Burdock Root: What is it and How to Eat it

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Gobo (Japanese), Ngau Pong (Cantonese), Niupangzi (Mandarin Chinese), Ueong (Korean)

Burdock root—a superfood in teas and supplements—has a reputation for being healthy. But it’s also a delicious vegetable with an incredibly nutty flavor. Here’s everything you need to know before you start cooking with Burdock Root.

burdock root white interior exposed

I first discovered burdock in a cookbook called Roots. And while it may not look like much, this long, beige root-thingy has a lot of potential in your home kitchen for the winter months ahead.

Now, roots need a lot of TLC, especially this one.

Burdock root is very tough, meaning it needs a thorough boil before it softens. This makes it the perfect candidate for slow-cooking hearty stews and soups. I can already imagine it in this Pesto Soup recipe. My favorite part about burdock root is its nutty flavor and super-long storage life. I’ve had one in the fridge for over a month now and it’s still fine!

If you’re a superfood-foodie and love healthy, nutrient-dense vegetables, then this one is for you. I, on the other hand, am NOT that. I’m a comfort food gal through and through. The best way to eat it, like every vegetable, is covered in heavy cream and cheese. Whether you’re a veggie-addict or food junkie, read on to learn how to incorporate burdock root into your day-to-day cooking!

T 🧡

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burdock root with measuring tape

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What is Burdock Root?

Burdock is the root of a prickly-headed plant that inspired the creation of Velcro (no joke, check it out). The root is slender, firm, and can reach up to three feet long (almost as tall as me at 5 ft)! 

Burdock root is a popular vegetable in East Asia. It’s been used in Chinese and Japanese medicine for centuries to treat sore throat, colds, and other illnesses. In Europe, a beverage made from fermented burdock root has been a popular drink since the middle ages. Today, burdock root is valued as both a tea and food with exceptional health benefits. 

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What Does Burdock Root Taste Like?

Raw burdock root has a crunchy and crisp texture similar to radish. Once cooked and softened, burdock root takes on an earthy, nutty flavor that pairs well with chicken or pork, and with rice or potatoes. 

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Is Burdock Root Healthy?

Burdock root is insanely healthy. It’s low in calories (about 80 calories per 3 oz) and high in dietary fiber. It’s also rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. What’s more, it contains tons of antioxidants, reduces inflammation, and promotes blood circulation. Read more about burdock root health benefits here

PS A word of caution to my tiny-bladder friends, burdock acts as a diuretic (eat in moderation). 

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burdock root in a basket at the store  burdock root in a basket at the store

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Where Can I Buy Burdock Root?

You can find burdock root at Asian markets near carrots and radishes as well as farmers’ markets or natural food stores. Burdock root is available year-round, with a peak harvesting season in early spring to late fall.

How to Select: 

Look for slender roots no more than 1-inch in diameter. The smaller and younger they are, the less tough and fibrous. Burdock roots should be free of bruises and cracks. They should feel firm and stiff, not soft and bendable.

Cost: 

Burdock is a fairly inexpensive vegetable, costing around $2 per pound.

Storage: 

Wrap unwashed burdock roots in damp paper towels and place them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks while keeping the towels damp.

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How to Prepare & Cut Burdock Root (Video Tutorial)  

To wash burdock roots, scrub with a brush or sponge to remove any dirt and then rinse under cold water. Burdock doesn’t need to be peeled because the skin adds lots of flavor and nutrients.

To cut burdock root, remove the top and bottom of the root to reveal the white inside. Depending on the dish you make, you can cut burdock root into thin rounds, small cubes, or matchsticks. The color will brown once exposed (like an apple), so place them in a bowl of water with a drop or two of vinegar or lemon juice. Soaking cut burdock root in vinegar-water also mellows out it’s harsh, pungent flavor (like raw onion). 

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How to Use Burdock Root

Burdock root is a healthy addition to almost any stew or stir-fry—swap it in for carrots or radish—or simply braised it with butter and other root vegetables.

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Burdock Root Weight and Yields

Sourced from the cookbook Roots by Diane Morgan. 

1 small (12-inch) root = 3 to 4 ounces = about ½ heaping cup, thinly sliced

1 large (24-inch) root = 7 to 8 ounces = about 1 heaping cup, thinly sliced 

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Burdock Root Substitutes 

You can substitute burdock root with carrots or radishes. Sometimes burdock root is used as potato substitutes.

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kotai japanese knife thinly sliced burdock root

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Recipes with Burdock Root

Burdock Root Fries

Burdock Root & Potato Gratin 

Kale and Burdock Root in Curried Cream 

Braised Burdock, Yellow Beets, & Carrots 

Pickled Burdock Root (via Forager Chef)

Burdock Root Salad (via JustOneCookbook)

Burdock Root Sushi (via Izzy Cooking)

 

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What do you know about Burdock Root? Let me know in the comments below!

Food for Thought

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