For the best cilantro substitute to use, take a look at this list of helpful alternatives full of both fresh and dry recommendations! No need to panic if you're dish needs cilantro and you don't have any, you're sure to have a few of these options!
A list of easy alternatives for cilantro that will work for any occasion!
Sometimes it’s assumed that the only reason you may be looking for a substitution for an ingredient is that you ran out. There are other reasons for needing as a substitute though.
Sometimes it may be for health reasons, such as an allergy. Other times, it may be simply because you do not like the original ingredient!
- What Is Cilantro?
- Why You May Not Like Cilantro
- The Best Substitutes For Fresh Cilantro
- 1. Parsley
- 2. Thai Basil
- 3. Mint
- 4. Papalo
- 5. Rau Rum
- 6. Celery Leaves
- 7. Fresh Dill
- The Best Substitutes For Dry Cilantro
- 8. Coriander Seeds
- 9. Caraway Seeds
- 10. Cumin
- 11. Curry Powder
- 12. Dried Parsley
- 13. Dried Dill
- 📋 Recipe
The reason for needing a substitute plays an important role in deciding which substitute to use. If it’s to mimic the flavor of the original ingredient, then you want something closely related in taste.
If you don’t like the original taste or texture (a big reason people want mushroom substitutes!), then you may want an ingredient that offers a new flavor profile. Cilantro is no exception!
What Is Cilantro?
Commonly used in Mexican cooking, as well as in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisine. This green leafy herb comes from the coriander plant. While cilantro is almost always used fresh, the seeds from the plant – coriander seeds – are a popular dried spice.
This green leafy herb is a member of the parsley family. Yes, this makes parsley a great substitution!
For those who enjoy the taste of cilantro, it offers a peppery taste with a slight bright taste of lemon. Not everyone thinks cilantro has this fresh flavor though!
Why You May Not Like Cilantro
If you are in the percentage of people who really dislike cilantro it may be because you think cilantro tastes like soap!
Now if you are a lover of cilantro, the idea that it can taste soapy may seem ridiculous. However, there is a scientific reason that proves if you think cilantro tastes like soap!
Most people who feel this way about cilantro have heightened olfactory-receptor genes that heighten a specific compound in cilantro. This natural chemical, known as aldehyde, is heightened for some people which makes them unable to enjoy the overall taste of cilantro.
Based on your reason for needing or wanting a substitute for cilantro, I’ve put together a list of substitutes that will offer you some similar flavors to cilantro as well as some distinctly different flavors! Choose what you need based on your love (or lack thereof) for this spicey (or soapy) herb.
The Best Substitutes For Fresh Cilantro
Most often, cilantro is used in its raw form. Its flavor profile does not come through as well once it is heated or dried. Therefore, when you are looking to replace cilantro in a dish the best place to begin is with other fresh herbs.
If you can’t find fresh herbs or have a dish that calls for dried cilantro, go ahead and jump to the list of the best dried substitutes for cilantro.
Parsley is sometimes only seen as a garnish, but it is also a great herb to include while cooking. Since cilantro and parsley come from the same family, parsley is the best substitute when you want a similar taste to cilantro.
There are two main types of parsley: Italian flat leaf parsley and curly parsley. These are the two you are most likely to find in the produce aisle of the grocery store. You can also keep an eye out for Japanese parsley.
While parsley has a similar peppery flavor to cilantro, it is more bitter and does not have the same fresh bright hints of citrus. Italian parsley is more fragrant and less bitter than curly parsley.
To cut some of the bitterness and play up the citrus you would find in cilantro you can add a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon to the parsley.
Use fresh chopped parsley in a 1:1 ratio for freshly chopped cilantro.
2. Thai Basil
Basil is not an exact match in the flavor department, but it plays well with flavors that are often combined with cilantro. Therefore, it makes a great substitute for cilantro.
It is also one that works well when you are looking for a substitute to satisfy the taste buds of both those who love and hate cilantro.
One of the more popular kitchen staples that use basil is pesto. The same way that basil can be chopped up and used for a paste or sauce like pesto, it can be used in the same way for recipes that call for chopped or pureed cilantro.
The flavor profile of basil holds up better under heat than cilantro does, making it a great option for hot dishes. Especially Asian dishes.
Many cooks choose to replace cilantro in Thai dishes with basil because they like the flavor combination with other Asian spices better.
Use fresh chopped basil in a 1:1 ratio for freshly chopped cilantro.
You are probably familiar with the smell of mint, but what about the taste? Fresh mint is popular in many Asian-inspired dishes and a good substitute for cilantro in these types of dishes. It can also be a fun flavor to play within Latin American dishes.
Fresh mint is best used raw, just like cilantro. It can be a great addition or substitution in salads or on top of curries or even tacos!
One big difference with mint is that it lacks the bright peppery taste of cilantro. If you are looking for a new taste, this may not matter. However, if you want to cut the minty smell and add some citrus, squeeze fresh lime over the mint before tossing it into the dish.
Depending on where you live, you may or may not be familiar with this herb. Papalo is an herb that is grown in Mexico and South America. It is similar in flavor to cilantro and one of the best substitutes for those who love the taste of cilantro!
Some say it has hints of lime or even reminds them of a crossover between cilantro and cucumber. While you may not be able to find this herb as easily at the store as cilantro, it is quite easy to grow!
