Running out of spices especially coriander is obviously normal. It should; thus, not stop you from continuing with your cooking as there are multiple substitutes for coriander.

All around the world, many people use the leaves and seeds of coriander for cooking. Apart from running short of this amazing spice, some people can still substitute it for other specific reasons. These include achieving a preferred taste, availability of substitute spice, and allergic reactions to coriander.For such reasons, you may find yourself in a pinch ormay be wondering which way to go when your recipe specifically needs coriander. You need not worry, this article outlines some of the best coriander alternatives you can use.

What Is Coriander?

You may have thought of cilantro when you heard of coriander. Well, they came from the same plant used for different things altogether. The cilantro and coriander are obtained from the same plant scientifically known as Coriandrum sativum. The word coriander typically refers to the seeds produced by that plant. They can be found in the market in form of whole seeds or ground.

Cilantro on the other hand simply means the fresh leaves that are obtained from that plant. Cilantro is mainly used in popular dishes in Mexico and South Asia.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, coriander contains two main essential oils, linalool, and pinene. This makes the seeds warm, spicy, and have a citrus-like flavor when crushed. Additionally, the entire coriander plant is edible but most people concentrate on its leaves and seeds instead of roots.

Substitutes You Can Use for Coriander

The substitutes outlined below perfectly replace coriander because they have the same flavor as that of coriander.

1.      Garam Masala

This is just a perfect alternative to coriander. Garam masala is a spice that is produced by blending various ingredients. The ingredients may vary, but in most cases, cloves, peppercorn, bay leaf, turmeric, mace, cinnamon, cumin, and coriander.Since garam masala contains coriander as one of its ingredients, it can therefore replace plain coriander. It is worth noting that garam masala contains lots of blended spices hence it can change the flavor of your food. You can add it to your meal in small bits until you achieve the desired taste.

2.      Cumin

Cumin is obtained from a plant called Cuminum cymimum. It is a spice made by grinding dried seeds of this plant. In many countries, cumin can be used in a similar way pepper is. Many different dishes use cumin as a spice including soups, meat dishes, curries, and stews. Cumin is a good alternative to coriander because it is widely used and readily available in the market.In replacing coriander with cumin, add it at a ratio of one to one. You will realize that it has a slightly different taste with a more nutty, warm, and spicy flavor closely mimicking that of coriander.

3.      Caraway

Caraway is somewhat the perfect substitute for coriander. This is because it has a taste so close to that of coriander and does not change the flavor of your dish.Another reason explaining why it’s the best substitute is because it comes from the same family of Apiaceae plants including celery, parsley, and fennel. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, caraway also contains linalool and pinene which are essential and aromatic oils found in coriander.

Caraway can be used in a variety of dishes including baked goods, casseroles, and desserts. Its flavor is sort of slightly sweet and described as earthy. Its seeds are dried and can be sold in either ground or whole form and are another substitute for coriander. Take note not to overdo caraway as it has a more heavy taste than coriander. You can start using it in a small amount as you gradually add it to the desired taste.

4.      Curry Powder

Curry powder, just like garam masala, is made by blending different spices one of them being coriander. Most common spices blended to make curry powder include coriander, fenugreek, ginger, turmeric, and other spices.Because it has a load of different spices, curry powder gives its dishes a more deep, savory, and sweet taste. Similarly, it brings a warm, mouth washing flavor just like coriander and can be an ingredient in marinades, roasted vegetables, and curries.The flavor of curry powder is more powerful, and if you are replacing coriander with it, try adding it in small amounts half the amount of coriander needed.

5.      Basil

Basil is a perfect alternative to cilantro, the leafy part of the coriander plant. It can, to some extent, change the taste of your meal. You can choose from different types of basil available in your local market if you want to replace cilantro.One common type of basil is the Thai basil. This one has a licorice-like spicy taste. It can be used as an ingredient in dishes like curries.

6.      Parsley

Just like coriander, parsley also comes from the family of Apiaceae plants and it has bright green leaves. Using it in dishes will bring a fresh, flavorful taste same to that of cilantro.When using it, you can try adding some lemon to stand in for the taste citrus-like flavor that coriander has. This is because it lacks that flavor.

7.      Tarragon

Tarragon, a herb with mild taste, is mostly used in French dishes and offers the best flavors when its leaves are still bright green. To bring a tastier flavor into your dish, you can try combining tarragon with fennel, garlic, and basil. Common dishes you can use tarragon as a substitute for cilantro include eggs, salmon, chicken, carrots, pepper, and asparagus.


Coriander is one of the popular spices used around the world to flavor a various dish. Coriander refers to the seeds obtained from the coriander plant while cilantro refers to the leafy portion of this plant. The best substitute for coriander is cumin, caraway, and curry powder whereas cilantro can be replaced with basil and parsley.

MS, Lund University, Sweden

Nutrition plays an important role in human life. Eating habits are one of the factors that affect our health. There is often a misconception among people that nutritionists force a very restrictive diet, but that is not true. In fact, I don't ban any products, but I point out dietary mistakes and help change them by giving tips and new recipes that I've tried myself. I advise my patients not to resist change and to be purposeful. Only with willpower and determination can a good result be achieved in any area of life, including changing eating habits. When I don't work, I love to go climbing. On a Friday evening, you are most likely to find me on my couch, cuddling with my dog and watching some Netflix.

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