Crispy fried artichoke hearts are a wonderful vegan appetizer for a romantic evening for two or as a starter to a dinner party. Serve them with garlic and lemon aioli for dunking.
For many people, Valentine’s Day is all about sweets. There are chalky heart-shaped candies that say Be Mine, and heart-shaped boxes filled with delicate chocolate truffles.
While I have nothing against sweets, the way to my heart is through finger foods. Canapés, crostini, and vegan charcuterie boards spell romance to me.
After all, finger foods are inherently romantic. They don’t require fussy cutlery. It’s all hands-on and tactile.
Still, you don’t have to give up on hearts altogether.
These fried artichoke hearts would be a wonderful starter for your Valentine’s Day gathering – whether it’s an intimate dinner or a Galentine’s Day party with your pals.
David and I had a head start on Valentine’s Day this past weekend when I made these vegan fried artichokes in the air fryer.
They are battered and then dipped in panko bread crumbs that have been spiced with basil, oregano, and paprika. The batter gets wonderfully crisp. And it really grabs a hold of the artichokes.
I served them with garlic and lemon aioli for a dipping sauce.
My love affair with artichokes has been going on for decades. It borders on obsession. I love them in spinach artichoke dip, added to pesto, as the final touch to artichoke crostini, or thrown into hummus.
But David tends to be indifferent about them. The inherent brininess of jarred artichoke hearts doesn’t speak to him in the same way that it does me.
That changed with these vegan fried artichokes, though. He said it’s easily his favorite way of eating them.
The crisp, flavorful coating balances the briny interior. The flavor of the artichoke hearts pops against the savory breading. He likened it to jalapeño poppers, except with artichoke hearts as the filling.
Use water-packed artichoke hearts
For this recipe, it’s best to use artichoke hearts that come from a water-packed jar.
I often enjoy oil-packed artichoke hearts in recipes, but they wouldn’t work particularly well here because the oil would keep the batter from sticking.
Make sure to dry the water-packed artichoke hearts thoroughly before breading.
They are made with just a spritz of oil. But they can be made oil-free if you prefer.
Make the aioli ahead of time
While the lemon garlic aioli can be eaten right away, it’s better once the flavors have melded. The garlic mellows and incorporates with the eggless mayonnaise.
So if you have time, plan on making the aioli the day before you’re serving the fried artichoke hearts.
Pro tip: The aioli is also terrific with fried olives.
Do they reheat well?
Yes! The fried artichokes reheat beautifully in the air fryer. So if you want to make a bunch before a party, you can just reheat them once guests arrive. That makes for some very low stress entertaining!
Air fry the refrigerated leftovers at 360 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes.
Fried artichoke hearts in the air fryer + vegan aioli
For air fried artichoke hearts
- 14 artichoke hearts from water-packed jar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 6 Tablespoons water + 2 more Tablespoons if needed
- 6 Tablespoons panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- Spritz organic canola oil optional
For vegan lemon garlic aioli
- 3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon granulated onion
- Pinch salt
- Remove artichoke hearts from water-packed jar and give each one a gentle squeeze to remove excess liquid. Lay the artichoke hearts on a clean towel to gently dry them.
- Now it's time to make a breading station for the artichoke hearts. In a cereal or soup bowl, use a fork or whisk to combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, and 6 Tablespoons of water. After the batter is mixed, slowly add 1 or 2 more Tablespoons of water, as needed. You want the batter to have the consistency of pancake batter.
- Then on a dinner plate, combine panko bread crumbs, dried basil, dried oregano, paprika, granulated garlic, and a pinch of salt.
- One at a time, dip each artichoke heart into the batter and fully coat it. Tap off any excess batter. Then dredge it in the panko bread crumb mixture until it's covered. Put the artichoke heart into air fryer basket. Continue breading each one until they are finished. Lightly spritz the breaded artichoke hearts with oil (optional).
- Air fry at 360 degrees for 8 minutes, stopping once to flip the artichoke hearts. Remove from air fryer and serve with vegan aioli.
To make vegan aioli
- Combine vegan mayonnaise, minced garlic, lemon juice, granulated onion, and pinch of salt in a blender. You may need to stop once or twice to scrape down the sides until it's fully incorporated. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt, if needed. (If you don't have a blender, the lemon garlic aioli can be made in a small bowl. Just a spoon or fork to mix it. However, it is lighter and airier in the blender, and the garlic is more broken down and blended throughout.)
- The aioli can be eaten right away, but it tastes best after the flavors have melded. If you have the time, move the aioli to a covered container and refrigerate for a day.