Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce

By Sally Cameron on May 12, 2011

Appetizers & Snacks, Side Dishes, the daniel plan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Steamed artichokes with lemon garlic dipping sauce is one of my standard appetizers. Served warm, room temperature or chilled, I’ll put a platter out for guests hanging out in the kitchen to snack on as I finish cooking dinner. The lemon garlic dipping sauce provides a creamy, tangy accent to the earthy artichokes. When the leaves are gone and the fuzzy choke is removed, a prize awaits – the artichoke heart. Slice and devour.

Steamed Artichokes with Dipping Sauce |

Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce

Looking like the vegetable version of a pinecone, I wonder what brave soul first figured out that the prickly artichoke was good to eat. I remember my first artichoke as a kid. A neighbor brought this strange vegetable over and taught us how to eat it. With an earthy, nutty flavor, I’ve been a fan ever since.  While artichokes are available almost year round, spring is their peak season. I like to boil or steam them and serve with a quick mayonnaise-based lemon garlic dipping sauce.

Steamed Artichokes with Dipping Sauce|

How to Buy Artichokes

Fresh artichokes should be compact, plump and feel heavy for their size. If the artichoke squeaks when squeezed, it’s fresh. The leaves should be green and tightly closed. If the leaves (called bracts) are brown and splitting, the artichoke is most likely past its prime. The exception to this is winter harvest artichokes. They may have light brown scaling on the leaves due to frostbite. Although not as pretty, they still taste good.

How to Prep Artichokes for Cooking

To prepare artichokes for cooking:

  • Cut the top third of the artichokes off (a serrated knife works best)
  • Trim the stem flush to the base
  • Snip off the points from each tip with scissors
  • Rub the artichoke all over with a cut lemon half.

How to Cook Artichokes

Steam or boil them, either on a rack or without. Place artichokes stem side up in a pan wide enough to hold them. Add a few inches of water to the pan, add your lemons, herbs and oil. Or you can steam them by first placing a steamer rack in the bottom and adding water just to the top of the steamer rack.  Either way, just be sure your pan does not run dry of water while cooking.

Steamed Artichokes with Dipping Sauce|

How to Serve Artichokes

After steaming, pluck the hot artichokes out of the pan with tongs, drain, and place on a platter for serve with the dipping sauce. Have an empty bowl handy for discarded leaves. A versatile vegetable, artichokes can be served as an appetizer, snack, salad, or as part of a main course. Pack them up for a picnic or tailgate. Use them for lunch and stuff with chicken, crab or tuna salad. Recipes abound for ways to use the green globes, so enjoy them while they are at peak season and throughout the year.

Grilled Artichoke Option

For extra flavor and presentation, try finishing them on the grill.To grill, split the artichokes in half from top to bottom, remove the fuzzy choke, brush with a little olive oil and place on the grill for a few minutes until a lightly charred. Grilling gives them a lightly smokey flavor. After grilling, cut the artichoke halves in two for easier to eat quarters size pieces.

Steamed Artichokes with Dipping Sauce|


Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce

Fresh artichokes should be compact, plump and feel heavy for their size, and they should squeak when squeezed. The leaves should be green and tightly closed. Whether boiled, steamed, or grilled, these green globes are very versatile as a snack, appetizer, stuffed, or in a main course. Share one or enjoy a whole one yourself.
Servings 2 to 4


Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup your favorite mayonnaise Vegenaise organic
  • 1 large garlic clove pressed or finely minced
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to tast
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped parsley or chives for color and flavor

Steamed Artichokes

  • 2 large raw artichokes
  • 1 large lemon cut in quarters
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • Sprinkle of kosher salt
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2-3 fresh whole garlic cloves peeled and smashed


  • Make the Sauce first, Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. Can be made ahead of time, covered and refrigerated until serving time.
  • Prep artichokes for cooking. Cut the top one third off with a serrated knife (bread knife). The teeth of a serrated knife make it easier to cut through the tough exterior. Discard the trimmings. Trim the bottom stem flush with the base. Next, trim off the prickly point of each leaf with a pair of kitchen scissors. Rub a cut lemon over the artichoke to prevent it from browning. 
  • Cook the artichokes. In a deep pan wide enough to hold artichokes, place trimmed artichokes stem side up in the bottom of the pan (or place on a steamer rack). Fill pan with a few inches of cold water. Squeeze lemon juice over the artichokes and put rinds in the pan. Drizzle in olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, add bay leaf, black peppercorns, thyme sprigs and garlic.
  • Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and bring to a boil. When steam starts coming out of the pan, turn the heat down to low and cook artichokes until you can pierce the center of the stem with a paring knife. The timing will depend on the size of the artichokes. For big ones test at 20-25 minutes and continue if needed for a few minutes. Another way to tell when an artichoke is ready is to pull off and outer leaf. It should come off easily. Doing both tests is a good idea. 
  • Remove the artichokes from the pan and drain on a towel. At this point, you can arrange the artichokes on a platter and serve them hot, at room temperature or chilled.
  • To finish by grilling, split the artichokes in half from top to bottom, remove the fuzzy choke, brush with a little olive oil and place on the grill for a few minutes until a little charred. This enhances the earthy, nutty flavor and makes for a great presentation. Serve with lemon garlic dipping sauce.
  1. Kris Malkin - May 12th, 2011

    Hi Sally!

    What a great website you and Kent put together! Thanks to Suzanne Hinze, I ‘discovered’ it….and can enjoy in more ways than one!

    Look forward to visiting (and sharing) your site more often!

  2. Sally - May 12th, 2011

    Thanks Kris! if you make any of the recipes please come back and comment.

  3. Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator - May 12th, 2011

    Sometimes I will make a version of this and have this, and only this, for my dinner. Love the step-by-step instructions. So helpful!

  4. Michelle - May 12th, 2011

    If I was a food, I think I’d want to be an artichoke! So many wonderful layers and a treat at the end. Wonderful recipe for one of many all time favorite foods since childhood. If I could like it alittle over cooked and dipped in Miracle Whip (gross now, but as a kid, it seemed like a miracle!) what is not to love about a more grown up and sophisticated version. Can’t wait to buy some and make them! YUM!

  5. Michelle - May 24th, 2011

    Made these last night! Perfect and easy. I did learn one thing – I didn’t have fresh thyme sprigs, so I put in dried thyme spices and oops- not great to have all the loose herbs in the leaves. Will make sure I have springs, or put the dried on in a tea ball or cheesecloth or ? if fresh not available. Great recipe, thank you.

  6. Dr. Patrick Mahaney - May 12th, 2011

    Yum! This looks amazing! I forwarded this recipe to my mom so that she can make it for me when I am home visiting Mass this weekend!
    Thx Sally,

  7. Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) - May 13th, 2011

    What a simple and lovely way to prepare artichokes. This reminds me of how my dad used to prepare them. He made a really simple garlic mayo dip, that must have been prepared a lot like this one. As kids, artichokes were a special treat, I think the only vegetable us kids got excited about eating. (That and pickles.)

  8. Kirsten Wanket - May 19th, 2011

    Thanks for sharing such a terrific recipe! So simple and yummy! Go fresh!

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