Fried Baby Artichokes

Fried Baby Artichokes

There would only be 2 good reasons why I would move back to California. Well…truthfully, there probably are 4,098 reasons why I LOVED living in California, but only 2 of those reasons are valid at 1:15 a.m. when I’m absolutely craving something munchy, something savory, something a little crisp, something that goes great with a nice, cold beer. Fried Baby Artichokes is one of those reasons. (I’ll write the other reason, Killer Cajun Shrimp, in another post)

In San Francisco, I would frequent a Spanish Tapas restaurant called Esperpento, where they had a dish called Alcachofas a la Plancha – which translates to “an artichoke dish that gives you midnight cravings that Godiva chocolate cannot even cure.”

Well, as of today, I now only have 1 good reason left to move back to California (sorry Mr. Arnold Schwarzen-gold-digger) because I’ve just re-created that dish even better than I remember it to taste!

Artichokes are in season now until end of May – the baby artichokes are so tender and sweet. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about the vicious choke stabbing at your throat – the baby artichoke is almost all edible. Just snap away the outer leaves until you reach the light, pale colored leaves. The choke is actually very soft and fuzzy – totally edible.

Ok, a correction– according to the bible, McGee’s On Food and Cooking, the little artichokes are not babies at all. They are fully grown adult artichokes that are grown close to the ground and not on the main stalk. Therefore, they grow slowwwwlllllyy and their chokes do not develop. But what the heck, I like the sound of “Baby Artichokes” much better than “Malnourished Under-Achieving Chokes.”

I pan fry them in olive oil and garlic until the leaves are charred little wisps that gave a nice, satisfying crunch. Please try these while your supermarket or farmer’s market has them fresh!

How to clean and prepare baby artichokes:

Have your bowl with lemon/water ready. Snap off the outer layers of the leaves until you get to smooth, light pale green leaves.

Baby Artichokes

With sharp paring knife again, peel the dark green layer off the stem. Also cut off the top 1″ of the artichoke.

Cut Baby Artichokes

Now, with top of the artichoke facing down against the cutting board, cut the artichoke into thin 1/4″ slices. Place slices in lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

Baby Artichokes


Fried Baby Artichokes

Servings: 4 Prep Time: Cook Time:

The artichokes should be no larger than 3" wide. Any bigger than that I wouldn't consider them babies - I'd probably call them big mamma runts with pokey chokey chokes.

Important Note - if you don't cook the artichokes long enough, they will taste bitter. So make sure that you only have 1 layer of artichokes in the pan at a time. Make sure that you cook them through. The best way to judge? Snag a piece and taste! They should be tender at the heart, and charred-crisp at the edge.


18 baby artichokes, see above for how to prep them
1 lemon, halved & squeezed into a large glass bowl with water
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil to fry
kosher salt & pepper
a nice squeezin' of a lemon half to finish off the dish


In a large skillet, put enough olive oil to at least cover the bottom of the pan. Let the olive oil heat up over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add only enough artichoke slices to make 1 layer in the pan (you may have to do this in a couple of batches). You don't want to overcrowd the pan, otherwise the artichokes will steam, not fry.

Fry the artichokes until the edges are a little charred and crispy, about 5 minutes, flipping over once. Repeat with remaining.

Top with a sprinkling of kosher salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

Here are other great dishes to go with your Fried Baby Artichokes:

Tropical Island Salmon

Baby Back Ribs with Asian Orange-Ginger Glaze

The Best Roast Chicken

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Comments 33

  1. cindy

    hi jaden, i found you on matt’s site. your baby ‘choke recipe looks completely different from mine, but totally delicious too! mine is a battered and fried version. (ah, sooo healthy! hee, hee!) i’ll be visiting again, your recipes sound great!

  2. Susan


    I just bought baby artichokes a few days ago after years of missing them in the markets. I lost the recipe an equal number of years ago and am happy to have found yours. In fact, I’m getting my knife out now to prepare it as a side to a non-traditional Easter shrimp entree. Thanks for posting this. The timing was just right. It looks scrumptious.

  3. Susan

    It WAS scrumptious. I forgot how easy the tender babies are to prepare. I was also impressed that no matter how dark the garlic got, it wasn’t bitter. I fried up some lightly crumbed wild gulf shrimp in the leftover garlicky oil. I hardly have room for cheesecake. Have to have SOME tradition. : )

  4. Jaden

    Hi Susan,

    Thanks for trying the recipe! I’m glad you enjoyed it for Easter supper. I’m thinking maybe next time I’ll fry it with some Pancetta to give the dish a nice smoky flavor.

  5. Andre


    Saw this posted on slashfood. I’d like to try this recipe with the addition of some Serrano ham to give it a spanish twist. Any advice?


    – Andre

  6. Jaden

    Hi Andre-
    oooohhh….Serrrano ham! Have your deli slice paper thin. Then when you get home, slice the ham further into thin strips. Separate the strips apart and fry the ham and the artichoke together. You’ll get beautiful, crispy Serrano “chips” and their smoky flavors with the fried baby artichokes.

  7. floretbroccoli

    A local restaurant used to serve a similar dish. The oil was flavored with coriander before the frying. And at the end, they shaved a little parmesan over the artichokes. The whole thing was finished with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. Delicious.

  8. Grant

    Wow, those look fantastic. I would probably dash in a bit
    of hot chili oil. (But I put tabasco in my cereal.)
    Great site- great recipe!

  9. Jaden

    Grant- red pepper flakes would be great in the dish too!

    Floret- that sounds so good I might have to try it like that.

  10. Mary

    Hi Jaden,
    What a coincidence! My huband and I ate at Esperpento yesterday for the first time and know it certainly won’t be the last!
    We did not have the fried artichokes, (had the potatoes with the fabulous garlic mayonaisse) but will the next time we go, but until then I will attempt to make these from your recipe.
    Trader Joe’s has baby artichokes right now, so I’ll have to give them a try.
    Thanks for your recipe,
    Mary in Daly City

  11. SteamyKitchen

    Hey Mary,
    I love so many things on their menu. Try the huge grilled shrimp next time. I think they were head-on grilled shrimp called Gambas a la Plancha. Another favorite is Grilled Quail. I’m hungry now….


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  13. kellie

    I made these last night! Delicious! I had bought alot more than required, so I got impatient after the first batch and threw them all in the pan at once. They still managed to crisp up nicely and were very tasty.

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  19. Kicksotic

    Can these Malnourished Under-Achieving Chokes — sorry, I meant baby artichokes — be made ahead of time and kept warm in a low oven? And then spritz with the lemon and cheese and whatnot before serving?

    Just curious …

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  21. Gail

    I just purchased a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen artichokes. Can they be cooked frozen or should I thaw them first? They look perfect for this recipe.

    1. SteamyKitchen

      Hi Gail – I’ve never used frozen Artichokes, not sure it would work well in this recipe as they would be too wet and soft when defrosted. Cooking frozen would release moisture as well.

  22. Mary

    My neighbor gave me some baby artichokes and I immediately began a search for a recipe for Spanish-style fried ones. Imagine my excitement when I found your recipe duplicating one of Esperpento’s best dishes! That is EXACTLY what I had in mind. Can’t wait to try this! Thank you,
    I think a trip to the City is needed soon so I can compare my results. πŸ˜‰

  23. Bianca di Bari

    These are fabulous! Instead of salt, I sprinkled parmesan cheese over them. Yum! I used them as a side dish with crab legs and the sweet, garlic lemon flavor the artichokes leave on the palette was perfect with the shellfish. Thanks!

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