Garden Roses: Queen of Edible Flowers
When it comes to edible flowers, edible roses recipes are among my favorites. Roses are among the most ancient of flowers and are one of the most revered. Fossil records indicate roses have been on Earth for more than 40 million years—predating humans. Native only to the northern hemisphere, roses will also grow south of the Equator.
The Greek poet Sappho summed it all up more than 2,500 years ago when he called roses the “Queen of Flowers.” That’s why I consider edible roses recipes to be the queens of edible flowers foods. After all, roses have been cultivated for thousands of years. But the ancient Romans get the credit for introducing the flowers to the world as edible. (Peasants already used the rose hips).
Selecting Edible Roses for Flavor
There are more than 200 species of roses and 20,000 man-made hybrids. The flavors of rose petals run the gamut from totally flavorless to bitter, sour to sweet, slightly spicy to herbal and apple to minty. With all the roses to choose from, how do you pick those to eat?
First, seek out the white beach rose Rosa rugosa alba. It is the most delicious rose, with Rosa rugosa coming in a strong second. Many old roses are delicious. Try Damask roses (Rosa damascena) and Apothecary rose (Rosa gallica).
When choosing hybrids, go for the fragrant ones first. Some, however, leave a metallic aftertaste. That’s why it is important to sample all roses before using them in the kitchen. You’ll see in my list of 10 Great Roses to Grow in Your Garden that many of my favorite roses are hybrid teas. I have yet to find a David Austin (English) rose that doesn’t taste good.
Like many herbs, most roses taste like they smell. I had always thought that roses with no fragrance had no taste. But I was proven wrong with Flower Carpet® Red rose. I trialed this rose a few years before its formal introduction in 1995. It was great in the garden in all types of soil and sun, but it had no scent. In 1996, a friend visited and saw my lush plantings and raved how lucky I was “to have such an abundance of such a delicious rose.” She had tasted it, as she did all roses she grew organically, and discovered a delightful rosy flavor.
Edible Roses Recipes: From Garden to Kitchen
When preparing edible roses recipes, it is important to harvest roses early in the day. To encourage more blooms, cut flowers at a 45-degree angle down to the lowest, outward-facing, 5- or 7-leaflet group. Put the cut flowers in a clean vase of room-temperature water until you’re ready to use them.
Do not use the whole blossom. Instead, pull the petals off the flower. Notice that the base of the petal is whitish. Tear or cut that off as it is bitter. When you’re ready to cook, gently rinse the petals and place them on a paper towel to dry.
As tempting as it may be, never accept a rose (for culinary purposes) from another garden unless you are 110% sure that the flower was grown organically. Even with organic controls, I like to wait several days after application of an organic product before harvesting roses. Rinse them well before using.
If you like these edible roses recipes, also check out my Edible Spring Flowers story and recipes.
6 Edible Roses Recipes
Rose petals can be used in so many dishes. Their flavor is delicate but distinctive. Honestly, I had trouble selecting the recipes for this story. (I had to leave out so many tasty dishes!) But here are six edible roses recipes that are among my favorites.
One of my favorite edible roses recipes is also one of the easiest to make. Rose butter is a delight on any piece of bread or toast.
½ cup rose petals
½ lb. sweet (unsalted) butter
Finely chop flower petals and mix into softened butter in a glass bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for several hours and then refrigerate at least overnight to develop flavor.
Refrigerate for two weeks, or freeze for up to six months: Roll into a 1-inch-diameter log (perfect for slicing off pieces as needed), wrap with waxed paper, and place in a plastic freezer bag (squeeze the air out).
Uses: A universal recipe adaptable to any edible flower. Spread butter on bread cut into attractive shapes to make delightful tea sandwiches. Make your favorite sugar cookie or pound cake, substituting rose butter for regular butter. A slice of rose butter is great on broiled fish or poultry, adding a surprising and delicious finish.
An edible roses recipe for Rose Vodka? Yes, please! This is another easy recipe that anyone can make.
