12 Best Ways To Use Canned Artichokes

Frequently cited as a "least favorite" vegetable alongside such other under-appreciated peers as turnips, beets, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts, artichokes are an underdog at many dinner tables. They are undoubtedly an acquired taste; they can also be a surprisingly versatile one, excelling as an add-on to favorites like pizza, dip, and sandwiches. 

Indeed, loving artichokes can be more about playing to their strengths than it is uncovering some magical trick to make them "taste better." They have a unique flavor profile, and if embraced, can do some heavy lifting in the correct context.

While (as with most vegetables) buying fresh is preferred, canned artichokes can be a godsend for any cook short on time and looking to add some class to an otherwise basic dish. If you've got a few cans of in the cupboard and wondering what the heck you're going to do with them, it's time to experiment. It might take a little trial and error — but all the best things do — so pull out that can opener and let's get cooking.

Toss them on the grill

While the benefits of grilling meat are well-known (and discussed at just about any backyard cookout), almost any vegetable from carrots to corn on the cob can also get a serious flavor boost with a little time over an open flame. Accordingly, the first recommendation for artichokes is to simply toss them on the grill. 

Whether you're working with fresh, jarred or canned, it will result in a delicious treat; for canned, you simply have to do a little arranging, to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. If you're worried about losing a few (or don't feel like dutifully turning little artichokes over with tongs), place them on a skewer.

The results go well either as a solo side or paired with any number of other grilled veggies. You can simply eat them straight off the stick, or mix them into a salad. Either way, letting the fire do your work for you is one of the most straightforward ways to enjoy artichokes. Add a little olive oil, lemon juice, or salt and pepper before you dig in; it will only make them taste that much better.

Turn them into a dip

Perhaps one of the most subtle ways to sell your family and friends on the magic of artichokes is by introducing them via a delicious dip, alongside their favorite chips. Co-habitating with some cheese and a creamy base, artichokes (and the similarly-maligned spinach) can shine. While the preparation process is perhaps a bit more involved than simply skewering and grilling, you can pull out your slow cooker and stand back while it does most of the work. Just be sure to give your concoction a nice stir every now and again, to prevent coagulation.

If you have a larger slow cooker, you can save time by simply putting your ingredients (comprised mostly of cheese, red wine vinegar, and the titular veggies) right into the bowl. After 2-3 hours, you'll have a tasty, filling appetizer that will vanish right off the table without most people even realizing they just consumed two incredibly nutritious vegetables. You can use low-fat ingredients to make the dish a bit healthier, non-dairy cheeses to make it vegan, or swap in low-sodium tortilla chips. Whatever the form, spinach artichoke dip is always a winning choice.

They're great for pizza

The global domination of pizza as a favorite food is fairly undisputed, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. Still, you can only eat so many frozen cheese pizzas in your life before you start looking around for other options to try at home. While there are so many "typical" toppings to mess around with, consider going beyond the typical pepperonis and green peppers.

Pizza and artichokes are truly a match made in culinary heaven. If you don't want to go the single topping route, that's all the better, because adding some fresh basil to the mix will only improve the flavor profile. These days, many major pizza chains tend to offer "Mediterranean style" pizzas, pairing artichokes with items like black olives and spinach. That's a great jumping-off point, but honestly, whatever your individual approach happens to be, you can't go wrong with artichokes on pizza.

Try deep fried artichokes

Okay, you've been introduced to the classics; now it's time to start getting inventive. Artichokes might not have been your go-to vegetable for deep-frying, but today might be the day that changes. By using much the same method as you might for breaded hot wings, you can create an appetizer that combines the familiar crunchiness of onion rings or chicken tenders with the distinctive taste of artichokes. Quarter the artichokes and use bread crumbs, garlic, and chili powder to create a crispy crust, and this could quickly become a new favorite snack.

As with any spicy wings, artichokes will benefit greatly from a side serving of a cooling dip like ranch or bleu cheese dressing; sweeter choices could include honey mustard or honey BBQ sauce. Likewise, serving alongside celery, cucumber, or carrots sticks will counterbalance the spice and ensure you're getting a good mix of fresh and fried vegetables. If no fresh veggies are available, pickled veggies like asparagus or cauliflower can also make great add-ons to serve on the side. Toss these fried treats into a basket alongside other appetizers for a sampler platter, then watch them disappear.

Pair them with complementary spices

As with so many foods, the final taste of artichokes has a lot to do with how you season them, or what oils you serve them with. When it comes to artichokes, they tend to absorb flavor fairly well, making them receptive to a number of inventive spice pairings. 

For instance, eating them with olive oil is a given, but have you considered soaking them in sunflower or avocado oil? When it comes to sauces, have you thought about adding a bit of lemon aioli, honey Dijon mustard, or melted-down butter or margarine? These are all quick shortcuts that can take artichokes to a new level.

Perhaps most importantly, which oils or sauces you use will help you decide what spices to add to the plate. Basil in particular compliments this vegetable; other potential favorites include chives, rosemary, parsley, sage, and thyme, all of which work great with artichokes in either fresh or dried form. The great thing about spices is the flavor combinations are endless; if one doesn't work, there's always more to try.

Caramelized artichokes are a treat

Caramelization isn't just a neat kitchen trick, it's a scientific process that brings out the sweetness of the vegetable, thereby deepening its complexity. This is why caramelized onions have become such a key ingredient in kitchens. 

Caramelization can work wonders for veggies like sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, and even artichokes. According to Jamie Preuss of the site So Happy You Liked It, caramelization for your veggie of choice necessitates using a non-stick or cast iron pan, combining both oil and butter, starting high and reducing heat with time, and then stirring consistently until the magic happens.

