The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Brianna Wray
The Times 

Viral video recipe review: Roasted sunflower head

Can you eat sunflowers like corn on the cob?


September 17, 2020

Courtesy Photos

The grilled sunflower head is good in theory. In practice, the sunflower head is potable, but better extracted with a fork than bite.

WORLD WIDE WEB-By now, you might've seen a certain viral video floating around the web. Or perhaps not, it's a big internet world out there. The Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company posted a video to their Instagram feed of grilled sunflowers. By the end of this quick tutorial style video, the sunflower is taken in hand and eaten like corn on the cob.

Sunflower seeds are a popular snack, sure, but this isn't that. The edible part is the head. It broke my brain a little. The video says to pick a sunflower when the seeds have formed, but the shells are still tender.

Next, the video depicts the harvesting of a young sunflower and the removal of all the flower petals and bits. Once stripped, the sunflower is coated with the oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes and placed face down over a grill at medium heat.

Following the initial searing, the sunflower is covered to cook for an additional five minutes. To finish, the sunflower is rubbed with sundried tomatoes and garnished with chopped basil.

The video had more than 400 comments and 10,000 shares by the time I saw it, and I watched it five more times in a row before shrugging it off as folly.

A day later, I was showing the video to a friend when I realized what was most perplexing. The taster who demonstrates the sunflower's potability at the end of the video has an expression on her face, not unlike the Mona Lisa. The eyes and mouth are expressing different things. She immediately goes back in for a second bite and does a little wiggle, but something about her expression made me curious.

Before I knew what was happening, I had harvested a sunflower in its prime from my garden. Since I didn't have access to a grill at the time, I preheated my oven to 420° and got started ridding the head of its bright yellow petals.

I used a mild-tasting oil (a blend of avocado, coconut, and safflower), and I didn't have a jar of sun-dried tomatoes on hand. Instead, I topped with dried basil. I let it cook about 10 minutes right on the grill rack and then placed a bowl over it for another five.

When it came out of the oven, it smelled good. It tasted good, too, but I wouldn't want to eat it like corn on the cob. Instead, I was more inclined to pull the kernels out a row at a time with a fork. The texture was like crimini mushrooms, and I could see it being a great addition to a stir fry or curry. They definitely soak up the flavor in the same way a mushroom would. Sunflower heads are not something I'd eat as a standalone dish but could be an amazing addition to a meal.

That said, I was definitely smiling at the end of my experiment. My friend thought I was brave for trying it. I just had to know. Would you dare?

See the Baker Creek video at

When recreating viral videos or challenges, first consider safety. It is, in fact, safe to eat every part of a sunflower. So, in this case, we're cleared for experimentation but do exercise caution.


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