Packed with lean protein, Italian herbs and seasonings, and ready when you are, these Slow Cooker Stuffed Artichokes are a satisfying twist on the traditional breadcrumb and cheese stuffed artichokes that are so rightfully popular in Italian cooking. Prepping them a day or two ahead of time means you can add them to the slow cooker in the morning and come home to a hot meal.
This post was created in partnership with Ocean Mist Farms.
Stuffed Artichokes: Surprisingly Easy + Delicious
There’s more than one way to make an artichoke. Actually, there are quite a few! Artichokes are surprisingly versatile and can be enjoyed steamed whole or their hearts can be added to salads, soups, pasta dishes, and antipasti plates.
Today’s approach is one of our personal favorites: STUFFED ARTICHOKES! They look fancy, but they’re easier than you think — and fun to serve as they form their own edible little bowls! We’re filling them with delicious homemade turkey sausage, mixed with bell peppers and onions and just the right amount of cheese before slow cooking them to perfection. They are nestled in the easiest homemade marinara sauce that can be spooned over the stuffed artichokes and your favorite cooked pasta before serving.
New to cooking artichokes? Don’t be intimidated!
We’re walking you through the whole process, step by step! Although it does take a little more time upfront to prepare the artichokes for stuffing, you can do most of the work ahead of time. We can’t wait for you to give this slow cooker stuffed artichokes recipe a try!
For today’s recipe, we are really excited to be partnering with Ocean Mist Farms again to share our love for artichokes and hearty, wholesome comfort foods. If you’re new to enjoying fresh artichokes, be sure to check out our How to Make Instant Pot Artichokes post. You’re going to love how easy they are to prepare at home.
Ocean Mist Farms, located in Castroville, CA, has been growing artichokes and other vegetables for nearly 100 years. They’re the largest grower of artichokes in the U.S. and the only grower in the country to provide artichokes year-round thanks to three strategically located growing regions with prime soil and micro-climates in Castroville, Oxnard, Coachella, and Baja.
But before we jump right into make these Slow Cooker Italian Stuffed Artichokes, let’s talk a little bit about the health benefits of artichokes because there are so many.
3 Healthy Reasons to Enjoy Artichokes
- They’re packed with nutrition! Artichokes are an excellent source of magnesium which can help improve sleep quality and duration and promote overall feelings of relaxation.
- They’re fiber-filled and especially rich in a prebiotic fiber that contributes positively to a healthy gut microbiota called ‘inulin’ which has been shown to decrease inflammation and autoimmune response while increasing insulin sensitivity.
- They contain the highest antioxidant count of all vegetables making them an anti-aging powerhouse.
- They’re delicious! Especially when stuffed with lean turkey, Italian seasonings, and cheese then slow-cooked in a homemade 3-ingredient marinara sauce.
Ingredients for this Stuffed Artichoke Recipe
- Artichokes – Choose fresh artichokes that have bright green, supple leaves. Avoid those with dry, brown, or withered leaves.
- Fresh lemons
- Ground turkey – We use 93% lean / 7% fat ground turkey but you can also use ground chicken or even lean ground beef with excellent results.
- Bell pepper
- Onion – We use yellow onions because they’re a great all-purpose onion for cooking and hold up well in slow cooker dishes like this one. Red or white onions (or even shallots) are a good substitute if that’s what you have on hand.
- Dried Italian seasoning
- Dried fennel seeds – While it may be tempting to skip these, we encourage you to add them if you can. Fennel is what makes sausage taste, well, like sausage. Lightly crushing the seeds in a mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife (more about how to do that in the recipe below) helps release their distinctive licorice-like flavor.
- Mozzarella – Buy part-skim mozzarella cheese shredded or shred your own. Omit for dairy-free and Whole30.
- Shredded or freshly grated parmesan cheese – Omit for dairy-free and Whole30.
- Crushed tomatoes – Look for those without added salt then add salt to suit your taste.
- Fresh basil – It’s optional for serving but fresh basil adds so much flavor and color to everything it touches.
- Sharp knife – The sharper the knife, the better. If you don’t have a sharp chef’s knife, a large serrated knife will also work.
