As you probably noticed, cilantro bolts easily in hot weather. And rather than fighting it, you probably wondered: are cilantro flowers edible? Of course, once your cilantro plants bloomed, you can expect to get some coriander seeds (Coriandrum sativum), which are also great for flavoring certain foods.
The entire cilantro plant is edible, including its white flowers. Cilantro blooms are best eaten fresh, not dried. Add them to any dish alongside the leaves or as a substitute when looking for a milder flavor. Cilantro flowers tone down the heat in spicy food and lighten very rich flavors.
People often use cilantro and coriander interchangeably. And although they come from the same plant, coriander usually refers to dried seeds. When people speak of cilantro, they mostly mean the stems and leaves of the plant. The flowers also fall into this category.
The edible flower garden is a must-have book about many edible flowers and a few recipes to make with them.
You might be accustomed to picking up some fresh cilantro from the grocery store on a regular trip, but if you’re growing your own, it’s important to know how to care for the coriander plant, as well as how to make the most use of all of it. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular herbs to use in the kitchen and to grow. It allows for frequent harvesting, is easy to grow, and works in many dishes. But what about the white cilantro flowers? Can you eat them too?
Are Cilantro Flowers Edible?
Cilantro plants grow to roughly 20 inches, then they start to bolt, developing white, asymmetrical blossoms, also known as coriander flowers. This is an easy plant to work with and fresh cilantro leaves are regularly used in cooking. How do the flowers grow and what is their purpose? The delicate white flowers are an important part of the growth cycle of this plant. The good news is, they have their own uses, too.
A thick stem starts growing in the center of the plant before it turns into seeds. When the flowers bloom, the leaves begin losing their taste, especially those directly behind the flowers.
Is the plant worthless now? No, it’s not! You can eat the flowers.
What do cilantro flowers taste like?
Cilantro flowers have a strong herby flavor similar to coriander, which makes sense as they are merely different parts of the same plant. The flowers have a citrus-like taste, accompanied by a sweet and spicy tang and subtle texture. The cilantro flowers have a milder flavor than the leaves.
Cilantro, also known as Chinese parsley, is something you either love or you hate. Very few people have a neutral opinion of the herb. There is a scientific reason behind the vehement likes or dislikes. While some people perceive the refreshing taste of the herb, others associate a soapy or rotten taste and smell with it.
Scientists believe there is a genetic reason for our perception of the flavor. In a massive survey, they found two genetic variants influencing the perception of cilantro’s taste. One of those genes is active in sensing smells. The OR6A2 gene resides in a group of olfactory-receptor genes, encoding a receptor that is very sensitive to aldehyde chemicals.
The aroma of cilantro consists of a few substances, most of which are aldehydes. People who dislike the smell or taste find the aldehyde aroma offensive. They are also usually unable to detect the other substances that some people find delicious.
How to Grow Cilantro
This fragrant herb prefers cooler temperatures, so you should plant it in late spring or early fall in fertile soil. As a cool season herb, it can also be grown in containers and there are different cilantro varieties so be sure to also consider this when growing.
If you’re a big fan of cooking with this herb, you’re going to love the benefits of growing it yourself. This is a type of plant you can grow for the first time with ease. The popular culinary herb will be used again and again in the kitchen and if you keep it in a cool, dry place, you can also protect it from the summer heat and use it year-round.
You can plant cilantro outside in a garden or in containers in your kitchen. Take note of when the seeds drop when growing your own. Their leaves are ready for harvest 45-70 days after you’ve seeded them. You can use the “harvest and ignore” tactic to have more or less constant yields, or you can make use of succession planting to keep this delightful herb available for your culinary use.
If you don’t have a mild, moist climate, the plant will bolt quickly, leaving you with a tall, thick stem and flowers sprouting wildly. The flowers are small and most often white, with some variations of pink to red and others of blue to purple.
If you’re a person with the cilantro-loving gene, you can still enjoy the fragrant taste of this herb’s flowers when the leaves are no longer available.
How To Use Cilantro Flowers In Cooking
Coriander tastes good on almost any dish, but do you know how to use these flowers in your cooking? Wherever you use the leaves, you can use the blossoms. Alternatively, the flowers will do the job if you want a milder flavor than the cilantro leaves.
