Love and Olive Oil

Hibiscus Flower Enchiladas

Hibiscus Flower Enchiladas

Let’s just go ahead and call this what it is, ok?

Hibiscus week.

Seriously, though, I didn’t realize a pound of dried hibiscus would be so much. And as a result of my overzealous purchase, these fragrant flowers are finding their way into some unusual places. Savory things and sweet things, drinkable concoctions and edible delicacies. Taylor’s even using some in his next batch of beer.

Don’t blame me, blame this recipe.

Because I haven’t been able to get these enchiladas out of my head since I first saw the recipe nearly 2 years ago.

Hibiscus Flower Enchiladas

At the time, I had seen some dried hibiscus flowers at Trader Joe’s. Or, at least I thought I had. Constantly haunted by visions of hibiscus enchiladas, I swear I scanned the dried fruit section at TJ’s every time we went. Weekly. For the last year and half.


Well, plenty of raisins and dried figs and freeze-dried blueberries, but not a trace of hibiscus. They must have been discontinued (like many of the best products at Trader Joe’s). That, or I was delusional and never saw them to begin with.

I was still unable to shake the thought of these unusual enchiladas (that would make a good band name, don’t you think? The Unusual Enchiladas. I like it.) Anyway, I finally broke down and ordered some dried hibiscus flowers online.

Hibiscus Flower Enchiladas

The hibiscus flowers are rehydrated and used inside the enchiladas in place of meat, their chewy texture perfectly suited and equally satisfying along with some shredded carrot and jicama (a Mexican root with a texture like a radish and a sweet, starchy flavor somewhere between a potato and a watermelon). They are topped with a simple chipotle tomato sauce, shredded purple cabbage, sour cream and crumbled cotija or feta cheese.

The verdict? Totally worth obsessing over.

Hibiscus Flower Enchiladas

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For Filling:
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers*
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, grated
1/2 cup grated jicama
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Sauce:
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cored, halved (or substitute 1 28-ounce can of whole plum tomatoes, drained and halved)
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large dried bay leaves
Kosher salt

For Assembly:
Vegetable oil, for frying
12 6-inch corn tortillas
1 cup sour cream
1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage (from about 1/2 a small cabbage)
1/2 cup Cotija or feta cheese, crumbled

*Dried hibiscus flowers, also called Jamaica flowers, are available at some natural foods stores and at Latin markets, or available online (I purchased mine from


For filling, bring hibiscus flowers and 2 cups water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; let steep until flowers are just tender, 5–8 minutes. Strain, reserving flowers (the liquid can be saved for another use).

Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat; add onion and sauté until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add softened hibiscus flowers, carrots, jicama, sugar, oregano, and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender and liquid is mostly evaporated, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chipotle chilies along with 2 cups of water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a blender, in batches if necessary (be cautious blending hot liquids). Purée until smooth.

Carefully wipe out saucepan; add oil and return to medium-high heat. When oil begins to shimmer, carefully add tomato mixture and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Pour vegetable oil into a large skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch; heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, submerge tortillas and fry, turning once, until just softened, about 30 to 45 seconds (no longer, you do not want them crispy). Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Spoon 1/4 cup of filling down the center of each tortilla and roll to enclose. Spoon chipotle sauce over top and garnish with sour cream, cabbage, and cheese.

Recipe from Bon Appetit

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  1. Hello!! I accidentally stumbled across your blog!! And I’m so happy I did! The hibiscus enchiladas caught my eye! 
    I had a question?? I don’t have jicama and my store doesn’t carry it?… what can I substitute it for or can I just leave it out!? TYIA

  2. Continued..—-

    —I have now realized. That there is a very fine line between doing something in cooking that actually adds to the dish…And something that is ultimately just pure nonsense- disguised as creativity or cleverness. 
    Anyone who has ate at TRUE top level restaurants. I mean the best of the best…. and then also eaten at many of the 25-40$ entree nice restaurants that are always pop up in decent towns these days.. has probably experienced this. 
     The best of the best will do this crazy stuff that sounds odd or wrong and, yeah, it can be utterly amazing. But even they can screw it up, aiming for creativity and stuff only to do unnecessary things to a dish. 
    But when you go to the local cool nice places, you are very likely to come across a dish that does this. Sure sometimes it’s all great. But there’s a lot of places trying to be cool these days…with head chefs that are overly ambitious or too trend focused… that serve up some goofy-ass dishes.. that really.. just kind of spit on the dish they are based on. That would be 100x more delicious if just made more authentically/less trendy-attempted,   And just done right. 
    In fact, there’s plenty of the ‘best of the best’ restaurants that don’t even dabble in the new age creative bs (it can be good don’t get me wrong. But it’s -never- necessary is all I’m saying).  Instead, they take authentic or regular dishes and don’t use any unique ingredients, but through quality ingredients, amazing attention to detail and preparation and cooking technique… they take a dish you could find near anywhere by name and listed ingredients…. 
    But somehow. Uplift it to this INSANE level of deliciousness and culinary mastery. A simple 5 ingredient soup in the hands of these restaurants/ chefs, becomes an unrivaled culinary experience somehow. Even if you had the same ingredients they made it with. It just doesn’t come out the same.  

