How to Pre-cook & Store Oriental Lily Bulbs


In addition to their colorful, fragrant garden blooms, many varieties of lily are also edible and are common additions to Asian cuisine. Tiger lilies, leopard lilies, and day lilies all have edible bulbs and are relatively easy to grow. The flowers and leaves can be eaten in soups and salads, and lily bulbs make an interesting variation to onions or potatoes in stir-fries, soups, and meat and vegetable dishes. Lily bulbs are also used in Chinese medicine for coughs and congestion.

Step 1

Slice the tops and bottoms off the bulbs. Break the sections apart into thin, petal-like slices and wash off any dirt that remains inside the sections. Slice the bulbs into smaller pieces, if desired. Set the bulbs aside.

Step 2

Cook the bulbs as little as possible to retain their flavor and crispness. In stir-fries with vegetables or meat, toss the lily bulbs into the mix just for the last few minutes of cooking.

Step 3

Add lily bulbs to soups after the other ingredients are fully cooked, stir for a few minutes, and remove from the heat.

Step 4

Eat fried lily bulbs plain or as a topping for toast. Finely chop a clove of garlic. Heat 2 tsp. of butter or oil to medium high, then add the garlic and the bulbs. Cook them for three to five minutes until they start to turn golden. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the fried bulbs on toast and eat them warm or cold.

Step 5

Store lily bulbs in the fridge to maintain freshness. If you bought the bulbs at the market, they usually come packaged in vacuum-sealed bags. The bulbs will keep for several weeks in the fridge if the bags stay sealed. You can also store them, untrimmed and unwashed, in a re-sealable plastic bag. Eat them before the ends become too soft, usually within two weeks.

Tips and Warnings

  • Many lily bulbs, even cooked ones, are toxic to pets. Other bulbs, like crocus and tulip bulbs are toxic for people, so don't eat a bulb unless you're sure what it is.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Stir-fried vegetables or meat
  • Toast
  • Garlic
  • Oil
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vacuum-sealed packaging
  • Re-sealable plastic bag


  • Red Cook: Lily Bulbs
  • The Lily Bulbs
  • Key Ingredient: Sweet Pumpkin and Lily Bulb Soup

Who Can Help

  • University of Massachussetts Extension: Production of Hybrid Lilies as Pot Plants
  • Dr. Bob's All Creatures: Toxic Plants and Foods
Keywords: edible bulbs, cook lily bulbs, lily bulb storage

About this Author

Sarah Metzker Erdemir is an expat writer and ESL teacher living in Istanbul since 2002. A fiction writer for more than 25 years, she began freelance writing and editing in 2000. Ms. Metzker Erdemir holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Romance languages and linguistics as well as a TESOL Master of Arts degree. She has written articles for eHow, Garden Guides, and ConnectEd.