Some flowers, such as fiery, spicy nasturtium, can add bright color and a dose of nutrients—like vitamin C and lutein—to a salad. Other blossoms might embellish a plate or party platter but taste rather insipid.

“When using edible flowers, think about why you are using the particular flower,” advises Katie Hess, author, flower alchemist and founder of the floral apothecary Lotuswei. “Is it for the aroma, visual beauty or the flavor?”

“For example, the elusive aroma of lilacs can be infused into organic cane sugar or coconut sugar to appreciate the fragrance in teas or baking,” Hess says. “Another heavily aromatic flower like night-blooming jasmine can be infused into maple syrup and then drizzled over fresh fruit or folded into the foam of a homemade dairy-free cappuccino. Rose petals can be infused into honey, teas or added to cakes, frostings and mousses, where the soft floral aroma can be appreciated.”

Hess’s new book, Flowerevolution: Blooming into Your Full Potential with the Magic of Flowers, is a guide to using flowers in everyday life. “When using edible flowers for visual beauty, they can be placed on top [of foods], chopped up and folded in for color or frozen into ice cubes. In some cases, flowers can even be the serving dish: Tulips can be used as cups for mousse, sorbet, chia pudding or other fun desserts,” she says.

“Flowers with a strong flavor, such as lavender, can be used in baking cookies or cakes,” she continues. “They can also be obtained dry, which also makes them appropriate for high heat, whereas when you’re working with fresh flowers, it’s best not to cook them, using them instead for beverages, desserts or garnish.”

For best results, experts recommend choosing fresh flowers and petals from organically grown blooms or plants from your own garden or a local farmers market. The type of flowers available will depend on the time of year and your location. If you’re using flowers from a local farm, make sure that they’re sourced from soil that hasn’t been fertilized with manure for at least four months, Hess warns. In addition, pick plants not sprayed with chemicals so that they’re safe to eat.

When picking flowers from a garden, pluck them early in the day. “Always rinse the flowers, remove any insects and gently dry the flowers with a paper towel,” Hess advises.

You can also order edible flowers online. If you do, “opt for hardy, long-lasting flowers like dianthus and karma orchids and use them as soon as they arrive,” Hess says.

In addition, it’s best to use flowers right away because they wither quickly and petals will start to dry out after two hours.

If you’re not going to use them immediately, keep flowers fresh for up to 10 days by placing them on moist paper towels inside an airtight container and refrigerating them—but it’s best to use them within a week. (Tip: A sprinkle of ice water will revitalize wilted flowers.)

And here’s more practical advice from a number of other experts:

  • Make sure that the flavor of the flower complements the dish. One should not overpower the other.
  • Don’t use flowers from a florist, as they will likely contain harmful chemicals or pesticides.
  • Check the produce section of specialty grocery stores for edible flowers.
  • Never use flowers growing by the road or in public parks, as they are likely to be tainted by pesticides, herbicides or fumes from vehicles.
  • If you have ragweed allergies, avoid chamomile and carnation. If you you’re allergic to composite flowers (those in the daisy or sunflower family), skip calendula, chicory, chrysanthemum and marigold.
  • Use petals sparingly; some can cause digestive problems.

Although some flowers can be eaten whole, only the petals of some others are edible. (The pistils and stamens can be bitter, so these ought to be removed before eating.)

Certain flowers have parts that aren’t good to eat and can even be poisonous. For example, some species of lilies are edible, while the ones that contain alkaloids shouldn’t be eaten. Research all flowers you want to consume.

Easy Edible Flower Recipes

Lilac Sugar

Rinse fresh lilac petals. Once completely dry, remove the petals from the stems. Use equal portions of granulated sugar and lilac petals. In an airtight glass jar, alternate layers of sugar with layers of lilac petals. Gently shake the jar to mix, and store in a dark, dry place for a week to one month. Shake periodically (daily if you plan to infuse only for a week or two). Sift and remove the petals before use if you prefer. The dried petals and sugar can also be blended in a food processor. The infused sugar will last three months.

Decadent Crystallized Gardenia Petals*

Use only organic flowers or flowers from a garden.

1 egg white

2 tablespoons water

1 handful gardenia flower petals**

1 teaspoon organic cane sugar

Using a fork, mix the egg white and water in a bowl. With a small paintbrush or pastry brush, apply the mixture on both sides of each petal. Sprinkle sugar on both sides of the petals, and let dry for a couple of hours.

The crystallized petals can be eaten as a snack or used to decorate cakes or treats. Petals will keep in an airtight container for several days.

(**You can also use other sweet florals, such as roses, violets, pansies and Johnny-jump-ups.)

