Dandelion recipes keep things wild in the kitchen in early spring, and there’s nothing like bright fresh blossoms and zesty wild greens after a long winter of heavy food.
Dandelions are exciting to backyard foragers because they’re one of the easiest wild plants to safely identify. Though they do have a few look likes (coltsfoot in the very early spring and hawks eye in the fall), most children know how to spot dandelion plants with ease.
Every part of a dandelion is edible, from the roots to the leaves and flowers, even the unopened flower buds and flower stalks. There are literally hundreds of dandelion recipes that offer creative ideas for using every part of the plant, both for food and medicine.
That’s right, dandelions are more than just edible! They’re also great as a spring medicine, providing much-needed bitters to help cleanse the system in anticipation of warmer weather. They can be made into all manner of tinctures, teas, salves, and soaps.
Dandelions grow just about everywhere because their seeds are dispersed high into the atmosphere and they’ve colonized just about every habitable place on earth. I’ve heard from a number of people that they just don’t have them, which always surprises me. If you’re short on dandelions, you can always grow your own. The seeds are absurdly cheap, coming in packs of 10,000 seeds or more.
Medicinal Benefits of Dandelions
While dandelions may seem like just another weed, they were once respected as powerful medicine. Modern science is baking up this old knowledge, and peer-reviewed studies are confirming what herbalists have known for centuries.
According to Backyard Medicine, dandelions are used to treat:
- Skin Problems
- Constipation & Fluid Retention
- Urinary Problems
- Liver Issues
- Arthritis & Muscle Tension
Even the dandelion stem is medicinal, and the sap from the stem is used to treat warts, calluses, corns, and rough skin.
Dandelion infused oil is a treatment for sore joints and muscles, used alone or incorporated into salves, soaps and creams. There are plenty of creative examples of ways to use dandelion oil…
- Dandelion shampoo bars
- Dandelion lotion bars
- Dandelion magnesium lotion
- Dandelion herbal sunscreen
- Dandelion salve
- Dandelion lip balm
These Dandelion bath bombs use both fresh dandelion petals and dandelion infused oil, and they’re designed to help ease sore muscles after a long day in the garden.
Most dandelion recipes are rather simple, especially the medicinal preparations. I love that, but sometimes it’s fun to spend the day making something absolutely jaw-dropping.
I’m particularly in love with this stunning dandelion soap, made in layers using the whole plant. Each layer incorporates a different part of the dandelion plant, for a striped soap that’ll make spectacular spring gifts.
Dandelion Flower Recipes
Let’s start with the fun part: dandelion flowers. The flowers are edible straight off the plant, and it can be fun to send your children out to gather them for your projects. If they eat a few, no harm and it gets them excited about foraging!
Beyond their use as an edible flower, dandelion blossoms are also medicinal. The flowers are used to treat muscle tension and arthritis when applied topically.
Their bright golden color adds beauty to cakes, cookies, and other baked goods. Dandelion peanut butter cookies are an easy twist on an old classic.
If you really want to make something unique, Dandelion Petal Cookies with Kale Frosting are an interesting way to get both foraged food and veggies into dessert.
I’m personally partial to a simple Dandelion Shortbread, where the petals lend the flavor of honey and bright colors to an easy to make cookie.
Dandelion Candy cooks the syrup bit further until it forms floral hard candy, and it’s a great way to preserve dandelion petals as a sweet treat.
My kids are particularly fond of golden dandelion gummy bears sweetened with honey, and they’re surprisingly easy to make.
Dandelion honey butter has a delicate floral flavor that’s complemented by the sweetness of honey, and all you need is a bit of butter and honey to get the job done.
Or you can just Infuse those golden petals into cream, add a bit of honey and then churn it up into Dandelion & Honey Ice Cream sweet floral honey ice cream.
Dandelion “honey” or Dandelion Syrup, creates a sweet honey-like syrup flavored with dandelion petals, and it’s a favorite of vegans looking for an easy honey substitute.
Starting with dandelion soda, it’s easy to make your own all-natural floral soda! Dandelion Soda uses a natural ginger bug to carbonate a light homemade spring soda.
Let the kids sip their ginger bug carbonated soda, while the adults enjoy old fashioned Dandelion Wine. It’s one of my favorite homemade wines, and this easy ferment captures the essence of summer in a bottle.
On a more savory note, dandelion blossom vinegar makes an exceptional salad dressing. It’s easy to make, by simply infusing dandelion blossoms in an existing vinegar (white, cider vinegar, etc).
I’ve actually turned my own homemade vinegar starting with homemade dandelion mead, and then culturing it with a vinegar mother to make a dandelion honey vinegar. It’s a more advanced technique to be sure, but you can follow the same basic principles as making fruit vinegar, but just substitute dandelions and honey in place of fruit juice.
Like dandelion wine, dandelion jelly is an old fashioned treat that’s making a modern comeback. The bright golden dandelion petals add amazing color, along with a light honey flavor.
My daughter says it’s her favorite jelly, and that’s saying something, as she tests out literally dozens of my homemade jelly recipes every year.
You can stick with simple dandelion, or get creative by adding more floral or fruit flavors. This version uses both dandelion and lavender blossoms.
