The Best Edible Flowers to Bring Beauty, Taste and Fragrance to Your Table
August 04, 2022 | Flowers
Plus the Perfect Rose Cocktail Recipes
Flowers bring beauty to more than just your kitchen counter. The edible flower trend is making its way into dishes and drinks this summer with their beautiful flavors and fragrances.
Eye-catching, colorful flower petals and buds make a great addition to cakes and bakery items, and add vibrancy to salads, side dishes and fruit desserts. They can also enhance your summer cocktails, smoothies, and tea drinks.
Another perk of edible flowers is their health and nutritional benefits. Flowers are known to have a calming effect — diffusing anxiety and lowering blood pressure, many contain vitamin C, and they can improve your digestion and skin with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, to name a few.
What are some of the best edible flowers for your recipes and drinks?
Roses are lovely in drinks and teas, fruit dishes, and jams and jellies such as strawberry or raspberry, thanks to their gentle and sweet fragrance. Infuse the flower in your vinegar or use the petals to add a special garnish and color to your plates and desserts. Try tossing a few rose petals into fruit salad for some floral notes or make your own rose water by steeping petals in hot water. Typically, the darker the rose, the more intense the flavor.
Sunflowers have a mild and nutty taste that makes their petals good in salads or stir fries. Sunflower petals add amazing color, but can be a tad strong so use them sparingly in cooking. Sunflower seeds are a healthy source of fats, protein and fiber. Eat them straight or in seed butter, granola, cereals, or sprinkled on salads. Sprouts can be used as a micro-green when they are 1-2″ tall. Toss them in a salad, add to a top of a sandwich, or serve with a grilled piece of fish.
Hibiscus has a tart, citrusy flavor, making this bloom a powerful addition to cocktails, citrus-flavored teas and a bright pop of color and flavor for fruit salads.
Lilac and Lavender are great for making ice cream or for infusing oils. You can use a sprinkle as confetti on your cakes or bake them into the batter of scones. Try mixing into cream cheese or yogurt as a dip or spread, or use the petals make a simple syrup for drinks. Think both sweet and savory foods! Just use sparingly, as the flavor can be intense, so don’t over-perfume the dish.
Citrus Marigolds have a bright and citrusy taste and pair well with stone fruits, soups, and salads; and they make a unique addition to butter, rice, or bakery items. Their stems are particularly delicious in a dish that features pickled vegetables.
Violets and Pansies have historically been placed in and around desserts. Pansies are rich in vitamins and several beneficial antioxidant compounds. Give candied pansies or violets a try or use their natural perfume to add a special touch to your summer drink. Or chop them up and toss them into summery vegetable salads.
You can even use flowers to make edible floral ice cubes!
Herbs have flowers that taste like the parent plant, but with the bonus of a cute flower. Think chives, sage, thyme, rosemary, and basil.
A traditional use for edible flowers is brewing tea. Though tea doesn’t highlight their decorative features, it’s a great use for a wide variety of edible flowers. Edible dried lavender is tremendous when mixed with a cup of Earl Grey, as are rose petals, chrysanthemum, and jasmine. Here’s a great guide for turning fresh edible flowers into tea.
And long beloved for its calming qualities, research suggests that chamomile can help you sleep.
But if you'd rather consume chamomile flowers in their natural form (instead of in a tea or extract), try sprinkling a few petals into a smoothie before you blend it. Just don’t be too heavy handed; while the petals add a nice earthiness, they’re also somewhat bitter in flavor.
Remember, less is more
Chefs recommend that you don’t overdo it—start small and try not to use the whole flower—use only the petals, so the flavor isn’t so overwhelming.
If you’re in any doubt as to whether or not a flower is edible – don’t eat it. Also, if you have pollen allergies, it's been recommended to avoid eating edible flowers altogether. And of course, there are some flowers that are NOT edible, with poisonous properties, so be aware of which flowers to keep off your plate. See this guide on how to choose (and what not to choose) and prepare edible flowers.
3 rose cocktail recipes to try
Jardesca Rose with Plums
Makes 1 serving
- 6 sprigs Lemon Verbena
- 3 ounces Jardesca
- 2 ounces plum juice
- 1/2 ounce rose simple syrup (see note below)
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 2 dashes rose bitters
- Fresh rose petals
- Slices fresh plum
- Basil leaves
- Splash of soda water
- Shake first nine ingredients together in a shaker with ice. Pour shaker into a Collins glass. Top with a float of soda water.
- To make rose simple syrup: Place equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in rose petals.
- Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and let steep for 10 more minutes. Strain syrup through a fine sieve into a glass jar and let cool. Store in fridge for up to a month.
Run for the Roses
- 1 large rose to 2 small roses
- 2 oz Texas Yellow Rose whisky
- 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
- 1 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
- 3 dashes rose water
- Place the rose(s) in an ice mold, and fill with water per the item's instructions. Freeze for several hours until frozen solid.
- Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until cold.
- Place the ice with the rose in an old fashioned glass. Strain the cocktail into the glass and serve.
Coming Up Roses Cocktail
For the Strawberry Rose Syrup
- 12 oz (340 g) strawberries, hulled and halved
- 1 cup (236 ml) water
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- ½ teaspoon rose water
For the Cocktail
- 1 ½ oz (45 ml) gin
- 2 oz (60 ml) strawberry rose syrup from above
- ½ oz (15 ml) lemon juice
- champagne for topping
- dried rose petals for garnish
- strawberry for garnish
For the Strawberry Rose Syrup
- Add everything to a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
- Strain the strawberries from the liquid and let the syrup cool completely.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for later use.
For the Cocktail
- Add the gin, strawberry rose syrup and lemon juice to a shaker filled with ice.
- Shake and pour into a coupe glass.
- Top with champagne and dried rose petals. Garnish with a strawberry and enjoy!
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