We’ve been poisoning and pulling up these cheerful, summer flowers for decades. But it’s time to reconsider. For instance, did you know that there are many different dandelion uses? Give them a home in your lawn or garden, and they’ll pay you back in spades!
Dandelions are edible, healing, multi-purpose plants. In fact, they’ve been an essential part of herbal apothecaries worldwide for generations. Long before they became the bane of suburban yards, these humble plants were an essential part of springtime diets and autumn remedies.
If you’d like to reclaim some to of the wisdom around dandelions, read on! There are so many different dandelion uses, be sure to take full advantage of these beauties this summer.
1. Dandelion Jelly
This golden, yellow jelly tastes like honey and pairs well chive scones and sun-tea. Dandelion jelly brings the taste of June to every month of the year. It’s a fantastic Christmas gift, bringing a little jar of sunshine to bleak, midwinter tables everywhere.
2. Infused Oil
This oil is the basis for so many dandelion creations. Simply steep fresh dandelion flowers in oil for about 2-3 weeks, and then strain out the blossoms. The resulting oil is full of all of dandelion’s healing properties. I like to use organic olive oil or castor oil for this process, but almond and coconut oils work well too.
3. Dandelion Wine
“The wine was summer caught and stoppered… Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass… change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in.” (Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine)
Dandelion wine is a thrilling indulgence, and once you start making it, you can’t stop. You’ll look for dandelions everywhere and mix up vats of delicious, golden wine. It’s a straightforward process that yields the ultimate winter solstice beverage, so be sure to welcome the returning sun with golden sunlight in a glass.
4. Lotion Bars
Little bars of lotion are a lifesaver for hardworking winter skin. Fortunately, dandelion oil is an ideal addition to these little soothers. Additionally, dandelions calm chapped skin and help rough patches heal more quickly. Add a bit of comfrey or calendula to the mix if you’re prone to cuts and scrapes.
5. Dandelion Root Tea
If you’re dealing with digestive issues or a sluggish liver, dandelion tea can help. Dandelions support a healthy liver and digestion. It’s a gentle tonic against constipation and reduces inflammation. Add a cup of dandelion root tea to your daily regimen and your body will have help cleaning out the toxins of modern world.
You can also add dandelion root tea to your bathwater for a gentle, skin soothing soak. This is an especially healing soak for children with rashes and eczema because the dandelion root softens and heals their skin without overwhelming it.
The whole dandelion plant—roots, flowers, and all—can be chopped finely, covered with alcohol, and turned into a tincture. After all, dandelion tincture has been used for centuries to clean toxins from the blood. It helps your body function consistently and healthily, even in seasons where your physical form feels like it’s stagnating. It also provides a consistent source of potassium.
Vinegar is another great way to extract the healing properties of dandelions. If you’re uncomfortable making an alcoholic tincture, use vinegar instead! Gather the flowers, leaves, and stems (otherwise known as the “aerial parts” of the plant).
Chop them and cover them with raw, apple cider vinegar. Let them steep in the vinegar for up to 4 weeks. Keep them out of direct light and shake occasionally while they’re steeping. After 4 weeks, strain out the flowers and add a small amount of vinegar to your morning lemon water.
8. Salad Greens
One of the easiest ways to enjoy one of the many dandelion uses is by picking the fresh, young leaves for salads. Dandelion greens taste a lot like endive: they’re earthy and just a little bitter. Mix them with arugula, bacon, goat cheese, and toasted pecans for a light summertime dinner. Or top a spicy tuna melt with young dandelion greens for a crunchy, spicy bite.
9. Dandelion Oxymel
If vinegar lemon water is too much for you to handle, try making your infused vinegar into a dandelion oxymel. An oxymel is a classic herbal remedy combining raw honey and vinegar, both infused with healing herbs to make a gentle, natural tonic.
Steep dandelion in raw honey, strain it out, and mix the infused honey and infused vinegar together in a 1:3 ratio for a slightly sweet, detoxing mixture. It’s ideal for early spring, when your body is just starting to come out of its winter sluggishness.
10. Coffee Replacement
If you have a too-many-cups-a-day coffee habit, like me, dandelion root can help! In fact, dandelion root is a traditional coffee replacement that’s still very popular across Europe. It’s mellow and nutty, though not exactly full of the same, beautiful coffee flavor. If you’re trying to cut back but want something that gives a warming jolt of comfort, dandelion root “coffee” could be the key!
