Let us discuss the best cilantro substitutes. Whether you know it by the name cilantro or coriander, this herb is used very widely in various cuisines around the world. It adds a good flavor and hence is used as a garnish in various recipes.
However, the flavor of cilantro is not specifically liked by everyone. Many people describe its flavor as soapy, and hence people look for substitutes . In that case, this article is definitely the right one for you! This article will help you with the best cilantro substitutes.
You must’ve thought to yourself, what are the best cilantro substitutes? The best cilantro substitutes are parsley, mint, dill, basil, cumin, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, curry powder, and papalo.
However, before we start discussing the best cilantro substitutes, let me help you understand cilantro a little better. Once you get to know its flavor profile, it will definitely be much easier to pick your substitute.
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Quick Peek: Cilantro
This section has all the information you need on cilantro. You will get to understand the herb, its flavor and texture profile, uses, and nutritional information. So, let us discover cilantro!
What Is Cilantro?
First off, let me start with the confusion between cilantro and coriander. Yes, they are the same thing. Cilantro is usually the name of the leaves of the coriander plant. It is called so in the USA. However, in most parts of the world, cilantro leaves are referred to as coriander.
Cilantro is a herb from the fresh leaves of the coriander plant, also known as Coriandrum sativum. Usually, all parts of the plant are edible. However, the leaves and seeds of the plant are most widely used for culinary purposes.
Describing Cilantro: Flavor And Texture
When we talk about the texture of cilantro leaves, the leaves are green and look like flat-leaf parsley. They grow on tender stems. The seeds are tiny and are usually used to make coriander spice which has a very different flavor compared to the leaves of cilantro.
As for the taste, cilantro has a flavor that has a different description from most people. People that like the flavor of cilantro often describe it as refreshing, lemony, and a little peppery. However, a lot of people also describe it as tasting similar to dish soap.
Why Does Cilantro Taste Like Soap To Some People?
If you are a fan of cilantro, the idea of it tasting like soap may sound absolutely ridiculous to you. How is it possible that a herb can taste like soap? Well, for those who find the flavor of cilantro soapy, there actually is a genetic reason why this happens.
People who find the taste of cilantro to be a bit soapy actually have a variation in a group of olfactory receptor genes. These genes heighten the aldehydes in cilantro, which is a natural compound found in the same and also in certain soaps.
This makes the overall flavor of cilantro unbearable for certain people. This genetic quirk is found in a small percent of the population and varies geographically. Interestingly, this genetic quirk is not popular amongst people that stay in places where cilantro is popular.
Uses Of Cilantro
Cilantro, as you might already know, is a very commonly used herb in various parts of the world. It is used mainly as a garnish in most types of food as cilantro leaves tend to add a lot of flavors that way. It is also commonly made into a chutney in the Indian subcontinent.
Moreover, cilantro can be mixed in with sour cream and added on top of chili; it works well in salad dressings. It can also be used in pasta and stir-fried dishes to add flavor. Moreover, you can also flavor various oils with the help of cilantro.
Cilantro On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
Generally, most recipes call for cilantro in very small quantities. So, in such recipes, cilantro barely imparts any health benefits or vital nutrients. However, cilantro definitely is a healthy ingredient that works with various vital nutrients and health benefits.
One cup of raw cilantro, which comes to about 16 grams in weight, only has 3.68 calories with small amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Moreover, it contains a decent amount of vitamins A, C, and K along with minerals such as potassium and manganese.
Moreover, there are various studies carried out about the various medicinal benefits that cilantro has. A certain study suggests that cilantro is a natural remedy for pain and inflammation, is good for the skin, and has antifungal properties.
Why Use A Substitute For Cilantro?
This is definitely a question that may have come to some of our minds. While there are many reasons to use cilantro in cooking, there are also a few reasons why you can consider using substitutes for the same.
To start off, in case you are one of those people that cannot take the flavor of cilantro, a substitute will definitely come in handy. Cilantro might not taste soapy to everyone. However, still, many people don’t prefer the flavor of cilantro.
