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coriander vs cilantro

Coriander Vs Cilantro | 2 Super Similar But Different Herbs

Coriander and cilantro are two terms often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different parts of the same plant.

The Coriander vs Cilantro debate will explore the origins, cultural significance, differences in appearance and taste, culinary uses, health benefits, growing techniques, and common misconceptions surrounding both these herbs.

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of these two herbs and be able to confidently differentiate between them.

Coriander vs Cilantro

What is Coriander? 

When it comes to coriander, things are a little off in the land of burgers and hot dogs. In the United States, we usually talk about the round, dried seeds of the coriander plant (Coriandrum sativum).

These little flavour bombs have a sweet, citrusy note that goes well with a warm, hot undertone. They are used in pickle brines, spice rubs, and more, either whole or ground.

When you go across the pond, though, things change. In a lot of other places, “coriander” means the plant’s bright green stems and leaves. These airy leaves are cilantro, and they smell bright and citrusy with a hint of pepper.

The taste of cilantro is much brighter and fresher than that of the seeds. It gives salsas, guacamole, curries, and chutneys a new lease on life.

What is Cilantro?

Cilantro is more than just a pretty plant with lacy green leaves that smell good. It’s the fresh, green twin of the coriander seed. Both come from the same plant, Coriander Sativum.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that they both come from the same place; their tastes are very different.

There is a lot of confidence in cilantro. It has a strong scent with lemon notes and a hint of soapiness (though some lucky people don’t smell the soapiness!).

The taste is just as lively, with a sharp tang, a citrus punch, and a hint of spicy heat. Because of this one-of-a-kind mix, cilantro is an important part of many traditional foods.

It is an important part of salsa all over South America and brings life to every chip-scooping moment. It’s pretty common in Mexican food, and its bright taste can be found in tacos, burritos, and guacamole.

In Asian cooking, cilantro works well and adds a nice fresh taste to stews, stir-fries, and noodle soups.

But cilantro can be used in more than just main dishes. Its cool taste makes it a great way to finish off salads, cutting through rich sauces and giving the plate a touch of class.

When you see this leafy green again, remember that it’s not just a decoration; it’s a flavour bomb ready to make your food taste better.

Coriander Vs Cilantro: Origins and cultural significance

Coriander has a past that is just as rich and complicated as its taste. There is evidence that this amazing plant was used by Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans a very long time ago.

Not only did they like the tangy and spicy flavours it added to food, but they also thought it was good for them. They used coriander a lot in their medicine, for everything from stomach aids to aphrodisiacs.

Now that it’s the present day, the story takes an interesting turn. The fresh leaves are now the focus, but the dried seeds, which are still called coriander, are still used in pickle brines and spice rubs.

The feathery greens that are used here are called cilantro, and they have become a taste star all over the world. Latin America loves the bright flavour of cilantro and uses it a lot in salsas, guacamole, and colorful ceviches.

Asian stir-fries have a refreshing zing that makes them come to life, and Indian stews sing with their citrusy notes. You can use cilantro for more than just decorating your food.

It is chopped up and added straight to dishes in many cultures, giving them a burst of freshness and a unique depth of flavour.

Key Differences: Coriander Vs Cilantro

Differences in appearance and taste

When it comes to appearance, coriander seeds are small, round, and light brown in color. They have a warm, citrusy aroma that is slightly sweet and nutty.

Cilantro, on the other hand, has flat, delicate, green leaves with a pungent, almost soapy taste.

Some people describe cilantro as having a fresh and citrusy flavour, while others find it overpowering and unpleasant.

Usage in Cooking

Cilantro (leaves and stems) is often used as a fresh herb in a variety of dishes, including salads, salsas, and as a garnish for soups and curries.

Coriander seeds, on the other hand, are typically used as a spice in cooking. They are commonly ground and added to spice blends, curries, and used in pickling.

Flavour Profile

Cilantro has a distinctive fresh flavour with citrusy notes and a hint of pepperiness. Some people enjoy its vibrant taste, while others may find it polarizing due to a genetic predisposition that makes it taste soapy.

Coriander seeds have a warm, earthy flavour with a touch of sweetness. They contribute depth and complexity to dishes, especially in combination with other spices.


Cilantro has bright green, flat leaves with thin stems. The overall appearance is delicate and visually appealing, making it a popular choice for garnishing.

Coriander seeds are small, round, and brownish. They have a textured surface with ridges, which distinguishes them from other seeds.

Plant Parts

Cilantro refers specifically to the leaves and stems of the Coriandrum sativum plant. It is the green, leafy part of the herb.

Coriander, when used to describe the plant, can refer to both the leaves and stems (usually in the UK) or more commonly to the dried seeds.

Culinary Applications

Cilantro is often used in its fresh form, added towards the end of cooking or as a finishing touch to retain its vibrant flavour. It is a key ingredient in dishes like salsa, guacamole, and various Asian cuisines.

Coriander seeds are either used whole in pickling or ground into a spice powder for use in curries, stews, and spice blends.

Use of corainder in Indian pickles

Coriander is a common and essential spice used in the preparation of homemade pickles in India. Its use adds a distinctive flavor and aromatic complexity to the pickles. Here’s how coriander is typically employed in Indian pickle recipes:

  1. Whole Coriander Seeds in Pickles
  2. Tempering/Tadka with Coriander
  3. Flavor Enhancement in Pickles
  4. Aroma Booster in Pickles
  5. Traditional Spice Blend with Coriander
  6. Preservative Properties of Coriander
  7. Combination with Other Spices
  8. Versatility in Various Pickles


Cilantro is best used fresh, and it’s typically stored in the refrigerator. To extend its shelf life, you can place it in a jar of water or wrap it in a damp paper towel.

