Stuffed artichokes are one of the most beloved Italian appetizers. Artichokes are trimmed and stuffed with garlicky breadcrumbs and baked in a buttery lemon and white wine sauce until tender. While making these takes time, the reward at the end is well worth it. Our step-by-step instructions walk you through the entire process, including how to eat them!
There is really nothing quite like an artichoke. Whether you're eating the hearts as part of an antipasto platter, or in a spinach artichoke dip, their flavor is quite unlike any other food.
But the stuffed artichoke is essentially the king of all appetizers for several reasons.
First, if you are lucky enough to be on the receiving end of an artichoke, you can assume the person who made it cares about you.
Making classic stuffed artichokes is a labor of love which is why they're typically reserved for special occasions.
Whoever made the artichoke took the time to prep it, trimming the leaves, removing the choke, and distributing the breadcrumbs between layers of leaves.
Note: When I'm craving stuffed artichokes but am short on time, I opt for these baked artichoke hearts with seasoned breadcrumbs.
Another reason to love stuffed artichokes is that they're an interactive food with a distinct start, middle, and end at which point the eater is "rewarded".
The eater will work their way through the outer leaves, gently removing them and using their teeth to scrape the breadcrumb and the "meat" from each leaf.
As they work their way inward, the leaves become more and more tender, almost to the point where the entire leaf can be consumed.
When all the leaves have been moved, you're left with your reward, the heart, which might just be one of the most exquisite tasting foods on Earth.
If an escape room were food, it would be the stuffed artichoke.
Finally, and the most important of my reasons, is that when I make an artichoke, I am carrying on a family tradition that my grandmother passed to me, and that I will pass to my children.
Step by step instructions for Italian stuffed artichokes
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
Note: The tough inner part of the artichoke (the fuzzy choke section) can be difficult to remove from a raw artichoke. It requires a bit of muscle. Alternatively, you can parboil or steam the artichokes for about 7-10 minutes then easily remove the fuzzy choke once cool enough to handle.
- Preheat the oven to 400f and set the rack to the middle level. Begin prepping the artichokes by slicing off the bottom stem. Save the stem. It's just as delicious as the heart.
- With a firm grip cut off the top ⅓ of the artichoke. Use a very sharp knife or even better a serrated bread knife.
- Using a spoon, scoop out the inner leaves and the fuzzy choke section. This might be a bit difficult. Use a bit of force or start the process by cutting out some of the interior section before using the spoon. Either way, the artichoke should look like pic 3 above with a hollowed-out center that leaves the bottom heart intact.
- With kitchen scissors, cut off any pointy leaves.
- Trim the bottom of any hard leaves with a paring knife and make sure the artichoke sits flat so that it doesn't topple during the baking process.
- You can shave the stems with a vegetable peeler. Remove the hard fibrous layer, exposing the tender interior. Note: Some mature artichoke stems will be too fibrous to eat regardless of the amount of peeling, but most will be absolutely delicious.
- Work on one artichoke at a time and place each into a large bowl filled with water and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. The acidic water will prevent the artichokes from turning black. They tend to turn black (oxidation) once they are cut, so that's why it's a good idea to cut one at a time.
- Mix together 2 cups plain breadcrumbs, 10 cloves grated garlic, 1 ½ teaspoons Sicilian oregano, ½ cup minced parsley, 1 ¼ cups grated Pecorino Romano, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, ¼ cup dry white wine, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Taste test the mixture and adjust salt and pepper. You want these breadcrumbs to be really flavorful!
- Before stuffing the artichoke spread the leaves apart to make space. You can also turn them upside down and flatten them to further spread out the leave. Start by placing the stuffing into the center cavity of the artichoke. Don't overpack it.
- Next spread the closest layer of leaves out and sprinkle the breadcrumbs inside. Continue to work towards the outer edge until the artichoke is stuffed. Do this over the bowl so that any breadcrumbs fall right back into the bowl. Note: Not every leave has to be stuffed.