While it's true that caramelization is a skill that takes time and finesse to pull off, it's worth the effort. There are a number of ways you can employ caramelization when cooking artichokes, including serving them on their own with an olive oil or balsamic dipping sauce, or adding them to pasta dishes. Even if you forego caramelizing the artichokes themselves, they can be paired with caramelized onions to great effect, making a stellar combination that spruces up everything from croquettes to quiches.

Pair them with more mild-tasting foods in a salad

As with any hyper-versatile food staple like pizzas or sandwiches, salads are a wonderful stage on which the canned artichoke can shine. Opting for a mix of sprouts, tofu, avocado, and artichokes over a bed of mixed greens with a little olive oil and balsamic on top is a pretty fail-proof side, but that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to salad combinations. For instance, you could always opt to forego the lettuce route entirely and opt for the Veggie Antipasti Italian Pasta Salad, which blends artichokes with noted besties like basil and cherry tomato for a top-notch pasta dish that works equally well as a side or main course.

Of course, there are plenty of other approaches you can take here, including adding your artichokes to a caprese-style spinach, tomato, basil, and mozzarella blend, or you might instead try a Tuscan blend that pulls in ingredients like chickpeas, roasted peppers, and red onions. Salads are a great avenue through which to allow your creativity to flow, so feel free to experiment. Vinaigrettes like red wine and balsamic pair exceptionally well with artichokes, and other possible complimentary add-ons include sunflower seeds, shredded carrots, or lemon juice.

Put them on a sandwich

Even if you're a long-time fan of artichokes, they have a lot of history behind them that might come as a surprise. 

Their popularity in ancient Rome led to them appearing in classical mythology in the story of Cynar, who was cursed to become an artichoke after an affair with the king of Gods (and noted bad boyfriend), Zeus. The journey from there to your kitchen cupboard is a pretty wild one, winding through rise and falls in popularity during the Renaissance period and even Revolutionary War-era America. It's a fun thing to contemplate, perhaps while snacking on a delicious artichoke sandwich.

Grilled artichokes served on toasted bread with melted cheese is a great way to make artichokes not only yummy and filling but also portable and relatively quick. Popping them in the oven a few minutes will add some crunch, and adding a dressing like aioli or olive oil over the top might be all you need for a fantastic lunch. However, if you're serving them with dinner, consider going the extra mile and adding other veggies like fried zucchini, fresh basil, or tomatoes to the mix. Serve with simple side dishes like lemon herb couscous, steamed asparagus, or roasted potatoes for a complete meal that takes little time or patience to perfect.

Pull out the air fryer

One of the more straightforward ways to cook your artichokes is by letting the air fryer do all the work. Just remember to preheat the fryer, add oil to keep the vegetables cooking nicely, and occasionally give the basket a shake to keep things heating evenly. Other than that, the job is done.

It's a delightfully basic, tasty way to put your artichokes together. Be mindful of the seasoning and sauces you serve them with, and everyone will be pleased with the results.

Fortunately, the ease of use for which air fryers are known applies to the possible add-ons for this method of artichoke preparation. Common refrigerator staples like sour cream and parmesan cheese go great with air fried artichokes, and spices that most kitchens have on-hand — such as Italian seasoning, garlic, and salt and pepper — go a long way when it comes to adding an extra kick. The artichokes can be served as a healthy snack or the side to a larger meal, making it a no-brainer addition to your recipe rotation.

Try them marinated

Another way to prepare artichokes is to not prepare them at all; instead, allow others to do it for you by picking up Aldi's Tuscan Garden quartered marinated artichoke hearts. 

Aldi's also has a plain option available, but the marinated artichokes save a lot of time by already containing the oils and spices, cutting the recipe-following and guess-work out of the process. Not only can these easily be added to a seemingly endless list of dishes (including any number of pastas and salads), they also taste great when eaten right out of the jar.  

If these aren't the artichokes you happen to have sitting in your cabinet at any given moment, don't worry, you can reproduce a fairly reasonable facsimile without much extra effort. In the end, they make a great addition to any charcuterie board, offering a counterpart for the saltier, fattier meats and cheeses, as well as a textural opposite for any fresh veggies. If opting to add the marinated artichokes to a pasta dish or salad, keep the other ingredients relatively sparse to allow the taste of these perfectly seasoned treats to shine. You might also consider adding them to frittatas or pizzas.

Consider mashing them with potatoes

Mashed potatoes are universally recognized as an ideal companion for savory meals like roasted turkey or meatloaf, and the sky is the limit when it comes to innovations on this dinnertime classic. Since so many of us grew up with specific ideas about how mashed potatoes should be served, it might be hard to imagine changing them up. But if you're in the mood to experiment, add some canned asparagus into the equation; it's the best flavor boost your mom never thought to try.

It couldn't be easier; just toss some artichokes into a food processor while you're boiling the potatoes. You might want to start experimenting with a small amount, but don't worry — they usually aren't strong enough to overpower the potatoes. Rather, there is a sense of harmony that can be found within a pairing of the at-surface bland potato and the atypical artichoke, particularly when aided by a little bit of butter, garlic, sea salt, or grated cheese sprinkled on top.

You can just eat them raw

The easiest artichoke option of them all, of course, is simply eating them straight from the jar. If you're buying canned from the supermarket, you'll want to be sure to give them a good rinse to remove excess sodium; otherwise, it's easy to eat them straight. Adding spices and oils to your artichokes will infuse them with a bit of zest, but even when forced to stand on their own merits, canned artichokes are pretty great.

The sweet but slightly nutty flavor, counterbalanced by an intrinsic bitterness common among the vegetables of the thistle family, makes for a taste you can't forget. If you're trying artichokes for the first time, this might not be the best method to win you over, but if you're already a believer, they're hard to beat.