Dandelion Recipes for Leaves and Buds
Dandelion leaves are a bitter spring green that helps cleanse the liver and is a welcome break from all the heavy foods of winter. They’re high in vitamins and minerals, particularly potassium and vitamins A and C.
Dandelion salad is the simplest way to enjoy dandelion greens with just a bit of dressing. This version includes strawberries and balsamic for extra yummy, while this version dresses the greens with a warm pecan vinaigrette.
The tastiest dandelion salad I’ve seen thus far might be this Dandelion Puntarelle Salad, and it sure does plate up beautifully…
Another simple preparation is Dandelion chips, where the leaves are just seasoned and oven dehydrated, made in the same way as the ever-popular kale chips.
We often make homemade pasta, but somehow I’ve not yet managed to incorporate nutritious greens into the dough. I love the color of Dandelion Egg Noodles, and sneaking wild foraged greens into homemade pasta is a great way to get more veggies into reluctant eaters.
Just as you’d add spinach or basil to a pizza, it’s easy enough to substitute dandelion greens in their place. This Dandelion pizza makes a cream sauce topping for white pizza using dandelion greens.
Wild foraged pesto can be made with all manner of greens, from chickweed and wild ramps. Dandelion Pesto is much the same and uses spicy dandelion greens in place of basil in traditional pesto.
Cooking dandelion greens takes out a bit of their bite (in my opinion) and I honestly prefer them as a cooked green. Something like this simple sauteed dandelion greens and bacon is one of my favorite ways to prepare them.
Traditional Greek recipes often incorporate dandelion greens in the springtime, and this dandelion black-eyed pea dish is just one example.
Dandelion can stand in for greens in other Mediterranean recipes, like this Italian pasta cacio e pepe with dandelion.
There’s a traditional Lebanese dish called Hindbeh that’s a popular restaurant appetizer, and it includes dandelion greens cooked with lemon and olive oil. The plate is topped with caramelized onions and makes a striking presentation if done right…
While it normally includes cultivated greens like kale, Minestra is flexible. It combines healthy greens and beans into a full meal, and using dandelion greens for a hint of bitterness and extra nutrition.
Beyond savory dandelion meals, you can also incorporate the leaves into drink and smoothie recipes for extra nutrition. Spring detox dandelion decoction uses both the leaves and roots of dandelions, along with several other cleansing herbs to make an overnight detox tea. Herbal Kool-Aid combines hibiscus, dandelion leaves, and rosehips for a convincing sugar-free kool-aid.
Or you can always go with a simple green dandelion detox smoothie.
The green goodness of dandelion doesn’t have to stop at the leaves, what about dandelion flower buds? Dandelion Capers pickle unopened dandelion buds for a homemade caper that anyone can make from their own yard.
Dandelion Root Recipes
Probably the least used part, dandelion roots don’t get enough attention. Pulling up the roots is the only sure-fire way to get them out of your garden beds, and if you’re going to pull them, you might as well use them. Dandelion roots are most commonly used medicinally as a tincture to treat liver issues, constipation, skin problems, and fluid retention.
One of the simplest preparations is a dandelion tincture, where the cleaned (but raw) roots are infused in a neutral spirit to create a medicinal alcohol extract. This preserves the medicine in the roots for use all year long.
Similarly, Dandelion Bitters are a homemade tonic for the liver and a tasty cocktail additive at the same time. I’ve made a version that includes dandelion and burdock, which are complementary and make a delicious mixer.
Steamed dandelion roots are a simple way to enjoy them as a vegetable. Dandelion roots cook up just like any garden root crop, and it’s a simple way to get a little early spring nutrition.
Historically, dandelion roots were roasted and used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute. Roasted dandelion root coffee lets you have a morning coffee ritual, without the caffeine. It tastes surprisingly like coffee, but without the acid.
Dandelion Root Chai is another take on dandelion root coffee but spiced to make a herbal caffeine-free chai. Similarly, this health food dandelion mocha incorporates cocoa nibs along with other medicinal herbs and mushrooms for a chocolate-y detox beverage.
Take those same roasted roots and brew them up into a probiotic herbal ferment with Dandelion Kombucha. This dandelion recipe combines probiotics with the health benefits of dandelion roots in a tasty fizzy drink.
If you’d like to skip the roasting step, Dandelion tea is made from unroasted roots, and this mix includes other medicinal herbs as well.
That same dandelion root tea can be used in baked goods, like these dandelion tea donuts. They’re are a creative way to incorporate dandelions into food. The coffee-like dandelion root tea is used to flavor the cake in these homemade donuts.
Roasted dandelion root tea also adds flavor to these paleo dandelion root muffins.
For a sweeter infusion, try infusing dandelion roots into raw honey instead of water. Dandelion Root Infused Honey imparts the medicinal constituents of the dandelion roots into a sweet medicine.
More Dandelion Recipes?
When it comes to dandelion recipes, the sky’s the limit. There’s definitely a lot more tastiness that could be made beyond this list of dandelion uses.
My favorite though? Dandelion wine, filling my glass with a sip of summer even as the cold winter winds blow…
What’s your favorite way to use dandelions? Leave a note in the comments below.
Other Wild Foraged Recipes
Looking for more ways to bring wild edibles into the kitchen?
- Chokecherry Jelly (and Jam)
- Japanese Knotweed Recipes
- 20+ Edible Weeds in Your Garden (with Recipes)