27 Types of Edible Flowers and How to Use Them
They're not just a pretty garnish
I remember very well how my grandmother used to show my sister and I around her garden. Barefoot, we would walk through the flower beds and every few steps she would pick some daisies or nasturtium and give them to us to eat.
It's a sweet memory of something we occasionally still do, but apart from her garden, I rarely eat flowers. Why is that? There is a wide variety of edible flowers that can enhance dishes with mildly sweet, herbaceous flavors, and they're easier to get and use than you might think.
Today, we're going to tell you which flowers are edible, which ones aren't, what you should pay attention to when purchasing them, and how to use them for more than just beauty in your kitchen.
Where can you buy edible flowers?
Unlike my grandmother, not everybody owns a garden where they can grow or pick edible flowers, so the first stop is to buy some at the flower shop—right? Wrong. If you're looking for edible flowers, stay away from any and all bouquets in flower shops and supermarkets. These kinds of flowers have likely been in contact with pesticides and are not suitable for eating.
Edible flowers should always be clearly labeled as such. You can usually buy them in delicatessens, organic markets, larger supermarkets, and, of course, online. Often you can choose between fresh or dried edible flowers, and sometimes even find combinations of both.
Which flowers can you eat?
Depending on the season and supplier there are a wide variety of flowers that you can cook and bake with. Here are some of the more popular ones to start you off:
begonias, carnation, chamomile, chrysanthemums, clover, cornflower, dahlias, daisies, dandelion, day lilies (also called tiger lilies), elderflower, fuchsias, hibiscus, honeysuckle, lavender, lilac, marigold, nasturtium, pansies, any species of phlox, primroses, rose petals, violets, zucchini flowers
Which flowers should never be eaten?
Keep your hands and mouths off: columbines, daffodil, foxgloves, hellebore, hemlock, laburnum, lily of the valley, oleander, spindle tree, wolf's bane, and perhaps more obviously, deadly nightshade. These flowers are poisonous and should only be used for decoration.
How to prepare edible flowers
Before you dive head first into the flower bed and start cutting your flowers into a salad, here are a few things to keep in mind before cooking and baking with them.
Even if you're using edible flowers that are already marked and prepared for direct consumption, you should first clean and inspect them to remove and discard any small insects or other unwanted items that can hide behind the petals. Then remove any stamens, leaves, or other excess parts. Smaller flowers such as daisies and violets can be eaten whole, but when you're using larger flowers such as roses or dahlias you should only use the petals.
How to use edible flowers in the kitchen
From salads to syrups to cakes-flowers are a surprisingly versatile ingredient. Here are some of our favorite, floral recipes:
Turn boring ice cubes into easy eye-catchers by adding edible flowers before freezing. Your guests will be delighted!
Edible flowers are not only a colorful highlight in salads but also add new flavor to ordinary greens. Suddenly the starter turns out to be the highlight of your menu, like this tomato salad with basil vinaigrette.
Chamomile, sunflower, lavender, lilac, rose, and geranium are perfect flowers to sugarcoat and will make an impression as an elegant and sweet decoration on your next cupcakes, pies, and cakes. There's no better decoration than one you can eat–right?
Store-bought flower syrup is not only expensive but doesn't taste as flavorful as one that's homemade. So prepare your own elderflower syrup to bring a fresh and sweet note to our Champagne jello cocktail.
Another easy way to use edible flowers is by brewing them into a fresh cup of tea-but we can make it even better. Enjoy the mild, slightly tart flavor of chamomile flowers two-ways in this sheet cake.
Did we provoke your appetite for edible flowers or have you already cooked or baked with them? Share your experiences in the comments or send us your tastiest floral creation to email@example.com.