Best Cilantro Substitutes: 8 Flavorful Swaps

Don’t have cilantro? What should I use in place of cilantro? Read here about the list of top substitutes for cilantro.

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

I love cilantro for its mild peppery taste and slightly bright lemon taste. But some say that cilantro tastes like soap.

Cilantro is an herb from the fresh leaves of the coriander plant.

It is an essential ingredient in several cuisines on the Latin American and Asian continents. Its strong aroma gives a delicious flavor to the recipes. Besides its wonderful taste, the cilantro plant has several uses and health benefits.

Sometimes, you may have to find a substitute for cilantro when you do not have one.

An ideal substitute for any herb is its dried version instead of fresh herbs, and vice versa. In most cases, dried herbs have a stronger flavor than fresh ones.

Use dry cilantro instead of fresh cilantro in a 1:2 measure; 2 tablespoons of dehydrated cilantro for every 4 tablespoons of fresh coriander leaves.

The seed of the cilantro plant is internationally known as coriander seed, aka coriander spice. Ground coriander is often used in Indian and Asian recipes. The seeds have different tastes and culinary uses from the leaves. Also, the substitutes for coriander seeds are different.

8 Best Substitutes for Cilantro

A grassy freshness and a zippy citrus tang mark the taste of cilantro. If you have run out of cilantro and you’re looking for a substitute to use in your recipes, here are some options to consider:

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 one is a suitable replacement for cilantro. It somewhat tastes like licorice.

Interestingly, some dishes taste better when adding Thai or regular basil instead of cilantro.

2. Parsley

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

It isn’t very pleasant in taste. Like cilantro tastes, 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 a few drops of lemon juice or peels to your recipe using parsley instead of cilantro.

In addition, the appearance and color of the parsley leaves are very similar to those of cilantro. Cilantro is the best substitute for parsley. Use parsley in a 1:1 ratio in recipes that call for cilantro.

Recommended readingCilantro vs. Parsley – differences and similarities explained.

3. Culantro

Culantro is another effective cilantro alternative that you may use. Unfortunately, culantro isn’t easily available in most places but is popular in Latin American countries. Culantro has larger leaves like leeks and stronger flavors than cilantro. One cilantro leaf may be enough to substitute for four cilantro sprigs and vice versa. Culantro is not eaten raw; add it to your dish during the cooking process. Its strong flavors won’t diminish with cooking.

Related article: Culantro vs. Cilantro

4. Dill

You won’t find much in common between dill and cilantro flavors. However, like cilantro, dill imparts a wonderful flavor from green salads to cold soups. To fill the vacuum of missing cilantro in your dish, use fresh dill leaves as a substitute. Use just a little; it’s quite potent and dominating.

5. Herb Mixture

If you do not have cilantro, you can replicate the flavor in the dishes by using a mixture of fresh herbs. Using a blend of fresh herbs with similar tastes to cilantro may be the best substitute for coriander and cilantro.

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.

Choose herbs with a similar flavor profile when making an herbal mix to substitute for cilantro.

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

6. Papalo

Papalo, a relative of Daisy, has a peppery cross between cilantro and cucumber. Simply chop the leaves of papal and use them in your dishes as you do with cilantro. Being more potent than cilantro, use it in less quantity.

7. Rau ram

Rau ram, also known as Vietnamese cilantro, is a worthy alternative to cilantro. Its stronger lemon note makes it more flavorful than cilantro. Most people will enjoy this substitute more than cilantro itself.

8. Mint

Mint leaves can be an emergency replacement for cilantro when you don’t have the other better substitutes we have listed above. Spraying a little balsamic vinegar over the mint leaves would reduce their coolness.

3 Simple Substitutes for Dried Cilantro

Don’t you have dehydrated cilantro required for your recipe? Here are the best replacements for dried cilantro:

1. Dried Thai Basil or Holy Basil 

Dried Thai basil, with its anise- and licorice-like and slightly spicy flavor, is a nice ingredient to use in place of dehydrated cilantro. Dried holy basil is also much like basil, despite the former being spicier with a strong peppery flavor. Use 1 tablespoon of dried Thai basil instead of 2 tablespoons of sun-baked cilantro.

2. Dried Parsley and Oregano 

A mixture of dried oregano and parsley in equal proportions can mimic the flavor and appearance of dried cilantro. However, this mixture is more flavorful than dried cilantro. One tablespoon of the blend replaces 3 tablespoons of dried cilantro.

3. Cumin

Cumin is an essential spice for Indian curries and chutneys, also used in Latin American and Middle Eastern dishes. It’s a regular companion to coriander seeds in several recipes. Cumin has a slightly sweet, warming flavor with a nutty element, making it an equally satiating alternative to dried cilantro with an anise-like piney flavor. It’s best to be frugal while adding cumin, as its flavor can easily dominate a dish. You may also check out our comparison between cumin and coriander.