(Here’s a tip: add some roasted chicory root to it too for a delicious caramel flavor!)
11. Green Pesto
Basil-free pestos are gaining in popularity. From garlic scape pesto to kale pesto, almost any flavorful green fits the bill, and early spring dandelion greens are no exception. Mix them with olive oil, garlic, parmesan or asiago, and toasted walnuts or pumpkin seeds for a unique take on the pesto trend.
If you’re not ready to mix up a whole batch of dandelion pesto, just add a few leaves to a tried-and-true basil pesto recipe. Replace up to half of the basil with young dandelion greens for a fun combination pesto! It pairs perfectly with home-made gnocchi.
12. Dandelion Syrup
Dandelion syrup is a Danish tradition. It’s made with green apples, rhubarb, and piles of dandelion flowers and used to sweeten roasted vegetables, meats, and morning yogurt bowls. Pour it over blueberry pancakes or drizzle it on ice cream for a superb summer treat.
This syrup also adds a surprising sweetness to herby, garden cocktails. Add just a little to floral gin and tonics or mojitos! Did you know there were such delicious dandelion uses?
13. Flower Cookies
Dandelion flowers make beautiful cookies. You can sift a small handful of separated petals into a basic sugar cookie recipe, or make a healthy dandelion and honey treat with oatmeal, dandelion petals, and slivered almonds.
These flower cookies are fun for children’s tea parties, late afternoon snacks, and garden parties. Add a variety of flowers to the dough for a colorful cookie. For example, rose petals and lavender blossoms make a great addition to your honey-flavored dandelion flowers. They’re also a gorgeous combination of colors.
14. Shampoo Bars
Dandelion isn’t just for skin either: you can make a hair-balancing shampoo bar with dandelion blossoms too. These bars are a sustainable haircare option that can revolutionize your hair nourishing routine. Furthermore, dandelion shampoo bars are great for itchy scalps and tired, dry hair.
It sometimes takes a few weeks for your hair to adjust to a nourishing shampoo bar instead of oil-stripping, detergent shampoo. Give it time, and you’ll love the results!
If you have dry, achy skin, eczema, or acne, you’re going to want to give dandelion soap a try. Dandelions have been healing sensitive skin for centuries, and a gentle, homemade dandelion soap is the first step toward healing.
Try mixing dandelions and calendula, or dandelions and honey for a lush face and body bar that’ll make your skin feel like silk. Add in oatmeal for a body scrubbing bar that will gentle exfoliate your skin will moisturizing.
16. Dandelion Lozenges
Once you’re comfortable making dandelion syrup, you can go a bit further and make dandelion throat drops. These healthy little flowers are full of vitamins A, B, C, and D. Make a jar of dandelion-honey lozenges to carry your through the cough and cold season. A little taste of summertime sunshine heals everything!
Add elderberries, yarrow blossoms, or chamomile to the mix for additional health benefits. Or, make Dandelion gummies instead of lozenges for a kid-friendly take. This is one of the most delicious dandelion uses, and just happens to be great for your health too.
17. Soil Healers
But Dandelions aren’t just your friends: they actually help the soil they’re growing in as well. These plants actively work to aerate and balance the soil as they grow. The long tap root brings up nutrients from the subsoil as it opens up the top soil.
That’s right, allowing dandelions to grow in your yard is actually improving the soil. Dandelions make your garden happier, healthier, and more colorful. Give them a chance to grow and you’ll fall in love with them, just like you did as a child.
With so many interesting and exciting dandelion uses, it’s a shame to let them go to waste. Let’s make space for these cheerful summertime healers in our yards and gardens. Don’t spray your dandelions away: let them make a pretty, yellow carpet on the lawn for bees and butterflies to play in.
Kids, pollinators, birds, and wild animals love these friendly flowers. Deer love munching the sweet blossoms, and bees get some of their first spring nectar from dandelion flowers. Even your chickens will enjoy eating them, if you don’t mind sharing.
Like so many other misunderstood plants, dandelions have an ill-deserved reputation as ugly, invasive weeds. But dandelions aren’t the enemy. They’re your first line of defence when it comes to liver, kidney, and heart health, and some of the best soil-building allies around.