Cilantro flowers pair well with ingredients like carrots, zucchini, avocado, coconut milk, tomato, citrus, mint, ginger, lemongrass, yogurt, chicken, chili peppers, white fish, and lamb. Cilantro blooms also do well in salads.
The coriander seeds that form once the flowers die off become the coriander spice. It pairs well with Indian, Asian, Mexican, and many other ethnic food types.
1. Add them to salads
Your cilantro plant will start flowering when the days start warming up, which is the perfect time to add them to salads. You can spruce up a traditional green salad with cilantro blossoms.
Use your favorite type of lettuce for a base, and pop in some sweet baby peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, strawberries, feta cheese, and spring onions. The cilantro flowers will not only pretty up your salad but will give it a fresh tang and fragrance. Top it off with a salad dressing or vinaigrette of your choice.
Cilantro and its flowers pair well with most salad vegetables. The list is endless in spring and summer when cilantro is in bloom.
You can take chicken salads, salmon salads, potato salads, and even pasta salads to the next level with the unusual addition of some cilantro blossoms.
2. Use to cool off spicy dishes
Cilantro flowers help to tone down spicy flavors, pairing well with curries. Ground coriander roots form part of some Thai curry pastes, and cilantro leaves and flowers complement these flavors perfectly.
Cilantro flowers are best served fresh or added to cooked food shortly before serving because cooking minimizes their taste.
3. Garnish for festive meals
The blossoms are delicate and fragrant, making them ideal as an edible garnish for almost any meal. A sprig of cilantro flowers atop a stew, soup, or charcuterie board will add an element of elegance to any dinner table. A tray of roasted vegetables will pair beautifully with some cilantro blooms, served with lentils and yogurt cheese for a vegetarian meal.
4. Make herb water
Add a fresh citrusy aroma to your herbal or fruit water by adding one or more cilantro flower heads to a jug of cold water.
5. Add cilantro blooms to butter
We have heard of garlic butter and parsley butter, but the possibilities don’t end there. You can add any herbs and edible flowers, such as cilantro, to the butter for a bread table. It paints a beautiful picture and adds extra flavor to your bread. These flavored butters could also pair well with potatoes and other root vegetables.
Are Cilantro Flowers Edible? FAQs
Here are some questions many people ask about cilantro flowers being edible.
What do you do with the flowers on cilantro?
Cilantro flowers can be used in a variety of dishes, from sweet to savory. One popular use is to sprinkle them over salads or soup for a pop of color. You can also add them to omelets or frittatas, or use them as a garnish for cocktails or dessert. Cilantro flowers are also lovely in baked goods, such as cookies, cakes, or breads. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try deep-frying them!
Are all parts of cilantro edible?
Cilantro is a popular herb that is commonly used in Asian and Latin American cuisines. The leaves and stems of the cilantro plant are typically used as an aromatic ingredient, but the flowers are also edible. They can actually add a lovely splash of color to your dishes.
What does it mean when cilantro starts to flower?
When cilantro starts to flower, it means that the plant is going to seed. The flowers are actually the plant’s reproductive organs, and they produce cilantro seeds. Once the flowers appear, the cilantro plant will stop producing leaves. This is because the plant is redirecting its energy into seed production. Cilantro flowers are edible, and they can be used to add flavor to salads or soups. However, cilantro plants that have gone to seed will not produce new leaves, so it’s best to harvest them before the flowers appear.
Do cilantro flowers taste good?
Cilantro flowers have a delicate flavor that is similar to the leaves of the cilantro plant but with a hint of sweetness. People who like the flavor of cilantro leaves will generally find the flavor of the flowers good, too.
You may be genetically predisposed to either love or hate cilantro. But if you love it, there are endless possibilities for including all parts of the plant in your menu. Many gardeners are inclined to discard the plant when it bolts.
However, the flowers can still add a burst of flavor to salads, salsas, curries, and other dishes. Waste not, want not! And… you can also leave it for the bees and butterflies 🙂
Cilantro flowers are not only edible, but they are also a delicious and beautiful addition to any dish. The delicate white blossoms have a light, floral flavor that perfectly complements the herb’s signature citrusy notes.
What’s more, cilantro flowers make an attractive garnish for salads, soup, rice dishes, and more. To enjoy their delicate flavor at its best, cilantro flowers should be added just before serving.
So, next time you’re looking for a unique way to spruce up your meal, reach for a handful of cilantro flowers and let their flavor take your dish to new heights!
Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project.