Easy Recipes Using Marigolds (Cempasuchil) For the Day of the Dead

As Día De Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, approaches, I’m sharing some of my favorite marigold recipes. And yes, you can use these vibrant orange and yellow flowers, also known as cempasuchil, for cooking!  

Best recipes using marigolds or cempasuchil for Day of the Dead

Beyond their beauty, marigolds hold deep cultural significance in this annual Mexican celebration, adorning ofrendas (altars) and gravestones to guide the spirits of loved ones back to the world of the living. But are marigolds safe to eat? In this article, I share the best marigold recipes to prepare for Dia de los Muertos and discover how marigolds can enhance the flavors of Day of the Dead traditional food, from pan de muerto to cocktails and marigold deserts, infusing this celebration with their unique charm and taste.

Pan de muerto stuffed with marigold creamI also share how to use marigolds for cooking safely and what varieties of marigolds are best for use in your Day of the Dead recipes. So get ready to infuse your Día De Los Muertos festivities with the essence of these beautiful Day of the Dead flowers!

Best Cempasuchil Marigold Recipes and how to safely cook with marigolds for Day of the Dead

The Significance of Marigolds in the Day of the Dead Celebrations

Marigolds, known as “cempasúchil” in Mexico, play a significant role in the Día de los Muertos festivities. Their bright and colorful petals are used to decorate ofrendas (altars) and tombstones, creating a visually striking contrast against the traditional papel picado (paper cutouts) and candles. Beyond their decorative role, marigolds are believed to have a symbolic purpose – their strong aroma is thought to help guide the spirits of deceased loved ones back to the realm of the living during this meaningful celebration. 

Marigold arches and garlands for Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos

If you want to know more about marigolds and the part they play in the Dia de los Muertos traditions, check out my article about marigolds and their significance and symbolism for the Day of the Dead. 

Can you eat Marigolds?

Yes, you can eat marigolds or cempasuchil. The petals of the marigold flowers are edible. However, it’s important to know what varieties of marigolds are safe to eat. Here is a list of the marigold varieties that are safe for consumption:

Can you eat marigolds?
French marigolds.

 Look for marigolds labeled as edible or culinary marigolds. These varieties are grown without harmful chemicals, making them safe for consumption. Avoid getting marigolds from garden centers or florists, as they may have pesticides that aren’t food-friendly.

You can also use dried cempasuchil (Aztec marigolds) for your recipes. Many of the recipes in this article use dried marigolds to infuse drinks, desserts, and savory dishes with that delicious and unique marigold flavor.

How to eat Marigolds. Tips for safe consumption of Marigolds

Here are some recommendations for ensuring you are eating marigolds or cempasuchil safely: 

  • Only use the petals: Many edible flowers can be eaten whole, but in the case of Marigolds only the petals are edible. Pluck the petals from the flower and make sure not to eat the entire flower; you can still use it for decorating your marigold recipes, but do not eat the sepal, pistil, and stamens (the base of the flower and all parts of the flower’s center).
  • Go Organic: Whenever possible, use organic marigolds from home gardens or trusted local sources. They are less likely to have pesticides or other non-food-friendly chemicals.
  • Wash Thoroughly: Wash marigold petals with care to remove any dirt or contaminants. Soaking them briefly in a baking soda mixture (2 tablespoons of baking soda per liter of water) can help eliminate potential chemical traces.

Cooking with marigolds (cempasuchil)

What Do Marigolds Taste Like?

Cempasuchil, also known as marigolds, can bring vibrant colors and a subtle floral flavor to your cooking. Marigolds have a pleasant citrus-like taste and add a burst of orange and yellow to salads, soups, and other dishes.

Delicious Recipes Using Marigolds (Cempasuchil) for the Day of the Dead

As fall rolls around, people in Mexico and people of Mexican descent all around the globe start preparing their ofrendas for the Day of the Dead. Their offerings are filled with marigolds, the flower we associate with the Day of the Dead, which carries significant cultural importance within these Mexican traditions. However, cempasuchil or marigolds are not only used for ornamental purposes; they can also be used to prepare delicious recipes.

