Learn to make the best Italian Stuffed Artichokes in the oven! Each leaf includes a slice of garlic and a sliver of Romano cheese! And don't forget to dip crusty Italian bread in the olive oil mixture from the pan!
Behold, my favorite vegetable of all time, prepared my all-time favorite way.
These Italian Stuffed Artichokes (carciofi) are epic, folks.
You're going to want to read every word of this post and look at every step-by-step photo I painstakingly took to show you how to make one of the best dishes of your life.
Think baked artichokes with a deep, roasted flavor, served in a pool of garlicky, artichoke-infused olive oil.
Wait, there's more.
Each leaf (or petal) contains two presents ― a slice of soft, roasted garlic and a piece of melty Romano cheese.
Read on, folks. And don't miss my other Italian Side Dishes!
How to eat stuffed artichokes
You'll pluck a leaf, dip the base of it in that nectar-of-the-gods mixture of oil and water. You'll slightly bite down and scrape the inside of the petal along your teeth...and ascend to heaven!
Next, you'll dip some crusty Italian bread in that oil mixture and swear you can eat half a loaf, as long as every last drop of that Italian gold is sopped up.
This is a messy, gluttonous feast for the senses. If you don't have oil dripping down your chin, you're doing it wrong.
Which parts not to eat
- As you make your way toward the center of the artichoke, you'll see thin, rubbery, pale leaves. You can nibble on the tender base of these leaves, but discard them if you don't like their texture.
- Next, you'll see a thorny crown of purple petals. Do not eat them.
- Pull off the purple crown, and you'll see the choke underneath, made of fibers. Do not eat this part. It could in fact, cause you to choke.
- Use a butter knife placed under the fibers and slide your knife straight across to remove the choke. Discard it and any stray fibers.
Eat the artichoke heart and stems
Now you'll discover a hidden treasure ― the tender artichoke heart. You'll season it with salt and pepper, grab a fork and knife, and swoon when you take a bite.
OMG! If you've never eaten an artichoke heart that's not canned, jarred or frozen, you're in for a treat.
And that goes for the inside of the artichoke stems too.
Friends, Italian Stuffed Artichokes probably aren't first-date fare. But I'd say they qualify as "Marry-Me Artichokes."
First, I have to address the elephant in the room. There are no bread crumbs here.
While Sicilian stuffed artichokes often include them, my family never adds them to this dish.
I tried it once, and the bread crumbs were a distraction. They masked the flavors and texture of these Italian stuffed artichokes and did nothing for them.
I urge you to try this recipe as written! (And, these happen to be gluten-free stuffed artichokes, FYI.)
Artichokes: You'll need large, globe artichokes. Choose artichokes that are firm, feel heavy and have closed leaves. They should be green and not discolored.
They're expensive, so be sure to pick the best ones and don't settle for anything less. If you don't see good ones, wait to make this recipe until better artichokes are available at the best store for produce in your area.
Garlic: You'll need one large head, but have another one available, just in case. Remember, each leaf of every artichoke gets a sliver of garlic! We're not messing around.
Romano cheese: Use regular Romano or Pecorino, which is made from sheep's milk. You'll need to slice it thinly into little rectangles, and each leaf of every artichoke gets one.
Don't substitute grated cheese! I tried that shortcut once and regretted it.
You want the exquisite pleasure of chewing the pieces of melty, salty Romano that were baked inside the artichoke leaves with the garlic. I wouldn't use Parmesan as a substitute, because it doesn't pack as much flavor.
But if you need dairy-free or vegan stuffed artichokes, you can skip the cheese and still enjoy these with the garlic.
Olive oil & water: You'll need enough liquid to fill about ⅓ of your pan (or just less than half a pan).
You'll be baking the artichokes for about two hours. Some of the liquid will evaporate, and you'll want enough remaining to keep the artichokes from drying out and to use for dipping the petals and bread.
Use a ratio of two parts water to one part olive oil for flavorful pan juices that will be infused with the taste of artichokes. If you want to cut down on the oil, you can reduce it a bit and increase the water (perhaps use 2.5 parts water to one part oil).
If you have leftover cooking liquid after eating the artichokes, you can refrigerate it for up to four days. It's delicious warmed up and stirred into pasta or poured over chicken. Or, enjoy it with bread!
How to clean artichokes
Rinse the whole artichokes and pat them dry. Place them on a large cutting board (affiliate link). Cut off the stems, which, when cooked, will turn out delicious, as long as they're not too thin and fibrous. (The inside of the stems tastes like the artichoke heart.)
