Coriander Substitutes – Best Swaps For Seeds And Powder

Coriander seed is one of the oldest known spices in Asian cooking, especially in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Coriander seeds are dried seeds of coriander or cilantro plants that can be used whole or ground. Its flavor is earthy, tart, and sweet and when toasted it releases a floral aroma. Coriander flavor is somewhat similar to sage, caraway seeds, and lemon.

This aromatic spice pairs well with chili and garlic. It goes well with most recipes like meat, fish, curries, sausages, and vegetables.

Most recipes call for ground coriander and whole seeds are mostly used in pickling and drinks.

By the way, coriander leaves aka cilantro are very different in flavor and culinary uses from coriander seeds. You may also check out the article on coriander leaves substitutes.

Best Substitutes For Coriander Seeds And Powder

Coriander is a versatile spice with unique flavors and it isn’t easy to find a perfect replacement. Taste-wise, any spice with nutty, peppery, and lemony flavor profiles can be a worthy alternative to coriander. Despite its unique taste, coriander can be swapped for several other spices and herbs.

If your recipe calls for whole or ground coriander seeds and you don’t it then we have here some excellent coriander replacements for you.

Here are some of the best coriander substitutes:

1. Garam Masala – best spice blend

Garam masala is a blend of ground spices, originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is a common ingredient in cuisines from India, South Africa, and Mauritius.

Garam masala is used alone or with other seasonings.

The chief ingredients in garam masala are peppercorn, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, mace, cumin, and coriander.

As Garam masala contains coriander as an ingredient, it works as a subtle replacement for coriander.

Please note, using garam masala in your recipes will change the flavor of your dishes. For this reason, add garam masala in small amounts to your dishes until you have preferred taste is achieved.

2. Cumin – best single spice

Cumin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native to southwestern Asia including the Middle East.

Cumin seeds are dried and used in the cuisines of many cultures either as whole or ground form.

Cumin is a necessary ingredient in a wide variety of recipes of meat, stews, soups, and curries.

It is also an important ingredient in many spice seasonings. Because of its versatile flavor, it is an excellent substitute for coriander.

Importantly, cumin has a mild nutty, spicy, and hot flavor which is very much akin to coriander.

3. Curry Powder – second-best spice blend

Curry powder is a spice mix originating from the Indian subcontinent.

It contains a mix of spices including coriander. Other common ingredients in curry powder are chili, fenugreek, ginger, and turmeric.

This spice mix gives both a sweet and savory taste to curry.

Curry powder adds a warm flavor to recipes like roasted vegetables, curries, and marinades. It has a hot flavor similar to coriander seeds.

As this spice mix contains coriander, it works as a ready-to-use substitute for coriander seeds.

Curry powder with many ingredients gives a powerful flavor. While you use curry powder as a replacement for coriander, use it in small amounts.

4. Caraway – second-best single spice

Caraway, also known as meridian fennel and Persian cumin, is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae, found across the world.

Caraway has a flavor that closely resembles coriander.

In fact, you can easily substitute coriander with caraway without much difference to the flavor profile of your dish.

Caraway and coriander contain the same aromatic oils, namely pinene and linalool. This is what makes them similar in flavor and aroma.

The caraway seeds are used as a whole or in grounded form. It fits well into the recipes of casseroles, desserts, vegetable dishes, and baked goods.

It should be noted, caraway has a stronger flavor than coriander. It’s best to use caraway in small quantities while using it instead of coriander.

5. Other Alternatives

Cumin and Oregano: Equal parts of cumin and dried oregano is a wonderful alternative to coriander, especially in marinades, Indian curries, and vegetable dishes. The earthy and spicy flavor of oregano with a mild sweetness is somewhat similar to coriander. 

Whole Cloves: When you have run out of coriander, you may use whole cloves instead, especially in marinades, pickles, and herbal drinks. Cloves have a citric punch like coriander and showcase coriander’s sweet earthy qualities. Ground cloves work well as a swap for coriander powder.

Fennel seed: An emergency replacement for coriander could be fennel seed. It has a natural sweetness similar to licorice and cilantro because of the substance anethole. However, the fennel lacks the lemony notes of coriander and may bring in some unwanted bitterness.

Using ground coriander instead of coriander seed

Ground coriander loses its flavor quickly, thus to maintain the intended flavor you may need to add more ground coriander to the dish. Use ¾ teaspoon of ground coriander in place of every teaspoon of coriander seed. Always do a taste test, and add more of it if needed.

Note that it is always best to grind the coriander seeds just before use because ground coriander tends to diminish in flavor when stored for a few weeks.

Using coriander seeds instead of coriander powder

Most recipes call for ground coriander and not whole seeds. If you have run out of coriander powder but have coriander seed, then grind it in a spice or coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle. Otherwise, go for the traditional method of using a rolling pin to grind the coriander seeds.

For using the rolling pin, place the seeds in a sandwich bag, and roll them until they turn into powder. This powder will be coarser than the one you make with a spice grinder, but that doesn’t matter much. Alternatively, you can also use a grinding stone to turn the coriander seeds into a paste that works perfectly for Indian curries.

Final Thoughts

The best substitutes for coriander vary based on the dish’s flavor needs. Ground cumin offers a similar earthy, warm taste, ideal for most recipes calling for coriander.

Caraway, with its nutty and bittersweet notes, can also serve as a substitute. For a more complex flavor profile, curry powder, which includes coriander, can be used.

Alternatively, a combination of parsley and lemon zest can mimic coriander’s citrusy and fresh aspects in certain dishes.

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