Parsley vs Cilantro: What’s The Difference?

Parsley

Parsley and cilantro are both very common herbs all over the world as they can enhance the taste of most dishes.

They are very similar so you can easily confuse parsley for cilantro or vice versa. But there are also important differences that will make you choose one over the other. 

Parsley and cilantro differ in leaf shape, smell, and flavor. Cilantro, for instance, provides a citrusy taste while parsley is more herbal and earthly.

To understand how to use these herbs to create different delicious dishes, keep reading and you will never have to wonder what to use again when it comes to parsley and cilantro!

Parsley vs Cilantro: Comparison Chart

Features  Parsley  Cilantro 
Category  aromatic herb aromatic herb
Aspect  Green, rounded leaves Green, pointed leaves
Smell  The fresh, mild herbal smell  Intense herbal smell
Taste  The earthly, herbal taste The spicy, citrusy taste
Nutritional values/28 gr of each herb 1 gr protein, 2 gr carbs, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate  1 gr protein, 1 gr carbs, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate 
Dishes  Cold dishes, toppings, sauces Cold, dishes, toppings, sauces
Usage  Cooking, traditional medicine  Cooking, traditional medicine 

Can You Substitute Cilantro for Parsley?

You can use parsley and cilantro interchangeably. However, you shouldn’t expect the same final taste. They present small differences in terms of leaf shape. So, when you use cilantro instead of parsley, it will look a bit different in your dish.

These two herbs also taste different, which is an important aspect to consider. But once you get used to both of them, you will be able to separate their flavor fairly easily as well.

To replace your cilantro with parsley, you will have to like the taste of this substitute. So, expect less spiciness and a more herbal flavor. If that sounds good to you, go right ahead and use which one you have in your kitchen.

Cilantro and parsley can be used interchangeably in many dishes including salads, soups, stews, and sauces. You will be able to keep the same ratio as well or adjust it according to your personal preferences.

Which is Better: Parsley or Cilantro?

Cilantro

Both parsley and cilantro come with plenty of nutrients that will enrich the health benefits of any food you add them to. However, if you choose between these two based on which herb brings you more nutrition, it will depend a lot on your personal interest and needs.

If you want to gain more vitamin K for instance, you should definitely go for parsley as it contains 574% of the daily value (DV), and cilantro brings only 109% DV.

The same goes for vitamin C which is 62% DV in parsley and 13% DV in cilantro, vitamin A which is 47% DV in parsley, and 38% DV in cilantro, and folate (11% DV in parsley and 4% in DV).

These values are representative of 28 grams of parsley, as well as 28 grams of cilantro, in their raw form. One could easily conclude based on these nutritional values that parsley is a better choice than cilantro, but it is truly a matter of personal preference.

Another aspect you might want to consider when you choose one herb over the other is the taste and smell. Here it is easy to choose as even if they can taste and smell fairly different, both parsley and cilantro will be delicious in your food.

Can I Use Parsley Instead of Cilantro in Salsa?

Salsa calls for cilantro which gives it plenty of spiciness and a rich flavor, along with the rest of the ingredients. But what to do if you are missing precisely the cilantro when you are planning to prepare some delicious salsa?

There is no need to worry as you can use parsley instead of salsa and save your dish. It will not provide the same taste. However, you can get it closer to the original taste by adding other spices and herbs.

For instance, you can add a bit of lemon juice with your parsley if you want to get the citrusy taste of cilantro.

Maintain the same ratio and cut your parsley in the same way you would cut your cilantro when you use it in your salsa.

If you like parsley just as much or even more than you like cilantro in salsa, you can always add more, according to your personal preference.

Do Cilantro and Parsley Taste the Same?

One of the main differences between parsley and cilantro is their flavor. They taste somewhat similar but they are far from having the same flavor.

You will notice that cilantro has a stronger taste compared to parsley. This herb is spicier and adds a citrus flavor to the food you use it in. On the other hand, parsley can be a bit more bitter and the herbal taste is more present.

You will also notice that parsley has a more defined earthly flavor compared to cilantro, which you might or might not like.

Can I Use Parsley Instead of Cilantro in Guacamole?

Guacamole 

If you want to make homemade guacamole, you know that cilantro is one of its ingredients. But if you don’t have this herb, it doesn’t mean that you have to skip the entire recipe or go without a good substitute for it.

Adding parsley to your guacamole will definitely save the day and give you a delicious dip to enjoy with your favorite food.

However, if you add parsley instead of cilantro in your guacamole, you want to also add a bit more lemon juice to make up for the citrus taste that cilantro has.

It will also help you to add fresh parsley instead of cilantro since it can make a big difference for your dish in terms of flavor. If you have parsley flakes or dry parsley, these could also be good substitutes even if they shouldn’t be your first options.

Substituting cilantro for parsley in your guacamole will not alter the way your sauce looks like as these herbs are very similar in terms of appearance.

As for the ratio, you will have to start by keeping the same ratio and boosting the parsley quantity as you please, considering your preferences. 

Parsley vs Cilantro vs Coriander

The differences between parsley and cilantro are a lot more clear than the differences between cilantro and coriander.

Both cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, which is why it makes it confusing for most people.

Cilantro refers to the stems and leaves of the coriander plant while coriander is usually named the seeds of the same plant. As a matter of fact, cilantro is also called coriander leaves in China and other Asian countries.

Coriander refers to the seeds of the plant, so it will be very different than parsley, compared to cilantro. If you want a substitute for parsley and you can choose between cilantro and coriander, you will be a lot closer to cilantro.

However, if you don’t have cilantro, using coriander could be considered an option. 

Parsley vs Italian Parsley

Besides the common type of parsley that is used in all corners of the world and is very easy to cultivate as well, there is the Italian parsley, also called flat-leaf parsley.

You will find the flat-leaf type of parsley easier to wash and cut as well as richer in flavor than regular parsley, known as curly parsley too.

You will find flat-leaf parsley commonly used in restaurants as it is great in cooked dishes while curly parsley is used more often in decorating meats and stews.

Curly parsley tastes better fresh and you can use it in salads, on top of pasta, and even in soups. Flat-leaf parsley, thanks to its intense taste will be a better choice for cooked dishes.

Chinese Parsley vs Cilantro

Chinese parsley is another name for both cilantro and coriander in certain parts of the world. Both cilantro and Chinese parsley refer to the same herb so it will not be any difference in terms of color, taste, or smell.

However, you need to make sure you understand which part of the plant is referred to by Chinese parsley since this name is commonly used for cilantro and coriander.

Considering that cilantro is the leaves of the plant and coriander is the seeds, it is always better to clarify beforehand.

Final Thoughts 

You will find that parsley and cilantro can add a delicious flavor to your food. And many recipes would simply not taste the same without these herbs.

You can use them interchangeably as long as you take into account that they have quite a different taste so your final dish will be strongly influenced by your choice.

Ultimately, you can use parsley and cilantro in the same types of recipes without risking altering the quality of your meal too much. And definitely take into account your personal preference as well when you choose between these aromatic herbs!

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