10 Best Edible Flowers

Cooking with edible flowers is back. Not that it ever really went to seed, mind you. In fact, the practice has been around since the days of Julius Caesar.

Fast forward almost two thousand years to the blossom-loving reign of Queen Victoria and the flower-power days of the ’60s, and you’ll see that fleurs have been a perennial gastronomic delight for ages. Gelatin-encased pansies, anyone? Here, in time for your spring and summer parties, is our A-to-Z guide to the 10 best edible florets. Whether sprinkled on a salad, incorporated into a cocktail or ice cubes, or candied for a cake, these blooms promise to add an ambrosial touch to your seasonal entertaining.

This article originally appeared on thesalonniere.com.

Borage Blossoms
Piplette Treats

BORAGE BLOSSOMS
These beautiful blue, star-shaped flowers from the borage plant taste a bit like cucumber, which is why they’ve been used in salads like this one since The Elizabethan Age. They are also delicious in lemonade and refreshing cocktails like Pimm’s Cup and gin and tonic.

Calendula
Grow Forage Cook Ferment

CALENDULA
Known as the “poor man’s saffron,” the sunset-hued marigold flower really does taste like saffron when it’s sautéed in olive oil to release its flavor. Here's how to make a calendula oil infusion. Uncooked marigold petals have a more subtle, slightly spicy taste and add depth to deviled eggs.

Courgette Blossoms
Meatballs and Milkshakes

ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS
The bright yellow flowers of the courgette or zucchini plant have a delicate and slightly sweet taste. Enjoy them the classic way–stuffed with herbs and goat cheese–or on a pizza like this one, which features fresh pesto, a summertime favorite.

Hibiscus
Bustle

HIBISCUS
Both tart and sweet, hibiscus petals have a cranberry-like flavor that makes them perfect for teas and cocktails. Drop fresh hibiscus buds into glasses of bubbly and let your guests watch them bloom before their eyes.

Lavender
Climbing Grier Mountain

LAVENDER
Sweet and slightly perfumed-tasting, lavender works well when the buds are sprinkled in champagne and cocktails and over desserts like chocolate cake. Or try it in a lavender peach crisp served with vanilla ice cream. Click here for the recipe.

Nasturtiums
boroughmarket.org

NASTURTIUMS
These gorgeous flowers have a slightly peppery taste, almost like watercress, which makes them perfect for summer rice paper rolls like these. You can also stuff a whole flower with a savory mousse or enjoy nasturtium flowers like this with beef carpaccio.

Pansies
Carla Ruben

PANSIES
Pansies have a slightly grassy—even minty—flavor, so they work well in herb-flavored summer cocktails and fruit salads. For a quick, easy, and festive summer hors d’oeuvre, spread some cream cheese on a small round cracker and top it with a whole pansy.

Roses
Bon Appetit

ROSES
While roses have a strong floral scent, their flavor is quite subtle and fruity. Roses lend themselves well to everything from soups and salads to teas, jams, and desserts like this delicious strawberry, pomegranate, and rose petal treat.

Sage Flowers
Cooking with Toddlers

SAGE FLOWERS
With their soft, yet sweet-savory flavor and beautiful color, sage flowers add dimension to a variety of dishes. For summer, pair them with lemon and other garden treats in a popsicle for a surprisingly refreshing treat.

Violets
Brooklyn Locavore

VIOLETS
Violets, which come in a range of pastel and vibrant colors, have a sweet and floral taste, making them a perfect companion for everything from salads to iced drinks. They are particularly beautiful when crystallized and used to top frosted cakes and other desserts.

FLOWER PICKING TIPS
Be sure to avoid using flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. Always purchase your edible flowers from the produce section of your grocery store or, for online sources, try The Chef’s Garden, Gourmet Sweet Botanicals, or Marx Foods.

FLOWER PREPPING TIPS
When cooking with or serving edible flowers, clean them by washing them gently in a large bowl of cold water and letting them air dry on a paper towel. Use them immediately or store them in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container lined with a damp paper towel.