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How to Break Down an Artichoke

Everything you need to know.

Artichokes are one of spring’s greatest gifts. The versatile veggie can be braised, steamed, roasted, grilled, boiled, fried – the list goes on — and pairs deliciously with flavors like garlic, lemon, and thyme. When selecting them at the store or farmers market, opt for ones that feel heavy for their size and have bright green, tightly packed leaves.

Despite their somewhat intimidating appearance, artichokes are easier to prepare than you might think — simply follow the step-by-step instructions below. Remember, the edible parts of an artichoke are the base of the leaves, the piece above the stem called the “heart”, and the peeled stem.

Step 1: Cut off the top quarter of the artichoke with a chef’s knife or serrated bread knife to create a flattened top.

Step 2: Trim off the woody end of the stem, then peel the fibrous outer layers of the stem with a paring knife or vegetable peeler.

Step 3: Pull the bottom three to four rows of tough outer leaves towards the stem to snap them off (these are inedible and can be discarded). Only the pale yellow-green inner leaves should remain.

Step 4: Use a paring knife to remove the dark green layer around the base of the artichoke.

Step 5: If cooking the artichoke whole, pry open the leaves and scoop out the fuzzy choke with a paring knife, spoon, or melon baller. If halving the artichoke, slice it in half lengthwise through the stem and then remove the choke. To prevent the halves from browning, place them in lemon water while you prep the remaining artichokes.

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