Lavender has a beautiful scent that can be used in perfumes, potpourri, and candles. The scent of lavender can relax you and help promote restful sleep. But what about cooking with lavender? After all, lavender is an herb. Cooking with edible flowers such as lavender is becoming more and more popular, especially in upscale dining venues. If you’ve been thinking about trying lavender in your recipes, read on and find out how to use this beautiful purple bud in your kitchen.

1. Learn about Lavender

lavenderSue Taylor/Flickr

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Lavender, or Lavandula, is part of the mint family with 39 known species of flowering plants. This perennial herb is indigenous to the Mediterranean area and is easy to grow. Most people think of lavender as purple but it can also be blue, white, pink, mauve, and yellow.

Lavender has been used for over 2,500 years. In ancient times, lavender was used for perfumes, bath water, and mummification.  Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria were both known to love lavender, using it as perfume, laundry freshener, and tea for migraines. During World War I, soldiers had their wounds bathed with lavender.

Today, lavender is still used for medicinal and healing properties. Lavender can help calm nerves and anxiety and is said to help headaches, migraines, and insomnia.

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2. Buying Lavender

5 Healing Effects of Lavender and How to Put More of It In Your Food

If you want to cook with lavender, don’t just use any lavender – make sure you buy “culinary lavender.” English Lavender is the type most commonly used in cooking because it has the sweetest fragrance of all lavenders.

You can buy lavender in both fresh and dried forms. In summer, it will probably be at the farmer’s markets. Lavender is also a common ingredient in Herbes de Provence, a mix of herbs such as rosemary, marjoram, thyme, oregano, and lavender.

3. Cooking with Lavender

Lemon and Lavender Yogurt Cake

Lavender is a member of the mint family and is also close to rosemary, thyme, and sage. In fact, lavender may be used in place of these herbs. Lavender pairs well with these herbs as well as fennel and oregano. It has a sweet, floral flavor with a few citrus notes and dried lavender is even more potent than fresh. Lavender can bring out the sweetness of foods such as strawberries and rhubarb. You could also add lavender with other herbs in marinades, spice rubs, and sauces.

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The most important tip for cooking with lavender is to use it sparingly. The flavor is strong and it can overwhelm a recipe if you use too much. No one wants to bite into a bouquet of flowers so remember, a little goes a long way. Also, as with any herb, you need to use less if it’s in dried form.

4. Lavender Drinks

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If you could use some relaxation, a cup of lavender tea might be just the thing. It’s also good for soothing an unhappy tummy. You can buy lavender tea bags or you can make your own lavender tea from scratch. Simply put some lavender flowers, about a tablespoon, in a teapot or tea ball and cover with boiling water. Let it steep for about ten minutes. Strain to remove the flowers if you didn’t have a tea ball and serve. Add lemon, if desired, and agave or stevia if you want your tea sweeter. You can also do the same with coffee, if you’re not a tea drinker. Or make this Slow-Cooker Lavender Rose Hot Chocolate for a delicious, warming treat.

5. Floral Garnishes

Spring Pea Toasts with Radishes

Edible flowers are a beautiful way to add finishing touches to dishes. If you’re having salad, you’re already eating a bowl of plants so why not add a few lovely buds? If this is new to you, check out our Quick Guide to Edible Flowers to learn more. Try using lavender in this Spring Salad of Edible Flowers and Dandelion Greens. These Spring Pea Toasts with Radish and Lavender have a filling spread of peas while radishes and lavender add a nice finishing touch. These are perfect for afternoon tea.

Lavender flowers can also make a beautiful decoration on desserts such as cakes, sorbets, and ice creams, especially when it lets people know to expect that flavor inside. How elegant does this Raw Lavender and Lemon Cheesecake look with that single bud on top? It’s just a hint at the lovely lavender flavor inside the cake.

6. Frozen Desserts

Lavender-Coconut-Ice-Cream

Frozen desserts such as ice cream and sorbet can be made with all types of flavors, including floral lavender. This Lavender Coconut Ice Cream has only four ingredients and is also healthier than traditional ice cream. Made with bananas and coconut milk, the lavender flowers add a light floral scent and taste. If you choose to not add any sweeteners, the ingredient list goes down to three items.

This Frozen Blueberry Tart is floral, salty, crunchy, icy, juicy, fruity, creamy, minty, and maple-y … all in one bite! The lavender buds are in the crust for a sweet surprise. This is easy to make and when garnished with a mound of fresh berries and mint, it’s quite the show-stopper. Need something cold and refreshing in the summer heat? These sophisticated Lavender Chai Latte Popsicles are perfumed with fragrant lavender and chai tea, and swirled with creamy coconut milk. Yum!

7. Other Desserts

Lemon and Lavender Cake [Vegan]

Lavender can work well in a variety of desserts. Lavender and lemon are a match made in heaven. The lavender adds a bit of sweetness to the tart lemon and brings out its bright qualities. Try the combo in this Raw Lavender Lemon Cheesecake, Lemon and Lavender Cake, Lemon and Lavender Yogurt Cake, Mini Lemon Lavender Bundt Cakes, and these Lemon Lavender Truffle Bites.

Another delicious pairing is lavender and vanilla. These Lavender Vanilla Dream Balls are made with coconut, nuts, cinnamon, and dried lavender. They are a chewy treat filled with flavor. If you’re planning a bridal shower, birthday party, or any type of gathering, make these Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes. With that beautiful lavender icing, these will surely be a hit. Don’t forget chocolate! These Lavender-Infused Cocoa-Dusted Truffles have lavender flowers infused in the coconut milk. These will bring you all the relaxation of a spa in a chocolatey, heavenly bite. This Raw Chocolate Lavender Chia Pudding brings the decadence of breakfast to dessert. Yum!

Finally, you can pair lavender with other flowers. These little Jasmine Lavender Tea Cakes are light and delicate nibbles that are great for serving at brunch. Not only do they taste delicious, but baking these fills your house with the smell of lavender and jasmine. What could be better than that?

Adding lavender to recipes not only gives dishes a sweet taste but a beautiful floral scent. Once you realize that lavender is good for more than perfumes and potpourri, you’ll use it in your cooking all the time.

Lead Image Source: Lavender-Infused Cocoa-Dusted Truffles