When most people head out to the garden to harvest some tasty food for dinner, they’re usually on the lookout for fruiting bodies like tomatoes and cantaloupe. Or sometimes roots like turnips and carrots. Or maybe even leaves like mint and green onions.
But how often do you head into the garden looking for flowers to eat?
If your answer is rarely to never, this list is for you!
Edible flowers make a tasty addition to many recipes and pack a lot of unique nutrients and antioxidants that have special medicinal benefits. If you’re new to edible flowers, we have 20 common varieties you need to try. We chose these flowers because most of them can be found in the vegetable garden or other plots around the yard.
20 Edible Flowers You Should Know
Plants in the allium family, which include popular produce favorites like onions and garlic, are well known for their unique, spicy, eye-watering bulbs. This flavor profile extends into the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plants as well.
In many species, the allium blossom doesn’t bloom until the second year the plant is in the ground. These tasty round flowerheads are worth the wait and are perfect for adding an oniony floral flavor to salads, vinegar salad dressings, and homemade butter.
As the name implies, the flavor of these tiny purple flowers is somewhat licoricey. More so than the leaves, the flowers also have notes of floral sweetness that can add some serious depth to baked goods, homemade candy, and teas. I prefer to enjoy mine with poached peaches and cape gooseberries.
Begonias aren’t just beautiful, they’re also quite tasty. The flower petals add a fantastic dash of color to any recipe, savory or sweet, and have a mildly sour flavor, similar to that of a lemon.
These flowers can be cooked or eaten raw, just be wary of collecting flowers from nursery-grown begonias since these ornamental plants are often treated with toxic pesticides.
These bright yellow flowers have long been valued for their medicinal properties and are well known for their ability to calm skin irritations. As it turns out, calendula flowers are also edible and make a great addition to teas to help with many ailments from muscle spasms to sore throats.
The yellow petals can also be added to salads for an eye-popping garnish or to savory dishes to replicate the color of yellow cheese.
Carnation petals have a surprisingly sweet, slightly spicy taste that makes a great addition to baked goods and other desserts. Because they come in a variety of colors, they are prized for their use as edible decorations on cakes and other frosted sweet dishes.
Before you run off to the supermarket to pick up a dozen carnations to chow down on, know that most carnations found in stores have been treated with toxic pesticides. Only those flowers that have been grown organically without sprays should be consumed.
The common daisy (Bellis perennis), which can often be found growing on lawns and in meadows, has an edible flower that adds more beauty than taste to a dish. The individual petals are somewhat bitter but are small enough that you can add a few of these pleasing little buds to your salad or as a garnish without changing the flavor of your meal.
Many other species of daisy are also edible, including Shasta, oxeye, and chamomile, while some are toxic. Make sure you know which type of daisy you are dealing with before you dig in.
Most of us have more than enough of this common weed around our yards. Before you pick all those yellow buds and toss them in the trash, try popping the flowers off and adding the edible flower petals to your next salad.
Mature dandelion flowers have a slightly bitter taste while younger flowers are sweet like honey and make a great colorful addition to pancake batter. Both forms are a great source of vitamins and minerals, including iron.
These common landscaping flowers are entirely edible and surprisingly delicious. The young, closed blossoms can be fried into what professional foragers call a ‘daylily fritter.’ The mature blossoms also make for a tasty treat. They have a sweet flavor, crunchy texture, and a floral aroma that you can taste and smell when eating them raw.
If you’re lucky enough to have hibiscus growing in your yard, then you have the chance to enjoy both the beauty and the exotic flavor of this tropical plant. If you’ve had hibiscus tea, you have some sense of what these gorgeous flowers taste like. They are tart with a slightly sweet taste and notes of cranberry-like flavor. Hibiscus flowers make surprisingly good additions to several dishes from tacos to cakes.
Delicate hosta flowers have a mild taste that won’t overwhelm any dish but will add some beautiful visual appeal. They are especially good sprinkled on salad or can be fried up into fritters.
Just don’t share your hosta harvest with your furry friend. While the entire flower is safe for human consumption, hostas are toxic to dogs and cats.
