Parsley is the kind of herb you’ll notice popping up in almost every recipe.
It’s unique and has a flavor that adds personality and garnishes to a variety of dishes.
Most of the time, you’ll be asked to use parsley as a garnish, but it’s also added to dishes during preparation to add a burst of flavor.
But what if you don’t have parsley and want to make a meal with a recipe you love?
There’s no need to worry because there are numerous ways to replace this herb with another substitute that brings a similar flavor and texture to your dish.
Here are a few of the best substitutes you can turn to when you run out of parsley.
|Suggested Ratio for Substitution
|Milder than parsley
|Use more chervil than parsley
|Especially good for French dishes
|Use less oregano than parsley
|Add gradually for taste
|Bitter and peppery
|Use less arugula than parsley
|Chop finely before use
|Use cilantro in moderation
|Good for Thai, Mexican, Vietnamese dishes
|Small amounts as garnish
|Ideal for Italian cuisine
|Similar to parsley
|Use more than parsley
|Can be used both as garnish and in cooking
Best Parsley Substitutes
This parsley substitute is similar to the popular herb but has a more mellow flavor.
As it is, you’ll have to add more of it to your dish to match the taste that comes with parsley.
If your recipe calls for dried or fresh parsley, chervil is an excellent substitute. Its mildness makes it especially well-suited for French dishes.
- Similar to parsley but with a milder flavor. Use more chervil than parsley to match the taste, especially in French dishes.
Oregano is another parsley replacement that you can use as a garnish or add it to your dishes. As oregano has a more pungent taste than parsley, you need to use a smaller quantity. It has a minty and savory flavor—so make sure you only add a small amount at a time until you get the right taste.
- Has a more pungent taste than parsley. Use a smaller amount of oregano compared to parsley, adding gradually to achieve the desired taste.
Arugula isn’t a herb—but due to its bitter flavor with a tinge of pepper, it can be a great replacement. You can use it as a garnish, but it works just as well for cooking dishes. It brings a zest of flavor—but because of the bitter taste, you need to use a small amount compared to parsley. You also have to dice it up into very tiny pieces before using it.
- Not a herb but its bitter and peppery flavor makes it a suitable substitute. Use a smaller quantity than parsley and chop finely before use.
You can use cilantro as a substitute for fresh parsley in Thai, Mexican, and Vietnamese dishes. Cilantro is stronger than parsley, and their flavors are a tad different from one another. This is why it’s preferable to use cilantro as a garnish because it looks very similar to its flat leaves. If parsley is a prominent ingredient of your recipe, you may want to be careful while using cilantro and add it in moderation until you get the right flavor.
- Suitable for Thai, Mexican, and Vietnamese dishes. It has a stronger flavor than parsley, so it should be used in moderation, especially as a garnish.
Basil is mostly used in Italian dishes because of its lively color. Basil also has a different aroma than parsley that can easily be detected. But if you only need a small amount as a garnish, it should not be a problem.
- Commonly used in Italian cuisine, with a distinct aroma different from parsley. Suitable in small amounts as a garnish.
Celery or carrot greens also work well as parsley replacements. Celery tastes similar to parsley and can be used as both a garnish and during cooking. When using it as a garnish, you have to slice it into tiny pieces and sprinkle it over your dish. However, because the leaves are milder than parsley, you need more celery to get the same flavor as parsley when preparing a dish.
- Taste similar to parsley and can be used both as a garnish and in cooking. Use more celery or carrot greens than parsley to achieve a similar flavor.
Tips from the pros
In your recipes, you might be asked for either dried or fresh parsley. If you have one of these and not the other, you can use the other as a replacement. However, they have different flavors. So if you have a more similar tasting substitute on hand, it is better to opt for that instead. When you’ve been asked to use parsley as a garnish, it won’t make a difference to the dish’s flavor. In such cases, it makes more sense to go for a substitute that looks more like parsley, even if the tastes are different.
The bottom line
Parsley is an essential part of a cook’s life. What’s more, it’s readily available! But as even the most experienced chefs sometimes run out of the herbs they need, using a replacement shouldn’t be frowned upon. If you use one of the substitutes mentioned above, chances are that you won’t even notice the difference in flavor. However, be sure to add a little bit of the substitute at a time, because most of these substitutes feature stronger flavors. You don’t need as much of them as the parsley that was called for in your recipe.