Best Marigold Recipes for Day of the Dead

Here are some great recipes you can make using cempasuchil (marigolds) for el Dia de los Muertos:

Marigold Drinks & Cocktails

Easy Cempasuchil (Marigold) Atole

This Day of the Dead recipe for cempasúchil atole is an easy-to-make warm drink perfect for enjoying along with pan de muerto or other traditional Day of the Dead foods for Dia de los Muertos. You can make this easy marigold recipe in thirty minutes or less. The cempasuchil flowers give this atole a unique citrusy flavor and infuse this warm and comforting Mexican hot drink with the symbolism of marigolds for the Day of the Dead.  

Easy Marigold (cempasuchil) Mexican atole recipe for Day of the Dead

Marigold Blood Orange Margarita – by Muy Bueno Cooking

These Marigold Blood Orange Margaritas are perfect for a stylish Dia de los Muertos celebration. They blend tangy blood orange juice, marigold-flavored tequila, orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice to create a zesty and vibrant cocktail.

Marigold-Blood-Orange-Margarita and other recipes using marigolds for Day of the Dead

Dia de los Muertos Martini – by Sweet Life Bake

This marigold martini captures a vibrant, lightly sweetened, and floral essence. It’s a classic martini variation featuring infused vodka instead of gin and a touch of elderflower liqueur for added floral complexity. The vodka is infused with dried marigolds, giving it a unique twist and making it the perfect Dia de los Muertos cocktail. 

Marigold martini and best marigold recipes for Dia de los Muertos

Marigold Sangria – by Beijos Events

What better way to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos than sipping on a marigold sangria? Marigolds are used in this cocktail by making marigold tea and adding it to the sangria. Not only is this cocktail easy to make, but it’s also extra fun with dry ice! It’s a perfect choice for your upcoming Halloween party, and you can make as much as you need. Everyone will love sipping on this sangria!

Marigold sangria and best marigold (cempasuchil) recipes for Day of the Dead


Marigold Desserts

Marigold (Cempasuchil) Flan

Celebrate the vibrant traditions of Día De Los Muertos with a delightful twist on flan, a traditional Day of the Dead food. This easy marigold (cempasuchil) flan recipe infuses the essence of marigold (cempasuchil) flowers into a classic and beloved dessert. 

 Best recipes using marigolds or cempasuchil for Day of the Dead

Cempasuchil (Marigold) Cream Filled Pan de Muerto

In this recipe for cempasúchil (marigold) cream-filled pan de muerto, we’re taking the traditional Pan de Muerto to new heights by introducing a unique twist – filling it with a sweet marigold cream. This floral infusion adds a delicate and intriguing flavor to the traditional bread, elevating its symbolic meaning. 

Cempasuchil (marigold) cream filled pan de muerto

Main Dish Recipes Using Marigolds

Marigold Tamales – By Vianney Rodriguez on The Food Network

Marigolds are a very significant part of Day of the Dead celebrations. This recipe puts a unique twist on chicken tamales. These tamales are infused with the essence of marigolds, which are symbolic of Dia de los Muertos and are used to guide departed souls back to their loved ones. These dried Day of the Dead flowers also impart a delightful, earthy aroma and flavor to the chicken filling.

Cempasuchil or marigold tamales and other marigold recipes for Dia de los Muertos

Chicken Salsa Verde Tostadas with Marigold & Onion Garnish – By Sweet Life Bake

These tostadas feature a crispy tortilla base topped with a layer of beans, shredded chicken, and vibrant salsa verde. What sets them apart is the extraordinary garnish of fried onions and marigolds. The marigold’s distinctive flavor and aromatic essence give these tostadas a delightful and unique taste. 

Shredded chicken tostadas with marigold and other marigold recipes

Slow Cooker Marigold Chicken Tacos – By Hola Jalapeño

The secret to this unique Day of the Dead taco recipe is adding dried marigolds to the chicken. This gives these chicken tacos an earthy note, which goes beautifully with the honey, lime, serrano chiles, and fire-roasted tomatoes. Marigolds not only add flavor to this dish, but they also add a lot of meaning since marigolds are very symbolic of the Day of the Dead. Their fragrance and color guide our loved ones back to us for a cherished visit on this special Day.

Marigold chicken tacos and best marigold recipes for Day of the Dead

Side Dishes Recipes Using Marigolds

Creamy Marigold Rice – By Sweet Life Bake

This delicious baked rice dish offers a delightful fusion of flavors, infused with the essence of marigolds, known as the “flower of the dead.” It’s a great side dish for your Day of the Dead celebration or dinner. 

marigold rice and other marigold recipes for Dia de los Muertos

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

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