Is there anything lavender can’t do? This medicinal herb has long been used in teas, slaves, and aromatherapy to do everything from calm the mind to fight infection. As it turns out, lavender blossoms taste pretty good too and make a great addition to honey, baked goods, and jams. Lavender flowers have an intense floral taste with undertones of mint and rosemary.
Unsurprisingly, these fragrant flowers also have an intense flavor. They are incredibly aromatic with undertones of lemon and a touch of bitterness. We like to use these amazing flowers to make lilac honey, but they are also a great addition to wines, liquors, and desserts.
Nasturtiums are one of those rare flowers that are grown largely to be eaten. These colorful blooms add a visual appeal to salads, as well as a unique peppery flavor. In the vegetable garden, these beautiful flowers pull triple duty pulling pollinators in, providing flowers for various dishes, and providing leaves and petals to make medicinal salves for treating UTIs and respiratory infections.
Pansies are a popular edible flower both due to the variety of colors they come in and their mild, pleasing flavor. The taste of a pansy bloom is similar to that of baby lettuce; it is slightly sweet with hints of wintergreen, perfume, or even bubblegum, depending on the variety. These colorful little flowers are most often eaten raw in salads or candied and used in desserts.
One reason fruits are often prized over the blooms they come from is that they offer a lot more in terms of volume of food. One flower that is big enough to challenge this idea is the peony. Just one of these huge blooms practically has enough petals to create an entire dish, and, considering they taste somewhat reminiscent of strawberry or peach, why not do just that?
The tender petals are best steamed and served with a light coating of sugar or added to water for a refreshing beverage.
Rose flowers, as you can imagine, have a unique floral taste that is bright and familiar. Add a little sugar to that intense flavor and you have an instantly beautiful and delicious dessert.
Mixing rose petals with honey and brandy creates a medicinal rose elixir that can treat a number of conditions from heart palpitations to digestive upset.
Understanding how to prepare and eat squash flowers is a great way to cut down on an overabundant squash harvest. Instead of choking down your third helping of zucchini bread in a day, harvest the blossoms before they can produce fruit (or harvest just the male blossoms so nothing goes to waste) and fry them up with a little oil for a tasty side dish or salad topper. Try this Avocado Salad Stuffed Squash Blossom recipe.
The seeds aren’t the only part of a sunflower that’s edible. The flower itself can also be eaten, though, preparation can be a little tricky. The easiest way to eat these oversized flowers is to pick the unopened flower buds and prepare them as you would an artichoke. The petals of mature flowers can also be eaten and make a colorful summery addition to salads.
Tulip flowers are often used as beautiful serving dishes for dips and spreads, but the petals can be eaten, as well. The flavor of these flowers varies based on the variety and color, with the lighter pigmented petals typically being sweeter and the brighter colors having more of a bold flavor.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy these flowers is to cut out the stamens and fill the flower bowl with chocolate mousse or cheesecake filling and eat them whole.
Like their close cousin, the pansy, violets are also edible and make a great, colorful addition to many dishes. They have a florally sweetness that goes great with fresh spring salads and delectable desserts.
Candied violets make a great addition to cupcakes, cookies, or as a simple pick-me-up in the middle of a long day.
What Is the Most Common Edible Flower?
There are a handful of edible flowers that even those who know nothing about foraging are probably aware of. Plenty of people have eaten fried squash blossoms and most have at least seen violets, pansies, or roses decorating a cake before.
These, along with dandelions, are the most well-known of the edible plants.
Can You Eat Flowers Raw?
All edible flowers can be eaten raw. Some, like rose petals and pansies, are quite delicious when eaten out of hand. Others, like sunflowers and lilacs, are best when cooked or prepared with sweeteners.
How Do You Know If A Flower Is Edible?
There is no way to tell if a flower is edible just by looking at it. Even some closely related flowers, such as those in the daisy family, include varieties that are toxic and varieties that are edible. If you’re unfamiliar with a flower or are not certain of its identification, you should not eat it.