How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

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

One globe artichoke on a surface
Elise Bauer

I can imagine, that if you didn't grow up eating artichokes and if you were encountering them for the first time, they might seem a little intimidating!

How one cooks and eats an artichoke is not obvious from its appearance.

The artichoke is actually the bud of a thistle—a flower. The leaves (called "bracts") cover a fuzzy center called the "choke", which sits on top of a meaty core, called the "heart".

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


Watch How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

You can boil, grill, braise, 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 tends to water-log them, but steaming artichokes cooks them with just the right amount of moisture.

The following is a method I've been been using 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 infuse the artichokes with even more flavor.

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

How to Choose Which Artichokes to Buy

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

  • Choose artichokes that feel heavy when you pick them up. If they feel light, they're probably a bit dried out and not as meaty as they should be.
  • If you squeeze the artichoke, the leaves should "squeak". This is another way you can tell the artichoke is fresh.
  • The leaves should be closed with just a little separation, not flayed wide open. Remember an artichoke is a flower bud, as it ages, the leaves open up. So an artichoke with wide open leaves may be on the old side.
  • "Frost kissed" is a-okay. If an artichoke looks like it has been burned by frost, no worries. In fact, these less-than-beautiful artichokes can taste even better than those not touched by frost and often command a premium price because of it.

Love Artichokes? Try These Recipes

How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Yield 1 artichoke per person


  • 1 or more large globe artichokes

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, cut in half (can leave skin on)

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 slice lemon


How to Prepare and Cook an Artichoke

  1. Cut off the tips of the leaves:

    If the artichokes have little thorns on the ends of their leaves, take kitchen scissors and cut off the tips. This step is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and pose no threat to the person eating the artichoke. But snipping them off will make the artichokes easier to handle.

    Cut off the tips of the artichoke leaves before steaming.
    Elise Bauer
  2. Slice off the top of the artichoke:

    Slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke. A serrated bread knife works great for this.

    Slice off the top of the artichoke before steaming using a serrated bread knife
    Elise Bauer
  3. Remove small leaves at the base:

    Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.

  4. Cut off excess stem:

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

    Alternatively, you can leave the whole long stem on the artichoke, just cut off the very end of the stem, and peel the tough outside layer of the stem with a vegetable peeler.

  5. Rinse the artichokes:

    Rinse the artichokes in running cold water. While you rinse them, open up the leaves a little so that the water gets inside more easily. (This is where it helps to have cut off the thorny tips, it makes the artichoke easier to open without getting poked!)

  6. Set up a pot with some water, aromatics, and a steaming basket:

    In a large pot, put a couple inches of water, the garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf (this adds wonderful flavor to the artichokes). Insert a steaming basket.

  7. Steam the artichokes:

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

    Arrange the artichokes in a steamer basket to cook
    Elise Bauer
    When ready, the leaves of the steamed artichoke should come off easily
    Elise Bauer

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

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

How to Eat an Artichoke

Artichokes may be eaten cold or hot, but I think they are much better hot. They are served with a dip, either melted butter or mayonnaise. My favorite dip is mayo with a little bit of balsamic vinegar mixed in.

  1. Pull off the leaves and dip:

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

    Steamed artichoke on a plate, ready to eat
    Elise Bauer
    Dip the artichoke leaves in melted mayonnaise
    Elise Bauer
  2. Place light end in mouth, dip side down, pull, scraping through your teeth:

    Tightly grip the other end of the petal. Place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, 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 if you strip the leaves that way.) Discard remaining petal.

    scrape the artichoke leaf or petal with your teeth
    Elise Bauer
    eat the artichoke by scraping the petal with your teeth
    Elise Bauer

    Continue until all of the petals are removed.

    When you get to the tender inner leaves with the purple tips, you can remove them all at once. Dip and eat just the light colored parts of these leaves.

    When you get to the tender inner leaves with purple tips, you can remove them all at once.
    Elise Bauer
    What remains is the artichoke "choke"
    Elise Bauer
  3. Scrape out the choke:

    With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the "choke") covering the artichoke heart.

    Scrape out and discard the choke from the very inside of the artichoke
    Elise Bauer
  4. Cut the heart into pieces and eat:

    Underneath the artichoke choke is the heart. Cut the heart into pieces and dip into melted butter, a vinaigrette, or a sauce to eat.

    My favorite artichoke dipping sauce? Some mayonnaise with a little balsamic vinegar stirred in.

    underneath the choke is the "heart" which you can eat.
    Elise Bauer
    How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke
    Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
139 Calories
1g Fat
31g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 139
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 145mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 11%
Dietary Fiber 14g 50%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 23mg 117%
Calcium 65mg 5%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 721mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.