Spring Sarsaparilla Shoots Recipe

Spring Sarsaparilla Shoots Recipe

Summer 2018

  • sarsaparilla-shoots
    Young Smilax spp. shoots are delicious when blanched and served with a vinegar-based dressing.
    Photo by Flickr/NatureServe
  • sarsaparilla-shoots

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

If you live where you can gather early spring shoots of greenbrier from the woods, this is a delicious way to enjoy Smilax spp. Gather the shoots when they’re first appearing, taking only what easily snaps off the vine. Sarsaparilla will work in any recipe where you’d otherwise use green beans.


  • 2 cups sarsaparilla shoots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar


  1. Blanch the sarsaparilla shoots in boiling water for 5 to 8 minutes. They should be green and fork-tender. Strain and immediately drench in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  2. In a small pot, combine the dill, garlic, red pepper flakes, apple cider vinegar, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Strain the shoots and pour the hot dressing over them. Stir to combine. Chill before serving.
Learn more about sarsaparilla in Sarsaparilla: A Cure for What Ails You.