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25 Ways to Make Dandelions the Best Part of Your Spring

collection of dandelion flowers

Ah, dandelions. Whether you love seeing them in your yard or detest them, you’ve got to admire their resilience. Despite our best efforts to purge them from our landscape, these happy weed ambassadors persist.

But these days, more and more folks are being won over to the sunny side. Instead of the question, “How do you get rid of dandelions?” it’s more often replaced with,

“What can I do with all these dandelions?”

Oh, I’m so glad you asked, friend.

Lots. Lots and lots.

As foraging is making a resurgence, many people are looking for an easy place to start, and what better place than in your backyard with these easy-to-spot flowers? Even a three-year-old can identify these sunny flowers. And, unlike some plants, the chance of us over-foraging dandelions is nearly impossible.

As anyone trying to rid them from their lawn will tell you, when you pick one, three more pop up in its place.

Dandelions have been used medicinally for centuries. Their bitter leaves and roots are known to stimulate the appetite and cleanse the liver. While few studies have been conducted as to the efficacy of using dandelion medicinally, it remains one of the most popular folk remedies out there.

Nutritionally, however, dandelions are crammed full of nutrients. They contain vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and even carotene. Did I mention they’re a great source of fiber?

And they’re free!

Talk about a superfood.

But the best reason for picking dandelions is that they taste good, and you can make so many things with them. This spring, grab a basket and pick dandelions until you see yellow. Eat them, wear them, drink them – there are so many things you can do with dandelions!

Know Your Dandies

Woman's hand with pollen covered fingers, holding a dandelion.

Before you stain your fingers yellow, there are a few things you should note. Avoid dandelions close to the road. They will pick up dirt, exhaust and other not-so-tasty things from the passing traffic.

Only pick where you know the ground is free of chemicals. This is why foraging in your own yard is a great place to start. But for obvious reasons, you don’t want to pick dandelions from an area that’s been treated with pesticides or herbicides.

Although considered safe to ingest, you should always talk to your doctor first about using any flower or herb medicinally, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.

But What About the Bees?

I hope by now, we’ve quelled the myth that dandelions are a bee’s first available food source each spring. Not only is this not true, but dandelions aren’t even the best available first food source for bees. You can read more about this important topic here.

Now, on to the fun part.

Which Part Can You Eat?

Yes. Which is to say all of it. The entire dandelion, from sunny yellow flower petals to the leafy greens down to the long taproot, it’s all edible.

Dandelion buds
Just wait until you see what you can make with the buds.

Some parts taste better at different times of the year. For instance, the leaves are less bitter if you can catch them early in the spring before they flower. If you want to make the delicious dandelion bud capers (trust me, you do), you’ll need to pick them in early spring as well. However, if you’re looking to get the most nutrients from the roots, fall is the best time to pick those.

And the flowers, well, we all know those don’t last long, so pick them while you can.

Removing the Bitter from the Greens

If you want to eat dandelion greens beyond the first few moments of spring, you can easily tame the bitterness. Soak the leaves in a bowl of cold water with one teaspoon of salt overnight and then rinse them again before using them.

You can also blanch them in boiling salted water for two minutes. Remove the blanched greens to an ice-water bath.

Both methods will remove much of the bitterness from the leaves.

Here Are 25 Things to Make With Dandelions

1. Absolutely Nothing

A lawn with dandelions.

The first thing on our list is important. Remember, simply leaving them to exist in your yard and even your garden is a valid option. You can stop expending energy trying to fight a losing battle with them. Let dandelions be, and you’ll save time and money, not to mention you’ll alleviate the stress of fighting with them.  

Eat Them

2. Add the Flowers to a Salad

I’m all about easy, and there’s nothing easier than picking a few dandelions from the yard and sprinkling them over my salad. Not only do they add a gorgeous pop of color, but they taste good, too! Lightly sweet and crunchy, they’re a great accent to any salad.

3. Dandelion Vinegar

Speaking of vinegar, make up a bottle of dandelion vinegar for a delightfully fresh and tangy salad topping.

Infused Dandelion Vinegar @growforagecookferment

4. Dandelion Bud Capers

Two jars of homemade dandelion capers
Oh man, my mouth is watering just looking at this photo.

I make a few small jars of these crunchy dandelion bud “capers” each spring. These wild-foraged faux capers are by far my favorite way to enjoy dandelions. Use them any way you would traditional capers. I’ve even shared my trick for making the collection of the tiny buds easy and quick.

