Edible Flowers: Everything You Need to Know (Plus, 11 Recipe Ideas)

Most of us look at flowers and see a pretty, bee-friendly addition to our gardens and homes. But while flowers are undeniably nice to look at, they also have benefits beyond their appearance.

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Many flowers are actually edible, and make a tasty, colorful addition to all kinds of different meals. But it’s not as simple as heading out to your backyard and picking the first flower you see, throwing it onto your plate, and hoping for the best. Here’s more about which flowers are edible, how to cook with them, and, of course, some delicious vegan recipe ideas, too. 

Which flowers are edible?

There are more than 400,000 flowering plant species in the world, and they all come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. While some can be eaten, it’s important to note that some are also poisonous. Foxgloves, for example, look pretty, but they are toxic to humans and many animals, so for that reason, it’s vital to do your research before you start experimenting with edible flowers.

20210731_M8_Squash_Blossoms-50Seed to Plate, Soil to Sky

When it comes to finding safe, edible flowers, one option is to look for those that grow on vegetables and herbs, like pea blossoms, squash blossoms, and mint flowers. But you can also eat many flowers that aren’t attached to some form of produce. Marigolds, roses, lavenders, begonias, fuchsias, and geraniums are just a few more examples of safe, edible flowers.

When you buy, just ensure you’re purchasing the food-grade version, and if you want to eat flowers from your own garden, make sure they haven’t been sprayed with any chemicals, like bug or weed killer, prior to eating.

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Do you cook edible flowers?

There are many different ways to prepare and cook with edible flowers. You can use them as a simple garnish for dishes like salads, pastas, and vegan eggs, or bake them into cakes and cookies. “Dried lavender flowers can be added to a jar of granulated sugar,” Mary Newman, PhD, author of the book Edible Flowers: A Global History, told the Michelin Guide. “And then, when making a pound cake or sugar cookie, strain and use the infused sugar.”

Alternatively, you could freeze edible flowers into ice cubes and add them to cold water, lemonade, or punch, for a pretty, colorful, and refreshing beverage. 

Vegan recipes with edible flowers

If you love the idea of cooking a dish with edible flowers, but you’re not sure where to start, we’ve gathered a handful of ideas below. From sweet to savory, we’ve got something for everyone. Bon appétit!

VegNews.PavalovaHeather Whinney

1 Mixed Berry Pavlova

If you’re looking for an elegant, pretty dessert idea to impress your loved ones at your next soirée, this mixed berry pavlova will absolutely do the trick. Topped with mixed berries, vegan yogurt, and edible flowers, it’s as delicious as it is good-looking. 
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VegNewsUnicornDustin Harder

2 Unicorn French Bread Pizza

Flowers on a pizza?! Yep, it’s a thing. And it’s tasty, too. This vibrant, fun recipe is great for fussy kids (and adults). Made with just a handful of ingredients, including French baguette and marinara sauce, it’s also simple and quick to pull together.
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VegNews.SquashBlossomsSeed to Plate, Soil to Sky

3Fried Squash Blossoms

Beyond garnishes, edible flowers also make for delicious appetizers and even mains. Take this recipe for fried squash blossoms, for example. Throughout Mexico, the blossom is used in a variety of dishes ranging from quesadillas to soups; and in Northern New Mexico, the flower is stuffed and batter-fried. Try your hand at this regional speciality and top it off with pico de gallo for a satisfying meal.
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VegNews.ChileatoleIgnacio ‘Nacho’ Urquiza

Zucchini Flower Chileatole (Corn Soup)

Save some of your squash blossoms for this traditional Mexican soup. Also known as zucchini flowers, squash blossoms are the star of this dish. Fresh corn, slightly sweet zucchini flowers, and mild Oaxacan pasilla chiles are combined with masa for a thick, stew-like dish. 
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VegNews.Lemonubecheesecake.deborah gleasonDeborah Gleason

5Lemon Ube Cheesecake

Combine the creaminess of ube yams with fresh, zesty lemons for a dessert that’s both bright and sweet. This velvety, violet-hued, dairy-free cheesecake sits atop a delicate oat cookie crust. Top it off with edible flowers for a dessert that’s almost too pretty to eat.
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springtime-macaroons-8485Jackie Sobon

6Springtime Macaroons

Not to be confused with French macarons, a sandwich-like cookie featuring a sweet filling, macaroons are drop-style cookies (think classic chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and peanut butter cookies) made using shredded coconut. This recipe puts a springtime twist on the bite-sized treats. The addition of spinach creates a green hue reminiscent of spring, and edible flowers are a perfect garnish. Enjoy during tea parties and picnics all season long. 
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Screenshot 2023-08-14 at 4.27.30 PMLabeless Nutrition

7 Pansy Shortbread

These might be the prettiest shortbread cookies we’ve ever seen. Pansies are another example of a popular edible flower, and have a pleasant, minty taste that goes beautifully with these crunchy, buttery cookies.
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Screenshot 2023-08-14 at 4.28.21 PMThe Feed Feed

8 Jackfruit & Flower Tacos

Bored of your usual go-to taco fillings? Make things extra vibrant by mixing some edible flowers into the mix! Made with fresh orange juice and tomato sauce, the zesty flavors of this dish are perfect come summer. 
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Screenshot 2023-08-14 at 4.29.22 PMVegan Easy

9 Lentil Pasta With Edible Flowers

For a fresh, tasty lunch, combine lentil pasta with greens, pumpkin seed oil, and sweet, edible primrose flowers. For the dressing, grab your favorite from the store or, alternatively, whip up your own cashew mayonnaise! 
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Screenshot 2023-08-14 at 4.30.34 PMThe Simple Veganista

10 Spring Salad With Edible Flowers & Dandelion Greens

This salad is spring in a bowl! Just pick your favorite edible flowers (this recipe calls for wisteria) and combine with delicious dandelion greens. The latter is an edible weed with a versatile, tangy flavor, with just a subtle hint of bitterness.
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Screenshot 2023-08-14 at 4.35.21 PMFare Isle

11Lilac Lemon Cake

This recipe is one to bookmark for the next special event in your life. It looks beautiful and tastes delicious, so just make sure you make enough, as everyone will be asking you for seconds. 
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