Coriander seeds have a longer shelf life and are often stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Properly stored, they can maintain their flavour for an extended period.


Cilantro leaves have a pungent and citrusy aroma, contributing to the overall fragrance of dishes.

Coriander seeds have a warm and slightly spicy fragrance, enhancing the aroma of dishes in which they are used.

Regional Terminology

In the UK and some other English-speaking regions, both the fresh and dried parts are often referred to as “coriander.”

In the United States, “cilantro” is used specifically for the fresh leaves and stems, while “coriander” refers to the dried seeds.

Culinary Crossover

Some recipes may call for both cilantro (fresh leaves) and coriander seeds to create a harmonious blend of flavours. This culinary crossover is especially common in dishes that aim for a well-balanced and layered taste experience.

It’s essential to pay attention to the specific terminology used in recipes to ensure the correct part of the plant is being used, as the flavour profiles of the leaves and seeds differ significantly.

Culinary uses of Coriander

Coriander seeds, these unassuming brown spheres, are culinary chameleons, seamlessly weaving their magic into cuisines worldwide.

Often ground into a warm, fragrant powder, they become an essential element in curries, stews, and marinades, their presence felt from the vibrant streets of India to the bustling Moroccan souks.

But their versatility extends far beyond the realm of powders. A quick toast awakens a hidden depth of flavour, transforming them into culinary chameleons.

They can lend a touch of warmth and citrusy zest to baked goods, a tangy twist to pickles and chutneys, and an earthy depth to spice rubs that elevate grilled meats and vegetables.

Culinary uses of Cilantro

The coriander seed and cilantro thrive in the realm of fresh flavours. These vibrant green leaves are culinary celebrities, adding their distinctive touch to dishes worldwide.

Imagine a salsa bursting with freshness, thanks to a generous sprinkle of chopped cilantro. Or picture a salad transformed with its bright, citrusy notes.

Guacamole finds its perfect partner in cilantro, their contrasting textures and flavours creating a delightful harmony.

But cilantro’s versatility goes beyond the obvious. It’s a master of reinvention, transforming from a humble garnish to a flavour hero.

A steaming bowl of soup receives a refreshing lift with a sprinkle of cilantro, while tacos and rice dishes come alive with its vibrant presence.

Health benefits of Coriander

Coriander seeds transcend their culinary fame by offering a treasure trove of potential health benefits. These tiny powerhouses are packed with antioxidants, acting as nature’s bodyguards against harmful free radicals and oxidative stress, which can contribute to various health concerns.

But their benefits extend beyond defense. Coriander seeds boast antimicrobial properties, potentially aiding in the fight against infections, and offering an extra layer of protection.

Traditional medicine has long recognized the potential of coriander seeds. They’ve been used to promote healthy digestion, easing discomfort and fostering a smoother digestive flow.

Their anti-inflammatory properties may also offer relief from various inflammatory conditions, providing a natural approach to managing discomfort.

Additionally, some studies suggest coriander seeds may even play a role in alleviating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, offering hope for those seeking natural solutions.

Health benefits of Cilantro

Beyond their vibrant flavour, the humble cilantro leaves are a powerhouse of essential nutrients. Packed with vitamins A, C, and K, they contribute significantly to your well-being.

Vitamin A plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin and vision, while vitamin C acts as a powerful immune system booster. Vitamin K, meanwhile, plays a vital role in supporting strong bones.

However, the benefits extend beyond these vital vitamins. Cilantro is also rich in antioxidants, which act as nature’s warriors against free radicals, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and certain cancers.

Traditional medicine also recognizes the potential of cilantro. It has been used for centuries to aid in detoxification, helping the body eliminate harmful substances.

Additionally, its properties may promote healthy digestion, easing discomfort and fostering a smoother digestive flow.

Coriander vs Cilantro! Growing them

Coriander and cilantro are relatively easy to grow, whether you have a garden or a small pot. They thrive in well-draining soil and prefer full sun or partial shade.

Coriander seeds can be sown directly into the ground or in pots, while cilantro is best grown from seeds as it does not transplant well.

Regular watering and occasional fertilization will help ensure a bountiful harvest of fresh coriander and cilantro throughout the growing season.

Common misconceptions and confusion

One common misconception is that coriander and cilantro are entirely different herbs. As mentioned earlier, they are different parts of the same plant. Another misconception is that people either love or hate cilantro due to a genetic predisposition.

While some individuals may possess a gene that makes them more sensitive to Cilantro’s flavour, personal preferences can also be influenced by cultural factors and exposure to different cuisines.


In conclusion, the debate of coriander vs cilantro will always go on. Though seemingly different, are two sides of the same coin – the Coriandrum sativum plant.

While coriander refers to the dried seeds, bursting with earthy warmth, cilantro describes the fresh leaves and stems, brimming with vibrant citrusy notes.

This dynamic duo boasts a rich history, gracing tables, and traditional medicine practices for centuries.

Coriander seeds, with their unique aroma and flavour, lend themselves beautifully to curries, stews, and spice blends, adding depth and complexity to dishes worldwide.

Cilantro, on the other hand, thrives in the realm of fresh flavours. A sprinkle of its finely chopped leaves instantly elevates salsas, salads, and guacamole, offering a burst of freshness and color.

But their contributions extend far beyond the realm of taste. Coriander seeds are potential powerhouses of health benefits, offering antioxidants, potential digestive aids, and even anti-inflammatory properties.

Cilantro, too, boasts an impressive nutritional profile, packed with essential vitamins and antioxidants that contribute to overall well-being.

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