Your Favorite Ways to Use Stinging Nettles

March  7, 2015

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: Take the sting out of nettles.

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Just as there is no rose without a thorn, there is no nettle without a sting. True to their name, their spiny leaves can leave a bad taste in your mouth (and seriously irritate any exposed skin) if you're not careful. But stinging nettles have a wild, fresh flavor, and, when handled properly, can be a joy to cook with.

Trampledbygeese wants to love them, writing on the Hotline: “The first crop of stinging nettles is almost ready. These will be the sweetest, most tender shoots of the year. The thing is, I just don't know what to do with them. Please help me fall in love with this excessively nutritious vegetable.” Food52ers know their way around a few vegetables, and they were up to the challenge:

  • Ktr says: “Soup sounds great to me. Or maybe (I haven't done this), add some nettles to some creamed kale.”
  • Maedl chimes in with multiple options: “Cream of nettle soup is popular in Germany -- and very good.

 You can cook them like any greens, so that gives you an option for a bumper crop. I have also used them in a risotto, which is a lovely spring dish. And in Orvieto, north of Rome, I was served a lovely steak topped with a nettle sauce."

More: Make a nettle and sorghum simple syrup and then use it in a Southern spring cocktail.

Nettle pasta

More: If you have a few bunches of stinging nettles, you're well on your way to 5 dinners.

Are you a fan of stinging nettles? Tell us your favorite ways to eat them in the comments bellow.

Photos by James Ransom, betsybites, and Valentina Solfrini.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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    Frank Giglio
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    Shannon at Plate of Sunshine
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    Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen
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    suzy pingree
  • Olivia Bellano
    Olivia Bellano
Mei Chin

Written by: Mei Chin

Let's have dinner sometime. There will be champagne and ice cream for sure; everything else is up in the air.


Frank G. March 15, 2015
Nettle gnocchi is my favorite!
Shannon A. March 14, 2015
I really want to love nettles.... But I've been stung bad in the past. I can't believe how much it burns when you brush against them. But.... Perhaps with 2 layers of gloves I'll attempt to tackle this weed.... And eat them :)
Sini |. March 9, 2015
Stinging nettles are great on pizza or flatbread! Also, you can use it in your bread dough for a herby note.
suzy P. March 8, 2015
Make a cocktail with nettle simple syrup. Equal parts water and sugar, cook until sugar is dissolved, add nettles and let them steep. Filter and refrigerate.
Olivia B. March 8, 2015
I've heard of a stinging nettles pesto...but how would you prep the greens? I'm guessing you blanch them first?
Kukla March 8, 2015
Olivia, just open the link to the Nettle Pesto and get the recipe.
Olivia B. March 8, 2015
Oh I feel silly I didn't even notice that. Thanks :)
Gret March 7, 2015
No nettles in our supermarkets!
cookinginvictoria March 8, 2015
You may need to go to a farmer's market or gourmet food shop to find them.
Colleen S. March 7, 2015

Love the nettles!
Kukla March 7, 2015
You can also fry fresh nettles and use them as a beautiful and delicious addition to sandwiches or just enjoy them as a snack.
Here is the quick recipe:
2 cups freshly picked stinging nettles
½ cup any light oil for frying
Place a frying pan on the stove top. Add the oil and let it get really hot. Fry the nettles quickly over high heat until they are crispy. Drain on paper towels and lightly sprinkle with salt.