5. Dandelion Jelly

The next time you whip up a batch of scones for tea, you can reach for a jar of homemade dandelion jelly. This lightly floral and honey-sweet jelly is sure to please. The color itself is worth making a batch.

Dandelion Jelly Recipe @Bakers Brigade

6. Dandelion Syrup

Think maple syrup, but happier. Yes, you can make syrup with dandelion flowers. What do you put it on? Well, just about anything you would put maple syrup on, but it’s especially wonderful drizzled over homemade vanilla ice cream. Speaking of ice cream…

Homemade Dandelion Syrup @Nature’s Nurture

7. Dandelion Ice Cream

If you’ve never experienced dandelion ice cream before, I think this spring you should change that. You’ll never look at those sunny flowers in your yard the same once you know they can be made into this creamy, delectable treat.

Simple Homemade Dandelion Ice Cream @From Scratch Farmstead

There are so many ways to eat dandelion greens. Here are a few ideas to give you a head start.

8. Sauteed Greens with Garlic

Dandelion greens with large slivers of garlic.
I love these as is, but I love them more on pizza.

Treating dandelion greens as you would most greens is a great place to start when you’re trying to figure out how to eat them. A little garlic, a dash of crushed red pepper flakes and sizzle in some oil and you’re well on your way to an excellent spring side dish. (These are also great on pizza.)

Dandelion Greens with Garlic @ The Spruce Eats

9. Bruschetta

Bruschetta made from dandelion greens.
Who knew a weed in your yard could be so posh?

Long before tomatoes make an appearance on the scene, you can scratch your itch for bruschetta with this fresh spring version. Be careful, though. If you end up making your own mozzarella to go with it you may never want the tomato-based variety bruschetta again.

Sauteed Greens Bruschetta with Fresh Mozzarella @Deep South Magazine

10. Dandelion Shortbread

How can you take a classic cookie like shortbread and improve it? By adding flowers, of course. The petals add a delicate sweetness and clean spring note to the rich, buttery shortbread.

Dandelion Shortbread Cookies @Adamant Kitchen

11. Dandelion Bread

Flowers in bread? Why not? This traditional white bread recipe is elevated to ethereal spring levels by the addition of dandelion petals.

Homemade Dandelion Bread @Homespun Seasonal Living

Removing the petals from the green flower head is a great way to catch up on your favorite podcasts.

12. Dandelion Flower Fritters

If you say fritters, I’m there. It doesn’t matter what kind. These dandelion fritters are no different. Fresh, crunchy, slightly sweet, and you can easily make them by the dozen with all those dandelions in your yard. Mmm!

Dandelion Flower Fritters @Edible Wild Food

Drink Them

Roasted dandelion roots.
Toasted and ready to grind.

13. Dandelion Mead

A glass of dandelion mead
This is from the last bottle of 2020 dandelion mead. It was a terrible year, but the mead sure was great.

Mead is essentially wine made from honey. It’s generally a bit sweeter than wine made from grapes. But when you add dandelion petals, you’re essentially creating liquid gold. It’s marvelous tipple in the middle of the coldest winter. Try either of my dandelion mead recipes.

14. They Make Great Wine, Too

A bit more floral and a lighter mouthfeel, dandelion wine is equally easy to make for the beginner home brewer. Make up a gallon of this spring “tonic” to enjoy long after the flowers have faded.

Homemade Dandelion Wine Recipe @Practical Self Reliance

15. Dandelion Root “Coffee”

Roasted dandelion root coffee

Here’s the thing: roasted dandelion root is a coffee substitute. Too often, people try it expecting a rich cup of coffee, and they end up disappointed. Dandelion root coffee is best enjoyed in its own right. It’s a wonderfully complex and tasty drink. One of my favorite ways of enjoying dandelion root coffee is to make cold brew with it.  

16. Dandelion Leaf Tea

Tea made with the leaves is certainly an acquired taste, but if you’ve had a large meal, it’s a taste worth acquiring. This slightly medicinal tea is a great way to help settle your stomach and improve digestion after a heavy meal. (Keep this in your pocket for Thanksgiving!) You can sweeten the tea with sugar or honey to taste.

Dandelion Leaf Tea @Mama’s Homestead

17. Dandelion Soda

A ginger bug in a window.

You can make homemade soda at home using a ginger bug; no fancy soda maker is needed. (A ginger bug is kind of like sourdough starter for soda.) Now add fresh dandelion petals to your bug, and you’ll have the makings of a fine spring sipper.

