How to Select and Use Edible Flowers in Cooking and Baking

Updated on March 4, 2020
Carb Diva profile image

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Flowers in a garden salad
Flowers in a garden salad | Source

Flowers Aren't Just for Making Honey

Eat flowers? You might think this sounds a bit odd, but have you ever enjoyed one of these?

  • Freshly picked zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat cheese and quickly fried in a tempura-like coating. The cheese within is melting and creamy; the tempura coating, delicately crisp and paper thin.
  • Herbs de Provence pan-roasted chicken with crisp skin and succulent meat, flavored with marjoram, savory, fennel, and lavender blossoms.
  • Lebanese shawarma meatballs, spiced and fragrant with ginger, cardamon, and citrusy sumac.
  • Floral-scented chamomile latte poured into a bone china cup. The brew is sweetened with vanilla; the soothing aromas delivering a feeling of calm and relaxation.
  • Melt-in-the-mouth buttery shortbread cookies flecked with lemon zest and lavender blossoms and served with a scoop of saffron and rose water custard ice cream.

All of these are made with the blossoms of flowers. But that's just the beginning. Let's look at a list of the flowers that you can eat, how to gather then, and how to use them in cooking and baking.

Edible Flowers (A Sampling, Not a Comprehensive List)

Name of Flower
Which Part(s) to Use
Taste
Angelica
petals
hints of anise and carrot
Bachelor's button
petals (remove green parts)
grassy
Bee balm
petals
sweet
Begonia, tuberous
leaves, petals and stems
citrus
Begonia, wax
leaves and petals
slightly bitter
Borage
leaves and petals
cucumber
Calendula
petals
spicy, peppery
Carnation
petals
spicy
Chives
petals and stems
onion
Chrysanthemum
blanched blossoms
cauliflower
Clover
raw
snap peas
Cornflower (see Bachelor's button)
 
 
Dandelion
young flowers or buds, raw or steamed or young leaves
sweet, honey-like
Daylilies
blossom (eat in moderation)
sweet lettuce, melon
Dianthus (see carnation)
 
 
Fuschia
blooms and berries
citrus
Impatiens
blossom
sweet
Lavender
petals
floral
Lilac
blossom
fragrant, lemony
Marigold (see calendula)
 
 
Pansies
petals
sweet, grassy
Nasturtium
blossoms, leaves
peppery
Rose
petals (remove white part)
strawberries, green apples (dark varieties have more flavor)
Scented geraniums
petals
flavor corresponds to scent
Violets
flowers and leaves
sweet, floral

How to Safely Collect Flowers

  • Not all flowers are edible! In fact, some can make you extremely ill (for example, foxglove). Check your lists and be absolutely certain of the identity.
  • Never collect flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. When in doubt, don't collect.
  • Never collect flowers from the roadside.
  • Follow carefully the guidelines on which part(s) of the plant to use.
  • Use flowers sparingly, They should be an entertaining garnish, not the main star of the show.

Creative Uses and Recipes

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Roasted Herbs de Provence Chicken

Shawarma Spiced Meatballs

Chamomile Tea Latte

Lemon-Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Green Salad

Nasturtium, Beetroot and Walnut Salad

Frozen Wine Cubes

Chive Blossom Butter

Cream Cheese and Chive Sandwiches

Herb and Flower Pasta

Deviled Egg Baskets With Edible Flowers

Goat cheese-stuffed fried zucchini blossoms
Goat cheese-stuffed fried zucchini blossoms | Source

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Lindsay admits that creating these little bites takes a pinch of patience and a tad of tenacity. Stuffing a zucchini blossom is not as easy as, let's say, plopping carnitas into a taco shell. But, they so so very rewarding.

First, remove the stamen (that's the long stalk in the middle). Then grab your piping bag. Yes, you really need one of those. It will make life so much easier. (OK, in a pinch you can substitute a heavy-duty ziplock plastic bag, filled, closed, and one bottom corner snipped a little to allow the filling to squirt out). Next twist the tops of the blossoms a little so the filling doesn't escape. Then, batter and fry your goat cheese-stuffed zucchini blossoms.

Roasted herbs de Provence chicken
Roasted herbs de Provence chicken | Source

Roasted Herbs de Provence Chicken

I think that learning how to roast a chicken is one of the first things we learn how to do as a "grown-up" cook. It's actually pretty easy, it's economical, it smells amazing, and it's so rewarding. And, if you are having guests, despite all those easy things it delivers a wow factor, every time.

Do you want to take your basic roast chicken to the next level, to a double-wow? Use herbs de Provence as your dry rub seasoning. That's what Caroline does with her roasted herbs de Provence chicken.

Do you need a recipe for herbs de Provence? Maybe you can't find it at your grocery store. I'll bet you can find these seasonings, or perhaps you already have them in your pantry. Here is a recipe from The Spruce Eats that will make a cup of the seasoning for you. Enough to use again, and again, and again. You will love it.