If you like to grow your own herbs and have not had good luck with growing cilantro (it can be a tricky one in the heat), give papalo a try.
Even though papalo is similar in taste to cilantro there are two main differences when using it as a substitute. First, only use the leaves (unlike cilantro where you sometimes use the stems). Second, only use ⅓ of papalo for 1 serving of cilantro.
5. Rau Rum
Rau Rum also goes by the name of Vietnamese cilantro. So, as you can probably guess, it is a great substitute for those who want a flavor similar to cilantro.
Like papalo, you may not find rau rum as easily depending on where you live. However, it is grown year-round in many tropical and subtropical climates. Therefore, depending on where you live or if you are traveling – keep an eye out for it!
Use fresh chopped rau rum in a 1:1 ratio for freshly chopped cilantro.
6. Celery Leaves
You may not find rau rum and papalo in your local produce aisle, you are almost certain to find celery! While most of us focus on the stalk of the celery, the leaves at the top are also edible. In fact, they are a perfect substitute for cilantro!
Celery leaves have a mild flavor that resembles cilantro; however, it is not a strong as cilantro. This makes it a good option to try for those who may not like cilantro, as well as for those who enjoy cilantro.
Celery leaves are best used in place of cilantro as a garnish or other topping that calls for freshly chopped cilantro.
You can use chopped celery leaves in a 1:1 ratio for freshly chopped cilantro.
7. Fresh Dill
Dill tastes nothing like cilantro. However, it has a bright and distinct flavor that can offer a fun alternative in dishes where you want to replace the flavor of cilantro.
Dill is best used in cold dishes (think potato salad or pasta salads). Dill is stronger in flavor than cilantro, so you will not use as much when you are substituting.
Use half the amount of fresh chopped dill in place of the cilantro. For example, ½ teaspoon of dill in place of 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro.
The Best Substitutes For Dry Cilantro
Cilantro is popularly used in its fresh form as you have seen from a sprig of cilantro on top of your salad. For recipes that call for chopped cilantro as a topping for a dish or garnish, try to use another fresh herb listed above.
If you don’t’ have fresh herbs, dried herbs can be great substitutes in certain recipes that call for cilantro. Dried spices and herbs are best used in place of fresh cilantro in cold dishes (guacamole; pasta salads) and marinades.
You can also use dried seasonings in dressings. On the rare occasion a recipe calls for dried cilantro, these are all great options.
8. Coriander Seeds
Since cilantro comes from the coriander plant, coriander is a popular spice to substitute for cilantro. Coriander seeds are ground into a powder that you will find on the spice aisle.
Coriander shares a similar peppery flavor profile with cilantro; however, it does have the bright lemon notes of cilantro.
Use coriander in marinades or dressings in a 1:1 ratio for dried cilantro or 1 teaspoon of coriander powder for 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped cilantro.
9. Caraway Seeds
Caraway has almost an identical flavor profile to coriander. This makes it an excellent substitute for dried cilantro or ground coriander.
The main difference between the two is that caraway is slightly sweeter and less peppery than coriander or cilantro.
Replace it in marinades or dry rubs in a 1:1 ratio for dried cilantro or 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds for 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped cilantro.
When replacing cilantro in a Mexican or Latin American dish, cumin is an excellent choice. Cumin is one of the most popular spices in Latin American cooking.
In fact, a dish that calls for cilantro may already include cumin. If this is the case, simply leave the cilantro out and then add more cumin.
Substitute cumin for dried cilantro or ground coriander in a 1:1 ratio. Use only 1 teaspoon of cumin for 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro.
If your recipe already calls for cumin, start by adding an extra ¼ teaspoon of cumin for each teaspoon of dried cilantro or tablespoon of fresh cilantro. You can always add more to taste if needed.
11. Curry Powder
Curry powder is a combination of several spices, including coriander. While cumin is a common flavor in Mexican dishes, curry is a popular flavor in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian dishes. Therefore, it is a good substitute for cilantro in these types of cuisine.
12. Dried Parsley
While not an ideal substitute, dried parsley can work in a pinch for recipes that use cilantro as a seasoning in a sauce, soup, or even a dressing.
Use 1 teaspoon of dried parsley for 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped cilantro.
13. Dried Dill
Just like fresh dill will not taste like cilantro, neither will dried dill. If you want to play with new flavors though this can be a good choice.
Both dried and fresh dill are great in yogurt-based sauces and dressings that are not cooked. Dill also plays well with lemon if you are replacing cilantro in a citrus-based sauce.
Use 1 teaspoon of dried dill in place of 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped cilantro.
Whether you simply don't have any, or you think it tastes like soap, we hope this list has been helpful in finding a great cilantro substitute!
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Option 1: Parsley (for texture)
- 1 tablespoon parsley (fresh or dried)
Option 2: Papalo (for flavor)
- 1 tablespoon papalo
Option 1: Parsley (for texture)
- Parsley is a great substitute for cilantro. Use fresh parsley to replace fresh cilantro in equal amounts. You can use dried parsley to substitute dried cilantro in a 1:1 ratio as well.
Option 2: Papalo (for flavor)
- Papalo may not be found in stores, but is a hardy plant to grow and have in a kitchen herb garden. Use in equal amounts as the fresh cilantro called for in any recipe.
- Use 1 tablespoon fresh parsley or papalo to replace cilantro as needed in any recipe.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!