Everything You Need To Know About Szechuan Buttons

There's a wide variety of ways to cook with edible flowers, whether you want to toss them into a salad or fry up some zucchini blossoms. As a bonus, edible flowers add a gorgeous pop of color to a dish in addition to their flavors. Szechuan buttons are another type of edible flower, and they add a punch to any dish.

According to The Kitchn, the plant gets its name because it creates a mouth sensation reminiscent of spicy Szechuan peppers. However, these flowers are actually found in Brazil. The other names for this plant include the electric daisy, buzz button, and toothache plant (via Fine Dining Lovers). From these names, you might already have guessed that Szechuan buttons have a bit of a kick to them — but that has more to do with the plant's effects than its actual taste.

Saveur says that these flowers "have a grassy, slightly sour flavor that's accompanied by a pleasant tingling sensation, almost like eating a handful of Pop Rocks ... before giving way to a surprisingly welcome numbing, cooling effect." This edible flower might even cause you to produce more saliva, per The Kitchn. If you're an adventurous eater looking for new food experiences, add Szechuan buttons to your list.

How to use Szechuan buttons

You're probably wondering how to add flowers that come with such a unique physical reaction to a dish. The answer is to put Szechuan buttons in cocktails. Liquor.com highlights a few of the restaurants that use buttons to elevate their cocktail recipes with different mouthfeels. The Institute of Culinary Education's blog, Diced, provides a recipe for "The Greener Beast Cocktail," which uses the plant as a garnish.

Enviro Culture Farms also suggests using sprinkling the petals of Szechuan buttons as a topping for sorbets, salads, and soups. According to Saveur, Szechuan buttons are used in India to add flavor to chewing tobacco, and this plant can also be used as medicine for toothaches, which gives it one of its other names, the toothache plant.

Are you ready to give Szechuan buttons a try? Grocery stores might sell a lot of flowers, but you're unlikely to find Szechuan buttons at any regular chain. Instead, search online to purchase them from a specialized retailer.