In a case like this, using a substitute for the same will definitely come in handy. Moreover, in case the flavor does not bother you, but you just seem to be all out of cilantro, you can still positively use a substitute.
Why bother running to the store at the last moment to buy some when you can easily use a substitute that might already be present in your kitchen! I think these are good enough reasons to consider using a substitute for cilantro.
I believe I have given you enough information on cilantro by now. Now, let’s quickly rush to the main attraction of this article, its best substitutes. So, let us explore the best cilantro substitutes together.
10 Best Cilantro Substitutes
This section has a list of all the best substitutes you can use in place of cilantro. Moreover, you will also get to understand how to use each substitute in your recipes.
Parsley actually belongs to the same family as cilantro. Though not exactly the same in taste, parsley has a few flavor notes similar to that of cilantro, making it a great cilantro substitute.
Parsley generally lacks the citrus tone of flavor that cilantro has and is more bitter than cilantro. However, it still is the herb with the closest flavor profile to cilantro. Moreover, parsley, just like cilantro, can be used in various ways in recipes.
You can use it as a garnish in various recipes and can also be added to various marinades and spice rubs, similar to cilantro. Parsley can generally be used as a substitute for cilantro in a standard 1:1 ratio.
Mint has a cool and refreshing taste loved by most. Though not an exact match to cilantro when it comes to the flavor profile, many people prefer using mint for the same reason in place of cilantro. Hence, it is a good cilantro substitute.
The flavor profile of mint is extremely refreshing and goes really well in most recipes, especially ones that are Asian-inspired. Mint, however, does lack the peppery flavor that cilantro has.
So, in case you want a different flavor, this may not matter. However, in case you are looking for a substitute to match the flavor profile of cilantro, you can squeeze in some acid along with mint to give it a flavor palate similar to cilantro.
Basil belongs to the same family as mint. Though it is not an exact match to cilantro when it comes to flavor, it does well work with other flavors that are combined with cilantro. Hence, it is a good cilantro substitute.
Basil also has various health benefits, similar to cilantro. Moreover, basil is again a good option as a substitute for cilantro, especially if you don’t like the flavor of cilantro. Basil will provide a slight sweetness that works well in place of cilantro.
Basil can be used in the same way as cilantro in various recipes. You can chop it and add it to salads or even use it as a garnish on various hot dishes. Basil can be used as a substitute for cilantro in a 1:1 ratio.
Dill again does not have a flavor similar to that of cilantro. However, it does have a grassy and citrusy flavor that works well in most recipes as a cilantro substitute.
Dill generally works better in cold recipes rather than hot recipes. This is because dill loses its flavor and turns bitter if incorporated into food while cooking. You can use it in hot recipes, too; however, make sure to add it at the end.
Dill brings an extremely great flavor profile to food. It works well in all sorts of salads, sandwiches, sauces, and pasta and also goes well with cream cheese and sour cream. You can use half the quantity of dill as the amount of cilantro for substitution.
5. Rau Ram
Rau ram is also known by the name Vietnamese cilantro. It has a peppery taste similar to that of cilantro and hence makes a great cilantro substitute.
Rau ram is the perfect option for a cilantro substitute, especially if you want to mimic the flavor of cilantro. It is, in fact, a little more peppery in flavor and aromatic as compared to cilantro. Hence, it will mimic the flavor of cilantro extremely well.
The one downside of rau ram, however, is that it might not be too easily available everywhere. But, if you do manage to find it somewhere, it can work really well as a cilantro substitute in all recipes in a 1:1 ratio of substitution.
Papalo is a herb native to Mexico and Latin America. It has a flavor very similar to that of cilantro. Hence, it can work as a great cilantro substitute in various recipes.
Papalo is again a great option for substitution if you want to mimic the flavor of cilantro. It is peppery and a little more robust than cilantro. It works very well in most recipes as a cilantro substitute.
