Perfect Steamed Artichokes

2 servings
20 min

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to steam an artichoke is by using the microwave. It’s quick and easy, and you’ll love the way this cooking method preserves the artichoke's fresh flavor and bright green color.

This step-by-step guide will show you the best way to cook a whole artichoke in minutes in the microwave.

A microwave steamed artichoke on a serving plate with lemon slices and melted butter.

With this simple method, you’ll always be able to steam and serve artichokes as an easy appetizer or side dish your dinner guests will love.

The best part is that quickly cooking the artichoke preserves its color and enhances its delicious flavor.

Organic Artichokes vs Nonorganic

A dozen fresh artichokes on ice at the market.

Recently my grocery store stocked both organic and nonorganic fresh globe artichokes. The conventionally-grown chokes were blemish-free, uniformly sized and overall quite appealing – both visually and financially.

Organic artichokes, on the other hand, were double the price of the nonorganic. These green globes were different shapes and sizes, and the outer leaves were split and covered with brown spots. In other words, they were ugly and more expensive.

Organic or regular? Thrift or splurge? Beauty or purity?

My conundrum is a perfect example of the difficult decisions many of us make during every trip to the store. Do we try to save money and buy conventionally-grown food?

Or do we spend a bit more and ignore the flaws, for good food that’s not doused with fertilizers and sprayed with pesticides?

According to the Food Revolution Network, artichokes aren’t on either the Dirty Dozen list (produce with high percentages of pesticides) or the Clean Fifteen (produce with the lowest pesticide residue), so they’re somewhat average.

I was feeling flush, so I decided to go with the gnarly organic artichoke. After I peeled the outer leaves off and trimmed off the top, it looked pretty again.

A raw artichoke with the top cut off, ready to be steamed in the microwave.

After a five minute cook in the microwave (see directions below), the artichoke was ready to eat. That’s when I was glad I bought the pricy choke.

The artichoke tasted creamy with pure sweet flavor, and none of the bitterness we’ve sometimes encountered in conventionally-grown varieties.

Here’s our favorite cooking method, which we think is the easiest way to cook raw artichokes.

Ingredient Notes

An artichoke, a stick of butter and a lemon on a cutting board.

Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy recipe:

Artichoke – You can choose an organic or conventionally grown artichoke (see notes above). Look for tightly packed leaves and heavy, large artichokes that look fresh.

Most fresh artichokes have brown spots on their leaves, and these are usually just frost marks that don’t affect the flavor.

Fresh lemon – Look for a nice firm, yellow lemon with no blemishes or dry spots that feels heavy.

Butter – I prefer salted butter for dipping, but if you’re trying to watch your sodium intake or like the taste of unsalted better, by all means use that.

Cooking Equipment

Here’s what you’ll need to prepare this recipe:

  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen Scissors
  • Medium bowl
  • 1.5 quart casserole dish with lid

Directions for Steaming an Artichoke in the Microwave

Be sure to see the recipe card below for exact ingredients and instructions.

Cooking an artichoke in the microwave preserves more of its pretty green color than boiling, and it’s super-fast, too. Here’s how to do it:

STEP ONE: Wash the artichoke thoroughly in a bowl of warm water, spreading the leaves a little to get any hidden dirt out. Rinse well and pull off the tough outer leaves.

Slice the stem off close to the bottom of the artichoke so it will sit flat.

The bottom of an artichoke with the stem trimmed off.

STEP TWO: Pull off the measley little leaves around the stem, and cut off the top half-inch or so with your sharp knife. This step will eliminate most of the prickly leaves.

An artichoke with the top sliced off and a knife on a cutting board.

I also like to cut off the thorny sharp tips of the leaves with kitchen shears, but that’s optional.

An artichoke on a cutting board with kitchen scissors and cut leaf points.

STEP THREE: Dunk the artichoke in a bowl of water to which you’ve added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (or 1 teaspoon of bottled lemon juice); this will help the artichoke stay nice and green and not discolor.

Pro Cooking Tip: If you don’t have any lemon juice on hand, you can substitute a little white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, or just skip this step.

