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5 Amazing Cilantro Substitutes and How to Use Them

Cilantro is a popular herb that’s used in a variety of cuisines all over the globe and goes by many names such as Chinese parsley and Coriander.

It’s known to have a distinct aroma and a strong flavor that some people love while others describe it as soapy and quite overpowering. 

Whether you’ve run out cilantro or you’re simply looking for a substitute that has a milder flavor, you may be surprised to learn that there are many alternatives you can use.  

In this blog post, we’ve prepared a list of 5 substitutes for cilantro along with directions on how to use them in most recipes. 

5 Cilantro Substitutes and How to Use Them

1. Basil

Basil is a common ingredient that’s used in many Southeast Asian and Italian dishes. It comes in a number of varieties including holy basil, Thai basil, lemon basil, and sweet basil.

Only sweet basil is used in Italian cuisines while the rest of them are quite common in Asian cuisines.

You can use fresh basil leaves as a substitute for cilantro. 

You can use the same amount of basil as cilantro in the recipe. Since cooking can make them lose some of their flavors, basil leaves are added to a dish in the end or just before it’s served.

They’re typically used in meat stews, soups, and sauces.

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2. Italian Parsley

Italian parsley has serrated leaves that look a lot like cilantro. It’s commonly used as a garnish in American, European, and Middle Eastern dishes.

It’s known to have a very noticeable peppery taste that can enhance the flavor of any dish. 

It’s available in two types: curly leaf and flat-leaf (Italian parsley).

Even though both plants are used as a garnish, Italian parsley is known to be more popular and makes for a better cilantro replacement.

You can use the same amount of Italian parsley as cilantro in any recipe.

You should also note that since the flavor is a lot milder, you can try adding a little bit of mint or lemon juice with it as well.

Italian parsley is most used in dishes that are already cooked like risottos, steaks, fish, sauces, stocks, and fried chicken. 

3. Papalo

Papalo is a popular herb in Mexico and Central America and known to have a flavor that’s a lot similar to cilantro with just a hint of citrus and cucumber.

Even though it’s not related to cilantro, it’s also called Bolivian coriander and summer cilantro.

It has a strong flavor which can slightly diminish with cooking.

For every tablespoon of cilantro, you can use about 1/3 or 2/3 tablespoons of papalo as a substitute.

Papalo is a common ingredient in Mexican cuisines like salsa and can elevate the flavor of many dishes. 

4. Vietnamese Coriander

Vietnamese coriander, also known as Persicaria odorata, is a huge part of Southeast Asian dishes, especially in the cuisines of Malaysia and Vietnam.

It’s also called Vietnamese mint, Vietnamese cilantro, and Cambodian mint.

The taste is a lot like cilantro which makes it an amazing substitute.

You can substitute about a tablespoon of cilantro with ¾ tablespoon of Vietnamese coriander in any recipe.

The appearance and flavor of Vietnamese cilantro is a lot similar to mint. It’s widely used in soups and salads and adds a rich minty and peppery taste to them. 

5. Celery Leaves

Celery makes for a great flavor agent in many dishes. While the leaf stalks are used as vegetables, the seeds of the plant are added as a spice in a variety of recipes.

Both of them can be used for seasoning as well.

For 1 tablespoon of cilantro, you can use about 1 or 1 ¼ tablespoon of celery leaves. Celery can be a great addition to sauces, stews, soups, casseroles, and stir-fries.

Their crunchy texture makes them an amazing pairing for dips such as hummus and the perfect vessel for cream cheese.

Final Thoughts

It may be difficult to decide which substitute you need to use in a recipe, but all you need to do is understand the flavor you’re going for and pick a substitute that’s the best match for it.

You can try using mint leaves as a replacement for cilantro if you couldn’t find any of these substitutes in your kitchen. 

You need to be careful with the quantity you’re adding to a recipe and use additional ingredients where necessary to get the flavor as close to cilantro as possible.

You may have noticed that these substitutes, much like cilantro, are added as a garnish to cooked dishes or right before they’re served. 

Since cooking can diminish their flavor, it’s advisable to use them when they’re fresh to maintain their rich aroma in all your dishes.

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