How to Eat an Artichoke

If you've never eaten an artichoke before, this strange vegetable may present some unique challenges when you finally try to prepare or eat one. The process for eating an artichoke is somewhat non-intuitive - the fruit can't be eaten in its raw form because its tough fibers and sharp leaf tips can wreak havoc on your digestive system. However, if approached correctly, an artichoke can be a delicious, healthy and unusual addition to nearly any meal.


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    Cut off the sharp leaf tips with an artichoke knife or scissors. This is optional, but it makes eating the artichoke much easier later on.
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    Boil the artichoke in salted water or steam them for 20-45 minutes, until tender. Don't cover the pot if boiling, or else acids in the artichoke will not be able to escape and they will turn the artichokes brown. You can also microwave them, individually wrapped in plastic, for 8-15 minutes, or put them in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes. You know it is done when you pull at a leaf and it comes away with little resistance.
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    Drain them upside down.
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    Take the outer leaves off one by one and hold like a potato chip. Take a look at it - you should be able to see the edible part pretty clearly. It's lighter in color and down at the base of the leaf, where it was attached to the heart.
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    Coat the tip (the part that was attached to the heart of the choke) in whatever dip has been offered. Some common dips are:
    • Mayonnaise (try mixing with a little bit of balsamic vinegar or soy sauce)
    • Mixture of garlic and butter
    • Mixture of oil, salt and vinegar
    • Melted butter
    • Ranch dressing
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    Gently nibble or scrape off the tender bits of the bottom of the leaf by putting the leaf in your mouth, closing your teeth on it, and pulling the leaf outwards. The "good part" will detach from the more woody, fibrous part of the leaf easily and leave the tasty bit for you to savor.
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    Discard the leftover leaves in a container or in a pile on your plate.
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    Continue until you get to the smaller center leaves that don't have much meatiness to them. These leaves look a bit different than the outer leaves and often have a translucent quality with a bit of purple on them.
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    Pull off the center leaves. Depending on how well-cooked the artichoke is, you can sometimes lift off the smaller inner leaves all together for one last dip in the sauces and bite the ends off delicately (but don't eat the sharp tips). They cover a finer, almost hairy growth just on top of the heart of the artichoke. Some people call this part the "choke," which is what you will do if you eat it, as it is very prickly.
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    Remove the choke using gentle strokes with a fork or the toothed edge of a kitchen knife until you are down to the heart. This is a very important step and often where people go wrong without proper instruction.
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    Eat your heart out. The heart of the artichoke is the most prized portion and often the only part restaurant chefs use in their recipes, but at home you can savor the whole artichoke experience. Enjoy.


  • Don't discard the stem, as it can be nearly as tasty as the heart when cooked. Just take a look at it once it's cooked and cut off any really stringy or woody bits, and eat the rest with the heart!
  • It is nice to dip artichokes in a small bowl of melted butter before eating.
  • Make sure you provide a discard bowl, about one medium-sized bowl per two people, when serving the full cooked artichoke.
  • Artichokes can also be stuffed.
  • Artichokes can be eaten cold or hot.
  • Steaming artichoke in a large pot on a steaming rack with about an inch of water on medium will hold the flavor in more.
  • If you're not allergic to dairy, try artichoke with some Parmesan cheese. It tastes good!
  • Chop up a clove of garlic and cook in a little EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) until golden brown, drain onto a paper towel, mix garlic pieces with some mayo...dipping sauce!


  • Do not put the discarded parts in the garbage disposal. Compost if possible; otherwise, simply deposit these in the garbage (or yard/food waste, if your trash removal provides this).
  • Don't confuse what's described here, a globe artichoke, with Jerusalem artichokes and Chinese artichokes, which are completely different plants from which the roots are eaten.

Things You'll Need

  • Discard bowl (for the remains of the already eaten leaves)
  • Dipping sauce
  • Plenty of napkins

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