Run out of cilantro in the middle of cooking? Or maybe you just hate cilantro and so you’re looking for cilantro substitutes that actually work. If you’re in any of these situations, then, you’re going to love this post. Here, I’ve listed 13 easy cilantro substitutes that can work in a pinch.
What is cilantro?
Cilantro, also known as Chinese parsley is a fresh herb that is a member of the parsley family. The cilantro herb is a bright green herb with very delicate leaves that look like parsley leaves but are more rounded. Cilantro also has a flavor that is pungent, citrusy and tangy, although those who loathe it say it tastes like soap.
It is popularly used in soups, sauces, dips, eggs, salsas, and tacos, etc, as a last minute garnish as its flavor diminishes quickly with cooking.
Is coriander and cilantro the same thing?
Both coriander and cilantro comes from the same plant. Cilantro refers to the leaves from the plant, while often coriander refers to the seeds from the plant.
So, whether you’re making some soup or some stew, if you’re looking for a few cilantro substitutes, here are 13 best ways to substitute for cilantro.
What can I substitute for cilantro?
The best alternatives for cilantro in terms of flavor are other herbs with citrusy flavors or even some citrus fruits and some spices that have that similar flavor. These include herbs like culantro, dried cilantro, rau ram, lemon balm, Vietnamese coriander, Pabalo, thyme and parsley, as well as lemons, limes, cumin, Mexican oregano, curry and caraway.
Each will be discussed in more detail below:
Easy ways to substitute for cilantro
A suitable substitute for cilantro is culantro. Culantro is popular in the West Indies, Latin America and Asia and is a herb that has a similar flavor and smell to cilantro but is more robust.
Culantro has long serrated leaves and is often used in stews, marinades, soups, rice and beans, salsas and more.
Because culantro has a more robust flavor and aroma, and it has tougher leaves, it isn’t usually eaten raw, and is often used in cooking rather than as a last minute garnish.
Use half as much culantro in a recipe that calls for cilantro. For example, use 1/2 a tablespoon of culantro to replace 1 tablespoon of cilantro in a dish.
Dried cilantro or dried cilantro leaves is another easy to find replacement for cilantro. Dried cilantro can be used in almost all recipes that call for cilantro.
This substitute is perfect for when it is difficult to find fresh cilantro.
Please note that not all dried cilantro leaves are made the same. In fact, some are quite flavorless, so make sure to purchase from brands with good reviews such as the dried cilantro from 1400S SPICES Store.
Vietnamese coriander (or Rau Ram or Cambodian mint)
Another awesome cilantro substitute is the Vietnamese coriander. Vietnamese coriander is a herb that is commonly used in South Asian cooking.
Vietnamese coriander also called rau ram or Cambodian mint is a member of the knotweed family and has a flavor that is somewhat similar to cilantro in that it is lemony and citrusy, but, it is also peppery and herbal.
Rau ram can be a good stand in for cilantro in both cooked and raw recipes that have strong flavors and require that balance.
So, think of using rau ram as a substitute for cilantro in soups, salads, stir fries, rice dishes, chicken dishes, curries, stews and even for adding to meats like fish, shellfish, pork, lamb and beef.
Substitute on a 1:1 ratio. For example, for every 1 tablespoon of cilantro needed, use 1 tablespoon of Vietnamese coriander.
Another easy herb to substitute for cilantro is thyme. This herb has a flavor that is minty and mildly lemony which will work in some recipes that call for cilantro.
I’ve used this herb as a substitute for cilantro in marinades before with good results.
Papalo (Summer cilantro or Broadleaf)
Papalo is a cilantro-like Mexican herb used to season food. Its flavor is one that is a cross between cilantro mixed with citrus and cucumber.
Papalo, like cilantro is often added to food at the last minute for flavor enhancement and because overcooking it could reduce its flavor in a dish.
Many people add the Papalo leaves to their dish whole, but it releases more of its essence once chopped.
Papalo can be used as a substitute for cilantro in salsas, tacos, sandwiches, sauces, guacamole and salads.
Use less Papalo in any recipe that calls for cilantro as its flavor is more robust than that of cilantro.
Parsley (for garnish)
Parsley is a herb that looks very similar to cilantro. It is vibrant green and is used as a garnish and a flavor enhancer in many recipes.
While cilantro has a flavor that is strong, pungent and citrusy, parsley has a fresh, mild, peppery, herbal scent. Some people even say that parsley tastes like nothing.
Nonetheless, parsley is good as a stand in for cilantro in soups, stews, sauces, dips and garnishment.
Use a 1:1 ratio of parsley to cilantro in most recipes.
Lemon balm is a herb from the mint family that is another substitute for fresh cilantro because it has a citrusy tone with subtle hints of mint. It is also green, fresh and bright which means it has some more similarities to cilantro.
Using lemon balm as a replacement for cilantro is best done for recipes that call for smaller quantities of cilantro rather than recipes where the cilantro herb is the main ingredient in the recipe.
Lime is another good alternative for cilantro in soups, salsas, dips, and stews. It provides some of that citrusy fragrance that is known in cilantro. If you can, use a few splashes of lime juice together with some fresh minced parsley for a great alternative.
Use lemon in the same way that you would lime. With some fresh minced parsley.
Best substitutes for coriander seeds
While the substitutes above are great for adding that fresh cilantro flavor and aroma to a dish, they are not all so easily accessible. Therefore, some other more easily accessible substitutes for cilantro include these dried options:
- Mexican oregano