How to Prepare Artichokes

  • 01 of 06

    Start with Fresh Artichokes

    Fresh Artichokes
    Artichokes at Market. aughingmango/Getty Images

    No matter you're planning on doing with them, you always want to start with high-quality artichokes. Less-than-supreme versions will be tough and dry no matter what you do!

    So look for artichokes with tight, compact heads and fresh-looking stem-ends. All cut stems will be brown, but look for ones that aren't dried out.

    Tip: To keep cut edges from browning too much as you work, rub them with a cut lemon—the acid in the lemon will minimize the browning.

    Note: Artichoke connoisseurs prefer...MORE old-fashioned, thorned artichokes and find the thornless varieties to lack the characteristic nuttiness that makes artichokes so desirable. People who hate getting their fingers pricked over and over while trying to prepare or enjoy a tasty artichoke prefer the thornless versions.

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  • 02 of 06

    Cut Off the Stem

    Trimming a Fresh Artichoke
    Removing Artichoke Stem. Maximilian Stock Ltd./Getty Images

    Cut off and discard the stem end of the artichoke. How much stem you remove depends on the preparation:

    • For basic steamed artichokes you'll want to cut close to the base so the artichoke can stand.
    • For Roman-style artichokes or grilled artichokes, remove only the browned bit at the end and leave the bulk of the stem attached—you'll peel it later.
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  • 03 of 06

    Cut Off the Thorns

    De-Thorning an Artichoke
    Trim Artichoke Leaves. Jerry Young/Getty Images

    Use a pair of scissors to cut off and discard the thorny tops of each remaining leaf. This step is optional, but a very kind gesture for the eventual eater of artichoke(s) if you're serving the prickly thorned type of artichoke.

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  • 04 of 06

    Cut Off the (Thorny) Crown

    Trimming an Artichoke
    Cutting Crown of Artichoke. Maximilian Stock Ltd./Getty Images

    Cut off and discard the top or crown of the artichoke.

    Note that this step is optional, but it looks nice and is awfully nice for the eventual eater of the artichoke(s) if you're working with the classic thorned variety.

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  • 05 of 06

    Pull Off the Outer Leaves

    Preparing Fresh Artichoke
    Pulling Leaves From an Artichoke. Dave King/Getty Images

    Pull off and discard the small, tough, dark green, outer leaves.

    In truth, this step is also optional. The thing about these leaves, though, is they don't have any of the edible "meat" on them, so someone is going to have to pull them off and discard them without having a little snack to get them to the next leaf—why not you? Plus, this level of trimming makes for a very thoughtfully prepared looking choke in the end.

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  • 06 of 06

    Ready to Cook!

    Trimmed & Cooked Artichokes
    Steamed Artichokes. Nigel O'Neil/Getty Images

    You have a trimmed, cleaned artichoke ready to steam or boil or microwave or roast or grill.

    Be sure to check out How to Cook Artichokes for complete directions and recipes for steaming, grilling, braising, or sauteeing artichokes! It's the perfect guide fro when you get stuck in a steaming rut. Then check out ​Dipping Sauces for Artichokes.