- Scissors or kitchen shears – A good pair of heavy-duty kitchen shears is a must for every kitchen. We like these because they come apart for easy cleaning (and can double as a vegetable peeler).
How to Make Slow Cooker Stuffed Artichokes:
First, prepare the artichokes:
- Trim the bottom of each artichoke straight across using a sharp knife, leaving about ¼ inch of the stem intact. The artichokes should be able to stand on their own without tipping over in the slow cooker.
- Snip the sharp tips from the leaves using kitchen shears or clean scissors.
- Using a large knife, place the artichoke on its side on a cutting board and carefully cut the top 1 -1 ½ inch from the top to expose the inner leaves.
- Use your fingers to grasp the inner leaves and pluck a few at a time from the artichoke. Remove all of the small inner leaves leaving the tougher outer leaves intact to create a ‘bowl’ that you’ll stuff the meat and veggie filling into. Discard the leaves.
- Rub the inside and all of the cut surfaces of the artichoke with freshly cut lemon wedges to help prevent oxidation (which causes bitterness during cooking).
Then, prepare the filling:
- Prepare the filling according to the recipe below. While the filling cooks, add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
- Divide the filling among the artichokes, stuffing it into the center, and tucking it into the larger outer leaves if your artichokes are on the smaller side. Sprinkle the stuffed artichokes with parmesan cheese.
- Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until the leaves can be easily pulled from the artichoke and the filling is cooked through. Remove artichokes to a serving plate. Serve with marinara sauce and fresh basil and/or additional parmesan cheese if desired.
Are these Slow Cooker Italian Stuffed Artichokes healthy?
Absolutely. Stuffed with lean ground turkey, bell peppers, and onions and served with a no-fuss homemade marinara sauce makes this slow cooker stuffed artichoke recipe a healthy and satisfying addition to your regular meal rotation. They’re naturally gluten-free and grain-free, made without eggs or nuts, and can be made dairy-free by omitting the parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
Can stuffed artichokes be prepped ahead to save time later in the week?
They sure can be! Because the prep time is a little longer, prepping these slow cooker Italian stuffed artichokes ahead of time so you can just add them to the slow cooker when you’re short on time (hello, busy mornings!) means you can still enjoy them on busy weeknights.
Just prepare them up to the point where you add them to the slow cooker with the marinara sauce ingredients, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days before cooking. When it’s time to cook, simply combine the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in the bottom of the slow cooker then nestle the artichokes filling side up in the sauce, cover, cook, and come home to a delicious, healthy, home-cooked meal.
Can I substitute ground chicken or beef for the ground turkey?
Yes, you definitely can. Just substitute lean ground chicken or beef from the ground turkey in the recipe. While we haven’t tested the recipe with a plant-based ground meat alternative, it would probably work great if you’re looking for a meatless option (omit the cheese to make it entirely plant-based or vegan).
What size slow cooker will I need?
You’ll want to use a 6- or 8-quart slow cooker for the best results. The stuffed artichokes need to be able to fit into the slow cooker in a single layer. This is our go-to 6-quart programmable slow cooker but if you’re looking for a larger one with a few more bells and whistles, check out this 8-quart model.
How to serve Slow Cooker Stuffed Artichokes
Because the artichokes are already packed with lean protein, we recommend serving them with a side of roasted or steamed broccoli or green beans for a delicious, veggie-filled meal. A side of pasta is also nice! Spoon the marinara sauce from the slow cooker over the cooked artichokes just before serving and garnish with chopped fresh basil, if desired.
How to eat stuffed artichokes
We like to pull the outer leaves from the artichoke and dip them in the marinara sauce before using our teeth to scrape the fleshy portion from the base of each leaf (if you’re new to enjoying fresh, whole artichokes – see this post about how to prepare and enjoy artichokes). Then just dig right into the flavorful, meaty filling with a fork. When you get to the bottom, use a knife to slice the stuffed artichoke in half and use a spoon to scoop out the artichoke heart (the best part, in our opinion!).
How to store leftover stuffed artichokes
Store any leftover stuffed artichokes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
How to reheat stuffed artichokes
Microwave: Slice the stuffed artichoke in half using a large knife. Place the two halves of the artichoke and some of the sauce in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave on high power for 90 seconds. Touch the center of the stuffed artichoke with your finger. If it’s not hot, heat for an additional 30-90 seconds or until steaming and heated through.