STEP FOUR: Put 2 tablespoons of hot water in the microwave-safe dish. We like a 1.5 quart casserole dish, but you can use whatever you have. Set the artichoke on its base and cover with the lid.

An artichoke in a microwave safe bowl ready for cooking.

STEP FIVE: Microwave on high power for about 5 minutes. Let it cool, still covered, for about five minutes. Remove the lid and test one of the leaves. If it comes off easily, it’s done.

If not, cook it on high again using a 1-minute increment until the artichoke is done. Total minutes of cooking time will depend on the size of your artichoke.

When the artichoke is done, serve it right away. Accompany it with lemon wedges and a dish of melted butter.

A microwave steamed artichoke ready for serving with lemon wedges and melted butter.

After you’ve pulled off and enjoyed the bottom part of all the leaves, you can scrape off the fuzzy choke in the center with a sharp knife and eat the artichoke heart.

I usually cut artichoke hearts in eighths and serve the little wedges on toothpicks when we’ve finished the artichoke leaves.

Artichoke Dipping Sauces

Instead of melted butter, you can serve artichokes with your favorite dipping sauce such as:

  • Ranch dressing or dip
  • Top quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • Love and Lemons Artichoke Dipping Sauce
  • Garlic butter (simply add 1-2 minced garlic cloves to the melted butter)

Are Artichokes Keto Friendly?

Yes, according to the experts at Wholesome Yum, steamed artichokes are appropriate for keto due to their low carb count.

A medium steamed artichoke has about 14 grams of carbs, but due to the artichoke’s fiber content (about 7 grams), the net carbs are only about 7 grams.

Keep in mind that any dipping sauces you add may not be low carbohydrate. Melted butter is a good low carb choice.

If you enjoy this recipe, please click on the stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below to leave a rating! It helps us so much, and we love reading your comments, too!

A large globe artichoke with the pointed top cut off.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is the author of 17 books, including Small Bites, 101 Things To Do With Bacon, and BERRIES. She enjoys sharing ideas to simplify cooking, gardening, and home projects. She is also the owner of Cross Media, Inc. and founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society.

Perfect Steamed Artichokes
Recipe details
  • 2  servings
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 5 Minutes Total time: 20 min
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  • 1 large fresh artichoke
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, melted

Wash the artichoke thoroughly in a bowl of warm water, spreading the leaves a little to get any hidden dirt out. Slice off the stem close to the bottom of the artichoke so it sits flat.
Using a sharp knife, slice off the top inch of the artichoke to expose the leaves inside.
Using kitchen scissors, snip off any sharp thorns on the other leaves.
Cut the lemon in 8 wedges. Fill a bowl with enough room temperature water to cover the artichoke, and squeeze two of the wedges in the water. Add the artichoke and let it soak in the lemon water for 5 minutes.
Put 2 tablespoons hot water in a microwave-safe casserole dish. Set the artichoke on its base in the dish, and cover with the lid.
Microwave on high for about 5 minutes. Let it cool, still covered, for about five minutes. Remove the lid and test one of the leaves. If it comes off easily, it’s done. If not, cook it on high for another 60 to 90 seconds.
Transfer artichoke to a serving plate and serve with the remaining lemon wedges and melted butter.
  • Leftover artichokes can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  • To reheat, put the artichoke in the microwave safe casserole dish with a tablespoon of water and cook on High for about 90 seconds, or until hot.
  • One average artichoke feeds about 2 people, so feel free to multiply this recipe to feed as many people as you like.
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  • Arline Kay Arline Kay on Jun 07, 2023

    ONE artichoke for two people???? You can't be serious.

    • Happy Simple Living Happy Simple Living on May 25, 2024

      This is an appetizer serving, but tell me more because I genuinely value the feedback. Do you serve more per person? I think it depends on the size of the artichoke, but in general 1 large artichoke as called for in the recipe serves two people for a starter.

  • Sly104294131 Sly104294131 on Jun 07, 2024

    I serve each person a whole artichoke - in CA we are lucky to get the large size artichokes - but they the take longer to cook in the microwave I do put water in. Measuring cop - cook on high 5 minutes lease stand 5?min if I can't pull on a leaf freely the I repeat 5 min on high till a Leah will detach freely and repeat same till it does.