cleaning the ‘chokes, and used those leaves to line the bottom of the pan. Nestle the chokes on top of those leaves, so if the pan goes dry, those leaves will scorch/burn, instead of the part you’ll keep. (2) We always steamed them in about an inch of plain water, nothing else, no lemon, no salt, no seasoning; just bare-naked ‘chokes. We dipped the pulled leaves in mayonnaise. And we NEVER shared the heart! In our house, the jumbo chokes were referred to as “747’s” (like the jumbo airplane).

  23. Maren says:

    Thank you-cooked an artichoke for the 1st time tonight following these instructions. Came out perfectly! And so yummy!! 🙂

  24. Connie says:

    Just steamed two artichokes last night, shut the pan off, but forgot them on stove top and realized this morning. Are they still good?

  25. Vicki says:

    I’m bummed mine didn’t work out. Did you mean to keep it on simmer for the whole 40 minutes, or crank the heat back up? I’m now on 45 min and it is still stiff as a board. It was a closed up organic artichoke to start. Hoping more steaming will soften it.

    • Darya Rose says:

      That’s a bummer. I haven’t had that happen. You have the lid on, yes? Could be not quite ripe/ready? I know artichokes are out of season in N America (usually January is peak), could be the issue.

  26. LJ says:

    After many decades of enjoying artichokes, I recently discovered two things:

    1) The stem is delicious. Now when I prep them for cooking, I just slice a tiny sliver off the end so that we can eat as much of it as possible.

    2) Steamed artichokes are great, cold, the next day. When we get home, I can pull a cold artichoke out of the fridge and have something nutritious for my starving kid to eat while I’m preparing dinner–and usually by the time she’s gotten down to the heart, dinner is ready.

  27. LJ says:

    In my previous note, I forgot to mention that I use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layer of the stem when I’m prepping it for cooking.

  28. Alan says:

    I’ve been eating and cooking artichokes for 50 years. This is the best way to cook them I’ve ever used.

    I just had the best artichoke of my life.

    Thank you.

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