Edible flowers are a beautiful and delicious way to add color and flavor to your meals. These versatile flowers can be used in various ways, from garnishing salads to infusing syrups. Not only do they make dishes look more beautiful, but they also have health benefits and can be a unique way to add nutritional value to your meals.
This article will explore the different types of edible flowers and ways to use them in your daily cooking.
Edible Flowers To Take Your Cooking To The Next Level
***Please note not all parts of all flowers are edible, and not every flower is edible. It is always best to consult a professional or conduct proper research before consuming wild plants. Also, ensuring that the flowers you plan to consume are not treated with pesticides or other chemicals before eating is vital. The safest way to eat flowers is to grow and harvest them from your own garden***
Here is our list of popular edible flowers anyone can grow:
Anise Hyssop: Tastes bitter With a Hint of Mint.
Hyssop has a strong, slightly bitter flavor with a hint of mint and licorice and is often used to add depth and complexity to savory dishes and drinks.
Use fresh or dried petals of hyssop to season meat and poultry dishes and make marinades and sauces. The herb is also commonly used to flavor liqueurs, such as Chartreuse, and you can use it to make a flavorful herbal tea.
When using hyssop in cooking, it’s important to use it sparingly, as the flavor can become overpowering if used in large quantities. Also, it pairs well with other herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, and sage.
Bee Balm: Tastes Minty and Spicy
Bee balm, also known as Monarda or wild bergamot, are brightly colored flowers that You can use in many different recipes.
The flowers and leaves of bee balm have a unique, minty, and slightly spicy flavor and are often used to add flavor and color to dishes. You can also use bee balm flowers to make tea.
When using bee balm in cooking, the flowers and leaves can be fresh or dried. They can make simple minty syrups with a kick, flavorful jams, jellies, and dessert recipes.
Bee balm also makes a beautiful garnish.
Begonia: Taste Like Sour Citrus
Begonia flowers add texture and bright contrasting color to dark green salads and garnishes for desserts like cakes or ice cream.
The leaves and stems of tuberous begonias are also edible, and the stems make an excellent rhubarb substitute.
Add begonia blooms frozen in ice cubes to make drinks look more attractive.
Note: Both wax and tuberous begonias have edible flowers, but tuberous begonias contain oxalic acid and should be avoided by anyone suffering from kidney stones, gout, or rheumatism.
- Learn More: See our guide on growing begonias. We also have a guide about the many types of begonias and how to grow, plant, and care for each one.
Borage: Tastes like Cucumber
Borage has a light cucumber taste and is often used to add flavor and color to salads, stews, and soups. Blue, star-shaped flowers are also commonly used in summer drinks. They can also be candied to garnish ice cream or other desserts.
Borage leaves are also edible and can be used in salads and sandwiches or cooked like spinach. They have a slightly hairy texture and a mild cucumber-like flavor.
When using borage in culinary applications, it’s best to add the flowers near the end of the cooking process, as they can lose their color and flavor if cooked for too long.
Chervil: Tastes Like Mild Licorice
Delicate tiny white flowers top the lacy leaves of this shade-loving herb. The leaves and the flowers have very mild anise or licorice-like taste.
Chervil blends well with parsley, tarragon, and chives. You can use the flowers in poultry and egg dishes and salads. You can also add flowers to make a mildly flavored herb butter.
Add chervil to your recipes just before serving to maintain the flavor.
Chamomile: Sweet flavor With Notes of Green Apple
Chamomile is an edible flower that is commonly known for its use as a relaxing herbal tea. The entire flower is edible, including the petals and the yellow centers, and the blooms can be lightly torn and tossed into green salads or used as an edible garnish for roasted meats. Both Roman and German chamomile make wonderful additions to tea gardens.
The flowers have a delicate, sweet, and slightly apple-like flavor.
- Learn More: Want to know more about growing plants for tea? Check out our guide to creating your own tea garden. Or, for more information on chamomile, read our article on growing chamomile for tea.
