Color me healthy: 10 edible flowers you can add to your food
10/13/2020 / By Leslie Locklear / Comments
Color me healthy: 10 edible flowers you can add to your food

It may come as a surprise to most but some flowers aren’t just for decoration — they are also perfectly fine for eating.

Putting flowers on dinner plates and on food isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, edible flowers can be found on menus all over the world, such as those from Chinese, Middle Eastern and Indian cultures.

Not all flowers are safe to eat, of course, but those that are edible are known to offer a unique burst of flavor and color to dishes such as salads, beverages and other food items.

Some of them, according to experts, may even offer health benefits, mainly due to the blossoms’ nutrient content.

With that being said, here are some flowers that you can add to your favorite dishes, as well as some of their purported health benefits:


A culinary favorite because of its brightly colored blossoms and its unique, savory flavor, nasturtiums are peppery and slightly spicy, making them a wonderful addition to salads, as well as cakes and pastries.

Aside from that, they also contain a variety of minerals, as well as health-promoting compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, making them a valuable addition to any dish.

Japanese honeysuckle

Known for their fragrant aroma, Japanese honeysuckle blossoms are often used to make a flavorful syrup that can then be used to sweeten drinks such as iced tea and lemonade.

In addition, honeysuckle syrup can also be used to sweeten yogurts and sorbets, and even used as a sugar replacement in quick bread recipes.

An important note: Only the blooms of the honeysuckle are edible. The berries, as tempting as they are, can be toxic.

Calendula or pot marigolds

A wonderful edible flower, calendula’s flavor is often described as being spicy, tangy and peppery. This makes them a welcome addition to recipes for soups and pasta and rice dishes, as well as herb butters and salads.

Calendula is also known as the Poor Man’s Saffron, as its petals lend a gorgeous, yellow tint to soups, spreads, and scrambled eggs.


Surprisingly sweet and delicately-flavored, carnation petals can be steeped in wine, candy, or used as decoration for cakes and pastries. Known for their mild clove-like or nutmeg scent, carnation petals are also used to add color to salads or aspics.


Noted for their mildly sweet flavor, daylilies are often used on salad platters or stuffed with savory fillings. Also, they can be used to crown frosted cakes and pastries.

Daylilies must be eaten in moderation, however, as they can act as a diuretic or laxative.


Pansies are known for having a mild, minty flavor, making them perfect for candying. Aside from that, pansies can also be finely chopped and sprinkled on top of a simple salad in order to give it a welcome pop of color and texture.

Much like nasturtiums, pansies are also a rich source of several potent phytochemicals, most of which are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


Best known for their ability to help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality, chamomile blossoms have a slightly sweet, earthy flavor that they easily impart to the foods they’re cooked with.

While most often used in the form of an infusion or tisane, chamomile blossoms can also be used in baked goods, smoothies or desserts.


Once considered to be nothing more than a garden weed, the humble purslane and its tiny, yellow flowers have recently soared in popularity, mainly due to its rich nutrient content.

As noted in studies, the purslane is filled not just with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but also, omega-3 fatty acids.

Both the plants’ leaves and flowers are edible and can be served raw in many salads and sandwiches.


Roses are known for being a staple gift in many a romantic dinner date but did you know that you can also cook with them?

Roses, according to culinary experts, have a rich, sweet and earthy taste, making them the perfect addition to sauces and salads. They can also be steeped and muddled in beverages, thus lending them a rich floral scent.

Aside from that, roses are also known to offer potential health benefits, with some studies suggesting that certain compounds in the blooms can help reduce anxiety as well as promote relaxation.

Butterfly pea

Known for their mild, nutty flavor, butterfly pea flowers are usually added to desserts to give them a beautiful and striking blue hue.

Jam-packed full of antioxidants, flavonoids and peptides, butterfly pea flowers are also commonly steeped and turned into a tea, which, according to adherents of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, acts as a memory enhancer, brain booster, anti-stress.

Aside from being used in desserts and beverages, you can also sprinkle butterfly pea flowers on salads to give them a luminous pop of color.

While adding flowers into your favorite recipe is an exciting prospect, take note that there are a few precautions that you will want to take before plucking and adding flowers to your cooking pot:

  • While flowers of certain plants are edible, that doesn’t mean that their other parts can be eaten as well. Check with professionals first!
  • Never harvest or use flowers that are growing by the roadside as these are contaminated with soot, smog and chemical byproducts.
  • When growing your own flowers, never use synthetic fertilizers on them.
  • To ensure the highest possible quality, only harvest flowers in the early morning, as the blooms tend to lose water as the day goes on.
  • In most cases, only the petals are edible. This means that you have to cut and throw the bloom’s pistils, stamens and sepals which are often rough and inedible.
  • To preserve their texture and color, only add flowers at the very last minute.
  • If it is your first time to add flowers to your diet, make sure to only add the blooms in small amounts so that you can safely gauge your body’s reaction to them.

Want to try your hand at cooking food with edible flowers? Here’s a quick and easy salad recipe adapted from Love and Lemons that’s perfect for a nice Sunday lunch with the family:

RECIPE: Spring Salad with Edible Flowers


  • 3 to 5 handfuls, assorted, organic salad greens
  • 1 small sweet, organic onion
  • Assorted edible flowers (nasturtiums, geraniums, pansies, butterfly pea)
  • 3 tablespoons organic nuts, chopped
  • ½ cup, crumbled feta cheese
  • ? cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ? cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Honey, to taste


  1. Peel and slice the onion into paper-thin rounds. Separate the onion into rings.
  2. Put the dressing ingredients — olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and honey — at the bottom of a large salad bowl. Whisk together until well-incorporated.
  3. Put the greens, onions, feta cheese and nuts into the bowl. Avoid tossing the salad at this point.
  4. Scatter the edible flowers across the top of the salad.
  5. Toss with the dressing just before serving.

Adding flowers to your recipes can add an entirely new dimension to your cooking, both in terms of flavor and nutrition.

For more stories about healthy flowers and herbs and other plants that you can add to your diet, visit

Sources include:

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