Shawarma spiced meatballs
Shawarma spiced meatballs | Source

Shawarma Spiced Meatballs

A bounteous assembly of herbs and spices are used to make these shawarma spiced meatballs. Please don't allow that list of ingredients dissuade you from making these amazing meatballs. They absolutely shout "Mediterranean" and would make an amazing meal with a side of naan, couscous, rice, or quinoa.

Chamomile tea latte
Chamomile tea latte | Source

Chamomile Tea Latte

Jee is a certified tea sommelier and creates the most lovely hot beverages. Her chamomile tea latte is so warm and cozy. If I had a cold I'd certainly want to wrap my hands around a large mug of this. But, don't wait until you are sick. It's so creamy and comforting, you deserve this now.

Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons mild honey
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • Garnish small rosemary sprigs
  • Special equipment parchment paper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, lavender, and zest. In a separate bowl mix together butter, honey, and confectioners sugar with an electric mixer at low speed, then add flour mixture; mix until dough resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
  3. Gather dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until it just comes together, about 8 times. Halve dough and form each half into a 5-inch disk. Roll out 1 disk (keep remaining dough at room temperature) between 2 sheets of parchment into a 9-inch round (trim as necessary).
  4. Remove top sheet of parchment and transfer dough on bottom sheet of parchment to a baking sheet. Score dough into 8 wedges by pricking dotted lines with a fork, then mark edges decoratively. Arrange rosemary sprigs (if using) decoratively on top of dough, pressing lightly to help adhere, and sprinkle dough with 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar.
  5. Repeat with 2nd round of dough.
  6. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Slide shortbread on parchment to a rack and cool 5 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a cutting board and cut along score marks with a large heavy knife.

Green salad with edible flowers
Green salad with edible flowers | Source

Green Salad With Edible Flowers

This simple green salad would be a lovely start to a garden party or tea. Tender baby spinach is adorned with delicate violets or pansies and dressed with a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, Dijon, olive oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Nasturtium, beetroot, and walnut salad
Nasturtium, beetroot, and walnut salad | Source

Nasturtium Beetroot Salad

Here's another salad to inspire you.The colors of this nasturtium-beetroot salad are striking—that alone should entice you to make this. But it's also vegan and gluten-free. If you choose your blossoms carefully you should be able to create an amazing display of color. Nasturtiums range in hue from cream to yellow to orange to a deep mahogany.

Frozen wine cubes with edible flowers
Frozen wine cubes with edible flowers | Source

Frozen Wine Cubes With Edible Flowers

Are you hosting a Summer garden party and want to keep the Pinot chilled without diluting it with ice? Float a few of these blossom-studded ice cubes in each glass. They're so pretty you will be making up excuses to use them.

Chive blossom butter
Chive blossom butter | Source

Chive Blossom Butter

Chives are cousins to shallots, onions, and garlic. This chive butter is a lovely substitute for simple garlic butter. The flavor is not as assertive as garlic—it's a more delicate taste—but what it lacks in boldness it makes up for in the pretty display it can make on your party table.

Cream cheese and chive sandwiches with edible flowers
Cream cheese and chive sandwiches with edible flowers | Source

Cream Cheese and Chive Sandwiches With Edible Flowers

These open-face cream cheese and chive sandwiches are almost too pretty to eat. There are only 5 ingredients, so use the best quality you can find. Goat cheese cream cheese is worth looking for, get your hands on a really good-quality loaf of French bread, and select the prettiest flowers and herb leaves.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Herb and edible flower pastaAnother view of fresh floral pastaravioli filled with peas, new potato, mint and ricotta
Herb and edible flower pasta
Herb and edible flower pasta | Source
Another view of fresh floral pasta
Another view of fresh floral pasta | Source
ravioli filled with peas, new potato, mint and ricotta
ravioli filled with peas, new potato, mint and ricotta | Source

Herb and Edible Flower Pasta

Aimee's edible flower pasta is made by laminating fresh herb leaves and edible flowers between two thin layers of fresh, homemade pasta. Yes, it is a labor of love but it is not difficult. Set aside a leisurely weekend afternoon to do this.

Flower pasta is not the place for your rich mushroom bechamel or meaty ragu. You don't want to cover this pasta with a thick sauce. A drizzle of browned butter or grassy extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt is all you will want to adorn these pictures on a plate.

Deviled egg baskets with edible flowers
Deviled egg baskets with edible flowers | Source

Deviled Egg Baskets With Edible Flowers

Just in time for Easter, these deviled eggs are garnished with tiny flowers with a chive sprout for the handle. Chive blossoms are in season as are violas, lilacs, and other herb flowers—all of which can be used to decorate these "baskets."

© 2020 Linda Lum

Comments

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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Liza there are many to choose from. If you live near a Whole Foods you should be able to find some there.