***Note: If you are allergic to ragweed, be careful consuming chamomile ***
Cornflower: Tastes Slightly Spicy
The pretty, blue flowers of cornflower have a slightly spicy, clove-like flavor with a hint of sweetness.
Bright blue cornflower petals look lovely as a garnish for dark green salads. You can also use whole flowers in fancy drinks as a garnish or frozen in ice cubes.
You can also use cornflower fresh for garnishes on desserts like cakes.
White Clover: Tastes Like Mild Grass & Green Beans
White Clover is an edible flower with a mild, grassy flavor. The flowers, leaves, and stems of clover are all edible and can be used in various ways.
Eat the leaves raw or cooked as a spinach substitute.
Clover blossoms make excellent teas and jellies and can be a honey substitute when cooked in sugar and water.
Dandelion: Tastes Bitter
Dandelions are an edible flower workhorse! The roots, flowers, leaves, and stems are all edible, and each part has a different flavor and texture!
The leaves: The leaves of dandelions have a spicy kick with a bitter aftertaste similar to arugula. The leaves can be added to salads raw for a kick or cooked before adding them to reduce bitterness. To remove some of the bitterness of dandelion leaves, soak them in cold, salted water for 10-15 minutes, then cook them in boiling water until they become tender.
The Flowers: The yellow flowers of dandelions can be used fresh in salads, tea, or even wine. They can also be infused into oil or vinegar.
The Roots: The roots of dandelions can be roasted and used in a drink that resembles coffee. You can also find dandelion-based coffee substitutes at health food stores.
The Stems: The stems of dandelions are very bitter, so it’s best to avoid eating them raw.
Geraniums (scented): Tastes Include Lemon, Rose, and Mint
Scented geraniums are edible flowers with flavors like lemon, rose, and mint.
Their leaves make gently flavored and scented herbal teas, syrups, jams, fragrant oils, and potpourris.
When using scented geraniums in cooking, use the petals sparingly. A few petals are more than enough as they are intensely flavored and bitter.
Hibiscus Flowers: Taste Like Tart Cranberries
You can use hibiscus flowers in the kitchen in so many unique ways!
The flowers have a unique, tart, and slightly sweet cranberry-like flavor. The flowers make a bright red tea known as “hibiscus tea,” incredibly refreshing and delicious.
Hibiscus flowers can also top desserts, salads, and drinks like iced tea to add color and interest.
Nasturtium: Taste Peppery
Get ready to spice up your meals with nasturtiums! Every part of the nasturtium plant is edible from the flowers to the stems leaves and seed pods.
From salads to soups to desserts, the warm-colored flowers make the perfect spicy, peppery garnish. And if you’re looking for a caper substitute, pickled nasturtium seed pods are the way to go!
Learn More about Nasturtiums:
- How to Grow Nasturtium from Seed to Flower
- The Best Nasturtium Companion Plants For Your Gardens
- 6 Helpful Flowers For The Vegetable Garden – Easy to Grow
Lavender: Tastes Like Sweet Floral
Another edible flower you can use in the kitchen is lavender! Lavender flowers add a sweet floral flavor to sweet and savory dishes! Use lavender buds to infuse flavor into vegetable and nut oils, sweet syrups, and tart kinds of vinegar. Or add a few purple flower buds to desserts, such as cakes, cookies, or ice cream. You can even make a delicious herbal tea or pop a few flowers in a summer salad to add whimsy.
Remember, a little goes a long way with lavender, as the flavor can be quite intense, so use it sparingly in your recipes for the best results.
Learn More About Lavender:
- The Best Lavender Companion Plants For Your Garden
- How To Grow Lavender In Pots Successfully!
- What To Do With Dried Lavender This Harvest Season
Pansy Flower Petals: Taste Sweet and Fruity
Pansy flowers, leaves, and stems are all edible and have a slightly sweet, fruity flavor. The flowers are often used as a garnish for soups and fruit salads, desserts like cookies, and topping for cakes.
