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Steaming Artichokes

I am planning on preparing artichokes for dinner tonight for the first time (for guests, of course). I have 6 medium-sized ones. What's the best way to steam them? I have a steamer that fits into a saucepan, but that will only hold one or 2 at a time. And my other steamer (the kind that opens up and flattens out) is too small for my big stock pot. So, what's my best bet? Also -- how long will it take? A woman in the check-out line at the market said to pull off a leaf -- when it comes out easily, it's done. Does that sound right? I'm planning on serving with lemony mayonnaise dip and also olive oil & salt. (The rest of the meal is lentil soup & a salad with beets and goat cheese.) To make things extra exciting, my kitchen is being painted right now, so I won't be able to do much prep ahead of time (the guests are good friends!). Thanks!

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  1. Hi JessinEC,

    Do you, by chance, have some sort of big covered roaster? Maybe a rack that would fit in the bottom?

    Turkey roaster comes to mind...

    Edited to add: Yes, the woman in the line is correct.


    1. I make them all the time. For plain steamed, I just use any pot they will fit into fairly snuggly so they all stay standing up. Cut off the stems to get a nice flat bottom and then snap off the lowest leaves. Rub every cut surface with a cut lemon and/or throw things into a big bowl/pot with lemon water. Peel the stems with a knife, cut off the tough bottom and steam along with the chokes--it's one of the best parts. I assume you know how to prep the rest. Once ready, tuck them into the pot cheek to jowl, add the stems and some slices of lemon and then put in about an inch of water and let simmer for about an hour adding water as you need to. Since I don't like to reach into a steam pot, I take a long knife and slide it into the artichoke top to bottom, when it goes through easily they are done--overcooking is not a big concern, but undercooking sure is. Take them out and turn upside down on a platter and cover with towel to let water drain out and keep them warm. (I stuff mine with chopped parsley, garlic and olive oil, but that's when you're having them without a sauce.) Enjoy! Added PS I find that doing them in a little water makes the base even more tender

      3 Replies
      1. re: escondido123

        Thank you so much for this advice (you, too, Lucy) -- but, Escondido123, don't assume I know how to prep the rest! I'll admit Chowhound has gotten me more adventurous when I shop, "Oh, artichokes! I love to eat them! I'm sure someone on chowhound can help me figure out what to actually DO with them!" So, thank you!

          1. re: escondido123

            +1 for the basic technique, but I like to put mine in the pot upside down.
            If I don't have enough artichokes for a snug fit in the pot, I trim a flat on the tips (like most people do when stuffing their chokes) so they stay upright.

          2. I've improvised steamers a couple of ways.
            1)Foil donuts, put them down and then add artichokes and then water last.
            2)If you have a round foil take out container you can punch a bunch of holes in it, again the trick is to weigh it down before you add the water.

            As for cooking them a rinse them, trim the bottom bit of stem of and run a vegetable peeler over the stem. If they are really huge and seem extra prickly I trim the top part off, but usually not. When a sharp knife goes in at the base of the stem they're done (20 minutes or so it seems).

            1 Reply
            1. re: corneygirl

              i second the foil donuts!
              as far as serving, they are SO yummy with a dill and garlic aioli. mayo, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice, dill (fresh or dried), worcestershire and tobasco.

            2. It is hard to know what you mean by "medium", but I just prepped some small ones (about the size of a large lemon) and they will take 15-20 minutes steaming. I think that you should be okay with 20-30 mins for all but the largest, grapefruit sized artichokes.

              1. I don't know if anyone else ever does them this way, but I've always just rinsed them, wrapped them tightly in microwaveable plastic wrap and nuked them for about 5 minutes for 3 artichokes. Check one of them to see if the leaf pulls away easily and add a minute or two if you need to. I serve them with a bowl of homemade mayo and big napkins.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jmcarthur8

                  Yep, I've been using the steamer bags for the microwave. The bags release moisture in such a way that you get perfectly evenly cooked veggies and they are never dripping wet which I hate.

                  For a large or jumbo artichoke, I cut it in half, rub with cut lemon and put un steamer bag. High for 8 minutes. Test the choke for doneness and microwave another 2 minutes if needed.

                  When I finally got brave enough to try the microwave steamer bag approach, I was so happy because it was so much quicker and easier to get done just right than pot steaming.

                  For medium artichokes you might be able to fit two per bag.

                2. I put the artichokes in a pan in which they will all fit closely upside down. No rack needed. I don't trim the prickly ends because I need that bit of leaf for use as a handle. Put a good inch or so of water in the pan, add a goodly splash of vinegar, cover, and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat so that the artichokes remain at a very low boil for anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on size. The size that is available most regularly in central California markets requires from 40 to 50 minutes. They are done when a knife inserted into the stem end meets no resistance. I squeeze them between two wooden spoons to drive out excess water and store them upright in the refrigerator. If the are served hot, I like them with a bit of browned butter. If room temp or cold, I like them with a lemony, mustardy, mayonnaise sort of sauce lightened with plain yogurt.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jmnewel

                    Too late for the original poster but I thought I'd add one thing I did not see here: we always soaked the artichokes in a bowl with water and vinegar for about an hour or so. Then we used different water for the cooking. I guess thereer was a half-cup of vinegar in that mix...I've seen it referred to in other cook books occasionally. I half-suspect it was a means of getting critters to come out but there are some who say it fklavors up the things better. Personally, I don;t see much difference unless they sit for several hours but I still do it out of tradition.

                    1. re: hazelhurst

                      I understood you needed acidulated water to keep the cut parts of the artichoke from turning brown. Some people use vinegar, I used lemon because I think the flavor goes well with the artichoke. Although I use fresh water for the steaming/braising, I always toss in the squeezed lemon for extra flavor.

                  2. I toss a handful of peeled garlic cloves in the cooking water and then mash up the cooked garlic into my sauce. I never steam--I can't be bothered worrying about the pot boiling dry. I fit them into a pot as tightly as I can, stems down and add water almost to the top of the artichokes. Simmer for about 40 minutes. Some are done very quickly and I've had some take over an hour.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sparkareno

                      I've gotten into nuking them and a really getting use to it. I can run them thru the office microwave. People eating a burger think I am crazy...but they laugh at my coffee cup of chili for breakfast, too...