2 cups good quality vodka
¼ to ½ cup rose petals
Add flowers to the vodka. Let sit at least 4 days at room temperature. Red petals will impart the most color to the vodka. Strain the vodka. Pour into attractive bottles and store in the freezer. Serve in small thimble-sized glasses garnished with a sprinkle of chopped petals.
Uses: Drink this straight for best enjoyment. Try some in a vodka Collins, martini, or other mixed drink.
Rose Petal Fusion Crisps
This edible roses recipe is one of my favorites. Rose Petal Fusion Crips are light and savory, and they add a special taste to vegetables.
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 cup canola oil, divided
rice paper, 7″ round sheets
(available in Asian markets, sometimes sold as rice sheets)
bowl of cold water
rose petals, coarsely chopped (red adds to the beauty of this translucent crisp)
black sesame seeds
white roasted sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix the sesame oil and ½ cup canola oil in a small bowl. Dip one sheet of rice paper in water for 15 seconds. Remove from water and drain excess water against side of bowl. Place rice paper on a wood cutting board.
Lightly brush the rice paper with the oil mixture. Sprinkle on rose petals, black and white sesame seeds and cilantro leaves. Dip another sheet of rice paper in water, brush one side with oil, and place oiled side face down on top of other rice sheet. Gently press the rice paper down onto the bottom sheet.
Preheat a sauté pan. Brush pan lightly with canola oil. Place the rice paper into the pan and sauté over medium heat for about two minutes on each side. Do not allow to brown. Remove fusion crisp from pan, and with a scissors, cut it into eight pie-shaped wedges. Place wedges on a cookie sheet in the oven for five minutes.
Remove from oven and gently pat off any excess oil with a paper towel or cloth. Place crisps on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to five days.
Serving suggestion: Pair with Julienned Vegetables with Ginger Rose Vinaigrette (see below)
Julienned Vegetables with Ginger Rose Vinaigrette
I like to combine one edible roses recipe with others. This is the second of three recipes that, when combined, results in a truly memorable dining experience. (See below for the recipe for Ginger Rose Vinaigrette.)
½ cup yellow summer squash, finely julienned
½ cup zucchini, finely julienned
1 red Bell pepper, finely julienned
1 yellow Bell pepper, finely julienned
½ cup carrots, finely julienned
½ cup green cabbage, finely julienned
1 red onion, thinly sliced and marinated 1 hour in seasoned rice vinegar
½ cup red cabbage, finely julienned
½ cup sugar snap pea pods
Mix all julienned vegetables together. Toss with rose petals. Pour on Ginger Rose Vinaigrette and mix well. Garnish with red onion.
A wonderfully colorful and tasty presentation. Serves 6 to 8.
Ginger Rose Vinaigrette
The third of the edible roses recipes that should be served together. Enjoy!
2 Tbs. sesame oil
1 cup peanut oil
2 tsp. chili paste
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. seasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbs. finely grated ginger
2 egg yolks
⅓ cup rose petals
2 Tbs. black sesame seeds
2 Tbs. white sesame seeds, toasted
Whisk together all ingredients to emulsify. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 2 cups vinaigrette.
Carrot Slaw with Rose Petals
I love carrot and zucchini slaw, which is why I have included this new twist in my edible roses recipes.
4 large carrots, grated
1 small zucchini, grated (optional)
½ cup raisins
¼ cup mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
1 tsp. celery seed
1 Tbs. balsamic or herbal vinegar
1/2 – 1 cup rose petals
Mix all ingredients except rose petals together. For best flavor, refrigerate for at least several hours before serving. Serve on a bed of rose petals, atop a bed of dark green or red leaf lettuce. Cream-colored roses look especially elegant.
Spoon a small amount of slaw onto a rose petal, pop into your mouth, and enjoy.
Serves 4 as a side dish, 8 as hors d’oeuvres.
CAUTION: Please eat only roses that have been grown organically. Do not eat roses from a florist. When you buy a rose shrub, remove all soil before planting it in your garden. Then, wait until next year to eat the petals.Read the 10 Commandments of Edible Flowers for more safety tips.
All photos in this story are copyright by Cathy Wilkinson Barash and may not be used or reproduced without written consent. The featured Red Rose Bush photo at the top of this story is from Adobe Stock.