Claire's Nettle-Kissed Buns from Outlander book Dragonfly in Amber

Claire's Nettle-Kissed Buns

"The peasants of Gascony beat a faithless wife wi' nettles," he  said.  He lowered the spiky bunch of leaves and rushed the flower heads lightly across one breast.  I gasped from the sudden sting, and a faint red blotch appeared as though by magic on my skin.

"Will ye have me do so?" he asked.  "Shall I punish you that way?"

"If you...if you like."  My lips were trembling so hard I could barely get out the words.  A few crumbs of earth from the nettles' roots had fallen between my breasts; one rolled down the slope of my ribs, dislodged by my pounding heart, I imagined.  The welt on my breast burned like fire.  I closed my eyes, imagining in vivid detail exactly what being thrashed with a bunch of nettles would feel like.

Suddenly the viselike grip on my wrist relaxed.  I opened my eyes to find Jamie sitting cross-legged by me, the plants thrown aside and scattered on the ground.  He had a faint, rueful smile on his lips.

"I beat you once in justice, Sassenach, and ye threatened to disembowel me with my own dirk.  Now you'll ask me to whip ye wi' nettles?"  He shook his head slowly, wondering, and his hand reached as though by its own volition to cup my cheek.  "Is my pride worth so much to you , then?"

"Yes!  Yes, it bloody is!"  I sat up myself, and grasped him by the shoulders, taking both of us by surprise as I kissed him hard and awkwardly.

Dragonfly in Amber (Chapter 29)

And you're still gonna tell me you don't want to, at least, try stinging nettles?  I mean, look at that colour! A gorgeous green that would make Claire sigh with well as keep the scurvy at bay and the teeth in your jaw should you ever manage to fall through some stones of your own.

I love that picture up there so much that I'm bumping the regularly scheduled programming that is the photo you see down there...meant to represent the nettles on the cliffs near Fontainebleau where Jamie and Claire so intensely re-claim their passion after that painful Paris absence -- you know, the absence and related activities that most of us don't even like to talk about.

But the light in the pic below is a little flat.  And if there's one word that doesn't belong anywhere near Claire's breasts, it's flat. (Especially if you're reading Exile!) :)

ready-to-roll copy

Nettle Season is upon us out here in the Pacific Northwest.  Some areas of California have been picking them for at least a month, and other regions of North America are just behind as the spring thaw continues.  There are dozens (if not hundreds) of varieties of nettles worldwide.  A quick google will show you what you have in your area and when the best time of year to pick them is.

Our stinging nettles pop up after rain, when it's still a little cool, so they're the ideal fodder for the early-season forager.  If you're interested, find a foraging club in your area.  You'll get out for a walk, learn a ton, and most likely go home with some free food to boot.  I have a small crop that I have been tending in the forest behind our house for the past 4 years.  I clip them regularly, as soon as they appear, and I have a good supply through the end of the season which, around here, is mid-April.  At that point, the plants are too old and bitter.

But the reality is that you probably don't have to find your own.  You'll find nettles at many farmer's markets as they come into season.  I've seen them for sale by farmers and foragers alike.

nettle rolls

As for Claire' Buns, I racked by brain (and the thesaurus) for some way of turning nettle-brushed breasts into rolls (or vice-versa), but I just couldn't pull it off.   So we'll stick with her other end -- Jamie appreciates that part of her anatomy just as much, after all.

I made a few of each size.  We used the large ones at breakfast, splitting them like bagels, toasting them lightly and topping them with a poached egg and bacon for an out-of-this-world breakfast sandwich.  3 days in a row.  Even when they're a little stale, Claire's Buns are amazing. (Say it aloud.  Isn't it fun?)

I spread garlic butter on the mid-sized ones for a quick and tasty dinner with grilled chicken breast and salad.  And the mini ones would make really cute appetizer, either alone or filled.