One problem with papalo, however, is that it may be difficult to find in certain places. However, if you do manage to find it, you can use it as a cilantro substitute in half the quantity as the amount of cilantro you would use in a recipe.
7. Coriander Seeds
Coriander seeds, as you might be familiar with already, come from the same plant as cilantro. They carry a similar peppery flavor to cilantro, making them a good dry substitute for cilantro leaves.
Coriander seeds, being seeds and not leaves, will not provide the same texture to your recipe as cilantro leaves do. Hence, can’t use them as a garnish in any recipe.
However, if you are just looking for a similar flavor, they can work as a substitute. Coriander seeds can work well as a substitute, usually in soups, stews, or any other cooked recipe. Follow a 1:1 ratio for substitution.
Cumin belongs to the same family as parsley. It does not have exactly the same flavor profile as cilantro. However, its rich taste makes it a good substitute for cilantro in various recipes.
Cumin can be used either in powdered form, or you can temper whole seeds and use them too. Usually, quite a lot of recipes that call for cilantro already have cumin in them, as the two flavors work really well together.
If your recipe already calls for cumin, you can just add some extra cumin to it to give your food a great flavor. Cumin can replace both fresh cilantro and coriander leaves in a 1:1 ratio.
9. Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds have a flavor profile quite close to that of cilantro. So, for recipes where you want a substitute with a similar flavor, caraway seeds work well as a cilantro substitute.
The only difference in the flavor of caraway seeds is that it is slightly sweeter and a bit less peppery as compared to cilantro. However, you can always use extra to add more to the overall flavor of your dish.
Generally, while using them as a substitute for cilantro, you can follow a standard 1:1 ratio for substitution. However, if the flavor may seem too strong or mild to you, you can make changes to the ratio accordingly.
10. Curry Powder
Curry powder is a spice mix that generally already contains coriander powder. Hence, despite being a combination of various spices, it can work as a good cilantro substitute.
Curry powder does have an overpowering flavor due to the blend of various spices. So, it definitely will not give the exact same flavor profile as cilantro. However, if you are making a dish where other overpowering flavors are not an issue, you can use it.
Curry powder should be used in minute quantities while using it as a cilantro substitute. Generally, use ¼ the quantity of curry powder as the number of cilantro leaves. You can always add more later in case you want a sharper taste.
Short Recap For Best Cilantro Substitutes
I am sure that by now, you must have gone through all the best cilantro substitutes. However, since a lot of substitutes do not match the exact same flavor profile of cilantro, it might be confusing as to which one would work best in your recipe.
In that case, there is absolutely no need to worry! I have broken it down further for you into three categories to make it easier. Have a look!
Most Suitable: The most suitable substitute for cilantro is parsley.
Easily Available: The most easily available cilantro substitutes are mint, basil, parsley, cumin, caraway seeds, and curry powder.
Best Flavor Profile: Rau ram will give the best flavor profile when used as a cilantro substitute.
As we have reached the end of this article, I hope it has helped you find the best cilantro substitutes. Cilantro is definitely an ingredient that you either love or hate. Hence, the substitute options cover both avenues.
You can choose your substitute based on whether you would like to mimic the flavor of cilantro or not. Depending on that, you can pick the ideal substitute and the quantity you would like to use, and I am sure you will end up cooking something great!
How To Substitute The Above Mentioned Ingredients For Cilantro
- Rau Ram
- Coriander Seeds
- Caraway Seeds
- Curry Powder
Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe
Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Is coriander and cilantro the same thing?
Yes, coriander and cilantro are the same thing. They are just called by either of the two names in different parts of the world.
What are the health benefits of eating cilantro?
Cilantro has been linked to having various health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and seizure severity, as well as raising energy levels and healthy hair and skin.
Is cilantro the same as parsley?
No, cilantro and parsley are two different types of herbs.
Can you eat raw cilantro?
Yes, cilantro can be eaten raw.