With Instant Pot, whole steamed artichokes are faster and easier than ever! Read on for everything you need to know to master this special treat.
Jump To Section:
- Why Instant Pot is the Best Way to Cook Artichokes
- Step By Step: How to Cook Artichokes in Instant Pot
- How Long to Pressure Cook Artichokes
- How Much Water to Add?
- Adding Aromatics to the Cooking Liquid
- How to Eat Artichokes
- What to Serve with Steamed Artichokes
- Dipping Sauces to Serve with Artichokes
- Nutrition Insights
Original publish date February 2, 2015. Updated 2022 with new photos and expanded information.
The artichoke: nature’s finger food.
Au naturale. Simply steamed. Is any other plain vegetable quite so botanically romantic? Maybe it’s the delicately sweet flavor. Maybe it’s because they love cool, salty California air, like I do. Maybe it’s because you’re literally eating a dang flower! Whatever it is, sitting down to share an artichoke is something special.
Why Instant Pot is the Best Way to Cook Artichokes
Artichokes have earned a reputation for being a pain to prepare – their tough structures definitely need some cooking before they’re ready to melt in your mouth. On the stove top, you’re looking at upwards of 40 minutes of babysitting the pot, making sure the water level doesn’t boil too low.
Inside of a pressure cooker, water boils at a higher temperature which allows a dramatically shorter cook time. And with Instant Pot, you can safely “set it and forget it” and look forward to dipping tender leaves into your garlic butter faster than ever!
Step By Step: How to Cook Artichokes in Instant Pot
Begin by preparing your fresh artichokes. After washing them, discard any damaged outer leaves and use a large sharp knife to chop off the stem and the top third of each artichoke.
Apply lemon juice to the cut edges to prevent browning (simply wipe a fresh lemon wedge over each artichoke top). If desired, you may choose to snip off the thorny tip of each external leaf – but understand that these soften after cooking, so the task is mostly aesthetic. If I’m in a hurry (like usual!) I leave them intact.
In your Instant Pot, pour in a cup of water (or 1.5 cups if you’re using an 8-quart model), add any desired aromatics, then place the trivet rack or a steamer basket to hold your artichokes. You can place them stem-side-down or stem-side-up – I have not noticed a difference between these arrangements, so use whatever placement is a better fit for your batch.
Close the lid, select the manual high pressure mode, and set the proper cook time (more on that in the next section!). When the cooking time is complete, carefully open the valve for a quick release and ENJOY! They can be served hot or chilled. I usually go for hot ones!
How Long to Pressure Cook Artichokes?
The trickiest thing about pressure cooking artichokes is deciding how long to let them cook. I’ll preface this challenge by emphasizing that if you’re worried about overcooking, it is smart to start with a shorter cook time – you can always turn the cooker back on for a couple of extra minutes if needed. Having said that… two main factors determine ideal cook time:
Artichoke Size: Small, Medium, Large…?
Seasoned Instant Pot cooks know that the size or thickness of whatever you’re cooking is the main variable in determining the proper cook time. The batch size is rarely important – it doesn’t matter if you’re cooking a single artichoke, or packing your cooker to max capacity (as long as you’re allowing decent airflow). What matters most is the size!
I’ve learned about how artichokes are categorized by size from the California Artichoke Advisory Board. This industry resource reports size grades based on count per case, so I’m translating these rules into individual artichoke weights for consumers like us:
Large artichokes are about 12-15 ounces, or 340-425 grams. This is the size I most often find in my local stores.
Medium artichokes are about 7-11 ounces, or 200-310 grams.
Small artichokes are about 6 ounces, or 170 grams. Any produce smaller than this would be sold as “baby artichokes” which would call for an even shorter cook time. I have not tried baby artichokes in my pressure cooker yet, but I will keep an eye out for my next chance to find a bag of them!
My general guideline is to pressure cook large artichokes for 15 minutes, medium artichokes for 10 minutes, and small artichokes for 5 minutes. However, sometimes adjustments are needed…
Seasonality and Freshness: How Tender or Tough…?
If you’ve cooked a few artichokes, you’ll know that some are a little fresher and more supple, and don’t need to cook as long – while others are extra fibrous and ornery, and benefit from extra cooking time.
Seasonality, growing conditions and freshness are all factors. In the USA, the vast majority of artichokes are grown in California. They are produced year-round, but the main harvest season is Spring (~ March to May). In my experience, artichokes obtained early in this period are the most likely to be tender and quick-cooking.
When shopping for artichokes, use your senses: heavy, solid specimens with tight petals are a sign of freshness (versus light ones with loose, open petals – which may indicate an older or woodier artichoke).
