Coriander is a popular cooking ingredient. Also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley, this ingredient is actually a member of the parsley family. Due to its popularity, people use coriander to make flavorful meals such as this crispy salmon recipe with coriander pesto sauce.
And because of its versatility, it would not be shocking if you ran out of coriander. This raises the question: what are the best coriander substitutes you can use?
What Is Coriander?
Before diving deeper into coriander substitutes, let’s get to know coriander more.
Coriander adds an aromatic scent and citric taste when added to a dish. Additionally, home cooks and chefs use coriander both as a spice and as a herb to help add flavor. Yet, people who aren’t fond of coriander describe its taste as soapy. This flavor is due to natural chemicals and compounds within the coriander.
Coriander vs Cilantro
Confusion between coriander and cilantro is pretty common as well. In the U.S., people call the leaves and stem “cilantro” while the dried seeds are “coriander.”
In the UK and other countries, the fresh herb is called coriander, while the Spanish call it cilantro. The truth is, coriander and cilantro are interchangeable. But to be specific, the term “coriander” refers to the leaves and stem of the plant. Meanwhile, dried seeds are called “coriander seeds.”
Although the names are interchangeable, each part has a specific function in cooking. Chefs and home cooks use coriander seeds as a spice. But cilantro, or coriander leaves, are used as a garnish.
12 Best Coriander Substitute Options
Maybe you ran out of coriander after making a delicious tomato pasta salad. Here are the 12 best replacements that you can choose from.
Coriander Seed Substitute
If you’re out of coriander, then this is the best substitute you can pick. Originating in the Middle East, cumin is a popular spice in Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American cuisine. It is used in dishes like this layered enchilada casserole. Some dishes from these regions even use both cumin and coriander as a pair to add more flavors.
Cumin has naturally warm, nutty, and spicy flavors. These flavors are almost similar to that of coriander. And because of its popularity, you won’t have a hard time finding it in groceries or markets. This makes cumin the best coriander spice substitute.
But despite being the number one choice, there are still some differences between their taste. Cumin tends to be more pungent or potent than coriander. So if you’re going to use cumin as a substitute, don’t add too much unless you like extreme flavors.
Caraway has the same earthy flavors that coriander also holds. Additionally, this herb is also part of the same plant family. The similarity in taste and familial roots make this spice a rival to cumin as the best coriander substitute in cooking.
Often used in dishes such as potato salads, this spice works best as a dried or ground coriander substitute. Caraway seeds, in particular, have nutty and peppery flavors that can be utilized in case you run out of cilantro.
But even if its taste is similar to coriander, acquiring this herb can be a bit challenging. It’s not as popular as cumin and tends to be a bit pricier. Additionally, caraway is a little bit sweeter than coriander. So if you’re going to choose caraway as a substitute, apply a pinch of it first before adding more as needed.
While its seeds are used to make a soothing fennel tea, you can also use this spice as a substitute for coriander.
Fennel has a natural sweetness that’s similar to anise, licorice, and cilantro because of the substance anethole. Anethole’s presence in both fennel and cilantro makes it a good substitute if you ever run out of the latter.
But despite having the same substance found in coriander, fennel lacks the citric touch of the former. Additionally, fennel may bring some unwanted bitterness to your dish, especially when raw. And if you’re not a fan of licorice, you might want to pick other options.
Cloves are mostly used in sauces, marinades, and herbal drinks like Indian chai tea. It’s also possible to use whole cloves when you run out of coriander.
The natural aromatic scent of whole cloves can be used to replace the coriander’s citric touch. And keeping its charming fragrance is simple. All you have to do is properly store the whole cloves on your shelf. This allows them to keep their aroma on their own.
However, in order to fully utilize its wonderful smell, you’ll have to do the extra work of grinding whole cloves via mortar and pestle. And if you choose not to grind them, you’ll have to manually remove the cloves from the dish using a cheesecloth or tea ball.
Often used in Indian dishes such as Indian chicken curry, garam masala is actually a mixture of spices. It mostly consists of coriander, cumin, cloves, and many other ingredients.
Because it contains coriander, you may use garam masala as a substitute if you run out of the former. You may even taste more flavors because of the other added spices in this mixture.
However, its strength is also its weakness. The other spices in the garam masala can easily make or break the dish you’re planning to make. Additionally, garam masala contains turmeric, and this spice can change the color of the dish into something yellowish. Because of these factors, it’s advised to add small amounts of garam masala if it will be used as a dried coriander substitute.
