Last Updated on August 21, 2023
Wondering what you can do with all those beautiful wild violets in your yard? Here are 25 creative wild violet recipes to put these lovely wild plants to use.
And don’t worry if the flowers are long gone — violet leaves can be used in loads of wild violet recipes as well.
USING WILD VIOLETS
Violets are one of many delightful flowers you can eat, plus they’re very useful medicinally. Violets are beloved by herbalists as a natural cough remedy and as herbal support for the lymphatic system.
Because they contain anti-inflammatory compounds, herbalists also recommend using violet leaves for addressing pain and a number of skin conditions. They’re also sometimes recommended for help with insomnia.
Here’s more about the benefits of violets from Herbal Academy. If you’d like to further your herbal knowledge, be sure to check out their many informative courses, ranging from beginner to advanced.
Violets are also pretty and nutritious additions to salads and baked goods, and in the case of sweet violets, they add flavor as well.
In addition to their many culinary uses and medicinal benefits, violets make an excellent herbal ground cover, perfect if you’re looking for a super-low maintenance alternative to grass for a shadier part of your yard. Don’t make the mistake of viewing these charming wild plants as a weed. Encourage them wherever they grow, and enjoy using them in lots of different wild violet recipes!
When I find wild violets growing in my vegetable beds, I carefully relocate under the many fruit trees I have growing in my yard, creating a living mulch that means I don’t have to worry about refreshing wood mulch each season, saving me time and money and adding to the food I can harvest from my tiny yard.
WHICH VIOLETS ARE EDIBLE?
Edible wild violets are among the many common wild plants many of us have growing in our yards that are often mistaken for weeds.
The common wild violets you’ll typically find in North America are Viola sororia, which don’t have much flavor on their own. If you’re lucky, you’ll find what’s known as the sweet violet, or Viola odorata.
The white-flowered Canada violet (Viola canadensis) that in my area appears just a little later than common blue violets were not really on my radar until I stumbled on them in the index of Sam Thayer’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants. (This brand new release by the renowned foraging expert is THE book foragers, want on their shelves, by the way. Read more about it and more recommendations in my post on the best foraging books.) Thayer says Canada violets are his favorite of the violets he’s had, with tender leaves that have a bit of wintergreen flavor.
Note that we eat only violet leaves and flowers, but not the roots. Some people are also sensitive to the stems, though others aren’t. Always try just a little of a plant when you’re consuming it for the first time.
Yellow violets aren’t typically consumed, as they’re reported to cause stomach upset, though Thayer notes he has found no source for this caution.
Of course, it’s critical to be certain any time you’re working with a new plant that you’ve positively identified it using multiple features of the plant.
Always consult a good field guide or go with an experienced forager to make certain your plant identification is correct. I highly recommend taking a local foraging class or checking out Herbal Academy’s online foraging course.
WHAT DO WILD VIOLETS TASTE LIKE?
Violets’ leaves and flowers have different flavors, and different species will taste different as well. The sweet violet (V. odorata) has far more flavor than the common blue violet sometimes called a wood violet (V. sororia) found in much of North America.
The wild violet flowers I’ve sampled in my area don’t have much in the way of flavor, alas. The leaves are pretty bland as well, and when dried make a very neutral and green-tasting tea. Tea made with fresh violet leaves has a strong chlorophyll flavor that can be a bit much. If you’re brewing tea with fresh violet leaves, I advise using them in smaller amounts with better-tasting herbs like lemon balm.
HOW TO PRESERVE WILD VIOLETS
You can use violet leaves and flowers fresh, and you can also preserve them in several ways:
- Dry leaves and flowers for tea
- Preserve flowers in sugar
- Tincture leaves and flowers in alcohol
- Infuse vinegar with violet flowers
- Make a simple syrup
Here are 12 ways to preserve herbs you can explore.
WHAT TO DO WITH VIOLETS
In addition to more complex violet recipes, there are some very simple ways to use wild violets.
