Natural Antioxidant—Great for Liver Health

Cooking with Milk Thistle

Milk thistle can be used raw in salads, as a spice, or cooked in many recipes.

Can you eat a weed? Yes! Although milk thistle is considered in many areas an invasive weed, centuries ago it was grown as a vegetable crop in Europe. The leaves were cooked or used in salads, much like spinach.(102140)

Not only are the leaves edible, the seeds are as well. In fact, the buds, roots, leaves, and stalks — the entire plant — is edible. Milk thistle seeds contain the highest level of its beneficial silymarin compounds. This makes milk thistle versatile enough to use in a number of recipes, including:(102140220-226)

  • Homemade cheese
  • Juices
  • Pie
  • Salads
  • Seasoning
  • Smoothies
  • Soups
  • Spritzes
  • Tea
  • Vegetable dishes (including baked, served with oil and lemon, or battered and fried)

Milk thistle can even be used in a finishing salt for bloody Mary drinks.(227)

How to Prepare and Use Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle Table 12: How to Use as Food
Plant Part Preparation


Cooked or raw, like spinach.(21)

Added to salads.(5)

Leaf stalks can be eaten raw, as a snack.(228)


Ground to a powder and used to make tea, soup, or cereal.(40)

Ground milk thistle seeds can be used as a substitute for coffee.(5)

Milk thistle seeds also produce oil.(44)

Young shoots or stalks

Boiled, as a substitute for cabbage or kale.(5229)

Raw, as a snack.(228)

Milk thistle stems help quench thirst.(44)

Hint: peel and soak in water to minimize the bitter taste.(229)

Roots (1-2 years old)

Raw (julienned, sliced, chopped, shredded in salads).(2)

Cooked (boiled, roasted).(2)

Baked in pies.(229)

Dried and ground as a flour, milk thistle roots can be used as a natural thickener for soup and stew.(44)

Milk thistle roots are similar to carrots or salsify (oyster plant).(2229)

Flower buds

Steamed or boiled; similar to artichoke.(44229)

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