We Made a Grilled Sunflower Head—and We Have No Regrets
Do grilled sunflower heads taste as good as they look? And can you really eat them like corn on the cob? We found out!
Since blowing up on Facebook last summer, grilled sunflowers have had the internet divided. Videos of people harvesting large sunflower heads, brushing off the buds and tossing them right on the grill have garnered reactions from people either eager to try it or shooting it down.
With so many different opinions, I decided the only way to find the truth would be to make a grilled sunflower head in our Test Kitchen.
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Find more viral TikTok recipes to test at home.
What Type of Sunflower Can You Grill?
The ideal sunflower will have started to lose its petals and be so large that it’s drooping under its own weight. You want a younger, underripe head with white, soft seeds. To check your sunflower seeds, brush off the tiny buds in the center and pluck out a seed; if it’s light in color and easily smushes when you squeeze it, it’s ready for the grill!
For the most important ingredient, I headed to my local sunflower field (shout-out to Lannon Farms) to harvest a flower.
Is Grilling Sunflowers Safe?
Yep! If you source a sunflower from a farmers market or friend’s garden, you should be good to go. That’s the best way to avoid flowers that may not be right for eating (so don’t stock up on sunflowers from a grocery store floral department).
And if there are any pests or bacteria lingering on the sunflower that you didn’t see, the high heat from the grill will kill them.
How to Grill a Sunflower Head
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- 1 large young sunflower head
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Fresh chopped cilantro
Step 1: Prepare the sunflower
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Trim the sunflower from the stalk. Remove outer petals and brush off inner buds. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Step 2: Grill the sunflower
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Place sunflower face down on grates and grill, covered, on medium heat for five to eight minutes. Combine mayonnaise, lime juice, and spices; spread over sunflower. Sprinkle the grilled sunflower head with cilantro to serve.
How Does Grilled Sunflower Taste?
After I grilled the sunflower head (and added seasonings), I went in for the taste test. Unlike some TikToks I saw where people bit right into the sunflower-like corn on the cob, I used a fork to scoop out the seeds.
The sunflower I used was already quite ripe when I harvested it, so I was nervous that the seeds would be too crunchy and earthy, but I was pleasantly surprised. The seeds were soft inside and burst in your mouth when you bit into them, and the charred flavor of the grill came through nicely. Most of the flavor was from the seasonings, so don’t skimp on the salt and pepper!
The Verdict on My Grilled Sunflower Head
The neutral flavor of the sunflower seeds means they are super adaptable to any flavors you want. I served my sunflower head like classic Mexican street corn with spicy lime mayo and chopped cilantro, but I’d also recommend toppings like garlic butter and Parmesan or red pepper flakes and honey.
Overall, I thought making a grilled sunflower head was an adventurous food to try, but the result wasn’t delicious enough to justify making it again. I’d much rather use my sunflowers for fall decor than food.