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Wild Ramps: How to Incorporate This Wild Leek into Your Spring Meals

A slice of crusty bread is slathered in wild ramp butter and is set a gainsta folded napkin along with a knife, fork and a bundle of flowering wild ramps.

Cooking with Wild Ramps

Ramp Pesto Recipe from Taste of Home

Each spring, as the weather starts to warm up in late March or April, I eagerly head out into the woods in search of one of my favorite edibles: wild ramps, also known as wild leeks. There’s something incredibly exciting about spotting their bright green leaves pushing up through the soil, signaling the arrival of spring and the bounty of fresh flavors it brings.

A jar of ramp pesto

Ramps have a unique taste that’s a blend of garlic and onion, making them a versatile and flavorful addition to many dishes. I love incorporating them into my cooking, from salads and soups to stews and stir-fries. The entire plant is edible; ramps add a vibrant touch to any meal, whether raw or cooked.

One of my go-to ways to enjoy ramps is in a simple salad. I use just the leaves for a milder flavor, but when I’m craving a bit more bite, I chop up the bulbs and scatter them throughout the salad, similar to how I would use green onions. However, a word of caution: wherever you serve this salad, be prepared for its robust and garlicky onion aroma to attract some attention! It’s a signature scent that’s hard to miss, but it’s all part of the charm of cooking with ramps.

Another favorite recipe of mine is Ramp Pesto, which beautifully showcases the unique flavor of these wild leeks. This recipe I initially found at Taste of Home

Ramp Pesto Recipe


  • 10 ounces ramps (bulbs and greens), about 30 medium
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  • Blanch the Ramps: Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the ramps and cook for 30 seconds until they turn bright green. Drain and immediately drop into ice water. Drain again and pat dry.
  • Blend the Ingredients: Place the blanched ramps, Parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until chopped. Add the pine nuts and process until blended.
  • Add Oil: While processing, gradually add the olive oil in a steady stream until the mixture is well combined.
  • Store: Transfer the pesto to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 year.

This pesto is fantastic with fish dishes, a spread for sandwiches, or tossed with homemade pasta for a meal bursting with fresh spring flavors.

For a rich and flavorful spread, I also make Ramp Butter. It’s simple to prepare and adds flavor to warm bread, steamed vegetables, or any dish that could use a touch of ramp-infused goodness.

Wild Ramp Butter Recipe


  • 6 ounces ramps (bulbs and greens), about 15 medium
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Blanch the Ramps: Follow the same process as in the pesto recipe.
  • Chop and Mix: Finely chop the ramps, both bulbs and greens. In a small bowl, beat the softened butter, chopped ramps, and salt until well blended.
  • Shape and Store: Shape the ramp butter into a log, wrap it in plastic or parchment paper, and refrigerate it for up to 1 week. For longer storage, you can also freeze it for several months.

Lastly, one of my husband’s favorite ways to enjoy ramps is in a salad with hot bacon dressing, reminiscent of a classic spinach salad but with a wild twist.

Wild Ramp Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing


  • 8 ounces young ramps
  • 8 pieces thick-sliced bacon, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Prepare the Ramps: Remove the roots, wash, drain, and pat dry. Dice the bulbs and tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Place into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cook the Bacon: Fry the bacon and drain on a paper towel, reserving 3 tablespoons of the rendered fat. Crumble the bacon and set aside.
  3. Make the Dressing: In a small saucepan, whisk together the bacon fat, red wine vinegar, sugar, and Dijon mustard—season with salt and pepper.
  4. Assemble the Salad: Toss the ramps with the dressing and crumbled bacon. Divide between plates and serve immediately.
A basket of freshly dug wild ramps

Wild Ramps: Unlimited Potential in the Kitchen

Each of these recipes highlights the unique flavor of ramps, making them a springtime staple in my kitchen. Whether you’re a seasoned forager or simply looking to try something new in your cooking, I highly recommend Wild Ramps. Their distinct taste and versatility in dishes make them a true celebration of spring’s arrival. So next time you’re out for a walk in the woods or browsing your local farmers market, watch for these wild leeks and enjoy the fresh, vibrant flavors they bring to your table. Happy cooking!

Be sure to check out our article on foraging in Ohio, Foraging: Your Guide to This Timeless Tradition Through the Seasons.

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