Can You Eat Dandelions?

You can eat everything from dandelion flowers to the greens and roots. Here's a look at how to cook dandelions.

Watch out, spinach and kale! Next time you’re at the farmers market, look for dandelions. Chowing down on dandelions might seem unconventional, but Depression-era recipes use everything from the greens to the roots. This superfood is inexpensive and brimming with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.

Quick history: Dandelions were so cherished among Europeans that, when they arrived in the Americas four hundred years ago, they brought dandelion seeds to plant. This weed has flavor, versatility and health benefits that should usher in a new appreciation of greens!

Where to Find Edible Dandelions

Can you eat dandelions? Absolutely. And given the plethora of dandelions in the wild, it might make more sense to harvest your own instead of paying for greens at the market. However, make sure you’re plucking up plants where you know there hasn’t been any herbicide or pesticide use. It’s best to stay away from places like freeways, train tracks or telephone poles, and be sure to consult local rules about removing flora.

How to Eat Dandelions

Dandelion Root

Can you eat dandelion roots? Yes! The roots can be peeled and boiled on the stove and then eaten whole, or chopped up and roasted to be made into dandelion tea. The flavor is similar to coffee, though less acidic, and can be paired with a bit of milk, sweetener or lemon juice.

Dandelion Greens

The leaves have a unique flavor, both earthy and bitter—it’s similar to endive or radicchio. The earlier you pick dandelion greens, the less bitter they will be, which is why people pick ones that emerge in early spring to either use raw in a dandelion salad. You can also sauté the greens. Keep the sauté simple with olive oil and salt and pepper, or add red pepper flakes, garlic or even Parmesan to liven up the dish.

Big into brunching? This satisfying dandelion greens quiche will have everyone toasting you with their mimosas! You can also grind up the leaves to make dandelion pesto, perfect for a light summer pasta.

Learn more about the health benefits of dandelion.

Dandelion Flower

Dandelion wine—yes, it’s a real wine—is a popular summer drink. It’s one of many creations that can be made with dandelion flowers, which are faintly sweet. They can also be used for syrup, jam or sweet, gift-worthy jelly. You might also batter the blossoms and fry them in butter. The result will be similar to fried zucchini blossom. They can be sweetened with honey and cinnamon or spiced with rosemary and thyme.

Be sure to only harvest as many blossoms as you need at once—they must be cooked immediately and should not be stored in the fridge.

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Kim Bussing
Kim Bussing is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She has written for publications including Reader’s Digest, Modern Farmer, Clean Plates and Vice, among others, and she is working on her first novel. She is always on the hunt for the perfect gluten-free cinnamon roll.