9 Best Cilantro Substitutes [Fresh Cilantro & Coriander Seed Alternatives]

Need a last-minute cooking substitute for fresh cilantro or coriander seeds? These nine best alternatives will get you out of trouble.

Dried cilantro in a spoon on burlap, fresh cilantro herb on a wooden board background

Cilantro is a herb used for various dishes. It is often confused with other herbs, but they have certain similarities, which is why you can have substitutes for it. It is often compared to coriander, and in some places, they are called by the same name. However, they are different. The seeds of the plant are known as coriander, while the leaves are cilantro. This is why a lot of people confuse the two. They may be the same plant, but they have different uses.

Cilantro leaves can be used fresh or dried. Fresh cilantro leaves are often used as fresh garnishes or in salsa. Cilantro has a warm and spicy taste. It can be described as being aromatic, bright, and also lemon. The taste is non-apologetic. So you may or may not like it. There’s no in-between as such.

green salad dressing with avocado, lime and cilantro in a glass jar on a rustic background

Basil 

You may substitute fresh cilantro with basil, and to be specific, Thai basil, which grows in South East Asia. It can be eaten raw, which means that it works well in salsas that would ordinarily call for fresh cilantro. The advantage of Thai basil over Italian basil is that it looks much better. This is why it makes a good substitute for fresh cilantro. 

The citrus-like taste you get in cilantro is also present in basil, making it a good substitute. There is also the common element of pepper-like taste. You may use equal amounts of it as you replace one for the other.

Parsley

Parsley will work well as a cilantro substitute because they belong to the same family and can be used in the same way and look similar to each other. Flat-leaf parsley especially looks a lot like cilantro. So if you intend to use it for garnishing, then you can rest assured that it won’t throw off the look of your dish. The difference is that parsley is a darker green shade. 

Parsley has a more bitter taste than cilantro, but the pepper element is milder, so when you substitute using flat parsley, you can add more than the cilantro that you would ordinarily use. Taste the dish as it goes along to make sure that you do not overdo it. One of the downsides is that it does not have the same citrus hints that cilantro has. 

Lemon or Lime

Cilantro is known to have a light and citrus-like flavor. This is something synonymous with citrus fruits, such as lemon or lime. So using either one in place of cilantro will give you the same flavors. Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime in place of cilantro will give it a citrus-like flavor and zing, perhaps even more than cilantro would give you. 

The downside is that you will have to forego the bright green color that you get from cilantro. However, lime or lemons work well as a cilantro substitute when you need to use it as a garnish rather than in a recipe that requires a lot of cilantro. 

Mint

Mint, just like cilantro, is a green herb, and it is often used as a garnish, especially in its fresh form. The family has about 15 or 20 species. It’s often used to brighten a dish in the same way that cilantro is used. The advantage of using mint in a dish is that it can help reduce sodium and sugar intake. In addition, it has numerous health benefits, such as having antioxidant properties. 

Mint has a soothing effect when it is added to dishes. It is also fresh and has some sweetness to it. These are some of the factors that make it a good substitute for cilantro. It can be used as a garnish in equal amounts as you would add cilantro. However, you may need to bump up the warmth of the dish by adding coriander.

Coriander seeds fresh green cilantro leaves on wooden background

Dill

This is a herb related to celery and has fur-like green leaves. It’s great for garnish, but it doesn’t look anything like cilantro. This is in terms of the shape of the leaves. The color remains the same. Dill has a licorice-like flavor which is also relatively mild. However, it is essential to keep in mind that it can change taste when the dill flowers can have a change in taste and soon become a bit more bitter. 

While dill is close to parsley, the two are different. The taste of this herb is both sour and spicy. It works well as a substitute for cilantro, especially in salsa. The sweetness, coupled with the spiciness, makes it a perfect fit for salsa. It pairs well with mustard and also adds depth to salsa. When it comes to ratios, use1 a teaspoon of cilantro for every one teaspoon of dill. Just keep in mind that it’s potent. 

Cumin

Seeds from the cumin plant are the ones that are harvested and used in recipes alongside other spices. You can use them in place of ground coriander, which are the seeds of the cilantro plant. It has a brownish color. Cumin can either be used in its whole form or ground. In this instance, where you are looking for a substitute for ground coriander, you will need ground cumin, which comes from the ground Cuminum cyminum plant.

Cumin differs from coriander in that it is more bitter. Also, cumin has a darker and warmer favor as compared to ground cumin. Even though the two differ slightly in taste, you can use a one-to-one ratio. So one. Just a teaspoon of cumin can be used in place of 1 teaspoon of ground coriander. 

Garam Masala

This is a firm favorite because it’s a spice blend. It’s got a little bit of everything. The combination may vary depending on where it’s made. However, it will usually have coriander as part of the spice blend. Other spices in the spice blend may include cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, peppercorn, mace, and bay leaf. 

Since coriander is one of the spices in this blend, using it will help fill the gap. However, to use it effectively, add garam masala according to taste. Just keep in mind that the other spices that it may have could alter the taste of your dish. 

Curry Powder

Curry powder differs according to the company that has made it. It’s a blend of spices, and the way it is mixed and the herbs used, are what will determine the resultant taste. You can use it as a coriander substitute because, often, curry powders contain coriander. However, in most cases, curry powder will have both sweet and spicy tones to it, and as such, it can easily replace the depth offered by coriander. When you use it as a substitute, make sure to use a small amount and add more as you taste and go along. This way, you keep a handle on the level of spiciness. 

Caraway

Caraway is popular because it is one of the spices with the closest taste to coriander. This means that it can be used in coriander recipes without changing the recipe too much. Caraway has an earthy and slightly sweet flavor. It pairs well with desserts, vegetables, and baked goods, amongst other dishes. When using it in place of coriander, start with a small amount and add by taste.