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How to Cook Milk Thistle

By Tracy Morris ; Updated September 21, 2017

Milk thistle, a distant relative to both the daisy and the artichoke, is native to the Mediterranean. It has a long history as a medicinal plant used to treat liver and gall bladder problems. According to the University Of Maryland Medical Center, scientific studies suggest that flavonoids in milk thistle protect the liver from toxins. Because of this, milk thistle preparations are popular for liver detoxification in natural health therapies. Although milk thistle seeds are typically used to make tinctures, the leaves can be added to a variety of foods such as greens.

Put on protective gloves before handling milk thistle plants. The plants have thorny protrusions, which is how they earn the thistle name.

Wash leaves thoroughly before preparation by placing them into a colander and running them under water. Allow to dry before proceeding.

Using a serrated kitchen knife, cut the leafy part away from the central vein (the midrib) of the leaves. Strip out all fibrous strings from the midrib.

Place the leaf midribs into a pot and pour water over the plants until covered. Boil plants until soft.

Pour off broth and discard. Broth contains powerful medicine that can affect your heart. You should not use it for cooking.

Use boiled midribs in stir-fried vegetables or potato dishes or with other vegetables in a creamy dish.


Things You Will Need

  • Kitchen gloves
  • Milk thistle plants
  • Serrated knife
  • Colander


  • For a cleaner flavor, stop boiling the plant and change the water before continuing to boil. Do this two or three times until the plant is soft.

About the Author


Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.