Fried Artichoke Hearts Recipe (Carciofi Fritti)

After Holiday season there’s one thing we particularly look forward to eating and that’s fried artichoke hearts (carciofi fritti). Everyone in Italy seems to be making artichokes on social right now. And well, it’s because artichokes are literally everywhere.

Artichoke Season in the Northern Hemisphere

Artichoke season in the northern hemisphere is from February to May. In Calabria, there is a fruttivendolo who drives by the house at least 4x a week and the only thing he sells from early February to late April is artichokes. It’s currently our favorite truck and he gets flagged down every 3 houses or so.

Artichokes in Calabria

In Calabria, the artichokes are usually between 3″ – 5″ wide on all sides. Some can be more narrow and long ad others more wide depending on the variety. The wide ones are best for stuffing. They’re all fabulous for roasting and frying. Our particular favorite is carciofi fritti (fried artichoke hearts) because in Calabria everything is better fried!

Fried Artichoke Hearts: A Difficult Recipe to Capture

This recipe for carciofi fritti belongs to Lina and took 1.5 months to write because it’s very challenging to slide a scale under the bowl and collect correct measurements when watching her cook. When I asked her how much flour she uses the first time I watched her make this she responded ‘7 big spoonfuls’ (LOL). The rest of the instructions were ‘until it looks good’ or ‘until the batter covers the artichoke’. Perfect units of measurements for someone who has been cooking the same dish for 40 years. Not ideal for new cooks who might end up with pancakes instead of crispy fried artichoke hearts.

Boil the Artichoke Hearts First

This recipe requires the boiling of the artichokes before frying. This is to ensure they are cooked through. Don’t skip this step unless you’ve made this before and want the artichokes to be much harder throughout. After each chop rub the end with lemon or the artichoke will change color to a dark brown. Be sure to place freshly trimmed artichokes in lemon water and properly salt boiling water for optimal results!

The Key to Crispy Fried Artichoke Hearts

Lina says the key to beautiful carciofi fritti is making sure the batter is thick enough to coat the artichokes. The batter should be about the consistency of very thick pancake batter and really stick to the artichoke. She uses a method where she cups the artichoke with a spoon, then adds more batter on top before adding it to the fryer. Lina delicately drops the artichoke into the oil without allowing the spoon to touch the oil and make a mess.

Frying Oils

We almost exclusively fry with extra virgin olive oil, however, it’s not required for this recipe. Use your preferred frying and/or cooking oil.

Depending on the type of pot/pan you’re using and the temperature of your oil the artichoke may cook more/less quickly. The artichoke should be lightly brown on each side and have cooked for at least 2 mins in order to esure the consistency inside is nice. If they’re cooking faster than that turn down the heat slightly.

Frying with Olive Oil

If frying with olive oil be mindful of the heat. Olive oil cannot be on high heat when frying or it will smoke. Medium or medium-high is usually the best setting. Adjust accordingly. Practice makes perfect!

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