Substitute for Cilantro in Pico de Gallo

Cilantro jazzes up pico de gallo with its zesty, citrusy kick, meshing well with tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños. If you’re out of cilantro, consider these alternatives:

  • Parsley: A decent stand-in for cilantro but less zingy. Maybe squeeze in some extra lime juice to balance things out.
  • Basil: Can swap for cilantro but remember, its unique taste will tweak your salsa’s flavor. So, add bit by bit and test the waters.
  • Mint: Introduces a cool, mildly sweet twist. But go easy; it can dominate the salsa taste if overused.
  • Mexican oregano: Offers an earthy, citrus edge, making it a neat cilantro alternative. Bonus for those allergic to herbs like parsley or basil.

Aside from herb swaps, you can jazz up your salsa. Maybe toss in some garlic, shallot, or a dash of cumin or coriander. Every little bit adds depth!

Substitute for Cilantro in Guacamole

Cilantro’s the go-to for guacamole, but other herbs can also bring a vibrant, fresh taste to this beloved Mexican spread. Check out these alternatives for cilantro in guacamole:

  • Parsley: A solid choice, though it lacks cilantro’s citrusy punch. A tad more lime juice can make up for it.
  • Basil: A possible swap, but it comes with its own distinct taste. Use it sparingly and adjust to preference.
  • Mint: Offers a cool, sweet touch. Just remember, a little goes a long way, or it’ll steal the show.
  • Mexican oregano: Earthier and zestier than the usual kind, it’s a handy cilantro stand-in, especially for those with herb allergies.

Why stop at herbs? Go the extra mile by throwing in some garlic, shallot, or red onion. A sprinkle of cumin or coriander could also do wonders. Mix and match for a guacamole that’s uniquely yours!

Substitution for Cilantro in Salsa

Cilantro’s a salsa fave, giving it that zesty twist alongside tomatoes, onions, and spicy chilies. But if cilantro’s not your jam, here’s how you can switch things up:

  • Parsley: It’s close to cilantro in taste but lacks that citrusy zing. A splash more lime juice should do the trick.
  • Basil: It’s a bit different, flavor-wise, but a little can go a long way. Add gradually and taste as you go.
  • Mint: This brings a cool, sweet vibe, but remember — less is more, or it’ll overshadow everything else.
  • Mexican oregano: Earthier and with a hint of citrus, it’s a solid stand-in for cilantro.
  • Herb cocktail: Why not mix it up? Try a blend of parsley, mint, and lime juice, or parsley with a dash of cumin and coriander.

Experiment and see what tickles your taste buds! These swaps might just spice up your salsa game.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use dried cilantro instead of fresh?

Absolutely! Just remember, dried cilantro tastes different and is stronger, so use less. Typically, swap 1 tablespoon of fresh cilantro with just 1 teaspoon of dried.

How much dried cilantro equals fresh?

Dried cilantro is stronger, so use less. Generally, 1 teaspoon dried replaces 1 tablespoon fresh. Always start small and taste to adjust!

Is dried cilantro as good as fresh?

Dried cilantro, while still useful, doesn't match fresh's flavor and aroma since drying loses some key flavor compounds, making it less vibrant.

How much dried cilantro equals 1/2 cup fresh?

For 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, use 8 teaspoons of dried cilantro. Dried cilantro has a stronger flavor, so add gradually and taste to adjust.

How much dried cilantro equals 1/3 cup fresh?

To substitute 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, you'll need about 5.3 teaspoons of dried cilantro. Remember, dried herbs are potent; use less initially, then taste and adjust as needed.

What plant looks like cilantro?

Culantro, often called Mexican parsley or sawtooth herb, closely resembles cilantro with its feathery leaves. However, culantro's leaves are darker and spikier, and it tastes stronger. Parsley, chervil, fennel, and anise also look like cilantro but have unique flavors. Always taste before using to ensure it's the correct herb.

Can I use curry powder to replace cilantro?

No, curry powder and cilantro are not interchangeable, as they have very different flavors. Curry powder blends various spices, such as cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Curry powder has a complex, spicy flavor that greatly differs from cilantro's unique citrusy, herbaceous taste.

Can I use caraway leaves as a substitute for fresh cilantro leaves?

Caraway leaves have a distinct flavor that is quite different from fresh cilantro. While they can be used in some dishes, such as soups and stews, they will not provide the same taste as cilantro. By the way, caraway seeds are an excellent substitute for coriander seeds.

Can you substitute cilantro for parsley?

Cilantro isn’t a perfect substitute for parsley, but it adds a similar texture and color to your dish. Cilantro has a strong flavor with citrusy notes, but parsley has a mild, bright flavor. Yet, cilantro will work fine in most recipes for Italian parsley.

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