Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Sauce

5 from 4 votes

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Smoky and tender, grilling is one of the best ways to prepare artichokes during the warmer months, especially with homemade lemon sauce.

Grilled Artichokes with lemon sauce on plate

Grilled artichokes are a gorgeous summertime treat. We love artichokes steamed all year round, but finishing them on the grill imparts a beautiful smoky flavor and also turns them into an intriguing side dish. Served at room temperature or warm, they are a great addition to an outdoor lunch or dinner menu. If they are taking center stage, you’ll want at least two halves per person. If they are one of a few sides, one half per person should be fine.

However, if you are my sister, you will need at least 2 full artichokes for yourself. So judge your level of artichoke fans accordingly!

Serve the artichokes with Grilled Ribeye Steaks, Grilled Salmon, or any of your favorite grilled mains. For another side, try Quinoa Salad or Grilled Asparagus with Vinaigrette.

Dipping grilled artichoke leaf in creamy lemon sauce.

How to Grill Artichokes: Smoky and tender, grilling is one of the best ways to prepare artichokes during the warmer months.

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How to Keep Cut Artichokes From Turning Brown

First of all, don’t make yourself too crazy about this. The artichokes are going to brown up all over when they are grilled, so in this particular cooking method, it’s not so important to stop the browning. However, once you cut an artichoke the oxidization (or browning) starts pretty immediately. So if you have a cut lemon at the ready, you can rub it over all of the cut surfaces to slow down the browning.

How to Prepare Artichokes for Grilling

Preparing artichokes for grilling is a bit of a pain in the butt; there’s no getting around it. You have to trim the top and the bottom, snip off the spiky tips of the leaves, cut them in half, and scoop out the prickly choke right above the heart.

Cut the top 1/2 inch from the artichokes. Trim the bottom 1/2 inch from the stems. Use kitchen shears to snip the pointy tips of the leaves off. With a large, sharp knife, carefully slice the artichokes in half lengthwise, through the heart and the stem. Use a spoon to scrape out the thistle-y choke (the prickly hairy part that sits on top of the heart). As soon as you finish preparing each artichoke, rub all of the exposed cut sides with one of the lemon halves, which will prevent browning.

Trimming leaf tips from fresh artichokes

Cooking Artichokes on the Stove Before Grilling

Artichokes are very dense, and it’s very hard to get larger artichokes to become tender when cooking them only on the grill over direct heat. The best way to get tender yet smoky artichokes is to steam them first until they are basically tender, then finish them on the grill. You get those lovely grill marks, and there will be that appealing smoky flavor from the live fire. However, the bottom of the leaves and the heart will be completely tender if you cook them first.

I prefer steaming them to boiling them so they don’t get as waterlogged, but you can do either. You can cook the artichokes a day or two ahead of grilling them and just keep them in a sealed container in the fridge.

How to Make Grilled Artichokes

  1. Steam the artichokes: In a large pot, bring 1 inch of salted water to a boil. Place the trimmed and prepped artichokes (see above) in the pot and cover the pot. Allow the water to return to a simmer and steam the artichokes for about 15 to 20 minutes until fairly tender — a sharp knife should slide fairly easily through the stem, but it should not be too soft. Remove the artichokes from the pot and gently squeeze out any excess water with tongs. Or, wait until they are cool enough to handle and squeeze out any excess water using your hands.
  2. Grill one side: Heat the grill to medium. Brush the artichokes with olive oil and lightly salt them. Place the artichokes cut side down on the grill. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes, until you have nice grill marks on the bottom sides. 
Artichokes and burgers cooking on grill
  1. Grill the other side: Flip the artichoke with tongs, and grill for another 3 to 4 minutes until there are grill marks on the other sides and a sharp knife easily slides into the artichokes.
Artichokes on hot grill grate
  1. Serve: Remove from the grill and place cut sides up on a serving platter. Serve the artichokes with the lemon sauce, if using.
Grilled artichokes piles on serving platter

Lemon Sauce

The creamy lemon sauce that accompanies these artichoke hearts is so easy to pull together. It’s optional, but it’s quick to make and really adds great flavor to this dish. 

