We’re Sprinkling Rose Petals on Everything

The dried flowers add color, aroma, and flavor to cocktails, savory dishes, desserts, and more

dried rose petals in a glass bowl
No, it’s not potpourri; it’s edible dried rose petals for all your garnishing needs. Matt Taylor-Gross

While testing recipes for this story on Iran’s crispy rice dishes, we here at SAVEUR were inspired by the creative use of roses—petals and waters flavored with them—in Persian cuisine. Iranian cookbook author Naz Deravian, for instance, likes to scatter the dried blooms atop maast o khiar, a tart, cooling yogurt sauce she serves not only with tahdig, but also stews and meats of all stripes.

Having a stash of dried rose petals on hand opened up a wide world of possibilities in the kitchen. Yes, the flowers make a beautiful garnish, but they’re not just for show—a pinch can take a dish in a whole other direction.

There is a massive difference in flavor between great and so-so petals. Fortunately, excellent dried petals are now available online. Like dried herbs, the petals lose some of their perfume within a few months of harvest, so buy only what you need and use them up quickly. Here are four more ideas to get you started, plus our favorite recipes accented with dried rose petals.

Tea

Add a pinch of dried petals to loose black or green tea to enhance the color and fragrance of a ho-hum cup.

Desserts

Rub dried petals through a medium-fine-mesh strainer, then stir the resulting powder into granulated sugar for coating donuts, cookies, or pâte de fruits.

Hot Sauce

Add whole dried petals and a few drops of rose water to chile-garlic paste for an elegant harissa.

Syrup

Steep dried petals in simple syrup overnight, strain, then use the pink nectar to sweeten cocktails or soak biscuits for shortcake.

Recipes

Rose & Rye

Rose & Rye
This recipe comes from Sam Smith, Of Tusk in Portland, Oregon. Smith notes: “I like to eat it with a steak knife, keep some texture.” Serve this with lots of bread for soaking up the juices; a simple mixed green salad with champagne vinegar, black pepper, and edible flowers if available; and a super cold rose or white wine. Get the recipe for Braised Lamb Shoulder with Rose, Turnips, and Pistachios »

Persian Kuku Sabzi

Persian Kuku Sabzi

A Floral Finish

The use of roses—petals and waters flavored with them—is common in Persian and Middle Eastern kitchens. Naz sprinkles the petals atop this tart, cooling yogurt sauce she serves with crispy rice dishes, and often with stews and meats. Get the recipe for Yogurt Cucumber Sauce with Rose Petals (Maast-o Khiar) »

Cardamom-Rose Cake Donuts

The flavoring in these donuts is inspired by Persian desserts, which often combine flower waters and herbaceous cardamom. Get the recipe for Cardamom-Rose Cake Donuts »
A garnish of dried rose petals makes a lovely color contrast on these bite-size, pale-green cakes, plus highlights the rose water used in the batter.

Cauliflower Shawarma Berber

Cauliflower Shawarma Berber

Murgh Korma (Creamy Chicken Curry)

The creaminess and complex flavor of this beloved Indian curry comes from puréed almonds and cashew nuts. Get the recipe for Murgh Korma (Creamy Chicken Curry) »