If you’ve been outside lately, you’ve likely seen a field of yellow dandelion flowers. These “weeds” from our lawns are edible and delicious, learn how to harvest them and how to use them in your food!
Dandelion Flowers: The Weed You Should Be Eating
Guest post written by Holly Jessen.
Dandelions are a hugely underappreciated plant. Where some people see annoying weeds, others see beauty, a free source of food and even fun!
Here in the Midwest, it’s the perfect time to harvest and eat dandelion flowers. The entire plant is edible, from the root to the blossom. As long as you can find some that aren’t sprayed with pesticides, it’s safe to eat dandelions raw or cooked. These humble little plants are packed with vitamin C and have multiple health benefits such as assistance with digestion.
The key, for most parts of the dandelion, is to eat it early, when the plant is small and less bitter. For the dandelion leaves, I’ve read it’s best to eat before the plant develops flowers. When eating the flowers, try to pick ones that have shorter stems. Don’t worry about over-harvesting or picking too much. These little perennial plants will be back again next year!
–Get the Quick Start Guide to Foraging here.
Eating Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens are best in the early spring. I quickly discovered that the most time-consuming part of harvesting dandelion leaves is sorting through to remove grass and other debris. But the good news is, you have a free source of food and all it costs is your time to pick it and clean it.
I decided to prepare the greens in two ways. Steamed with some coconut aminos and garlic salt and fresh, in a salad. I was surprised to find out that the process of steaming the dandelion leaves made them much more bitter. In my opinion, dandelion leaves taste best uncooked in a salad.
My daughter happily ate her salad with nothing but dandelion leaves with sprinkles of dandelion petals pulled from the blossoms, topped with a simple olive oil dressing. For my husband, I mixed a few leaves in with a romaine lettuce salad with other toppings. He said he didn’t even taste the dandelion leaves, which, for him, is high praise.
— Enjoy your dandelion greens with one of these 5 Amazingly Simple Homemade Salad Dressings.
Dandelion Blossom Recipes
The next day, my daughter got even more excited about cooking with dandelions. She wrote and illustrated a menu that included dandelion tea (or refreshments, as she labeled it) and dandelion fritters, both made with the blossoms. She also helped me with harvesting and the all-important job of counting the blooms. This project generated a lot of self-led learning for her!
To harvest dandelion blossoms, pick the head, removing the stems. Rinse carefully and keep an eye out for ants and other insects hidden in the flowers. Drain and dry on a towel.
— Learn more about Washing Produce (The Frugal Way!)
Dandelion Blossom Drinks
To make Dandelion Tea, simply boil the blossoms in water. I wanted weak tea so I just did a handful in about two cups of water. It wasn’t as bitter as I expected. The next day we tried iced dandelion tea with lemon juice and dried stevia leaf. It was delicious! This would also taste good with lime and whatever sweetener you prefer.
— Learn how to Make Your Own Tea Bags
Dandelion Blossom Fritters
The dandelion fritters were a hit with my daughter. We tried them two ways, half breaded in cornmeal batter and the other half in cauliflower flour batter. The milk I had on hand was unsweetened almond milk. My daughter has some food intolerances so I cook gluten and dairy-free for her, but these recipes would work with multiple types of flour or milk. If you happen to be out of milk, water would work fine too.
We liked the cornmeal dandelion fritters the best but the cauliflower ones were good too. The difference I noticed was that the cauliflower flour became very thick and goopy, which makes sense, and needed more milk to get to the right consistency to dip the blossoms into the batter. It didn’t fry up quite as crisp either. I think next time I’ll try almond flour batter.
The key to this recipe is that it can be adjusted to fit individual tastes. I added milk a tablespoon at a time and tested out a thick cornmeal batter, with a 1/4 cup milk, compared to a thinner cornmeal batter, with 1/3 cup milk. We found we liked the thicker batter best because we could taste less of the bitter green part around the dandelion petals. My daughter called them dandelion pancakes.
I found it easiest to fold a small handful of blossoms into the batter and then drop them by spoon, one or two blossoms at a time, into a pan covered with oil. Make sure your pan is hot enough to sizzle the batter when you drop it in but don’t let it get too hot. I tend to start with my pan a bit higher than medium heat and then turn it down to medium or lower after I put the food in. A fork works well to flip the fritters. I used avocado oil but olive, coconut or another oil would work too.
Dandelion Blossom Fritters Recipe
This is a basic recipe that can be easily adapted to your favorite ingredients. Choose whatever flour, milk, and seasonings best fit your family’s taste and/or food restrictions.
Print this Simple Dandelion Flower Fritters Recipe to add to your Recipe Binder below:
Dandelion Fritters Recipe
- 1 to 1 1/2 cup dandelion blossoms washed
- 1/2 cup flour
- one egg
- 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- oil for frying
Wash the blossoms, watching carefully for insects.
Dry, blossom up, on a towel.
Mix up dry ingredients.
Add egg and milk to the dry ingredients.
Heat oil, covering the bottom of a pan.
Dip or fold blossoms into the batter and drop, one or two at a time, into the hot pan.
Fry until golden brown, flip and fry the other side.
Use paper towel to soak up some of the extra oil
This is a basic recipe that can be easily adapted to your favorite ingredients. Choose whatever flour, milk, and seasonings best fits your family’s taste and/or food restrictions.
Next up we’re going to try dandelion bread or biscuits made with dandelion flowers. I’ve seen several recipes online I’d like to modify to be gluten and dairy-free. Another fun project is making homemade modeling clay-colored with dandelion blossoms. It smells lovely and is such a pretty color.
—Get started baking gluten-free with Merissa’s ebook – Frugal Gluten Free.
There are so many fun and tasty ways to use dandelion flowers, which are also sometimes referred to as lion’s tooth. Next year, I’m going to get started even sooner in the spring so I can cook with dandelions as long as possible. Long live the humble but powerful dandelion flowers.
If you enjoyed this post on edible dandelions, here are a few more you may enjoy:
Have you eaten dandelions before? What are your favorite ways to enjoy this flower?
Holly and her nurse husband have one child. She is a journalist who quit her job three and a half years ago when her husband became a travel nurse, making her a stay-at-home traveling mom. Now they are settling down in Minnesota after having lived in five cities in four states.
Do you have a recipe or article to share? Send Merissa Your Best Tips and you could be published!