Skip to Content

5 Tasty Substitutes for Cilantro to Consider

There is something quite exquisite about the gentle, citrusy tang of cilantro. For many, it’s the sparkle in a zesty salsa and the kick in a cool guac. Here, in the heart of our culinary adventures, we are navigating the depths of flavor, ensuring our palates encounter the utmost in unique tastes.

However, for some, cilantro’s robust presence can be a bit much, spurring a search for its delectable substitutes — the kindred flavors nestled in the herbaceous tapestry of our kitchen. Today, I’m your culinary guide, and we’re about to unveil the secrets of the five best cilantro stand-ins.

5 Substitutes for Cilantro to Consider

If you love the bold flavor of cilantro but find yourself in need of a substitute, fear not! There are plenty of delicious alternatives that will add a similar depth and zest to your dishes. Here are five options for you to consider:

1 – Parsley

Ah, parsley — the classic herb that’s as versatile as it is familiar. You see, parsley brings a refreshing breath to dishes, just like cilantro. But what makes it an excellent substitute is its earthiness, reminiscent of cilantro’s greener notes. With a texture that’s less feathery, more robust, and a flavor profile that’s subtly peppery, parsley steps into the role with ease.

Parsley’s robust, slightly bitter edge is softened by a gentle sweetness, making it pleasant to the palate. The texture can vary depending on whether you opt for the curly variety, perfect for adding crispness, or the Italian or flat-leaf type, which imbues a smoother mouthfeel.

Substitute Tips

The substitute ratio is fairly straightforward — aim for a 1:1 swap when the cilantro is called for fresh in your recipes. Just liven up that salsa with a sprinkle of curly parsley as a finishing touch, and watch your taste buds applaud.

2 – Basil

Basil, with its distinct anise-like flavor, is often pigeonholed into the world of pesto. But if you take a closer look, you’ll realize it can also dance harmoniously in dishes that usually call for cilantro. The trick is to remember that basil’s sweeter undertones enhance the dish, and its velvety soft leaves provide a rich textural element.

Basil’s unmistakable and slightly sweet peppery flavor is softened by a dependable earthiness that intertwines deliciously with most cuisines. The texture is where it shines — the leaves are tender and almost meaty, which adds a delightful bite to any dish.

Substitute Tips

For a 1:1 swap, fresh basil can elevate the profile of certain dishes that usually boast cilantro, such as Thai green curry or mango salsa. The key is to use it as a fresh garnish or incorporate it near the end of the cooking process to preserve that aromatic essence.

3 – Oregano

Oregano, the renowned herb of the Mediterranean, whispers of warmth with its presence. While it may seem worlds apart from cilantro, in the realms of flavor, they share a hidden kinship. Oregano’s essence — a robust spiciness with just a hint of astringency — fills any dish it graces with an earthy satisfaction.

Oregano’s taste is hardy and robust, carrying with it a spicy tang that can linger on the taste buds. The texture is a tad tougher than cilantro, which means it aids in binding dishes like Mexican bean soups or hearty stews.

Substitute Tips

In Mexican and Latin American cuisine, oregano can be a game-changer as a cilantro substitute. Dry oregano, used in a greater amount, matches the herb for herb in potency, but fresh oregano, used sparingly, can frequently dovetail with recipes requiring cilantro’s touch.

4 – Dill

Dill, with its myriad uses and delicate feathery leaves, often tangoes with dishes that desire a fresh note. Surprisingly enough, it can also moonlight as cilantro. The secret lies in its lemony sweetness, a hint of anise, and that fresh burst of verdure.

The refreshing tang and slight sweetness of dill mimic the notes of cilantro effortlessly. Its texture is lighter, and the wispy strands add a beautiful fleck of green to any dish, light or savory.

Substitute Tips

A 1:1 swap can be a revelation in soups, sauces, and stews, especially those inspired by Eastern European and Scandinavian cuisines. Dill’s brightness can invigorate the palate in recipes that might otherwise fear to tread without the familiar cilantro.

5 – Herb Mixtures

When you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, herb mixtures can be your answer. They are like bespoke suits, meticulously designed to enhance various cuisines. Herbs like thyme, rosemary, and marjoram can be blended to create a unique flavor reminiscent of cilantro, making it an excellent, albeit subtle, replacement.

Herb mixtures can vary greatly, offering a complex and textured note to dishes. The texture relies on the composition, but generally, it provides an all-around balanced mouthfeel that complements most dishes.

Substitute Tips

In some recipes, where the cilantro is not the focal point but rather an ensemble player, herb mixtures are perfect. Poultry seasoning or fines herbes work seamlessly in recipes calling for cilantro. Remember to adjust the proportion to suit your taste and the dish’s needs.

2 BEST Dried Cilantro Substitutes

While fresh herbs are always preferred, sometimes we find ourselves in a pinch and need to turn to dried options. Here are two substitutes for dried cilantro that may surprise you!

1 – Ground Coriander

Ground coriander is simply the seeds of the cilantro plant, making it an obvious substitute for dried cilantro. While it lacks the freshness of the herb, it does bring a similar nutty and citrusy flavor profile to dishes.

Substitute Tips

To replace dried cilantro with ground coriander, use half the amount called for in the recipe. For example, if your dish requires 1 teaspoon of dried cilantro, use ½ teaspoon of ground coriander instead.

2 – Celery Leaves

Celery leaves may seem like an unlikely substitute, but they make an excellent dried cilantro replacement. They carry a similar grassy and herbal flavor while being less bitter than the stalks.

Substitute Tips

Finely chop the celery leaves before using them as a substitute for dried cilantro. A good rule of thumb is to use one-third more celery leaves than the amount of dried cilantro called for in the recipe. For example, if your dish requires 1 teaspoon of dried cilantro, use 1 and ⅓ teaspoons of chopped celery leaves instead.