Cilantro Substitutes

Cilantro Substitutes

Cilantro, or coriander leaves, are widely used for culinary purposes across the world. Though it is quite hard to replace the unique taste and flavor of cilantro, the herbs that are often used as its substitutes are mentioned in this Buzzle article.
Did You Know?
The preference for cilantro may be linked to genes. People who find that this herb tastes like soap may be genetically predisposed to dislike it, and scientists are currently studying this trait.
Cilantro is a herb that is either loved or loathed; there's no in between. Some people simply adore this herb for its refreshing aroma, while others find it unpleasant and somewhat chemical or soap-like to taste. However, cilantro is probably the most commonly used culinary herb for seasoning a large number of dishes, including salsas, curries, soups, stews, stir-fries, and meat.

More commonly, this herb is used in Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexican, and Latin American cuisines. Cilantro is the name used for the leaves of the Coriandrum sativum, which is an annual herb of the family Apiaceae. This herb is native to the regions of Southwestern Asia, South Europe, and North Africa. The seeds of this plant are known as coriander, and they are also used for culinary purposes. The distinctive flavor of cilantro can be hardly replaced by any other culinary herbs. However, those who cannot tolerate the taste and flavor of cilantro, can try the following substitutes.

Cilantro Alternatives

Italian Parsley

Italian parsley or Italian flat-leaf parsley is a herb with serrated leaves, which look a bit similar to cilantro. It is often used to garnish Middle Eastern, American, and European dishes. It has a very distinct peppery taste, which can be used in any kind of dish for a rich flavor. There are mainly two types of parsley, curly leaf and flat-leaf or Italian parsley. Though, the leaves of both the plants are used for garnishing, it is the flat-leaf or Italian parsley that is more widely used for culinary purposes, and considered a better substitute of cilantro.

Quantity of cilantro required: 1 tablespoon

To be replaced with: 1 tablespoon of Italian parsley

Note: The flavor of Italian flat-leaf parsley is a bit milder than cilantro. So, you can also add a very small quantity of mint and lemon juice with it to substitute cilantro in a recipe. Italian parsley is generally added to already cooked dishes. It is an excellent garnish for risottos, soups, stocks, sauces, potato dishes, steaks, salads, fish, and fried chicken, lamb, and goose.

Vietnamese Coriander

The leaves of Vietnamese coriander or Persicaria odorata commonly feature in Southeast Asian cuisines, particularly in the cuisines of Vietnam and Malaysia. It is also known by the name of Vietnamese cilantro, Vietnamese mint, and Cambodian mint. The flavor of Vietnamese coriander closely mimics the flavor of cilantro, and hence, can be used as a cilantro substitute.

Quantity of cilantro required: 1 tablespoon

To be replaced with: ¾ tablespoon of Vietnamese coriander

Note: Though Vietnamese coriander is not related to mint, its flavor as well as appearance slightly resemble mint. It is more commonly included in salads and soups, due to its strong minty and peppery flavor. In Vietnam, it is used for garnishing the popular laksa soup.

Papalo

Papalo is a Mexican and Central American herb, which is known to possess a cilantro-like flavor with a hint of cucumber and citrus. Papalo is not related to cilantro, though it is also known by the names of summer cilantro and Bolivian coriander. It has a more powerful flavor than cilantro, which however, is lost to some extent while cooking.

Quantity of cilantro required: 1 tablespoon

To be replaced with: ⅓ or ⅔ tablespoon of papalo

Note: Papalo mainly features in Mexican cuisines like salsas. It can also lend a nice flavor to salads, sandwiches, guacamole, and fish dishes. It is usually added raw to a cooked dish at the last minute, in order to retain the flavor as much as possible.

Basil

Fresh basil leaves can be more commonly found in Italian and Southeast Asian dishes. It is also one of the main ingredients of Italian pesto. There are several varieties of basil, such as sweet basil, holy basil, Thai basil, and lemon basil. Out of them, the one that is used in Italian cuisines is sweet basil, while the other varieties are generally used in Asian cuisines.

Quantity of cilantro required: 1 tablespoon

To be replaced with: 1 tablespoon of basil

Note: As cooking diminishes the flavor of basil leaves, they are used freshly, and added at the last moment or just before serving a dish. More commonly, basil is used in soups, sauces, meat stews (in Mediterranean countries), and egg and fish dishes.

Celery Leaves

Celery is a popular flavoring agent for soups and many cooked dishes. Apart from the leaves, the seeds of the plant are also used as a spice, while the fleshy top-root and the leaf stalk are considered as vegetables. Both the stalks and the celery leaves can be used for seasoning.

Quantity of cilantro required: 1 tablespoon

To be replaced with: 1 or 1¼ tablespoon of celery leaves

Note: You can use celery for flavoring soups, sauces, and stews. It is also good for casseroles and stir-fries. The raw, crunchy celery is excellent for dips or fillings, such as cream cheese and peanut butter.

Dill Leaves

Dill can also be used to substitute cilantro, especially in Thai seafood dishes. It is also known as Lao coriander. Dill is a member of the carrot family, and can be distinguished by its pinnately divided thread-like leaves. Fresh dill leaves are always preferred over the dried leaves for seasoning, as dill leaves lose their flavor rapidly when dried.

Quantity of cilantro: 1 tablespoon

To be replaced with: 1 tablespoon of dill leaves

Note: The fresh aromatic dill leaves can be used in salad dressings, cream sauces, casseroles, and dips. Many consider it as an excellent herb to be paired with fish and vegetables, like potatoes and cucumber. However, it loses its flavor when cooked, and so, it is better to add it to cooked dishes.

Like cilantro, its substitutes are also added to cooked dishes at the last moment, or just before serving. Cooking or heating is known to diminish the flavor of these herbs, and so, adding them at the last moment helps retain their rich aroma in food.