Green grass! Warm rain! Sunshine!
After a winter which seemed endless, there is sweet relief in the mild beauty of spring time.
With the sunshine and backyard compost and gardens, however, come the dreaded and maddeningly tenacious dandelions! Popping up as fast as one can dig them, these quickly-germinating seeds spread as fast as a toddler’s puckered wish. The sunny-headed flowers have become the bane of urban sod.
What’s a grass-dweller to do when confronted with such a hardy adversary? How can one cultivate nourishing and vitamin-rich home greens when there are vermin in the soil?
Well…if you can’t beat ‘em….
Make deliciously golden, warm, fried dandelion fritters to munch on! Yup, that’s right – dandelions are edible, and they’re good for you!
Can You Fry and Eat Dandelions? (Are They Toxic?)
Yes! You can definitely fry and eat dandelions. Not only can you turn the blossoms into delicious dandelion fritters, the entire plant is edible and provides a ton of nourishing benefit! The root, leaves, and flower all boast variable helpful benefits. (Most people avoid the stem due to its slight potential laxative effect.)
North American culture commonly views dandelions as an annoying weed, and nothing more. However – the dandelion (taraxacum officinale) didn’t begin in North America as a weed at all!
Many years ago, it was lovingly brought across the sea as a valued medicinal plant to be cultivated and administered for liver and kidney care, while enjoyed on the table as an early-spring salad green.
While you’re harvesting dandelions already for this dandelion fritter recipe, remember that the iron-rich leaves are a zippy addition to salads and stir-frys. Additionally, the roots can be harvested (dug, dried, ground, roasted) as a nourishing substitute to coffee. Perfect!
Are Fried Dandelion Fritters Good for You?
They sure are! With as much iron as spinach, the highest levels of vitamin A out of all the cultivated greens, and high levels of Vitamin C, early gardeners actually weeded out their grass to make room for the dandelions!
The flowers used in this dandelion fritters recipe are brimming with choline and lecithin for liver and kidney health. (Source)
This Fried Dandelion Fritter Recipe
As for the other fritter ingredients used, the recipe is easily adaptable to your preferences. The flour can be a basic all-purpose wheat flour, or a gluten-free combination (suggestions below in the recipe card notes). Egg, milk of choice, etc. are all nourishing ingredients.
Many people automatically think of fried food as being unhealthy, but it largely depends on your oil choice. This recipe recommends using coconut oil (either virgin or refined) as it’s a great choice for frying at higher temps safely.
What Do Fried Dandelion Flowers Taste Like in These Fritters?
The yellow flower part itself tastes sweet – some say it has a slight honey flavor. More often, however, people describe the taste of the flowers as slightly bitter.
The bitter taste comes from the green base part of the blossom. These tendril-like parts are called bracts. There are two sections – the inner bracts that hold the petals together (if you take these off the flower will all fall into pieces), and the outer bracts that curl downward toward the stem.
You can remove these outer bracts to greatly reduce the bitterness in your finished dish.
More Reasons to Love Dandelions
The dandelion itself is beneficial to our bodies, which is kind of amazing to learn for those of us who grew up viewing them as mere annoyances, but there are even more reasons to appreciate these little yellow spots of sunshine in our lawns!
Hardiness & Tenacity
Sometimes the benefit is less tangible but when you learn to appreciate nature’s gifts with an open mind, you’ll start drawing inspiration in unexpected ways.
I love that dandelions are hardy and tenacious enough to withstand being established here in the new world, as well as finding ways to thrive in all sorts of modern conditions – even the urban landscape!
Good for the Soil
They are a a plant which supports the soil through aeration, prevents erosion, and draws up calcium from deep within the earth for use by the rest of the garden.
Outstanding Support for our Pollinators
Dandelions are a flower which provides exceptional support to bees. As one of the earliest flowers in the spring and late blooming into the fall, the bees of the nation rely on (spray free!) dandelions to create your honey and to support your community crops.
How to Make Fried Dandelion Fritters
With this inspiring knowledge and with a spring yard simply brimming with cheery yellow flowers, I gathered my younglings and a bowl and set to work. Firstly, we started with dandelion smoothies, played with dandelion frittatas, and soon had our minds set on fried dandelion fritters.They’re fun, healthy, and tasty!
When the day finally arrived, gathering the flower heads kept little hands (and mamas!) busy while chatting in the sun. Next, the big boys were invited to mix the batter and to dip the heads. I made two simple and easy batters – one savory and one sweet.
Once the batter was ready and the flowers were picked, I tackled pan-frying the battered balls in the waiting coconut oil. Crispy and hot, we loaded the morsels onto a tray with tiny jars of kombucha and feasted under the apple tree. How lovely to say, “Sure sweetie, you can have some more!”
The dandelion fritters were a huge hit and my boys have been asking for them every day! I highly recommend trying them out. They’re not only tasty and nutritious but there is just something fun about dining on dandies!
Make it an event with friends and enjoy the summer sun while you’re at it!
Tips for Picking & Using Dandelions for Your Fritters
When foraging for your dandelions, there are two important things to remember:
- Be sure you know that you’re picking in a spray-free area (pesticides and/or pet urine)
- Additionally, be sure that they are indeed true dandelions: one flower per stalk, no coarse hair on the leaves, and a hollow, tubular stem.
Before cooking the fried dandelion fritters:
When cooking this fried dandelion fritter recipe, be sure to use dandelion flowers that have been freshly picked because the blossoms will close up fairly quickly after being picked, so it’s best to make the fritters immediately after picking.
- You may choose to remove the outer bract (the green bottom pieces that curl downward toward the stem) to reduce potential bitterness.
- Also, you may also choose to soak your flowers in lightly salted water for 10-15 minutes before proceeding to ensure they are free from any little bugs or other dirt.
Consider making a batch of dandelion-infused oil with some of your harvest. Conveniently, herbal infused oil makes the perfect base for homemade salves and balms, or you could infuse a cooking oil (such as olive) and use it in salad dressings and other cooking.
Additionally, when you’re done making fried dandelion fritters, be sure to save your oil – we keep our frying oil in a covered container in the fridge. and reuse it multiple times. These french fries are a family favorite for home frying.
Fried Dandelion Flower Fritters
- 1 cup flour (see notes below for gluten-free substitution)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- heat-tolerant oil for frying (see notes)
- 1 cup freshly picked dandelion flower heads – they must be used immediately after picking, or the flower heads will close up.
- Whisk all ingredients together, except for the dandelion heads, including flavour option add-in (see below)
- Dip the dandelions in the batter
- Fry in hot oil, flower side down
- Flip and fry some more
- Drain on a towel and serve hot and crispy
Original article was written by Dea Daniels of @i_am_village, and published in 2013. It was last revised and expanded by Beth Ricci in 2021.