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How to Steam Artichokes

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There are several ways to prepare fresh artichokes. Steamed Artichokes are the easiest and most nutritious method to prepare these leafy, spiky vegetables.  They get so soft, tender and have a delicate, sweet flavor. The best part? They are fun to eat! Just scrape the meat off each leaf with your teeth. Keep peeling each leaf off until you get to the heart.

What you see in this humble artichoke is a thistle bud covered with many spiky bracts. The soft undersides of each bract, the artichoke bottom and the stem are the edible parts but it is that sweet, tender heart that we are really after!

steamed artichokes on a serving platter

 

If left un-harvested the bud will burst into a beautiful fluffy flower. All the spiky bracts are protection for that beautiful flower. Once the bud opens into a flower the artichoke is no longer edible.

Protecting the heart is a thick, hairy mass of purple-tinged cream-colored fibers which is the ‘choke’ of the artichoke. It is this hairy mass of fibers that become the beautiful, fluffy purple flower if the artichoke blooms.

Artichoke Trivia:

What we commonly call “leaves” are technically “bracts”. The actual leaves are the plant foliage.

Preparing the Artichoke For Cooking:

Wash the Artichoke: The artichoke has a natural film covering it which has a bitter taste. Rinse the artichokes in running cold tap water while brushing with a soft vegetable brush. This will remove the bitter-tasting film. 

Cut off the tips of the bracts: There are little spikes on the tips of each of the bracts which are easily removed with a pair of scissors. Snipping about 1/3 of each bract off to give a classic appearance to the artichoke. This is an optional step. 

Slice off the top of the artichoke: Using a serrated knife, slice off about 1-inch from the top of the artichoke. Rub the cut side of half a lemon over the freshly cut area. Rub a sliced lemon over the cut edges of the artichoke. The acid in the lemon will prevent the cut portion of the artichoke from discoloring.

Remove small leaves at the base: Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.

Cut off excess stem:  Remove any small leaves at the base of the artichoke and on the stem. Cut the stem off up to an inch of the bottom of the artichoke. 

The core of the stems are edible and an extension of the heart, but have a bitter layer on the outside. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the bitter layer. Drop the peeled cut stem into a dish of lemon water and cook separately in a small saucepan until tender.

collage of process photos showing how to steam artichokes

How to Steam Artichokes:

Steaming artichokes retains the nutrients of these delicate-flavored artichokes. Serve the steamed artichokes hot or room temperature with mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, garlic butter, garlic butter sauce, lemon-dill aioli sauce or a dipping sauce of your choice. We are serving these artichokes with our tangy preserved lemon vinaigrette as a dipping sauce.

  • Set a steamer basket in a large, deep pot. Add enough water so it reaches just below the steamer basket. 
  • Squeeze the juice of a lemon into the water and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat.
  • Arrange the artichokes, stem up, in the steamer basket. Cover the pot and steam for 25 to 35 minutes or until the artichokes are tender.  Check for doneness by sticking the tip of a sharp knife into the stem.  If there isn’t any resistance, the artichokes are ready to eat. 
  • Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the artichokes to a serving plate using tongs or paper towels.
  • Serve warm, room temperature or cold with a dipping sauce.

three artichokes in a pot with a steamer basket

Microwave Steamed Artichokes:

This is the best way to steam artichokes without a steamer basket.

  • Wash and prepare the artichokes the same as for stove-top steamed artichokes. Place them in a bowl. Add about 1/4-inch of water to the dish and cover with a tight-fitting microwave-proof lid, a plate or a piece of plastic wrap.
  • Blast the artichokes on high power for 10 minutes. Transfer the bowl to a workspace and let them sit covered for 4 to 5 minutes. 
  • Carefully remove the cover and check for doneness by pulling a leaf from the center of the steamed artichoke. If it comes out easily, the artichokes are done. If there is resistance, re-cover the dish and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, then recheck for doneness.

A steamed artichoke with dipping sauce

Whether you prepare steamed artichokes in the microwave or in the steaming basket on the stove-top these steamed artichokes will be delicious. The microwave is a time-saver but I personally like the flavor of the stove-top method and the ease of checking for doneness.

SOME OTHER RECIPES WE ARE SURE YOU WILL LOVE:

  • How to Steam Broccoli:  Steaming broccoli is a fast, easy, and nutritious way to prepare this glorious vegetable. Since the broccoli is cooked with vapor and doesn’t sit in the water, it will retain its nutrients.
  • Roasted Asparagus with Curry Sauce:  Roasted Asparagus with Curry Sauce is a quick 5-minute roast in a hot oven. The make-ahead creamy curry sauce is made with low-fat mayo and no-fat Greek Yogurt. The dish is topped off with curry dusted cashews.
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic: These Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic have a caramelized flavor combined with the sweetness of aged balsamic and a crunchy sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts.

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steamed artichokes on a serving platter

Steamed Artichokes

Yield: 3-6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Steamed Artichokes are the easiest and most nutritious method to prepare these leafy, spiky vegetables. The soft undersides of each bracts, the artichoke bottom and the stem are the edible parts but it is that sweet, tender heart that we are really after! Serve with mayonnaise or your favorite dip.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 artichokes, washed and trimmed
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

  1. Rinse the artichokes under cold running tap water while brushing with a soft vegetable brush.
  2. Slice off the stem even with the base.  Lay the artichoke on its side and using a serrated knife to cut off about 1/2 inch of the top, then rub the cut area with half a lemon.  
  3. Use kitchen scissors to trim off 1/4-inch of each leaf. (This is an optional step). 
  4. Add 1-1/2 to 2 inches of water to a large, deep pot.  Squeeze the juice of a lemon into the water and toss in some garlic cloves and bay leaves.
  5. Place a steamer basket into the pot and bring the water to a boil over medium heat.
  6. Arrange the artichokes, stem up, in the steamer basket.  Cover the pot and steam for 25 to 35 minutes until the artichokes are tender.  Check for doneness by sticking the tip of a sharp knife into the stem.  If there is little or no resistance, the artichokes are ready to eat.  
  7. Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the artichokes to a serving plate using tongs or paper towels. 
  8. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce

Notes

  • Choose heavy, brightly colored artichokes with tightly closed leaves. Use a serrated knife to slice off the top of the artichoke
  • Dipping sauce options:  Mayonnaise, Garlic Butter Sauce, Tarragon Mayonnaise, Lemon-Dill Aioli, Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette, Curry Sauce
  • Use your teeth to scrape off the good stuff from each leaf and when you get to the center use a spoon to remove the fuzzy portion. Then enjoy the heart.
  • When serving, provide a bowl to discard the leaves after eating the good part.
  • Artichokes can be eaten cold or hot.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1/2 of an artichoke
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 51Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1106mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 5gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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angiesrecipes

Saturday 16th of November 2019

wow lots of great tips on dealing with these cute veggies! I must admit that I have never made the fresh artichokes...time to get some to try! As always, gorgeous photography!

Dahn Boquist

Saturday 16th of November 2019

Thanks Angie, you should give them a try, they are so fun to eat.

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