Slice off the dark tip of the stem and rub lemon where you cut it, to prevent browning. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer tough skin on the stems.
1-2. Pull off the bottom five or six leaves around the base of the artichoke, because they'll be too tough to eat.
3-4. Cut off the top inch of the artichoke using a serrated knife (with teeth).
5. Rub lemon where you cut the artichoke, to prevent browning.
6. Trim off the sharp tips of each leaf with kitchen scissors.
How to make Italian stuffed artichokes
See the recipe card at the end of this post for full instructions, but here's an overview.
- Place the artichoke top-down on the cutting board and press down the vegetable with your palms to allow the leaves to open up. Place a thin slice of garlic inside each leaf.
- Tuck a thin piece of Romano cheese inside each leaf.
- Stand up the artichokes in a Dutch oven (or a deep, oven-safe pan). Add the stems around them. Add the water to the bottom of the pot and pour the olive oil over the artichokes. Season them with salt and pepper and sprinkle on parsley, if desired.
Cover and bake for about two hours, or until the leaves are tender. Test for doneness after one hour and 45 minutes.
- Cover the artichokes before baking them, so they don't burn.
- The larger the artichokes, the longer they'll take to cook. If you try this method with smaller artichokes, you should probably check for doneness after an hour.
- They're done when you can easily pull off a leaf. When you try scraping the inside of a leaf between your teeth, the artichoke flesh should easily slide off. If you feel resistance and have to tug, the artichokes need to bake more.
What to serve with them
Napkins! Lots of napkins!
And don't even think of eating these Italian artichokes without crusty bread! You've got to dip it into that garlicky oil infused with artichoke flavor.
If you need gluten-free bread, have it ready.
These Italian Stuffed Artichokes are a great side dish for Italian Chicken Cutlets, which are made on the stove. Or, if you have a second oven, you can make Roasted Pork Loin with Rosemary and Garlic while the artichokes are baking.
Of course, these artichokes work well after a nice dish of pasta.
Can you use a roasting pan?
The short answer is yes, but you'll need to add more liquid, since a roasting pan has more surface area than a Dutch oven. You want enough liquid to fill at least ⅓ of the pan.
I use a Dutch oven (affiliate link) when I make just four stuffed artichokes. They fit perfectly inside, and I can use less olive oil than I'd need for a larger pan.
When I make eight stuffed artichokes, I use a large roasting pan (affiliate link) and add 2 cups of olive oil and 4 ½ cups of water.
Using a black pan or one made of iron will give the roasted artichokes a darker color, as you see in the photos. Use what you have, but if you prefer, you can use a stainless steel roasting pan (affiliate link).
If there is no oven-safe lid, cover the pan with two layers of foil before baking the artichokes.
Can you cook these on the stove?
I tried cooking stuffed artichokes on the stove, but was not satisfied with the result. They turned out having a boiled taste, instead of the deep roasted flavor achieved by baking the artichokes in the oven.
Can you make these in the Instant Pot?
I tried making these Italian stuffed artichokes in the Instant Pot (pressure cooker), but they tasted like they were steamed. They weren't nearly as flavorful as the roasted artichokes.
For best results, go with baked stuffed artichokes!
Frequently asked questions
Spring is the best time for artichokes, although they're available year-round. They're in peak season from March through May.
Sprinkle raw artichokes with a few drops of water and refrigerate them in a plastic bag for 3-5 days. The sooner you use them, the better.
More Italian vegetable dishes
- Italian Peppers in Oil
- Rapini (Broccoli Rabe) with Garlic
- Italian Sautéed Escarole
- Pan-Fried Eggplant with Tomatoes
- Escarole-Stuffed Pizza (Pizza di Scarola)
If you try these Italian Stuffed Artichokes, be sure to leave a comment and a rating!
Italian Stuffed Artichokes
- 4 globe artichokes (large; see notes)
- ½ lemon
- 1 large head of garlic (You may need a few extra cloves, depending on the size of the cloves.)
- 5 ounces Romano cheese wedge (use Pecorino or regular Romano)
- 3 cups water
- 1 ½ cups olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt (plus extra for serving)
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper (plus extra for serving)
- crusty Italian bread for dipping (optional)
Clean the Artichokes
- Lightly rinse the artichokes and pat them dry with paper towels. Have a large cutting board ready. It's helpful to place a dish towel under the cutting board to keep it from sliding around during the prep.
