The Best Substitutes for Cilantro

Try these simple stand-ins for this polarizing herb.

If you can’t stand the taste of cilantro (some folks think it tastes like soap), or just don’t have any on-hand to use in a recipe, there are other ingredients you can use in its place. The most important thing is to consider the dish. You might associate this tender herb with Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Latin food. But it’s a staple ingredient in so many cuisines—Indian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, even Chinese (the herb is also called Chinese parsley).

Cilantro has a tangy, slightly citrusy flavor, which is why is why it’s often sprinkled over a dish as a garnish—not only does it add a pop of color, it adds brightness too. Because it has such a distinctive flavor, you can’t just substitute any old herb in cilantro’s place. If you’d like to omit cilantro in a recipe, start by taking a look at the other ingredients in the recipe.

Guacamole with chips

If there is another fresh herb other than cilantro used in the dish, consider using a slightly larger amount of that herb. For example, this recipe for Easy Catfish Tacos includes a slaw that is made with chives and cilantro. You could omit the cilantro altogether and add an extra ½ teaspoon of chives.

If cilantro is the only herb called for in the recipe, look at the other ingredients and think about what other herbs could take its place. In this recipe for Sauteed Radishes with Bacon and Cilantro, cilantro is used as a garnish, but basil, parsley, or chives would also pair well with the other ingredients. When making these Burrito Bowls, you can garnish each serving with thinly sliced scallions instead of cilantro, or add a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

And in some cases, you can just omit the cilantro completely, especially if it is only being used as a garnish. This Cilantro-Lime Crema recipe (used as a topping for chili) will still taste great as a Lime Crema. Guacamole doesn’t have to include cilantro either, just make sure it is well seasoned and has plenty of acidity from lime juice.

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