How to Steam Artichokes

An elegantly served steamed artichoke with melted butter for dipping.

Today’s Best Recipe is steamed artichokes.

This article walks you through how to select an artichoke, prepare, steam, and eat the artichoke.

About the Artichoke:

The artichoke is actually a member of the thistle family—the artichoke is actually the bud of its flower.

The bracts (or leaves) protect a fuzzy center known as the “choke”.

The “choke” sits on top of the 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.
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.
Artichokes are also packed with antioxidants; they’re number 7 on the USDA’s top 20 antioxidant-rich foods list.

How to Select an Artichoke:

  • Heavy is Better: Select artichokes that feel “heavy” when you pick them up. Lighter artichokes are drying up and won’t yield as much “meat”.
  • Squeaks. Give the artichoke a squeeze. The leaves should “squeak”.  
  • Closed Leaves with just a little separation, not flayed wide open. The artichoke is a flower bud, so the older it is the more open it will be as it begins to bloom.  
  • “Frost kissed”. If an artichoke looks like it has been burned by frost, no worries. These are my favorite! 

Did you know? California winter frosts can yield “Frost Kissed” Artichokes.

Frost causes the outer layer of the artichoke to turn brown, flake, and peel, much like we do after getting sunburned.

Although the brownish color may not look pretty, “Frost Kissed” artichokes taste delicious and actually have a more intense flavor than green, “Frost Free” artichokes.

Frost enhances the flavor of the artichoke resulting in a nutty taste.

Once cooked, the peeling disappears resulting in a delicious, green artichoke.

An elegantly served steamed artichoke with melted butter for dipping.


Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 artichokes


  • 2 whole artichokes
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the Artichoke 

Cut the stem off above the lower leaves.

Note: The core of the stems taste like the heart, however, they can be more bitter than the rest of the artichoke.

Some people enjoy eating them. In this case, you can leave it on, or cut it off and steam it in the pot separate from the artichoke. 

Next, trim about 1/4 inch off of each petal.

Use kitchen scissors and clip off the top of each petal.

This step is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and pose no threat to the person eating the artichoke.

trimming artichokes

How to Steam Artichokes

  1. Fill the pan with just enough water to cover the bottom. Bring to a full boil over high heat. While water is heating, trim and discard the stems and tough outer leaves of artichokes. Tuck slivers of butter and slices of garlic into artichoke leaves.
  2. When water is boiling, place steamer insert in a pot and set artichokes in the steamer, stem-side down. Cover the pot with a lid and allow artichokes to steam for approximately 20 minutes until tender.

How to Eat an Artichoke:

Artichokes may be eaten cold or hot.

Typically artichokes are served with a dip, either melted butter or mayonnaise. 

Pull off the outer leaves, one at a time. Dip the white fleshy end of each leaf in the butter or mayonnaise and place the leaf upside down in your mouth and with a firm grip, pull the leaf through your teeth to remove the delicious part of the petal. Discard the remaining petals and repeat with each petal. 

Once you have eaten all the petals, you’ll reach a tip with thin petals and a purple tip.

Remove these all at once–you can usually pull them with your fingers.

Beneath these purple-tipped petals is the “choke”.

Use our spoon and scrape the inedible fuzzy part to reveal the artichoke heart!

Cut the “heart” into pieces and dip in the sauce.

I think of the Heart of the artichoke as the prize. It’s tender, delicious meat!

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