Synthetic biology is the repurposing of biological systems for novel objectives and applications. Through the co-ordinated and balanced expression of genes, both native and those introduced from other organisms, resources within an industrial chassis can be siphoned for the commercial production of high-value commodities. This developing interdisciplinary field has the potential to revolutionize natural product discovery from higher plants, by providing a diverse array of tools, technologies, and strategies for exploring the large chemically complex space of plant natural products using unicellular organisms. In this review, we emphasize the key features that influence the generation of biorefineries and highlight technologies and strategic solutions that can be used to overcome engineering pitfalls with rational design. Also presented is a succinct guide to assist the selection of unicellular chassis most suited for the engineering and subsequent production of the desired natural product, in order to meet the global demand for plant natural products in a safe and sustainable manner.