  3. It’s kind of funny that basically 90% of these comments are about how ‘pretty’ and neat and ‘creative’ these enchiladas are…. and not about how they actually -were- so delicious when made and eaten.

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and surmise that it’s because no one really cares to make them… just like the GROSSLY overwhelming amount of other ‘recipes’ and food ideas that plague the internet with their ideas that ‘look so pretty!’, and photograph so well, and fit the trends of times..

    ..But, ultimately…. are not good. 
    I mean anyone who has actually used hibiscus flowers, could tell you it doesn’t take more than a second to imagine how useless they would be in a dish like this. And ultimately. Disgusting. 
    They do not taste like anything you would want in savory food. At all. 
    Let alone that “chewy” is not remotely what you want in your enchilada. Especially dried hibiscus flower type chewy, which is really not meat textured… more like. Kale if it was 10x as thick or something.

    And sure, they probably wouldn’t have a strong enough taste if used for tea first or whatever, to really matter. Slightly bitter if anything. They’d likely just be covered up by any other flavors/ take them on like tofu.      
    But. Unlike tofu. There is about   zero
    Nutritional value in them. So in the end the only real reasons to use them are… it sounds ‘cool’. And the pictures look ‘pretty’.
    AKA- the bane of all internet food recipes and blogger food ideas and Pinterest food bullshit. 
     Sorry if this rubs the author or anyone else the wrong way. I’m just being frank. I’m very into cooking as well. But after working in restaurants and having friends who have been head chefs at various quality places,,(and some who were chefs at places that tried quiet hard, but ultimately dropped the ball on all the important stuff- quality and deliciousness- while trying so hard to be trendy and pretty and neat

    • Tell me, did you actually try this recipe before leaving this comment? Because I made these enchiladas (multiple times) and really enjoyed them. I wouldn’t have posted them otherwise. I understand everyone’s tastes are different, but maybe don’t knock a recipe until you’ve tried it.

  4. First actual recipie I’ve seen with hibiscus other than tea or jam! I love the leaves too mmm. I am currently harvesting mine and they are so prolific it’s not even funny. If you’re in a cooler area start indoors in nov/December and put out in spring they need 6 mos of sunlight and begin to flower in fall when the amount of light changes. Beautiful plant!

  5. You should be able to find dried hibiscus flowers (Jamaica en español) in any Mexican market.

  6. I remember those dried hibiscus at Trader Joes, you are right! And what a great recipe idea, thanks.

  7. Omg this recipe looks amazing I love how unique it is!! I am totally making this! This is exactly the page I was looking for! I love hibiscus!! I can save the tea remains for this now!

  8. Nice looking recipe.. I have a question. I often buy dried Hibiscus flowers to make tea or agua fresca, my question is after you soak them in the hot water for 10 minutes or so just how soft do they become for you? I have just done this to try this recipe but the flowers don’t get very soft at all.. I nibbled on one and its quite hard still.. so I cant imagine that being a very nice texture for the enchiladas.. Do yours go really soft or is this normal?
    Thanks in advance!

    • This is really interesting, I wonder if dried leaves can be stale or too old? Because mine always go soft when I boil and steep them (around 10 minutes), so maybe you’ve got to steep yours longer, or maybe you should try another batch of hibiscus  flowers. 

  9. Yay!! Now I know what to do w my boiled jamaica!! I usually throw it away…

  10. That is CRAZY! I saw this with the utmost respect.

    Last weekend, I wowed my meat-eating parents with butternut-squash enchiladas. But this? This is crazy (and I say that respectfully, and with admiration). 

    Here in NYC, you can find hibiscus flowers at Indian spice stores. I found hibiscus flowers sold in bulk at a Latin grocery in Toronto once. So you should be able to track them down for the next time. And yes, they are very light, so two pounds must be a very large volume. 

    Lately, I’ve been using hibiscus for tea, in sangria, and in popsicles. But in enchiladas? This I’ve gotta try.

