Coriander Substitute: What Can You Use Instead?

Coriander/Cilantro Getty 5/15/20

No coriander? No problem. Here’s what you need to know about the herb (and what you can use instead): 

What Is Coriander? 

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Coriander seeds Getty 5/15/20

Coriander is an annual herb. The entire plant is edible, but its fresh leaves and dried seeds (used as a spice) are the parts most frequently used in cooking. 

From Mexico to China, Coriander is found in traditional cuisines all over the world. 

Coriander vs. Cilantro

Cilantro Getty 5/15/20

Coriander and cilantro come from the same plant. The words are often used interchangeably, but they don’t always mean the same thing.

In most of the world, “coriander” refers to the leaves and the seeds. 

North America is a different story: Since “cilantro” is the Spanish name for coriander leaves, and many people in the United States were introduced to the herb through Mexican cuisine, “cilantro” refers to the leaves and “coriander” refers to the seeds. 

What Does Coriander Taste Like?

For most people, coriander leaves (cilantro) taste inoffensive, lemon-y, and mildly tart. Others perceive the flavor as unpleasant and soap-like

You can blame this difference on the OR6A2 gene, which affects how you perceive the organic compounds that are present in cilantro. 

Coriander’s dried seeds, however, taste the same to most people: Toasty, warm, and earthy. 

Read more: Why Does Cilantro Taste Like Soap? 

Coriander Substitutes 

Chopping Parsley Getty 5/15/20

How you substitute depends on if you’re trying to replace the leaves or seeds in a recipe.  

Coriander Leaves (Cilantro) Substitute

Maybe you’re out of cilantro, or maybe you just can’t handle the taste (darn you, genetics). Either way, you can effectively substitute one of these herbs: 

  • Parsley: This is your best bet when cilantro isn’t an option. Not only do they look alike, they have similar flavor profiles and are both used to bring out the brightness of other ingredients. For an even closer match, add a squeeze of lemon juice to the parsley. 
  • Basil: While basil and cilantro are quite different, they can often be used in place of one another as they both add a unique, zippy brightness to dishes. You should be aware, though, that substituting basil for cilantro will yield a very different (but likely still delicious) result. 

Dried or Ground Coriander Substitute

If your recipe calls for dried or ground coriander, meanwhile, you can probably substitute: 

  • Caraway: If earthy, nutty, and peppery flavor is what you’re after (and it probably is if you’re looking for a coriander seed substitute), you can reach for caraway seeds instead. 
  • Cumin: Cumin is another good option. It’s not quite as close of a match as caraway, but it has a similar earthiness going for it. Cumin is a bit more pungent, so use about ¾ of a teaspoon for every teaspoon of coriander called for in your recipe.

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