Updated May 14, 2022
Dandelion (Taraxacum officiale) has a bad reputation with lawn lovers, who often obsessively attempt to eradicate it from their well-groomed grassy patches. But, for herbalists, foragers, and plant lovers, this common weed is a delight as it is edible, medicinal, and a valuable source of food for insects.
Dandelions are truly one of my favorite plants and I get so excited when I see them starting to come up each year. I love our dandelion packed yard and can’t help but cringe when I see people mowing down or spraying pesticides over big patches of them. Aside from being so cheerful and adorable, they are incredibly useful. In fact, all parts of the plant can be utilized in making food and medicine.
Dandelion leaves are a delicious bitter green that are a tasty addition to salads, soups, pizzas, pastas, stir fries, pesto, and more. They can also be used in teas and salves for medicinal purposes.
The roots are edible and medicinal too. They are best collected between June and August (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere) when they are the most bitter. Cut them in half before drying to speed the process.
Dandelion roots can be used to make tea. They are often roasted and then simmered to make a strong decoction that has a bitter flavor somewhat similar to coffee (but it doesn’t have the same stimulating effect). This Spicy Dandelion Root & Reishi Hot Cocoa is one of my favorite dandelion root beverages. I also enjoy adding fresh, diced root to stir fries, sauces, and soups.
The blossoms are my favorite part of the plant to use in the spring as they are so colorful and plentiful. They make lovely infused syrups and jellies. I also like using them in a unique burger patty. This dandelion burger recipe gives an idea of my process.
Each year when the dandelions are in bloom, I harvest tons of flowers for different projects. This spring, I made dandelion blossom wine, fermented dandelion blossom relish, dandelion blossom kombucha, and dandelion blossom syrup. I also infused witch hazel extract with dandelions blossoms and other spring herbs for a lovely soothing, facial toner.
I have also particularly enjoyed adding dandelion root and leaf to many different tea blends, including a wonderful kidney tonic tea.
Below are a few of the dandelion recipes I mentioned to get you started.
Fermented Dandelion Blossom Relish
This unique condiment was an experiment that combines my love of fermented foods and dandelions. I was pleasantly surprised at just how good it turned out and will definitely be making it again in the future.
- 4 cups dandelion blossoms, packed
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly ground coriander
- 2 cups of water
- 1 Tbsp salt (use a salt without additives like iodine, or anti-caking agents, like calcium silicate)
- 1 wide mouth pint jar with lid
- 1 fermentation weight
Add the dandelion blossoms, garlic, and spices to a large bowl. Mix everything together roughly with your hands, shredding and smushing the dandelion blossoms.
Add salt and water and continue to scrunch and mush everything together with your hands until the blossoms are all broken up and the mixture is well blended.
Pack the blossom blend and brine into a quart jar (you may have a little brine left over). Push the solids down firmly so everything is well covered by brine. Place your fermentation weight on top to keep everything submerged (if things aren’t covered in brine they will get moldy). Cover jar with lid, but do not tighten down more than a half turn. You want the gases to be able to escape or it may bubble over (not that I would know…).
Set jar on a warm shelf out of direct sunlight and check it periodically. Give it a taste every so often to check how much it has fermented and once it has reached your desired level of tanginess, store it in the refrigerator to slow further fermentation. I let mine ferment for a month, but it will ferment differently based on temperature, so give it a taste sooner than that.
Enjoy this tasty fermented relish on hot dogs, burgers, or with grilled pita. It’s a tangy, garlicky condiment that is as unique as it is delicious.
I made an adapted version of this classic dandelion wine recipe, originally published in Mother Earth News in 1970. I used honey instead of sugar and added grapefruit. This season was my first go at dandelion wine so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. This beverage takes about 2-3 weeks to ferment.
In the future I’d like to try making this Wild Fermented Dandelion Ginger Wine.
For more delicious ways to enjoy dandelion, try out some of these recipes:
- Dandelion Flower Fritters
- Dandelion Pesto
- Dandelion Lemon Bars
- Dandelion Quiche
- Dandelion Egg Noodles
- Dandelion Capers
- Dandelion Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting
In addition to being edible, dandelion is also has a variety of medicinal applications. It can be taken internally or used externally to treat many different conditions. It has been used traditionally to help treat liver & kidney problems, UTIs, skin eruptions, eczema, anemia, and more.
Dandelion tea can be drunk to help ease stomach aches. It is a nutritious herb that can be helpful for anemia. This plant helps to purify the blood. Dandelion also aids the heart and can decrease blood pressure. Dandelion leaf tea is a diuretic that can be helpful for fluid retention, weight loss, and cystitis.
Dandelion is great for your skin too! It is healing, soothing, and helps reduce inflammation. It makes it a wonderful addition to salves, lip balms, and facial toners. Below is a recipe for the spring blossom toner I crafted this year.
Dandelion, Violet & Cleaver Facial Toner
This facial toner is simple to make and is beneficial for all skin types. Witch hazel extract is produced from the leaves and bark of the Witch Hazel shrub and is naturally astringent and anti-microbial. It helps to reduce bags and puffiness around the eyes. It can also shrink pores and help to heal blemishes. Infusing witch hazel extract with these skin soothing, spring herbs makes it a perfect cleansing, facial toner that can also be used to relieve skin irritations.
- 1 part Dandelion flowers
- 1 part Violet flowers & leaves
- 1 part Cleavers
- High quality, organic witch hazel extract
- A few drops of aloe vera gel
Add herbs to a glass jar with a lid. You will want to fill the jar roughly 3/4 full (you want enough room for at least 1-2 inches of witch hazel on top of the herbs.) Don’t pack the herbs down in the jar too tightly as you want everything to be evenly submerged in liquid.
Pour the witch hazel extract over the herbs and put the lid on your jar. Place in a cool, dark place and let infuse for 2-4 weeks. Shake your jar daily (if you remember). The witch hazel will start to take on the color and scent of the herbs.
When your concoction has finished infusing, strain out the herbs with a cheese cloth. Store in a clean bottle or jar (be sure to label your jar!).
Pour a few drops of aloe vera gel into a 4 oz spray bottle, fill to the top with your infused witch hazel. Shake well and spritz on your face to tone and cleanse skin.
Below are a few more delightful dandelion body care recipes to enjoy:
So, as you can see, there’s many lovely reasons not to spray or mow your dandelions this year. Instead, you’ll surely have lots of ways you’ll want to use this cheery little plant for food, medicine, and skincare.
Do you have any favorite dandelion recipes? Share your favorite ways to enjoy this amazing weed in the comments below.
*Note: Do not harvest dandelions that have been sprayed by pesticides or those that are near roads, as pollution from car fumes, gas & oil leaks, etc. makes them unsuitable for consumption and use in skincare applications
A Modern Herbal: Volume I. M. Grieve. 249-254.
The Way of Herbs. Michael Tierra. 127-128.
The Herbal Handbook: A User’s Guide to Medical Herbalism. David Hoffman. 69-70.
Back to Eden. Jethro Kloss. 123-124.
“Dandelion: The Dandiest Weed of All.” Herbal Adcademy. https://theherbalacademy.com/dandelion-the-dandiest-weed-of-all/
“A Family Herb: Dandelion.” Herbal Academy. March 9, 2016. https://theherbalacademy.com/a-family-herb-dandelion/