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15+ Flowers We Eat as Vegetables with Recipes

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This is the ultimate list of over 15 flowers we can eat as vegetables. Eating edible flowers not just for their beauty but as a delicious nutrient-dense vegetable is a great idea.  

I have already explored the diverse world of edible flowers with you and shared over 100 recipes for enjoying them in syrups, teas, marmalades, salads and desserts. However, in this post, I wanted to focus specifically on flowers that are used as vegetables, thus perfect for boiling, frying, stewing, or even grilling.

Some of these might surprise you, like cauliflower and broccoli, often overlooked as flowers.

Flowers you can eat as vegetable

Table of Contents

Characteristics of edible flowers that are eaten as vegetables

The term ‘vegetable’ includes flowers or flower buds used for culinary purposes often served as the main component in savory dishes. They are nutritious, offering similar benefits to other vegetables, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These flowers can be sautéed, steamed, roasted, or incorporated into dishes like soups, stews, and casseroles.

Best Practices to harvest Edible flowers

before we start let’s sum up how to harvest edible flowers.

  • Only harvest flowers that are known to be edible and are not sprayed with pesticides or other contaminants. Use a reliable identification guide if uncertain.
  • Harvest flowers in the morning when their water content is highest and flavors are most concentrated. Avoid harvesting in the heat of the day when flowers may wilt.
  • Use clean scissors or pruners to snip flowers from the plant, ensuring to leave some stem attached for handling and presentation.
  • Immediately after harvesting, gently rinse flowers with cold water to remove any dirt or insects. Shake off excess water and pat dry with a paper towel.

List of Flowers you can eat as vegetables

Broccoli

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which includes other cruciferous plants like cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. The part of broccoli that is harvested and consumed is actually the tightly clustered flower buds, which form the dense green head known as the floret. These buds are harvested before they fully bloom into yellow flowers. 

Ingredients to make cauliflower and broccoli soup

Broccoli Cauliflower Soup

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Cauliflower

Like broccoli, cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) consists of tightly packed white flower buds that form the dense, white head known as the curd or floret. Harvested before they bloom into yellow flowers, cauliflower maintains its unique texture and flavor as a popular culinary vegetable, prized for its versatility and nutritional value.

Fermented Cauliflower

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Artichokes

Artichokes (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) are another example of flowers considered a vegetable. The edible part of the artichoke is the immature flower bud, harvested before it fully blooms. The outer petals and the tender heart of the bud have a unique texture and a mildly sweet, nutty flavor. You can steam, boil, or grill them. Artichokes are great in salads, dips, and pasta sauces. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and make a nutritious addition to meals.

Stuffed Artichokes

Artichoke and Lemon Pasta

Grilled Artichokes

Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini blossoms, or squash flowers, are vibrant yellow-orange flowers found on zucchini plants. These trumpet-shaped blooms are not only visually appealing but also subtly sweet. To avoid reducing the zucchini yield, only harvest male flowers which do not produce fruit. They are low in calories yet packed with vitamins A and C, along with minerals such as potassium. 

This guide includes many zucchini flower recipes, whether used for stuffing, frying, or sautéing.

Italian Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Stuffed Squash Blossom Recipe

Banana Blossom

Banana blossom, or banana heart, is the large flower found at the end of a cluster of bananas on a banana plant. It’s harvested before bananas develop. The edible part consists of tightly packed, fleshy bracts. When raw, banana flowers taste bitter; they become tender with a mild flavor when cooked. Popular in Southeast Asian and Indian cuisines, banana blossoms are perfect in salads, curries, soups, and stir-fries for its unique texture and taste.

banana flower
banana flower

Vada made of banana blossoms

Banana Blossom Curry

Vegan Banana Blossom Fish Tacos

Banana Blossom Vada - dish with banana blossoms
Vada – dish with banana blossoms

Loroco Flowers

Loroco (Fernaldia pandurata) is a flower commonly used in Central American cuisine, particularly in El Salvador and Guatemala. The edible part of the loroco flower is the bud and young shoots. It has a delicate, slightly tangy flavor with hints of nuttiness. Loroco is often used as a filling for pupusas (thick corn tortillas stuffed with various fillings), added to soups, scrambled eggs, and rice dishes. It’s appreciated not only for its flavor but also for its cultural significance in traditional Central American cooking.

