Grilled Sunflower Heads – How To Cook A Sunflower Head

Grilled Sunflower Head
(Image credit: Tatsiana Volkava)

I don't know if this culinary masterpiece was born of ingenuity or boredom, but it's a bizarre one. The trend is to grill a sunflower head. Yep, that huge seed-filled ex-flower that remains after the larger, golden petals fall. It is supposed to taste and have the tooth feel of corn on the cob, but we tried it, and I can tell a different story. 

Can You Eat a Whole Sunflower?

Can you eat a whole sunflower? This food trend is a little out there but definitely worth trying. Cooking a whole sunflower sounds like a wacky idea, but think about it. We often snack on the nutritious seeds and the squirrels sure seem to like them. The trick to perfect grilled sunflower heads is timing of your harvest. Learn how to cook a sunflower head and get a surprising culinary experience. 

Many gardeners have shared recipes of eating sunflower buds. You cook these much as you would an artichoke and they are tasty. But cooking a whole sunflower head? Sure, why not. There are now a ton of sunflower head recipes on the internet. The original, shared by a baking company, has olive oil, salt, sundried tomatoes, and basil. But before you get cooking, you need to harvest the perfect head. Choose one that has just begun to form seed. The outer petals will still be attached but are starting to go. The seeds are white and quite soft. Don't try this trend on a head that has formed hard shells on the seeds. The result won't be optimal. 

How to Cook a Sunflower Head

With the perfect specimen, grilling sunflower heads is easy. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Brush off all the outer and inner petals, revealing the creamy seeds. Brush the whole thing in olive oil, dust with sea salt and place it face down on your grill. Cover the head and wait 5 minutes. Once you remove the head, add a bit more oil and season as you wish. Garlic would make a great addition, but anything you could do to corn, you can do here. Make it Tex-Mex, Asian, Italian, whatever you prefer. 

Tips From Sunflower Recipes

In videos, you can see people attacking the head by bringing it up to their mouths and simply biting out pieces of seeds. This is rustic but also problematic. Due to the slight curve and the size of sunflower heads, you will end up with oil and seasoning on your nose and cheeks. An easier way is to scrape the seeds out with a fork. You can eat them just like a bowl of hulled corn and avoid the messy face. If you want to try cooking the buds, peel off the thick skin and steam them like an artichoke. They will be tender and delicious.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.