Show/Hide Comments


19 Mar 2012 - 3:33pm


Wow, I feel very uneducated right now--There's a whole field of nettles below my house and it never crossed my mind to use them like spinach. I have never heard of such a thing! Thank you for the great info--the idea of eating it makes me a bit nervous, but you make it look doable for sure :-)


Have fun foraging in your back yard! Wear gloves and everything will be fine. :)

19 Mar 2012 - 3:35pm


You just ain't right. :) I need to find a foraging group around me but I've never heard of such an animal. I live in such a forested area I find it hard to believe that I don't have nettles around me. I just don't know how to find them and don't want to poison myself by trying something I"m not sure of.nnIf I do find them, I'm dog gone well making these Claire's buns. Yeah, they look amazing.


Did you say forest? Then you're surrounded by them...I'm sure somebody around there can help you identify the first couple. After that, you'll never miss them!

19 Mar 2012 - 4:09pm

Priscilla M

They are just lovely! So perfect as a side dish or by itself. I have not seen nettles here in northern CA lately, but will definitely keep my eyes open for it. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe :)


Many thanks for stopping by the kitchen, Priscilla...if you're in northern CA, you can't be far from nettles...Theresa

19 Mar 2012 - 4:23pm

Kiri W.

Lovely! :) I adore nettle tea, so why not buns? Very interesting recipe.

19 Mar 2012 - 5:34pm


Awesome! I had a feeling it was going to be something like this! LOL

19 Mar 2012 - 6:58pm

Ms. Aaron Brown

I will be on the look out for nettles!!

19 Mar 2012 - 9:00pm


I love their versatility/suitable for breakfast lunch or dinner. My DH will like that. And thanks for including an alternate (spinach), though I must say I am verra curious to taste the nettles...


Jenn, we've been eating them at multiple meals for days, and we still haven't tired of them! :)

20 Mar 2012 - 12:34am

Shana Jensen

Theresa, nYour creativity amazes me! I was thinking when you posted the teaser that perhaps it would be a chicken breast with nettles - but this is Hilarious and looks scrumptious! Get this cookbook published!!

20 Mar 2012 - 3:38am


If I went through the stones I would want Theresa with me ...she would be that and eat this...and I would be like OK...8)

20 Mar 2012 - 12:13pm


At my first job as a field biologist, I had to wade through fields of thigh-high nettle in order to plot gps points. Needless to say, I have some unpleasant memories of that plant. (They sting through jean material, so make sure to wear thick gloves!) Your recipe, however, makes them look beautiful and delicious and I really want to try it! Perfect excuse for a hike with the hubs :)


I think you'll learn to love nettles, Bri...just gotta get back in the patch and get picking! Theresa

22 Mar 2012 - 1:18am


Oh! Edible nettles! Another one to add to the list of recipes to try.nI think you should publish a year's worth of recipes...


Thanks, Deniz! I'm working on the publishing :D

22 Mar 2012 - 10:10am

A Coddled Egg…

with a couple of rashers and one of Claire's Nettle-Kissed Buns, it was a breakfast worthy of a wedding day at River Run. (And what a day that

21 Feb 2013 - 10:03pm

Helen Leduc

Nettle ale would be nice to wash these down with!!


You`re so right, Helen! I`m going to do some foraging today!

24 Mar 2013 - 11:45pm

Rowen G.

I have yet to find nettles in Denver, but I may try these with lambs-quarters in a few months; I'll have plenty of those. We have a fresh 8" of snow at the moment. (Thoroughly enjoying the blog, by the way - tapadh leibh!)


Great idea, Rowen! I love foraging...and I adore wild food.

05 May 2014 - 5:02am

Sharon M Anderson

Would they've the same as devil's club here in Western Washington?


No devil's club is a different plant. Nettles grow rampant across Washington...I've foraged for them down there too! If you are interested, try googling "nettle foraging western washington" (or your town's name).

28 May 2015 - 6:32pm

Gail MacArthur

I still have some dried nettles left from last summer, will those work? It sure would be a delicious way to use them up.

16 Feb 2016 - 2:01pm

Stinging Nettl…

Claires Nettle-Kissed Buns

01 Mar 2016 - 2:12pm

Stinging Nett…

mileage out of that one stinging nettle passage over the years. Its inspired everything from Claires Nettle-Kissed Buns, to these Spankakopita Bridies, to the nettle and bacon omelette I shared with My Englishman for

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