Closely Matching Substitutes For Cilantro And Coriander Seeds

Cilantro And Coriander Substitutes

Cilantro is a popular ingredient in many recipes across the globe.

At times you may have to find a substitute for cilantro when you do not have it.

To your benefit, here we have a list of alternatives to coriander seeds and cilantro.

Cilantro is also known in other popular names like coriander leaves and Chinese parsley.

It is an essential ingredient in several cuisines in Latin American and Asian continents. Its strong aroma gives a delicious flavor to the recipes.

What Are Cilantro and Coriander?


The difference between cilantro and coriander is nothing but two names given to two different products of the same plant.

Both cilantro and coriander come from the Coriandrum sativum plant.

In the US, coriander is the name for its dried seeds, while cilantro is the name for the plant’s stem and leaves.

Outside the North American region, the name coriander refers to fresh leaves and stems, while its dried seeds are called coriander seeds.

By and large, cilantro mostly refers to the fresh leaves and stems of the Coriandrum sativum plant. It is a common ingredient in several Asian and Mexican cuisines.

Generally, coriander means the dried seeds usually sold in whole seed or ground form.

SUMMARY: Coriandrum sativum plant provides seeds called coriander and fresh leaves called cilantro.

Uses Of Cilantro And Coriander

Coriander seeds are an essential spice ingredient in several cuisines all over the world.

This seed contains essential oils and two important chemical compounds, linalool and pinene. These compounds give the seeds a warm, spicy, and citrus-like flavor. 

Interestingly, all parts of the coriander plant (roots, leaves, stems, and seeds) are used in cooking according to the needs of the recipe.

Most of the spice seasonings have coriander as an important ingredient in them. It is extensively used in curries, garam-masala, brewing beer, and pickling vegetables.

Ground coriander tends to lose its potency rather quickly when stored. The quality of coriander is best when freshly ground from whole seeds.

Three Substitutes for Cilantro (Fresh Coriander Leaf)

 Cliantro Substitute

Coriander is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. It is also known as Chinese parsley or cilantro.

In the United States cilantro refers to leaves and seeds are called coriander.

Coriander (cilantro) leaves and coriander seeds have different flavors and aromas.

It has a citrusy taste but some variant of cilantro may have a soapy taste.

Cilantro is an important ingredient in some of the popular recipes like salads, soups, and curries.

If you have no access to cilantro for some reason, then it’s best to look for alternative options. Similarly, those who do not like the taste of cilantro can choose other similar leaves or seeds instead.

Let us now look at the 3 best substitutes for fresh coriander leaves or cilantro.

1. Thai Basil

Thai Basil is a good alternative to cilantro in some dishes even though it might somewhat alter the flavor of the dishes.

Please note, there are different types of basil, but only Thai basil is a suitable replacement for cilantro. It somewhat tastes like licorice.

Interestingly, some dishes taste better when Thai basil is added instead of cilantro. 

2. Parsley

Parsley or garden parsley is a species of flowering plant in the family Apiaceae. Cilantro also belongs to the family of Apiaceae plants.

Parsley is mild bitter in taste.  Just like cilantro, it can also add a fresh flavor to your dishes.  

Cilantro has superior citrusy undertones which you may not find in parsley.  You can mitigate this disadvantage by adding few drops of lemon juice or few lemon peels to your recipe when using parsley in place of cilantro.

In addition, the appearance and color of the parsley leaves are very similar to cilantro.

3. Herb Mixture

If you do not have cilantro, you can replicate cilantro flavor to the dishes by using a mixture of fresh herbs.

A mixture of minced herbs like oregano, parsley, dill, and tarragon can give a flavor similar to cilantro. This mixture also has a higher nutritional value than cilantro.

While making a herbal mix substitute for cilantro, choose the herbs that have a similar flavor profile.

In most cases, you need to use only a small amount of herbal mixture instead of cilantro.


You may like to substitute cilantro with other herbs for reasons personal to you. Some of the best substitutes for fresh cilantro are parsley, Thai basil, or a mix of herbs like dill, oregano, parsley, and tarragon.

Four Substitutes for Coriander Seeds

Substitutes For Coriander Seeds

If you have run short of coriander seeds, you may try to use other spices that resemble in flavor. The following spices are some of the best spice replacements for coriander seeds:

1. Garam Masala

Garam masala is a blend of ground spices, originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is a common ingredient in cuisines from the Indian subcontinent, 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 this spice blend contains coriander as an ingredient, it works as a subtle replacement for pure coriander.

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

2. Cumin

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

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 the 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 it as a replacement for coriander, use it in small amounts.

4. Caraway

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.


The most suitable substitutes for coriander seeds are garam masala, curry powder, cumin, and caraway.

The Bottom Line

Cilantro and coriander seed are important ingredients in many recipes around the world.

If you either don’t like the taste or ran short of coriander then you have enough substitutes to use instead of it.

Garam masala and cumin are excellent replacements for coriander seeds. Similarly, fresh parsley leaves are a fantastic alternative to fresh cilantro.