You can also use pansies to make colorful ice cubes that look lovely in a summer drink.
Pansys make wonderful additions to sweet or savory spreads like cream cheese or butter.
Pansies can also be made into candied flowers and look beautiful on chocolate cakes and desserts.
Learn More: See our complete guide on growing and caring for pansies.
Primroses: Taste Sweet & Bitter
Primroses have a mildly sweet and bitter taste and are often used to add flavor and color to dishes. Flowers are also commonly used to make tea.
Primrose flowers can be eaten raw in vegetable or fruit salads. You can also use the flowers in conserves, custards, mousses, tarts, or other desserts and confections.
The leaves make an excellent substitute for salad greens.
Primrose can also be used as a garnish, adding a lovely touch to desserts like cakes and cookies.
Roses: Taste Floral with a Hint of Green Apples and Strawberries
Roses have delicate, surprisingly sweet petals and are often used to add a mild floral flavor to recipes. They have a flavor reminiscent of tart green apples and berries. Darker varieties have a more prominent taste than lighter ones, but almost all roses are edible.
The petals of the roses are edible and make incredible rose petal jams, syrups, candied rose petals, and rose petal tea.
Also, remove the white base of the petals, as it can be pretty bitter. The petals can be used fresh or dried.
- Learn More: Take our best tip for drying rose petals in under two minutes!
- How to Plant Drift Roses – Planting, Care, and Pruning
- How to Keep Cut Roses Fresh in Water As Long As Possible
- Top Ten Rose Companion Plants
Calendula: Tastes Bitter and Tangy
Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is an edible flower with a slightly bitter and tangy flavor.
The petals of calendula are the most commonly used part of the plant. The intensely bright yellow flowers can be added to leafy green salads, or use the petals to make a flavorful tea. Candied calendula petals make excellent garnishes for desserts.
Use the acidic petals sparingly in your dishes, as they can quickly overpower a dish.
Chrysanthemum: Tastes Slightly Tangy and Bitter
Chrysanthemum is an edible flower with a slightly bitter and tangy flavor with a hint of sweetness.
The chrysanthemum flowers make a stringent-tasting tea.
The leaves of Chrysanthemum are the most commonly used part of the plant and are often used in Chinese and other Asian cuisines, such as soups, salads, and stir-fries.
Lilac: Taste Sweet
Lilacs are also edible flowers that have a delicate, sweet taste.
You can add lilac flower petals to salads or use them to make sweet floral-flavored jelly or syrup. We make lilac syrup every year, and it is fantastic in drinks.
The tiny flowers can also be crystalized with sugar to use as garnishes for desserts like ice cream. You can also use the flower petals to infuse the flavor with liquids like water, oil, and vinegar or infuse the sugar with the flowers to make lilac sugar. Finally, you can add lilac flowers to sweet spreads like butter or cream cheese.
You can also make lilac wine and tea with the blossoms.
Lilacs pair well with lemon, so add a few blossoms to your lemon shortbread cookies.
Marigolds: Tastes Bitter and Tangy + Various Flavors
Marigolds come in various types, such as French marigolds, African marigolds, Mexican mint marigolds, and lemon marigolds. Each type has a unique flavor! Mexican mint marigolds, for example, have a tarragon-like taste, and lemon marigolds are citrusy.
When growing marigolds, check the seed packet to ensure the variety is edible. When purchasing marigolds for cooking, confirm with the farmer or grocer that they are safe to eat.
The golden marigold flower petals and dark green leaves work well in many recipes. The petals add vibrant color to dishes such as cakes, soups, stews, braises, and grilled meats, or toss a few fresh petals into a green salad to add interest.
Before consuming marigolds, remove the white (or pale green) “heels” at the petals’ base, which can taste bitter.