Pupusas

Lorocos with Scrambled Eggs

Chicken with Loroco in Cream Sauce

Nasturtium Blossom guacamole
NGuacamole from Nasturtium Blossom

Nasturtium Flowers

Nasturtium flowers and leaves (Tropaeolum majus) are commonly eaten as vegetables. They are colorful and flavorful, with hues ranging from yellow to red.  Their leaves and flowers have a peppery flavor and enhance salads, sandwiches, and garnishes. They’re rich in vitamins C and K and often used by chefs and cuisines around the world. 

Nasturtium Blossom guacamole

Stuffed Nasturtium Flowers

Nasturtium Flower Pesto

Pumpkin Flowers

Like the fruit, Pumpkin flowers, from the Cucurbita pepo plant, are also edible and enjoyed as vegetables in many cuisines. These flowers, particularly the larger male blooms offers a subtle sweetness reminiscent of pumpkin. Their flowers are used in dishes like soups, quesadillas, and fritters. They are especially popular in the Eastern and North Eastern parts of India and Latin America.

Stuffed Pumpkin Flowers

Pumpkin Flower Quesadillas

Pumpkin Flower Soup

Dandelion

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are another example of flowers that can be eaten as vegetables. The entire plant, including its flowers, dandelion leaves, and roots, is edible and used in various culinary preparations. The flowers have a mild, slightly sweet taste, and they are often used in salads or brewed into wine. However,  you can also fry them or use their buds to make dandelion capers. Their flowers are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like iron and potassium. 

Fritters

Capers

fried dandelion blossoms with whipped cream

Okra Flowers

While not commonly consumed, okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) flowers are edible and can be used in soups, stews, and stir-fries. They contribute a delicate flavor that complements okra pods. Cooking them briefly helps preserve their texture and nutritional value, as they contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants similar to those of other parts of the okra plant. 

Okra Flower Fritters

Okra Flower Curry

Daylily flowers
Daylily flowers

Daylily

Daylilies, scientific name – Hemerocallis, offer more than just ornamental beauty to gardeners. They also provide edible flower buds, young shoots, and petals often used in East Asian cuisine. Stir-fried, sautéed, or added to soups and stews, daylilies have a mild, slightly sweet flavor to dishes. They are not only flavorful but also low in calories and packed with essential nutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotene. With a rich culinary tradition in Chinese and other Asian cultures, daylilies bring both taste and nutritional benefits to garden-to-table cooking, making them a surprising yet valuable addition to your vegetable garden.

Daylily Soup

Stuffed Daylilies with Cheese and Herbs 

Daylily Flower Tempura

Chamoy Dip with HIbiscus
Chamoy Dip with HIbiscus

Edible Flowers in Savory Cuisine: Add Color and Flavor to Dishes

This category includes edible flowers often used in savory cuisine to enhance flavors and appearance. These flowers taste unique, such as citrusy, spicy, cucumber, or onion, to chutneys and dips. While not the main vegetable in the dish, they bring aesthetic beauty and distinct floral notes to gourmet cooking.

Pot Marigold – Calendula Flowers

Pot marigold flowers add a subtle, peppery flavor and vibrant color to salads and soups, enhancing both taste and presentation with their sunny petals. The attractive orange colour is rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins.

Soup with Calendula

Calendula Energy Bars

Borage flowers

Borage small flowers offer a refreshing cucumber taste and they make a delicious pesto or fritters.

Fritters

Borage Flower Pesto

Chive Dip
Dip with chive blossoms

Chive blossoms

Chive blossoms have a mild onion flavor that brightens dishes like salads and omelets, while their purple flowers add a decorative touch.

Dip

Vinegar with chive blossoms

Chamomile Flowers

Chamomile flowers (Matricaria chamomilla) are known for their use in teas but can also be eaten in savory dishes. These small, daisy-like flowers have a mild, apple-like flavor and can be used to infuse soups, stews, or risottos. They can also be used to flavor broths and add a subtle floral note to savory dishes.

Carrot Chamomile Soup

Asparagus, Pea and Chamomile Salad with Baked Ricotta 

Hibiscus flowers

Hibiscus flowers have a sour, citrus-like flavor with a hint of bitterness and are popular in dishes like chamoy, chutney or rasam.

Mexican Dip with hibiscus

Rhubarb compote with hibiscus

flowers we eat as vegetables
Vladka Merva on July 8th, 2024

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