    • lizmalay profile image

      Liza 

      4 months ago from USA

      Such a great article, I'm glad I came across it! I have been searching for information about edible flowers for decoration on top of the desserts I made. Thanks for sharing, Linda.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you, Eiddwen. I would love to know what types of flowers you have. You are slightly further north than me.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 

      4 months ago from Wales

      Very interesting and useful. Definitely one to save for future reference.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Thelma, I use violas much as you use hibiscus. They are beautiful and grow wild in my garden.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      4 months ago from Germany and Philippines

      Wow! This hub is very delicious and informative. I always make a salad out of hibiscus flowers when I am in my home in the Philippines as well as making tea out of this flower. I didn´t know that pansy flower is edible, too. I would love to try some of these edible flowers. Thank you for sharing.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      This sounds wonderful. I must admit that I did not even know what a banana flower looks like (I did a Google search). Yes, you are correct that flowers need to be used in moderation. Thank you for writing again.

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      4 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      In India, in some areas, people use rose petals, pumpkin flowers, banana flowers in miscellaneous preparations but they are in occasional use.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Nancy, I'm so glad that you liked it. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      4 months ago

      Thanks for an interesting and informative article.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Sha, my favorite way to use herbs de Provence is roast chicken, but it works equally well on salmon. I would think you could also use it on pork chops or a pork roast. Great on oven-roasted root vegetables (carrots and parsnips, mmm).

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Donna, I've missed you. So glad you found this article. I'm looking forward to being able to gather flowers in my garden. Things are just now starting to bud out.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Linda, I never knew that so many of the beauties we plant in our gardens are edible. These dishes all look so pretty. I've never eaten flowers, have you, Linda? On the cooking/baking shows I watch, we're often warned not to use too much lavender because it can have a soapy taste in excess.

      I have a bottle of Herbs de Provence in my pantry, but have no idea why. I've never used it. Besides the roasted chicken above, what are some other uses for the blend?

    • Donna-Rayne profile image

      Donna Rayne 

      4 months ago from Greenwood, In

      Linda, all the dishes look so tasty! I want some of the green salad with edible flowers! I loved your article and it was very informative and I bet the house will smell lovely with all the fresh ingredients! Great article too that I enjoyed reading!

      Blessings,

      Donna Rayne

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, that sounds delightful. I'll whip up a spinach nasturtium salad and bring it down to you for lunch. How does that sound?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I've actually eaten nasturtiums. Not bad! I wouldn't make a habit of it, but not bad at all. :) Plus they're pretty, which is more than you can say about spinach. Just sayin'

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, that's exactly why I published this now. Great minds think alike.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 months ago from USA

      This is perfect for Easter. Can’t you imagine a nice salad or eggs, pasta, or tea with flowers?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you Umesh. Do you use flowers in cooking or baking?

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      4 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Exhaustive and informative. Good presentation.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, I'd love to know what is in your salad.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      When we visit our family land in Oak Creek Az. my kids insist I make our "edible weed" salad. This was a wonderful article. So interesting. Thank you.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela I am so darned ready for Spring!

      Blossoms are just starting to appear in my little corner of the world. Cherry trees are budding out, daffodils are up, crocus are blooming, and I am smiling. This article just shouts "Springtime" to me, and I'm so happy.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 months ago from Sunny Florida

      The salads with the flowers are so pretty! I knew there were some edible flowers but I certainly didn't know there were so many. I'm sure most of these dishes tastes wonderful but I can't get over how beautiful they are. I think I need to broaden my horizons.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      4 months ago from london

      I thought they were, Dear. Must I tell you everything? Anyway, if you are a singer and dancer, then you and mom will have a great time in heaven. But why the hurry? She's already there but for you and I, we still have work to do.

      Mom was a lover of life and a great Karma Yogi, like you. I have mentioned four Yogic Paths in the Hubs you don't like to read but basically, some people are by nature doers - the Path of selfless action - and others are of a devotion bent, like Dora or Lori. Some are both, like me. Ha ha. Have a great Sunday!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, you are the first to enter my kitchen today. Welcome. I am certain that your mother and I will have much to talk and laugh about in Heaven (but we probably won't be roasting chicken).

      Herb flowers can be eaten but some are really not very tasty. Yes, digitalis is bad news. Even the deer leave it alone.

      I must remember to make those eggs (last photo) at Eastertime.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      4 months ago from london

      What a Feng Shui orientated Hub! So colourful! Shaloo would be proud of you!

      I have eaten flowers. Don't remember which ones though. Perhaps mint and hibiscus, but some were nice-tasting, slightly sweet. That last picture looks like something a creative like the man from El Bulli would do. Delicioso!

      I like the green salad with edible flowers and the beet plus. The chive blossom really looks like ice cream. Camomile tea latte? Wow!

      Now this roast chicken is what I'm talking about. Took me back 38 years, just like my mom did it. She was the best, Linda. Sorry.

      Your advice on caution with eating flowers are not to be taken lightly. Digitalis (Foxglove) can kill!

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