How to Steam Artichokes

Steamed Artichokes

The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

Steaming brings out the nutty flavor and light sweetness buried deep in each artichoke thistle. It's also the classic way to cook them so that you can pluck the leaves from the heart, scrape off the bit of edible flesh at their base with your teeth, and toss them aside for another. Repeat until just the heart is left and then luxuriate in its tender sweetness.

How To Prepare Artichokes for Cooking

Whether you use the stove-top method or a microwave, start by trimming the artichokes: at minimum cut off and discard the end of the stem and cut off the top one inch or so of the artichoke; you can also trim off the thorns, if there are any, from the leaves with scissors for less prickly eating.​ Some also like to peel away the outermost layers of leaves, which can be exceedingly tough and have very little, if any, edible flesh. Pull off the leaves until they start to become paler in color.

How To Serve Steamed Artichokes

Transfer the artichokes from the pot to a platter or serving plates to cool a bit. Serve steamed artichokes warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Give everyone a small bowl for their artichoke leaf discards. Each diner should also have their own personal bowl of dipping sauce.

If you don't want to serve them warm, then feel free to move the cooling process along with a trip under some cool running water. Or get them down to chilled temperature by dunking them into a large bowl of ice water, adding more ice as needed to keep the water nice and cold.

Steamed and cooled artichokes will keep, covered and chilled, for a day or two if you want to make them ahead.

Artichokes can be served whole so that diners can tackle the fuzzy chokes on their own. For easier eating, cut the artichokes in half and scoop out the fuzzy chokes protecting the heart at the bottom before serving (a grapefruit spoon works wonders for this task).

What Sauces To Serve With Steamed Artichokes

If serving the artichokes warm, melted butter is, hands down, the way to go. Otherwise, consider these simple sauces for dipping:

How to Steam Artichokes on the Stove Top

  1. Bring about 1/2 inch water to a boil in a pan deep and wide enough to hold the artichoke(s) standing up in a single layer.

    pot with water

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  2. Add a teaspoon or two of salt (the artichoke will just be sitting in the water, not submerged).

    water in a pot, teaspoon with salt

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  3. Set the prepared, trimmed artichokes in the salted boiling water, cover the pan, reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.

    artichokes in a pot with water

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  4. Check for doneness: pull a leaf from close to the center of the thistle. If the leaf comes out easily, the artichokes are done; if there is resistance, continue cooking, checking for doneness every 5 minutes. Depending on artichoke size, this can take up to a total of 40 minutes.

    steamed artichokes in a pot

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  5. Serve the steamed artichokes with lemon wedges and your favorite dipping sauce.

    Steamed Artichokes

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

How to Steam Artichokes in the Microwave

Steaming artichokes in the microwave is much quicker than cooking them on a stove-top. The slightly drier nature of the method, however, requires the very freshest of chokes to avoid a tough texture when you go to dig in.

  1. Put trimmed artichokes in a microwave-proof dish. Add about 1/4 inch of water to the dish and cover with a microwave-proof lid.
  2. Microwave on High for 4 minutes. Check for doneness (see above). If they're not done, continue microwaving for a minute at a time until done.