18. Make Kombucha

If you’ve learned to make kombucha, then you already know how much fun it is to try out new recipes. Give this dandelion and fennel combination a try, and you might find your new spring favorite.

Dandelion and Fennel Kombucha @ Grow Forage Cook Ferment

19. Dandelion Bitters

Slivered dandelion root soaking in alcohol in a jar.
I’m not going to lie. I use my dandelion bitters to make an old-fashioned far more than I do for digestive purposes.

Oh sure, you could use these digestive bitters medicinally. After all, dandelion is well known for stimulating appetite and improving digestion. But with the addition of orange peel and ginger, they’re also great at the bar, adding an interesting take on cocktails that call for a dash or two of bitters.

Digestive Bitters with Dandelion, Orange Peel & Ginger @Homestead Honey

A single dandelion with someone's boots in the photo.
Oh, hi there, friend.

Wear Them

20. Infused Oil

hand pouring oil over dandelion flowers in a jar
Keep it simple, make it yourself.

Make this sunny, infused oil as a base, and you’ll be amazed at all the things you can add it to. Salves, lotions, lip balm, soap, the list goes on and on. Dandelion is a helper to rough, dry skin after a day in the garden. Cheryl will walk you through making a batch of dandelion-infused oil.

21. Melt-and-Pour Dandelion Soap

Soapmaking can be awfully intimidating to the newcomer, but with this melt-and-pour recipe, anyone can make soap. Add freshly harvested petals for the perfect springtime bar of soap. These are great for gifts, too.

22. Dandelion Lotion

For a soothing, creamy lotion, mix up a batch of this DIY dandelion lotion. Not only will it moisturize dry skin, but it will remind you of warm sunny days every time you put it on.

DIY Dandelion Lotion @A Little Rose Dust

23. Dandelion Perfume

Rarely do we find dandelion-scented lotions, sprays or perfumes, which is a real shame. It’s a distinctively lovely flower. One whiff and you’re instantly transported to sunny days and dots of yellow on an expanse of green. Why not make a batch of perfume to transport you to spring instantly.

Floral Petal Perfume @Hello Glow

24. Dandelion Bath Soak

What’s better than a long soak in a hot bath? A long soak in a hot bath with your very own homemade dandelion bath soak. Let sore muscles and cares both melt away.

Dandelion Bath Soak @Honestly Modern

25. Dandelion Face Mask

Dandelions are anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and can help soothe and heal skin from daily UV damage. Whip up a soothing and nourishing face mask with two tablespoons of plain yogurt, a teaspoon of honey and two tablespoons of petals. Mix the mask together, lightly crushing the petals. Smooth the face mask on and relax for ten to fifteen minutes before rinsing it off with cool water.

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Tracey Besemer

Hey there, my name is Tracey. I’m the editor-in-chief here at Rural Sprout.

Many of our readers already know me from our popular Sunday newsletters. (You are signed up for our newsletters, right?) Each Sunday, I send a friendly missive from my neck of the woods in Pennsylvania. It’s a bit like sitting on the front porch with a friend, discussing our gardens over a cup of tea.

Originally from upstate NY, I’m now an honorary Pennsylvanian, having lived here for the past 18 years.

I grew up spending weekends on my dad’s off-the-grid homestead, where I spent much of my childhood roaming the woods and getting my hands dirty.

I learned how to do things most little kids haven’t done in over a century.

Whether it was pressing apples in the fall for homemade cider, trudging through the early spring snows of upstate NY to tap trees for maple syrup, or canning everything that grew in the garden in the summer - there were always new adventures with each season.

As an adult, I continue to draw on the skills I learned as a kid. I love my Wi-Fi and knowing pizza is only a phone call away. And I’m okay with never revisiting the adventure that is using an outhouse in the middle of January.

These days, I tend to be almost a homesteader.

I take an eclectic approach to homesteading, utilizing modern convenience where I want and choosing the rustic ways of my childhood as they suit me.

I’m a firm believer in self-sufficiency, no matter where you live, and the power and pride that comes from doing something for yourself.

I’ve always had a garden, even when the only space available was the roof of my apartment building. I’ve been knitting since age seven, and I spin and dye my own wool as well. If you can ferment it, it’s probably in my pantry or on my kitchen counter. And I can’t go more than a few days without a trip into the woods looking for mushrooms, edible plants, or the sound of the wind in the trees.

You can follow my personal (crazy) homesteading adventures on Almost a Homesteader and Instagram as @aahomesteader.

Peace, love, and dirt under your nails,