- Place the stuffed artichokes into a large 10 by 15 baking dish (or a 4-5 quart dish). Pour in 2 ½ cups of water and 1 ½ cups of dry white wine. Also add the shaved stems along with 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 2 cloves minced garlic, and a ¼ teaspoon of minced parsley. Drizzle a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and spoon a few tablespoons of the sauce onto each artichoke to moisten the breadcrumbs. Add 4 tablespoons of butter along with (optional) up to 3 tablespoons of any leftover breadcrumbs. Note: The liquid shouldn't go higher than about halfway up the artichokes. If it looks like it will, just reduce the amount of water ever so slightly.
- Cover the dish with foil very tightly. This will create a steaming action. Bake for 50 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake until tender. Depending on the size of the artichoke, they'll take another 20 to 30 more minutes or even longer. Note: Check for doneness by pulling a leaf. It should remove fairly easily. If not let them cook for another 10 minutes and check again. For a browner top, you can broil for the last 60-90 seconds but watch carefully! You should have enough sauce in the baking dish, but if you want more simply pour the sauce into a saucepot and add equal parts water and wine and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice and once satisfied with the taste turn off the heat and whisk in another 2 tablespoons of butter. Serve in shallow bowls with the sauce so that people can dip or spoon it on top of their stuffed artichoke.
How to actually eat classic stuffed artichokes
As mentioned above, artichokes are truly an interactive food in which the eater works a bit for their food and is rewarded at the end.
Before you even start, have plenty of napkins handy and an extra bowl for the eaten leaves. Eating artichokes is messy (but fun) work and your hands will get dirty!
Begin by removing an outer leaf. Use your teeth to remove the breadcrumbs, and to scrape the "meat" from the bottom of the artichoke leaf.
The meat is a tasty tender bit that is present at the base of the leaf - where the leaf was once attached to the choke.
Repeat the process with the outer leaves, spooning and dipping into the sauce. The closer you get to the center, the more tender the leaves will become and you may even be able to eat the entire leaf once you've reached the center.
When the leaves are gone, and you're left with the heart, simply cut the heart into a few pieces (I cut mine in quarters) and eat. I sometimes add some of the breadcrumb mixture as I'm doing this, but in all honesty, the heart is so good just by itself.
You can also eat the shaved-down stem in most cases if it's tender enough. It will be slightly more fibrous than the heart but will have a similar taste.
- Select the best artichokes - Quality artichokes can be hard to find at times. During the holiday season, they are usually in abundance as many Italian-Americans make stuffed artichokes for Christmas. You'll know an artichoke is good if it's firm and bright green with only minimal or no browning of the leaves. Just be careful when picking them up though as they can be prickly!
- Prep the chokes - The way that is shown in the steps above can prove a bit difficult to remove the inner leaves and the fuzz of the choke. Alternatively, you can parboil or steam the artichokes for about 7-10 minutes then easily remove the fuzzy choke once cool enough to handle. By doing this the artichokes won't need as much cooking time. Probably about 20-30 minutes less cooking time. The downside is the time it takes for the artichokes to cool and the act of stuffing them proves more difficult after they've been boiled.
- Season those breadcrumbs - The breadcrumbs are so important in this dish. After you mix the ingredients together taste test them and adjust salt, pepper to taste. Make them taste good by adding more salt or even more lemon juice if needed!
- Foil and cover tightly - The steaming action is critical to achieving tender artichokes. Make sure the foil (use 2 or 3 pieces if necessary) is tightly sealed.
- Cooking time - No matter which way you prepare these old-fashioned stuffed artichokes, the cooking time is just a general guideline. The easy way to know if they are done is by pulling a few leaves. If they detach fairly easily the artichokes are tender and ready to eat. Conversely, if those leaves are really hard to remove the artichokes need to cook longer.
- Sauce - With 4 cups of liquid added to the baking dish there should be enough sauce even after cooking and reducing. However, you can easily make more sauce. Remove the cooked artichokes and tent with foil. Then simply pour the sauce into a saucepot and add equal parts water and wine and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and lemon juice and once satisfied with the taste turn off the heat and whisk in another 2 tablespoons of butter. Serve in shallow bowls with the sauce so that people can dip or spoon it on top of their stuffed artichoke.
More great appetizers
If you love stuffed artichokes, check out some of our other tried and true favorites!