Jasmine-Infused Maple Syrup*

Use this jasmine-infused maple syrup as a sweetener for coffee drinks. To make it at home, you need a jasmine plant that flowers every morning. If you don’t have one, buy one from a nursery in your area. Note that there are many varieties of jasmine. Some, such as star jasmine or pink jasmine, may bloom only for two weeks at a time, but two weeks should be enough time to make the syrup.

Each morning, pick the jasmine blossoms that have bloomed the night before. Remove dirt or bugs, and place the flower clusters in a glass jar. Completely cover the petals with maple syrup. Seal the jar and refrigerate. The next day, using wooden chopsticks, remove the blossoms and replace them with freshly collected flowers. Repeat this step as many days as you like, according to your desired intensity of fragrance and flavor. For heavily scented syrup, Hess recommends infusing for 20 to 30 days.

Jasmine Foam Cappuccinos*

Heat 1 cup of dairy or nut milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.

After heating the milk, use a handheld milk frother to create bubbles in the liquid.

Brew the espresso or coffee and pour the foamy milk over it. Gently fold 1 teaspoon of jasmine maple syrup into the foam.

Delightful Golden Nasturtium Salad*

To make the nasturtium vinaigrette: Fill 3/4 of a jar with fresh nasturtium blossoms. Top with 1/2 cup of white rice vinegar or white wine vinegar. Store in a dark place for three weeks.

After three weeks, add a sprig of fresh rosemary, a handful of fresh chives or a couple of crushed garlic cloves to the jar to enhance the flavor.

Rinse fresh nasturtium flowers and leaves with water and dry with a paper towel.

Combine the nasturtium vinaigrette with 1/2 cup of olive oil. Then add 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard and 1/2 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt, and 2 large handfuls of nasturtium flowers and leaves. Shake well. Allow the flavors to marry for a couple of minutes. Refrigerate and use within five days.

To make the salad: Combine a large handful of salad greens and eight nasturtium flowers and leaves in a large bowl. Top with nasturtium vinaigrette and toss. 

*Adapted from Flowerevolution: Blooming into Your Full Potential with the Magic of Flowers (Hay House) by Katie Hess.

Flower: Arugula
(Eruca sativa or vesicaria)
FlavorPeppery, milder than the leaves
UseIn salads and savory dishes
Flower: Bachelor’s Button (Cornflower)
(Centaurea cyanus)
FlavorCucumber or clove-like
UseAs a garnish
TipEat only the petals.
Flower: Borage
(Borago officinalis)
UseIn salads or as a garnish
TipAvoid if pregnant or lactating.
Flower: Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium or indicum)
FlavorSweet to peppery
UseIn salads, salad dressing and stir-fries
TipRemove white base.
Flower: Daylily
FlavorMelon, sweet lettuce, asparagus or zucchini
UseIn desserts and other dishes; can be stuffed and fried
TipCut out white base; eat in moderation, as it can act as a diuretic.
Flower: Geranium
FlavorMelon, sweet lettuce, asparagus or zucchini
UseAs a garnish
Flower: Hibiscus
(Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
FlavorSweet and tart, like cranberries
UseIn salads, teas, cocktails and desserts
Flower: Impatiens
(Impatiens walleriana)
UseAs a garnish
Flower: Jasmine
(Jasminum sp.)
UseIn teas, ice cream and desserts

Flower: Johnny-Jump-Up
(Viola tricolor)
FlavorWintergreen and minty
UseAs a garnish; with soft, mild cheese

Flower: Lavender
FlavorMinty, citrus
UseIn teas, cocktails and desserts

Flower: Lilac
(Syringa vulgaris)
FlavorLemony to pungent
UseIn salads, jellies, liqueurs, ice cream; crystallized with egg whites and sugar
Flower: Nasturtium
(Tropaeolum majus)
UseIn salads and savory dishes
TipBuds, flowers and leaves are edible.


(Viola × wittrockiana)
FlavorLettuce-y or minty
UseAs a garnish
TipEat only the petals; remove the pistils and stamens.
Flower: Peony
(Paeonia lactiflora)
UseIn salads, lemonade, punches and teas
TipUse to decorate cakes.
Flower: Rose
(Rosa rugosa or gallica officinalis)
FlavorDepends on the variety
UseAs a garnish
TipSnip off bitter white part at base of petals.
Flower: Squash or Zucchini Blossom
(Curcurbita sp.)
FlavorZucchini, yellow squash
UseIn salads and soups, fried, stuffed with cheese
Flower: Violet
(Viola odorata)
UseIn desserts, jams, jellies
TipFreeze in ice cubes to decorate drinks.