The lemon sauce contains sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Some minced fresh herbs are also a nice addition — I love tarragon with this, but you can use oregano, marjoram, or thyme. Please try to use fresh lemon juice in this dip: you are zesting a lemon anyway!

You could also serve the grilled artichokes with a lemon butter sauce or even just some plain melted butter. 

Woman holding plate of grilled artichoke and creamy lemon sauce at picnic table.

How to Eat Grilled Artichokes

The very outermost leaves will be a bit browned from the grilling, and those might be a little less tender. Pull the leaves from the artichoke. Dip the bottom of each leaf in the sauce (if using). Place the bottom part between your teeth and use your teeth to scrape off the artichoke flesh from the bottom of each leaf. The smallest leaves in the very center may be tender enough to eat entirely, or at least more of those more delicate leaves will be edible. 

Dipping grilled artichoke leaf in creamy lemon sauce.

After you have removed and eaten the leaves, trim off any hard bits from the tender heart and the stem if it has become overly browned. Then eat the whole heart.

Woman peeling grilled artichoke to reveal heart.

Grilled Artichoke Dipping Sauces

If you want to trade the lemon sauce in for a different sauce, try one of these:

What to Serve With Grilled Artichokes

More Grilled Sides

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5 from 4 votes

Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Sauce

Smoky and tender, grilling is one of the best ways to prepare artichokes during the warmer months, especially with homemade lemon sauce.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 4 People
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Ingredients 

For the Lemon Sauce (optional)

For the Artichokes

  • 4 globe artichokes
  • 1 lemon (halved)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (approximately, for brushing)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)

To Serve (optional)

Instructions 

  • Make the Lemon Sauce, if using: In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, lemon juice, olive oil, tarragon, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use (the sauce can be made up to a day ahead of time).
  • Using a large sharp knife, cut the top 1/2 inch from the artichokes. Trim the bottom 1/2 inch from the stems. Use kitchen shears to snip the pointy tips of the leaves off. With a large sharp knife, carefully slice the artichokes in half lengthwise, through the heart and the stem. Use a spoon to scrape out the thistle-y choke (the prickly hairy part that sits on top of the heart). As soon as you finish preparing each artichoke, rub all of the exposed cut sides with one of the lemon halves, which will prevent browning.
  • In a large pot, bring 1 inch of salted water to a boil. Place the artichokes in the pot and cover the pot. Allow the water to return to a simmer and steam the artichokes for about 15 to 20 minutes until fairly tender — a sharp knife should slide fairly easily through the stem, but they should not be too soft. Remove the artichokes from the pot and gently squeeze out any excess water with tongs. Or wait until they are cool enough to handle and gently squeeze out any excess water using your hands.
  • Heat the grill to medium. Brush the artichokes with olive oil and lightly salt them. Place the artichokes cut side down on the grill. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes, until you have nice grill marks on the bottom sides. Flip the artichoke with tongs, and grill for another 3 to 4 minutes until there are grill marks on the other sides, and until a sharp knife slides easily slides into the artichokes. Remove from the grill, and place cut sides up on a serving platter
  • Serve the artichokes with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and the lemon wedges. Serve the lemon sauce on the side.

Notes

Artichokes are very dense, and it’s very hard to get larger artichokes to become tender when cooking them only on the grill over direct heat. The best way to get tender yet smoky artichokes is to steam them first until they are basically tender, then finish them on the grill. You get those lovely grill marks, and there will be that appealing smoky flavor from the live fire. However, the bottom of the leaves and the heart will be completely tender if you cook them first.

Nutrition

Calories: 222kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 0.02g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 627mg, Potassium: 548mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 107IU, Vitamin C: 33mg, Calcium: 80mg, Iron: 2mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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