Just like garam masala, curry powder is also a mixture of spices, which include coriander, turmeric, ginger, and many more. Curry powder is used in recipes such as this creamy cauliflower chowder.
If ever you ran out of plain coriander, curry powder is a good substitute since it contains the said spice just like garam masala. Additionally, this spice also offers both sweet and savory flavors.
But just like garam masala, the other spices in the curry powder can also affect the dish’s flavors. And due to the presence of turmeric, your dish’s original color may also change. It’s best to add small amounts of this spice to your dish in case you use it as a coriander powder substitute.
Coriander Leaf/Cilantro Substitute
This herb, like caraway, is a close relative of coriander. Used in dishes such as this curried carrot soup recipe, parsley is one of the most easily recognized ingredients.
Parsley offers crisp flavors when it’s used as a fresh coriander substitute. This freshness makes parsley a great option when you run out of cilantro or coriander leaves. Just make sure to properly store your parsley to maintain its freshness and use this herb as a substitute if you’re not a fan of cilantro.
However, parsley lacks the citric touch of cilantro. It also tends to be more bitter when compared to its relative. If you’re planning to use this as a coriander substitute, the best option is to add a few drops of lemon or lime juice. This allows your dish to have its previous missing acidic flavors while neutralizing parsley’s bitterness.
Just like basil, parsley is another popular herb. Featured in dishes such as this apricot pasta salad, it’s easy to mistake this herb for cilantro in groceries.
Between Thai basil and Italian basil, the former’s taste is a lot closer to cilantro than the latter. Thai basil tends to be more bitter when compared to the Italian variant, which is a bit sweeter. Additionally, the Thai version has a distinct taste, almost similar to licorice and spicy as well.
When using this herb as a coriander substitute in recipes, there’s a possibility that the taste will be different. Although it won’t affect the dish as much. Still, expect to experience the difference in flavor.
This herb is something you’ll often find in pizza, pasta sauces, and soups like this slow cooker lentil and cabbage soup. And interestingly, you can use oregano leaf when you’re out of cilantro.
When used as a replacement for ground coriander, oregano leaf provides earthy and minty flavors to the recipe. It is also sometimes mixed with cumin or added in herb mixtures to create more flavors. Additionally, dried oregano leaves are sometimes used as an emergency replacement for cilantro.
But using oregano has its downsides as well. For one, it lacks some bold flavors of coriander. And while oregano is sold in bulk quantities, it is not the most budget-friendly herb.
A herb commonly used in creamy yogurt sauces and salmon dishes, chopped dill is also used as a cilantro replacement. Dill has a citric flavor with hints of grasslike taste and is also a great substitute for parsley as well.
Although it doesn’t pack the same flavor as coriander, it still offers its own unique flavors. However, when using it as a coriander substitute, it’s best to add small amounts of dill due to its strong taste. Only add more when you feel like the dish needs more flavors.
Also used for salads, soup, condiments, and many more, tarragon can also be a great substitute for cilantro or coriander leaves.
Known for its thin leaves and fragrant, citric aroma, tarragon has a bittersweet flavor. Additionally, while sharing a similar taste with lemon and licorice, tarragon also has some hints of vanilla, pepper, and mint flavors.
But despite these qualities, it’s best to add only a few amounts of tarragon first if it’s used as a substitute for cilantro. There’s still a difference in terms of taste between the two, so adding too much tarragon could affect a dish.
When you’re out of cilantro, making a mixture consisting of dried herbs with a similar taste may do the trick. This is where a herb mixture comes in.
Often made with finely chopped herbs such as chives, tarragon, rosemary, and many more, herb mixtures can offer a different freshness to your dish. And if you add herbs that almost taste like cilantro such as parsley, it can certainly add more intriguing flavors. You may also pick this option if you’re just not a fan of cilantro.
But just like garam masala and curry powder, it’s best to add a few amounts first when it’s used as a coriander substitute. The other herbs in the mixture can either make or break the dish. Only add more amounts of herb mixture when you think the dish needs more flavor.
Take Your Pick From Many Coriander Substitutes
Coriander packs a lot of flavors that can amplify and improve your dish. And because of its great qualities, it’s not surprising if people easily run out of this versatile ingredient. So in case you’re almost out of coriander, feel free to check our list to know what you can use as a replacement!
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