These grilled artichokes with pepper and lemon are just as lovely served alone as they are with your best dipping sauce. A simple, surprising, impressive appetizer or side that’s easy and, thankfully, doesn’t heat up the kitchen.
Grilled artichokes may be one of the best-kept secrets of spring and summer grilling. Which is exactly why they belong at your backyard bash or alongside your regular standby grilled chicken and fill-in-the-blank side dish night. Lightly charred, tender, and served with or without a dipping sauce, they’re certain to surprise and satisfy. [Editor’s note: If you’re not quite at grilling season yet, but have a stash of spring artichokes to use up, try these Italian braised artichokes.]–Jay Bentley and Patrick Dillon
Grilled Artichokes FAQs
How do I choose an artichoke?
When you’re standing at the farmers market or grocery store contemplating which prickly, thorny, pointed artichokes you should select, look for those whose leaves are tightly closed and form snug, compact heads. Pass over any whose leaves are splayed in all directions. The leaves themselves ought to be green; any tinges of purple are fine but disregard any with brownish hues. Pick up the artichoke and fondle it. The veggie ought to feel heavy in your hand. And rest assured that this is one of those things that, as with many things in life, you come to know and learn and appreciate with experience.
When is artichoke season?
Artichokes have two peak seasons, one from March until June, and then again from September to October. They are most abundant during the spring.
- 4 lemons preferably organic
- 4 large whole artichokes stem ends trimmed
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon pepper blend or freshly cracked black pepper or to taste
- Salt to taste
- mayonnaise or another dip for serving
- Fill a large stock pot about 3/4 full of water and salt it heavily. Bring to a boil. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water.
- When the water reaches a boil, cut 2 lemons in half, squeeze their juice into the water, and add the squeezed halves to the water as well. Place the whole artichokes in the water and boil for 20 to 25 minutes, until the chokes are tender. To test for doneness, insert the tip of a knife in the artichoke stems; they should be very tender.
- When the artichokes are ready, plunge them in the ice water until cool enough to handle.
- Cut the cooled artichokes in half vertically. Using a spoon or a paring knife, scoop or trim the feathery, inedible choke in the center along with any small leaves and discard, leaving the outer leaves and the heart intact.
- Using your hand, flatten the artichokes slightly by pressing them, cut side down, against the work surface. Then place them, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the oil over the cut side of the artichokes and sprinkle with the lemon pepper or pepper. Let the artichokes rest at room temperature for up to 30 minutes to let the oil and pepper penetrate.
- Preheat a charcoal grill, gas grill, or grill pan to high.
- Place the artichokes, cut side down, on the grill and cook until the surface is charred, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and cook for 5 to 7 minutes more, letting the outside leaves char a little, if desired. Remove from the heat. (If necessary, you can cook the artichokes in 2 batches.)
- Arrange 1 or 2 artichoke halves on each plate. Slice the remaining 2 lemons into wedges and serve them alongside the artichokes along with mayonnaise or another dip of your choosing.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I really enjoyed these grilled artichokes. I had never had fresh artichokes, but I surely will in the very near future.
The lemon and pepper was a perfect complement to the flavor of the artichoke. I grilled them over charcoal and I think that was a plus as well. I added a bit of cracked black pepper and lemon zest to some mayo and it made a great dipping sauce.
I haven’t made artichokes in a long time and thought this would be a nice change from the traditional “boil in water and serve with a dipping sauce” artichokes. And it was.
They were cooked through in the suggested 20 minutes. After pouring the oil on the artichokes, I sprinkled them with cracked black pepper and let them sit about 15 minutes, then I grilled the artichokes on the Big Green Egg for 7 minutes and they had a nice, smoky flavor to them. I served them with store-bought mayo mixed with a little garlic and lemon juice. They were a winner!
This method for how to grill artichokes gives you a very easy way to produce a somewhat dramatic appetizer. Plus, the artichokes are grilled, and everything tastes better grilled, right?
I used the lemon pepper as directed, but I think you could have a lot of leeway here with the seasoning. It could be fun to get creative with the spice blend. Although the recipe says it serves 4, I think for an appetizer portion, half an artichoke per person would be more appropriate, which would give you 8 servings. A dip to accompany the artichoke is also a place where you can use your imagination. I served the Lemon Chive Mayo Dip that is part of the shrimp with three dipping sauces recipe.
This technique for how to grill artichokes works. The grilled artichokes were perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, and deliciously charred.
I found a grapefruit spoon worked well for removing the feathery choke. I found it important to squeeze out some of the water after the ice bath. I think this allowed for a better char on the grill. The grilling instructions worked perfectly, as written. Instead of just drizzling the olive oil, I rubbed the oil into the flesh as I pressed the artichokes flat.
I’m not usually one for spice blends, but the lemon pepper worked beautifully here. I also lightly sprinkled with a little sea salt. I served these with homemade mayo mixed with lemon zest. Yum!
We really enjoyed these grilled artichokes.
Contrary to the technique in the recipe, I did trim the little thorns off the outer leaves before boiling. My artichokes needed to boil for longer then 20 minutes to be very tender. Rather then use lemon pepper, I zested one of the lemons that go for a dunk in the boiling pot and mixed the zest with black pepper.
The downside to a very tender choke on the grill is it becomes very hard to flip them as the leaves want to separate from the stem. Maybe a skewer through the artichoke width-wise would make it a bit more tidy.
These grilled artichokes are quite nice, but they do take some time in preparation. Grilling them is a nice way to finish them for eating and they are quite forgiving on the grill. However you like your artichokes cooked, be sure they are almost done before grilling. I had a couple that were not all that tender when served.
Be careful when rinsing the artichokes, as there still may be some of the needle-like tips still on the leaves. Better yet, just trim them off.
My lemon pepper blend was just that: 2 tablespoons of minced lemon zest mixed and 1/4 cup black pepper. That’s also a lot of pepper for this dish. I only used 1/2 to 2/3 of it. I thought that a cup of olive oil was about 1/4 to 1/3 cup or so too much.
We had some avocado mayonnaise that went quite well with them, but even a vinaigrette made with a good olive oil is quite fine. There will probably be some oil and lemon pepper left over, but you could use that for another occasion.
Originally published May 7, 2013
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
I absolutely loved this recipe! I’ve always been a fervent believer that artichokes are worth every bit of their effort. The anticipation of working your way through the artichoke. Removing and savoring one leaf at a time. Focusing on the tender heart that is soon to reveal itself. While the recipe was an easy one, it definitely took some time. It created a depth of flavor that steaming artichokes never quite achieves.
I’m not sure that I would choose to serve it as an appetizer as it was quite messy. It serves itself better as a side dish (with lots of napkins on hand). I loved the charred flavor that the grill produced. I paired my artichokes with a creamy Champagne vinaigrette (sour cream, Champagne vinegar, olive oil, etc.) and they were devoured by the entire family. Even our two-year-old patiently worked his way through the meaty leaves (for the first time!) and relished every bite of his delicious artichoke heart. I see this recipe becoming a regular offering at our table, especially during the summer months.