Exploring fresh cilantro substitutes is a culinary adventure for those who either can’t enjoy the unique flavor of cilantro or simply want to try different flavors. Cilantro, known scientifically as Coriandrum sativum, is a common ingredient in many cuisines, but its distinct taste can be a matter of personal preference. This guide will introduce you to a variety of substitutes that offer similar flavors or looks, helping you to replicate the taste of cilantro in your cooking process.

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Fresh herbs, spices, and cilantro substitutes on a black table.

About Cilantro 

Cilantro, often a staple in kitchens worldwide, is known for its fresh and vibrant taste. Its fresh leaves are often used as a main ingredient in Latin American, Asian, and Middle Eastern dishes. However, some people may detect a soapy taste due to a specific gene, leading them to seek alternatives.

What’s the difference between coriander and cilantro?

​While often confused, coriander and cilantro come from the same plant. Cilantro refers to the fresh leaves, while coriander typically denotes the seeds, which have a different flavor profile.

​Cilantro Nutrition

Cilantro is not just flavorful; it’s also nutritious. Cilantro contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as trace amounts of several other nutrients. It’s a good source of antioxidants and can aid in digestion. Its potential mental health benefits include mood elevation and anxiety reduction.

Fresh cilantro leaves on a black cloth.

A good rule of thumb is to use a 3:1 ratio. Three parts fresh basil is roughly equivalent to one part dried basil.

The List: 25 Best Cilantro Substitutes

Use this list as a guide to creating filling, flavorful meals!

  1. Coriander Seeds: As the seed of the cilantro plant, they offer a milder, sweetly spiced flavor, providing a subtle hint of citrus and a similar flavor profile to cilantro.
  2. Ground Coriander: This spice, derived from coriander seeds, delivers a warm, nutty, and citrusy taste. It’s a great option for those seeking the flavor of cilantro without the fresh herb’s intensity.
  3. Rau Ram: A staple in Asian cuisine, this herb offers a peppery, slightly lemony flavor. It’s an excellent substitute for cilantro, especially in Vietnamese dishes.
  4. Papalo: With a more robust and slightly bitter flavor, Papalo is a perfect substitute in Mexican cuisine, where cilantro is a main ingredient.
  5. Fresh Italian Parsley: Also known as flat-leaf parsley. This herb offers a bright, slightly bitter taste, making it a good alternative in recipes calling for cilantro. Its appearance is similar to cilantro, so if appearance is what you are after, opt for parsley.
  6. Dried Parsley: While milder than fresh parsley, dried parsley can still effectively replace dried cilantro, especially in spice blends and dry rubs.
  7. Celery Greens: The celery leaves add a fresh, slightly bitter taste, making them a good choice in dishes where a flavor similar to cilantro is desired.
A bunch of green leaves, suitable as substitutes for cilantro, on a black background.
  1. Fresh Mint: Mint leaves bring a refreshing, bold flavor to dishes, making them a popular herb in both Asian and Middle Eastern cooking.
  2. Dried Mint: Concentrated and flavorful, dried mint is a great substitute for dried cilantro, adding a similar robust taste to dishes.
  3. Fresh Thai Basil: This herb is known for its unique, anise-like flavor, making it a great substitute in Asian dishes where cilantro is traditionally used.
  4. Fresh Lemon Basil: Offering a citrusy and sweet taste, lemon basil is a popular herb in many cuisines and works well in recipes that call for a citrusy flavor similar to cilantro.
  5. Fresh Sweet Basil: A common ingredient in a variety of cuisines, sweet basil has a slightly sweet and aromatic flavor. It is delightful in many Asian and Middle Eastern Cuisine.
  6. Dried Basil: Useful in cooked dishes, dried basil provides a concentrated, aromatic flavor. It is a suitable replacement for cilantro in Asian cuisine.
  7. Fresh Dill Weed: This flavorful herb adds a grassy and slightly tangy flavor to dishes, serving as a good choice in recipes where cilantro’s fresh, vibrant taste is needed.
  8. Dried Dill: Although less intense than fresh dill, dried dill is a good cilantro alternative, especially in dishes with a milder flavor.
  9. Fresh Fennel Greens: These fronds offer a mild anise flavor, ideal for adding a subtle, fresh taste in place of cilantro in various dishes.
Coriander powder, a substitute for cilantro, in a glass jar with a wooden spoon.
  1. Fennel Seeds: They impart a sweet, licorice-like taste, making them a good alternative to cilantro, particularly in spice blends.
  2. Fresh Greek Oregano: With its pungent and slightly bitter flavor, Greek oregano is an excellent substitute in Mediterranean or Mexican dishes.
  3. Dried Oregano: More concentrated than its fresh counterpart. Dried oregano can replace cilantro’s flavor in Mexican recipes.
  4. Mexican Oregano: With its robust flavor, this herb is a great option for substituting cilantro’s citrusy and peppery taste in Mexican cooking.
  5. Dried Mexican Oregano: Ideal for specific Mexican recipes. Its citrus lemon flavor is suitable for a variety of dishes.
  6. Caraway Seeds: Providing a unique, earthy taste with a hint of citrus, caraway seeds can be used as a cilantro substitute, particularly in European dishes.
  7. Cumin Seeds: A popular spice in many cuisines, cumin seeds add a warm, earthy taste to dishes, making them a suitable substitute for cilantro.
  8. Ground Cumin: This convenient form of cumin works well as a cilantro substitute in Middle Eastern and Asian dishes, offering a warm and earthy flavor.
  9. Curry Powder: A blend of spices, curry powder can mimic cilantro’s complexity in dishes, especially in Asian and Indian cuisine, adding a complex and layered flavor.
Coriander powder, a substitute for cilantro, in a bowl on a black table.


What can I use if I don’t have cilantro?

Fresh flat-leaf parsley is most similar in look. Fresh rau rum or ground coriander can be great substitutes for taste, offering similar flavors.

What spice is the same as cilantro?

While no spice is an exact match, a fresh rau rum or ground coriander can offer a similar taste.

What herb is the same as cilantro?

Vietnamese coriander (rau ram) or fresh mint leaves can be good options, offering a similar flavor profile.

What is a good substitute for cilantro in rice?

Fresh lemon basil or a bit of lemon juice can provide a citrusy flavor, making it a great option in place of cilantro in rice dishes.

Can I substitute cilantro with celery?

Yes, celery leaves are a good choice, especially in Latin American and Asian dishes where cilantro is a key ingredient.

Fresh coriander and a wooden spoon on a black surface, with substitutes for cilantro.

Final Words

Finding the best way to substitute the unique taste of cilantro can be a journey of discovery for your taste buds. Whether you’re dealing with a genetic aversion to cilantro’s flavor or simply out of this popular herb, the good news is there are numerous alternatives. From fresh herbs like Italian parsley to dried spices like ground coriander, there’s a substitute to suit every palate and recipe. Enjoy experimenting with these different flavors and find the perfect match for your dishes!

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