Red Bud Tree: Taste Slightly Sweet and Tangy
The beautiful pink flowers, young seed pods, and unopened flower buds of Eastern redbuds are all edible.
They each have a mild, sweet flavor and a crisp texture. The flowers can be sprinkled into a salad, garnish, or baked into cookies or cakes. They can also be added to drinks or made into tea.
Squash Flowers: Taste Like Delicate Squash
Squash blossoms taste like mild squash.
These brightly colored flowers are a delicacy used in a variety of ways, such as:
- Stuffing them with cheese, herbs, or other fillings and frying them for a crispy appetizer
- Adding them to omelets, frittatas, or quesadillas
- Making a flavorful pesto by blending them with basil, garlic, and olive oil
- Incorporating them into soups, stews, and pasta dishes
- Battering and frying them to make fritters
It’s important to note that squash blossoms are quickly perishable and should be used immediately after picking.
Butterfly Pea Flowers: Taste Mildly Sweet
Butterfly pea, also known as Clitoria Ternatea, is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine and has a mildly sweet taste.
Use the bright sky blue petals to make colorful teas, ice teas, or add to any dish to add naturally rich blue color.
You can dehydrate the flower blooms and grind them into a fine powder to use as a natural blue food colorant for cakes, ice cream, pies, and other desserts.
The flowers have a wonderful crispy texture and nutty flavor when deep-fried. They can also be battered and fried as tempura.
Note: Butterfly pea powder will turn a drink or dessert blue, but if you add acid, the pea flower will turn a bright violet purple.
Chive Flowers: Tastes Like Mild Onion
Chives’ purple flowers taste like mild onion and can be used in many ways in savory dishes.
Add the pretty herb flowers to salads for a pop of color and a mild onion flavor. The purple blooms make an excellent garnish for everything to egg, pasta, and meat dishes.
You can add the petals to butter or cream cheese to create a flavorful spread. The flower heads can also be breaded and fried for a crispy and delicious topping for fish or salads.
Flowers you Should Never Eat:
It is important to note that not all flowers are safe to eat. Some flowers can be toxic or cause allergic reactions if eaten. Here is a list of common flowers that you should never eat:
Daffodils: Daffodils contain lycorine, a chemical that can cause vomiting, stomach cramps, and even convulsions if ingested.
Foxglove: Foxglove contains digitalis, a chemical that can cause heart problems and even death if ingested.
Monkshood: Monkshood, also known as wolfsbane, contains aconitine, a toxic chemical that can cause severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and even death if ingested.
Lily of the Valley: Lily of the valley contains cardiac glycosides, which can cause heart problems if ingested.
Oleander: Oleander contains toxic compounds that can cause vomiting, heart problems, and even death if ingested.
Rhubarb leaves: While the stalks of rhubarb are edible, the leaves contain oxalic acid, which can cause kidney stones and other health problems if consumed.
Tulip Bulbs: Tulip bulbs contain lycorine and other toxic compounds; consuming them can cause vomiting, stomach cramps, and even convulsions.
Daylilies: Some species of Daylilies contain toxic compounds that can cause stomach cramps, vomiting, and other symptoms if ingested. NOTE: Daylilies, Hemerocallis fulva (ONLY), are edible. We did not include them in our list of edible flowers because they can be easily confused with poisonous daylilies.
Wild or poison hemlock: Symptoms of hemlock poisoning can include vomiting, seizures, and respiratory failure. Unfortunately, there is no specific antidote for hemlock poisoning. Treatment will focus on managing symptoms and may include hospitalization. Hemlock poisoning can be fatal if left untreated.
Edible Flower Petals – A Fun and Interesting Way to Up Your Culinary Game!
Adding brightly colored flowers to your meals can be a unique and delicious way to bring new flavors and colors to your dishes. Whether adding a few pansies to a salad or infusing syrups with violet petals, there are endless possibilities when using edible flowers in your cooking.
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