Based on your assessment of your artichokes, you may choose to adjust your cook time up or down by a few minutes (from the general times given for each size above). It is difficult to advise more precisely, but with a little practice you will quickly gain confidence!
Please feel welcome to share your experience in the comment section, especially if you have any tips for fine-tuning your cook times.
How Much Water to Add?
When pressure cooking, you don’t need to worry about the water level as much as when cooking on the stovetop because you don’t lose water to evaporation!
All you need to do is use the minimum amount of water required for your cooker to reach pressure. Instant Pot recommends a minimum volume of 1 cup for 6-quart cookers, and 1.5 cups for 8-quart cookers.
Adding Aromatics to the Cooking Liquid
Instead of steaming over plain water, you can take the opportunity to infuse your artichoke with a little extra flavor by tossing your favorite aromatic ingredients to the pressure cooker.
Try spiking your water with lemon slices, smashed garlic cloves, hot peppers, bay leaves, or fresh herbs.
How to Eat Artichokes
If you’re new to whole artichokes, here is a quick primer on how to enjoy them:
- Start by plucking off an outer leaf. Hold the tip of the leaf with your fingers, and notice the tidbit of soft cooked flesh at the leaf’s base.
- Dip it into your favorite sauce, then bite into it, and keep your teeth closed around it while you pull the leaf out of your mouth. Savor your mouthful, and discard the tough, inedible part of the leaf.
- Continue until you run out of leaves; at the core, you will find the choke, which is the actual flower amidst the plant structure. It is fuzzy and inedible – scrape out the hairy threads and discard.
- Under the choke, the rest of the tender vegetable attached to the stem is the heart. Slice, dip, and savor it.
What to Serve with Steamed Artichokes
Steamed artichokes are most often served as an appetizer or first course. You can even think of this as a meal-prep item, to serve chilled or gently reheat (store in the fridge for up to 4 days).
They make a delicious healthy side dish for pairings like steak, fish, or chicken. Of course, a dipping sauce is essential – this topic merits a section of its own!
Dipping Sauces to Serve with Artichokes
Melted Butter – even better with a few cloves of freshly minced garlic.
Hollandaise Sauce – another warm, buttery dip – emulsified with egg yolks to make it extra creamy.
Chilled Aioli, Mayonnaise or Dijonnaise – all culinary variations on egg yolks blended with oil. Counter the richness by mixing in punchy flavors like mustard, peppers and/or fresh herbs.
Green Goddess Dressing – green on green! Creamy, tangy, loaded with fresh herbs. My favorite recipe for this is Cookie & Kate’s Easy Green Goddess Dressing.
Chimichurrri – for a little South American fusion flair, try this rich and flavorful blend of herbs in olive oil. I love chimichurri and frequently mix it up it in a mason jar attached to my blender! I’ve posted the recipe here: Chimichurri in a Hurry.
Food for thought, from your friendly neighborhood Registered Dietitian Nutritionist + food science buff!
For optimal nutrition, it’s essential to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables – and artichokes are certainly uniquely different than other veggies we encounter!
Artichokes are especially rich in antioxidant compounds, which contribute to anti-inflammatory effects and the prevention of various chronic diseases. Large amounts of polyphenol antioxidants are the reason why they are so susceptible to browning after being sliced (just like apples!).
Dietary fiber is another benefit – about half of the total carbohydrate in artichokes is fiber, so they are valuable in gut health support and the downstream benefits of a happy, healthy microbiota.
We’re lucky that this special veggie treat is suitable for just about every ‘flavor’ of healthy eating – paleo, keto, gluten free, vegetarian/vegan… enjoy, everybody!
Other Vegetables to Prep with Instant Pot
Instant Pot Steamed Whole Artichokes
- whole artichokes
- 1 lemon wedge
- 1 cup water
- Rinse the artichokes with water and remove any damaged outer leaves. Using a sharp knife, carefully trim off the stem and top third of each artichoke. Rub the cut top with a lemon wedge to prevent browning.
- Set the steam rack or a steamer basket into the Instant Pot’s cooking insert, place the artichokes on top, and pour in water (1 cup for 6-quart models, or 1.5 cups for 8-quart models). Close the lid, with the valve set to sealing position. Select Steam mode, leave the setting on High Pressure, and adjust the time based on the guidelines in the recipe headnote (5-15 minutes based on size).
- When the cooking time is complete, carefully open the valve to manually release the pressure. Use tongs to remove the artichokes from the cooker and serve warm with the dipping sauce of your choice.