- Toss some flowers and leaves in a green salad for added color and texture
- Make tea from violet leaves or the flowers
- Add leaves and flowers to your favorite healthy smoothie recipes
- Use violets as a cooking green, though be forewarned their mucilage content can make them a bit slimy
- Preserve violets in vinegar or alcohol (violet tincture recipe coming soon)
Violets are a popular medicinal ingredient, as they are among the best herbs for cough. The leaves in particular are very soothing, as they are rich in demulcents (aka slime, see above). You can use violet leaves fresh or dry some for later use. A tincture or syrup is another popular way to extract the beneficial compounds from violets.
WILD VIOLET RECIPES
Ready for some inventive wild violet recipes? Below are ways to use violet leaves and flowers for desserts, medicinal preparations, and homemade body care.
WILD VIOLET BEVERAGE RECIPES
Violets can be used to make herbal teas and syrups for cocktails. Pretty, medicinal, and tasty!
♦ One of the simplest ways to enjoy your wild violets is to brew up some lovely wild violet tea. Flowers make a beautiful blue-hued tea, and leaves make a pleasant green-tasting tea. Check out our wild violet tea recipe.
♦ You can use wild violets to make pretty violet lemonade. Find instructions at Rustic Farm Life
♦ DIY herbal liqueurs are a fun way to enjoy your wild violets. Find a simple liqueur recipe at Discover the Wild if you have access to sweet violets, but if you have the basically flavorless V. sororia, try this recipe with additional flavorings from Kitchen Lane.
BODYCARE AND MEDICINAL VIOLET RECIPES
Violets’ anti-inflammatory and moistening properties make them a natural for all sorts of skincare products. Check out the cool wild violet recipes for DIY skincare below.
♦ You can use crushed violet leaves to make a poultice, considered helpful for addressing pain, cysts, and skin irritation.
♦ This violet-infused oil from Simply Beyond Herbs sounds amazing for skin and sore muscles. I’m heading out to gather violets so I can make some right now!
♦ You can use plentiful wild violet leaves to make violet leaf balm, details at the Nerdy Farm Wife.
♦ You can make homemade violet lotion using this recipe from Reformation Acres.
♦ Enjoy making your own soap? Try this violet soap recipe from Grow Forage Cook Ferment.
♦ The Nerdy Farm Wife makes her herbal deodorant with oil infused with violet leaf and other useful botanicals.
♦ Infusing violets in vinegar yields a pretty and versatile liquid that can be used to make salad dressing or for medicinal purposes. Here’s more on uses for violet vinegar from the Nerdy Farm Wife.
SWEET VIOLET RECIPES: DESSERTS, BAKED GOODS, JELLY & MORE
♦ Whip up a batch of tasty wild violet muffins, recipe at Farm Fresh Feasts.
♦ This elegant violet panna cotta from Simply Beyond Herbs makes a beautiful springtime treat.
♦ This violet whipped honey butter from Gather Victoria would be incredible on your violet muffins or simply spread on toast.
♦ These blackberry and wild violet scones from Under a Tin Roof would be lovely served with some wild violet tea.
♦ Try making a stunning wild violet jelly with this lower-sugar recipe from HealthyGreenKitchen. Note that you’ll get a more flavorful finished product if you use sweet violets. Common violets may require additional flavoring.
♦ You can candy wild violet flowers by dipping them in sugar and use them as decorations for baked goods. Learn how to make them here.
♦ These lovely gluten- and dairy-free violet lemon cookies from Canning Crafts look really impressive! Perfect to serve with your violet lemonade.
♦ This pretty violet gelatin recipe from Homestead Lady makes a fun alternative to store-bought jello.
♦ These beautiful cupcakes use wild violets in the frosting, filling, and garnish!
♦ U.K. foraging guide Rachel Lambert makes these indulgent sweet violet Viennese whirls using sugar blended with wild violet flowers.
OTHER FUN USES FOR VIOLETS
♦ Try infusing sugar to add a hint of violet flavor and color to baked goods.
♦ Make floral ice cubes by freezing violet flowers in water in an ice cube tray.
♦ Or try freezing violets and other edible flowers into a cool homemade ice bowl and impress guests at your next party!
Have you used wild violets in recipes? Share your favorite in the comments!
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Save these wild violet recipes for later!
Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.