  11. Hibiscus “flowers” are really the blooms of the plant. the sepals which are the outside of the pods used fresh brewed with a bit of ginger make the traditional Christmas drink in the English Caribbean. You can never have enough of these sepals as this drink replaces soda and other store bought drinks. Dried sepals are used mainly at the end of the season. for the drink. Can be used for tea as well. Fresh sepals can be used as alternative for cranberry sauce, nice rich red color.

  12. Amaze balls. These are InCREDIBLE!! We bought the hibiscus at a health food store in the bulk spices/herbs section. 11.99/lb and the quantity to make about 15 of these only cost $2

  13. I’ve been eyeing these since you posted, and am finally going to make them tonight! I found dried hibiscus in the loose tea section of my grocery store. That might help someone!

    Beautiful pictures, as always.

  14. These sound so interesting and fancy. Soo intriguing.

  15. Okay I am totally 110% intrigued here. I’ve got to try some of these flowers cause I can’t stop thinking about them after that ice cream recipe, too. GORG!!

  16. Beautiful food combined with your beautiful photography, makes for a stunning post! I don’t think I have had hibiscus outside of Mexico and am thrilled to have such a delicious looking recipe!

  17. I have NEVER heard of hibiscus enchiladas, you definitely have me intrigued!

    Pinning this now… :-)

    (Plus, GORGEOUS.)

  18. You can probably find dried hibiscus flowers at Hispanic grocery stores, if there are any near you. They’re used to make agua de jamaica (the reddish-purple drink you often see in taquerías). The Spanish name for hibiscus is “flor de jamaica” (with “jamaica” pronounced hah-may-ca). I’m not sure what the relationship is between the Spanish name for hibiscus and the country of Jamaica. In any case, agua de jamaica is amazing, although your enchiladas are certainly a much more creative option. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Gorgeous! Now I’ve never had anything involving hibiscus before but you totally sold me on it!

  20. This recipe is so intriguing! It looks delicious and I’d absolutely love to try this :)

  21. I am fascinated! Do they taste floral at all? I would just be afraid of a big mouthful of perfume…

  22. I have recently discovered Hibiscus Flowers and I have to say, you are correct, totally worth obsessing over!

  23. These are far and away the most gorgeous enchiladas I’ve ever feasted my eyes upon!!

  24. What I got at TJ’s was candied hibiscus flowers, not dried, so that probably wouldn’t have worked out. I had them in lemonade last year, so they’re probably seasonal.

    Interesting combination of flavors. I *never* would’ve thought of it!

    • Oh good to know! Guess I should have just sucked it up and bought these a long time ago!

      I was thinking a hibiscus lemonade would be fantastic! :)

  25. OMFoodie Goodness! This looks and sounds amazing! I may just try making these:) Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  26. I love hibiscus, and this recipe is SO intriguing! it is also simply beautiful – I know I would love these.

    I also love that you think of random band names – I do that all the time!

  27. Wow, hibiscus in enchiladas? I would never have imagined such a thing! I think the only way I’ve ever eaten (or drunk) hibiscus was in tea, so I’m really curious as to how this tastes.

  28. Who knew flowers could be just as pretty as food?

  29. STUNNING! These photos stopped me in my tracks! Seriously gorgeous, totally creative, and utterly mouth-watering. They make me what to immediately drop everything to make these! Well, I guess I’d have to find hibiscus flowers first. ALthough living in SF, that can’t be too hard. :-)

  30. That looks quite yummy!!

  31. These are amazing, Lindsay!. They’re so colorful and vibrant, and I bet the flavor is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted!

  32. Very interesting! I’ll have to try it!
    If you ever need Hibiscus again you should check your local Latin food market. You can get it for much cheaper and won’t have to pay for shipping. That’s what I do for tea. :) You might need to look for the name Jamaica (hibiscus in Spanish.)

  33. WOW!!! Such a creative recipe, and those have got to be the most beautiful enchiladas known to the world!

  34. Wow, what amazing colors and what amazing pictures. This food looks so delicious.
    Great done!

    Regards, edina.

  35. Never thought I would call enchiladas beautiful but these are!

  36. Your photos are beautiful and what a great way to use hibiscus. I grew up with the plant in my backyard in Sierra Leone and not once did I think they were edible.

  37. hahaha, I love this sentence : “Totally worth obsessing over.” It looks amazing!

  38. wow, I never thought that I’d say that enchiladas were beautiful but these are haha. I love all of these hibiscus recipes!

  39. These look amazing!! Loving all of your Hibiscus recipes. :)

  40. These are absolutely stunning, Lindsay! Love that pop of purple color!

  41. These are beautiful! What a creative and delicious idea!!!

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