- Fried artichoke hearts - Golden and crisp, bite-sized, and easy to make, these are a welcome addition to any appetizer spread!
- Clams oreganata - Baked clams stuffed with garlicky breadcrumbs.
- Italian stuffed mushrooms - Mushroom caps filled with breadcrumbs and chopped mushroom stems, baked in a lemon white wine sauce.
- Mozzarella en carrozza - Mozzarella cheese stuffed between battered, sliced bread and fried until golden and crisp.
- Lemon ricotta stuffed zucchini - Zucchini boats stuffed with lemon, garlic, ricotta, and parsley filling.
- Stuffed tomatoes - Easy to make, these tomatoes are stuffed with breadcrumbs and ricotta salata.
- Zucchini fritters - Zucchini, eggs, flour, and Pecorino Romano form little fritters that are deep fried until golden.
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- 4 large artichokes trimmed and stems removed, see notes below
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the seasoned breadcrumbs mixture
- 10 cloves garlic grated
- 2 cups plain breadcrumbs
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried Sicilian oregano or Italian oregano
- ½ cup parsley minced
- 1 ¼ cups Pecorino Romano grated
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
For the sauce
- 2 ½ cups water
- 1 ½ cups dry white wine
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup parsley minced
- 3 tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs optional, if there are extra breadcrumbs add no more than 3 tablespoons to the sauce.
- Preheat oven to 400f and set the rack to the middle level.
- Remove and shave the artichoke stem with a vegetable peeler. Trim the bottoms of the artichokes with a paring knife and cut off the top ⅓ of the artichoke. Using kitchen scissors trim any pointy leaves. Finally, scoop out the fuzzy interior of the artichoke heart but leave the bottom intact. After cutting each artichoke add immediately to a large pot of water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Next, combine all of the seasoned breadcrumb ingredients. Taste test and add salt and pepper to taste. Make sure to use enough salt.
- Before stuffing the artichoke spread the leaves apart. You can even place them upside down and try to flatten them to spread the leaves out.
- Begin stuffing the middle of the artichokes, then work your way to the outside. Try to get a bit of the stuffing into each layer of leaves. Don't overpack the artichokes. It's best to Place each filled artichoke into a large baking dish. Also, place the cleaned stems into the dish.
- Place the sauce ingredients into the baking dish and stir together. If you have any extra seasoned breadcrumbs sprinkle them into the sauce (use only up to 3 tablespoons of extra breadcrumbs).
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive onto each artichoke and spoon a few tablespoons of sauce onto each artichoke to moisten the breadcrumbs. Cover the dish very tightly with foil and bake for 50 minutes.
- After 45 minutes remove the foil and continue to bake until tender (about 20-30 minutes longer). Test for doneness by pulling a leaf off. If it removes fairly easily the artichokes are finished cooking. If you like, you can broil the artichokes for the last 60-90 seconds to add more color to the breadcrumbs but watch very carefully!
- *Optional* - You should have enough sauce in the baking dish, but if you want more simply remove the artichokes and pour the sauce into a saucepot. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of wine and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice and once satisfied with the taste turn off the heat and whisk in another 2 tablespoons of butter.
- Serve the stuffed artichokes in a shallow bowl along with a ladle of the sauce. Spoon the sauce on top of the artichokes or dip the leaves right into it. Enjoy!
- Follow the steps in the body to trim and prep the artichokes. The stems are delicious and should be baked as well. Just shave the outer fibrous layer of the stem with a peeler. The bottom of the artichoke is the heart and should be eaten as well. Don't forget that part while enjoying the stuffed leaves!
- Cooking time is a very rough estimate. The main point is to cover the artichokes very tightly to create a steaming action so that they get tender. Tender is when the leaves pull off fairly easily. If they are hard to remove, the artichokes need to cook longer.
- Artichokes vary in size considerably. Just distribute the breadcrumbs evenly. You don't need to overpack the artichokes.
- Make sure to taste test the breadcrumbs and adjust salt if required. Make the breadcrumbs really flavorful before stuffing!
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and should be reheated in the oven covered with foil at 350f until warm.