- To prepare the stems, use a chef knife or long, serrated knife (with teeth) to slice off the stems right at the base of the artichoke, so the artichokes can stand up. Slice off and discard the darkened bottom tip of each stem. Rub the lemon half where you made the cut on the tip of the stem to prevent browning. Pluck off and discard any leaves attached to the stems. Use a vegetable peeler to peel away the outer, tough skin from each stem. Discard the peels and set the cleaned stems aside to use later.
- Pluck off the bottom, tough leaves (maybe five or six) surrounding the base of each artichoke, where the stem used to be. Discard those leaves.
- Place an artichoke on its side on the cutting board. Use a serrated knife to slice off the top 1-inch section of the artichoke. (See the photos in the post that goes with this recipe.) Discard the section that you cut off and repeat this with the remaining artichokes.
- Rub the cut side of the lemon half on the top portion of each artichoke where you cut it. This will prevent the area from turning brown.
- Place each artichoke top-side down on the cutting board, place your palm on the bottom of the artichoke, and gently press down. This will help open up the leaves so you can stuff them.
- Use kitchen scissors to trim off the sharp edges along the tops of each leaf on the artichokes. (Don't cut more than ¼-inch off each leaf.) It's easiest to start with the bottom row of leaves and work your way around to the top. Discard the trimmed-off pieces.
Stuff the Artichokes
- Adjust your oven racks to make room for a Dutch oven with a lid or your roasting pan. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the Romano cheese into thin rectangles about an inch long and ½-inch wide. Set them aside. Peel the papery skin off the head of garlic. Then peel and thinly slice each clove inside. Discard the skins. If using parsley, rinse it and pat it dry. Chop up or cut the leaves with kitchen scissors and set the herbs aside.
- To stuff an artichoke, slightly pull open each leaf and place a slice of garlic inside each leaf. Then, place a thin piece of Romano in each leaf. Place the stuffed artichoke in a Dutch oven (oven-safe pot), ideally, or a metal roasting pan. Stuff the remaining artichokes and place them in the pot. Sprinkle on the parsley, if using.
Bake the Artichokes
- Add the stems to the pot, placing them between the artichokes.
- Pour three cups of water into the bottom of the Dutch oven. Pour 1 ½ cups of olive oil all over the artichokes and into the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle the salt and pepper on the artichokes.
- Cover the Dutch oven with an oven-safe lid or two layers of foil. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, then remove the pot and check the artichokes for doneness. Carefully pull off a bottom leaf, blow on it a bit to cool it off, then gently bite down and scrape the cheesy side of the leaf along your bottom teeth. Don't eat the leaf...just the meaty inside of the leaf with the garlic and cheese. If the leaf pulls off easily from the artichoke and the inside scrapes off easily, it is done. If it seems tough to scrape, cover and bake the artichokes for up to 15 minutes more.
- To serve, place each Italian stuffed artichoke in a soup dish and spoon some of the olive oil mixture into the bottom of each bowl. Serve with crusty bread on the side, to dip in the oil. Place a medium empty bowl at the table to hold the discarded leaves and choke of the artichoke.
- To eat the stuffed artichokes, pull off one leaf at a time, dip it in the oil mixture and scrape the inside of the leaf along your bottom teeth as directed above. Then discard the scraped leaf into the extra bowl. Add extra salt and pepper to your artichokes if needed.
- Continue eating the layers of leaves until you reach the thin, rubbery pale leaves in the middle of the artichoke. You can just remove those or nibble on their edges before discarding them. Once the rubbery section is removed, you'll see the fibers of the choke. Use a butter knife to gently slide under the fibers and remove the choke layer. Do not eat the fibers. Discard them in your extra bowl (don't place them in your garbage disposal.)
- When the choke is removed, you'll see the artichoke heart underneath. It will be greenish-gray and have little dots on the surface. (See the photos in the post that goes with this recipe.) Add salt and pepper to the artichoke heart and use a knife and fork to eat it.
- You also can eat the stem, which should taste similar to the heart. (If the stem seems too woody and fibrous, you can skip eating it. A good stem should be tender. Wider ones are more tender than long, skinny ones.)
- Cover and refrigerate any leftover stuffed artichokes for up to four days. Reheat them, lightly covered, in the microwave, along with some of the olive oil mixture.
(Recipe Source: Adapted from the method used by my aunts' Sicilian mother-in-law.)