Stovetop: Slice the stuffed artichoke in half using a large knife. Place the two halves of the artichoke and some of the sauce in a small saucepan or skillet with a lid. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the pan. Cover and heat over medium heat for 6-7 minutes. Touch the center of the stuffed artichoke with your finger. If it’s not hot, heat for an additional 2-3 minutes or until steaming and heated through.
Can I use pre-made sausage to cut down on prep time?
Pre-made chicken or turkey Italian sausage can save you a step by eliminating the need to add the spices when cooking the meat. Pork sausage can also be used but because it’s much higher in fat, you will need to pour off any excess fat before stuffing the artichokes. Bulk sausage works well in this stuffed artichokes recipe but if all you have are sausage links, just remove the casings and cook the sausage as you would if using bulk sausage or ground meat.
Do I need to remove the fuzzy choke before stuffing the artichokes?
You don’t HAVE to right away but your future self will thank you when it’s time to eat and enjoy the tender, flavorful artichoke heart at the base (because you’ll eventually have to remove it!). To get to the furry choke to remove it, use your fingers to pull the small leaves from the middle of the artichoke after cutting the top off. When you get to the fuzzy choke, use a spoon to scrape it out.
For the Filling:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil, divided
- 1 pound ground turkey or chicken (93% lean)
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds, lightly crushed (see Notes)
- ¾ teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- ½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
For the Artichokes and Marinara:
- 4 artichokes, stem end trimmed, sharp ends of leaves cut off
- 1 lemon, cut into quarters
- 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Optional for Serving: Cooked pasta, fresh chopped basil, and/or more parmesan cheese.
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add 1 teaspoon oil and swirl to coat. Add ground turkey, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, fennel seeds, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Using a spatula or large spoon, break the meat up into small pieces while stirring the spices into the meat.
- Cook 7-8 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Transfer the meat to a medium bowl and set aside.
- Return the skillet to the stove over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil along with the bell peppers and onion. Cook 5 minutes, until the vegetables just start to soften, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant, stirring continuously.
- Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the meat and allow them to cool 5 minutes before adding all of the mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup parmesan cheese. Use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix well.
- Prepare the artichokes: Trim the stems from the artichokes so that they sit flat and remove any loose or dry leaves from the base of the artichoke.
- Lay the artichoke on its side and with a large, sharp knife cut 1 – 1 ½ inch off of the top to reveal the smaller inner leaves. Use kitchen shears or scissors to snip off the sharp leaf tips.
- Spread the leaves apart so that you can reach into the center of the artichoke and pull out the small inner leaves and create a space for the filling.
- Using a spoon, scoop out the fuzzy choke and discard. Rub the cut surfaces of each artichoke with a lemon wedge to prevent oxidation and bitterness. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
- Stuff the center of each artichoke (and the first few rows of leaves nearest the center if your artichokes are on the smaller side) with the meat-vegetable filling. It’s okay if you can’t get it all in there, any extra filling can be added to the slow cooker later.
- To the bottom of a 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker, add crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Place the artichokes, filling side up, into the sauce in the slow cooker. Any remaining filling that didn’t fit into the artichokes can be stirred into the tomato mixture or simply mounded on top of each artichoke.
- Top each artichoke with remaining Parmesan cheese (1 tablespoon each). Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours or until a leaf pulls out easily.
- Serve stuffed artichokes with sauce and optional pasta and/or toppings if desired.
To crush the fennel seeds, use a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, move the flat side of a large chef’s knife blade over the fennel seeds, pressing down with your fingertips to crush the seeds lightly.
- Serving Size: 1 artichoke + ¼ of the sauce
- Calories: 355
- Sugar: 15 g
- Sodium: 722 mg
- Fat: 14 g
- Saturated Fat: 5 g
- Carbohydrates: 30 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 26 g
- Cholesterol: 65 mg
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This post was made possible by our friends at Ocean Mist Farms. Although we received compensation for this post, the opinions expressed here are – as always – 100% our own. Thank you for supporting the great companies we work with thereby allowing us to continue creating great recipes and content for you.
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Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Jess of Plays Well with Butter.