Parsley vs Cilantro

Are you unsure about the distinctions between cilantro and parsley? Despite having a similar appearance, the flavor and health advantages of these two herbs are very different. We will compare the taste profiles of parsley and cilantro, look at how they can be used in cooking, and study their health benefits in this post.

bunch of fresh cilantro on the boards, fresh herbs

Although they both belong to the Apiaceae family, parsley and cilantro have different looks and tastes.

While cilantro is a darker shade of green and has a more lemony, spicy flavor, parsley is brilliant green and has a fresh, grassy taste.

While some individuals find cilantro’s flavor to be soapy, others adore its strong flavor.

You may choose wisely when cooking and eating by being aware of the differences between these two herbs.

Key Takeaways

  • Parsley and cilantro have distinct differences in taste and health benefits.
  • Parsley has a fresh, grassy taste, while cilantro has a citrusy, pungent flavor.
  • Both herbs have culinary and health applications, and understanding their differences can help you make informed choices in the kitchen.

Understanding Parsley

One of the most popular and adaptable herbs used in cooking is parsley. For more information on this herb, read on:

tied fresh parsley on wooden surface


The flat, brilliant green leaves of parsley have a point at each end. The leaves are rosette-shaped and develop on long, slender stems.

There is a curly-leaf variation that has leaves that are tightly coiled in addition to the flat-leaf variety.


Fresh, mild, slightly bitter, and slightly sweet describe the flavor of parsley.

It can be used as a main component in recipes as well as a garnish to bring color and freshness to food.

Depending on the kind and growing environment, parsley’s flavor might change.


Along with folate and iron, parsley is a strong source of the vitamins A, C, and K. Additionally, it has flavonoids and other antioxidants that could be healthy.

Culinary Uses

A versatile herb, parsley can be utilized in a wide range of cuisines. It is frequently used to flavor meat and vegetable dishes as well as sauces, stews, and soups.

Additionally, it may be added as a garnish to salads and other foods.

Here are some ideas for incorporating parsley into your recipes:

  • Use fresh parsley whenever possible for the best flavor.
  • Add parsley to dishes at the end of cooking to preserve its flavor and color.
  • Combine parsley with other herbs, such as basil and thyme, for added flavor.
  • Use parsley stems in stocks and broths for added flavor and nutrition.

Understanding Cilantro

The herb cilantro is frequently used in Mexican, Indian, and Thai dishes.

Fresh raw cilantro bunch in metal bucket on wooden background.

It is renowned for having a distinctive, pungent flavor that some people find enticing and others dislike. The following are some essential cilantro concepts to know:

  • Appearance: Cilantro leaves are flat and fan-like, with jagged edges. They are bright green and have a slightly glossy appearance.
  • Smell: Cilantro has a strong, citrusy scent that some people describe as soapy or even metallic. This scent is caused by the presence of aldehydes, which are compounds that are also found in soap and metal.
  • Taste: Cilantro has a bold, slightly bitter taste that is often described as refreshing or cleansing. It is commonly used in salsa, guacamole, and other dishes that require a fresh, bright flavor.
  • Health benefits: Cilantro is a good source of vitamins A and K, as well as potassium and calcium. It also contains antioxidants that may help protect against certain diseases.

If you don’t enjoy the taste or smell of cilantro, you might be one of the many people who have a hereditary propensity to do so.

This is because certain people are sensitive to a substance in cilantro called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). If you fall into this category, cilantro can taste metallic or soapy to you.

Despite having a contentious flavor, cilantro is a versatile herb that can provide a variety of recipes a special touch.

No matter how you feel about it, cilantro is a tasty and beneficial addition to any dish.

Parsley Vs Cilantro: Taste Profile

The taste of the two herbs differs most significantly when comparing cilantro and parsley.

Fresh green parsley on wooden old background

While cilantro has a powerful, zesty scent, parsley is fresh and delicately scented. These herbs have very distinct flavors as well.

The flavor of parsley is delicate, fresh, and just a little bit bitter. It is frequently used as a garnish or to subtly flavor sauces, stews, and soups.

Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines both frequently employ parsley.

Cilantro, on the other hand, has a strong, lemony, and slightly soapy flavor. While some people adore it, others find it intolerable.

A lot of Asian, Caribbean, and Mexican dishes use cilantro as an ingredient. Curry, guacamole, and salsa frequently include it.

These herbs’ flavor might vary depending on a number of things, including the meal being prepared, the cooking style, and individual taste.

To make a more nuanced flavor profile, parsley is frequently combined with other herbs like basil and oregano. Cilantro is frequently used sparingly to give food a flavorful boost.

In conclusion, cilantro and parsley have very different tastes. While cilantro has a strong, lemony, and slightly soapy flavor, parsley is fresh, mild, and slightly bitter.

Both herbs are frequently utilized in a variety of cuisines around the world and can give foods a distinctive flavor.

Health Benefits Comparison

When comparing the health advantages of parsley and cilantro, each herb has a special benefit.

Fresh homemade greens from the garden

Here is a comparison between cilantro and parsley’s health advantages:

Nutrient Content

Both cilantro and parsley are loaded with vitamins and minerals. While cilantro is a greater source of vitamin E, parsley has a higher concentration of the vitamins A, C, and K.

Additionally, parsley has higher levels of calcium, folate, and iron than cilantro.


Antioxidants found in parsley and cilantro can help shield your cells from the harm that free radicals can do.

Myricetin, a flavonoid found in parsley, has been demonstrated to reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels. Antioxidant qualities of cilantro can aid in preventing oxidative stress.

Digestive Health

It has been demonstrated that cilantro and parsley are both beneficial to digestion. Traditional uses of parsley include diuretic, bloating, and digestive relief.

It has been demonstrated that cilantro contains antibacterial properties that can aid in preventing foodborne diseases.

Heart Health

Both parsley and cilantro have ingredients that may benefit heart health. Apigenin, a substance found in parsley, has been demonstrated to help lower inflammation and raise cholesterol levels.

Dodecenal, a substance found in cilantro, has been demonstrated to help decrease blood pressure.

Overall, cilantro and parsley are both healthy herbs that can be included to your diet to offer a variety of health advantages.

Culinary Applications Comparison

Parsley and cilantro have certain parallels and variances when it comes to culinary uses.

Organic Italian Flat Leaf Parsley Ready to Eat

Although both herbs are adaptable and may be used in a range of recipes, they each have a unique flavor character that makes them more suitable for particular types of food.


The herb parsley, which has a mild flavor, is frequently used as a garnish.

It offers a vibrant burst of green to any dish and has a fresh, somewhat sweet flavor and crisp texture.

Mediterranean cuisine frequently incorporates parsley as a main component in dishes like tabbouleh and tzatziki. To add taste and color, it is often used in sauces, stews, and soups.


Contrarily, the flavor of cilantro is significantly stronger than that of parsley.

When used in excess, its lemony, somewhat spicy flavor can become overwhelming.

The herb cilantro is a mainstay of Mexican cooking, appearing in dishes like ceviche, salsa, and guacamole.

It is frequently added to curries, stir-fries, and chutneys in Asian and Indian cuisine.

Which One to Use?

The flavor profile of the other ingredients should be taken into account when determining whether to use parsley or cilantro in a recipe.

Cilantro might be a better option if you’re utilizing foods with strong, spicy qualities. Parsley is a better option if you want a milder flavor that won’t overshadow the other ingredients.

Moreover, think about the food you are cooking. Parsley is probably a better option if you are preparing a cuisine from the Mediterranean.

Cilantro might be a better choice if you’re cooking an Asian or Mexican cuisine.

In conclusion, both parsley and cilantro are useful in cooking, but they also have unique flavor profiles that make them more suited to particular types of food.

When choosing which herb to use, take into account the flavor profiles of your other components and the type of food you are preparing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fresh green cilantro and spoon on wooden table, closeup

What is the difference between parsley and cilantro?

While parsley and cilantro look similar, they have distinct flavors and aromas. Parsley has a fresh, mild taste and scent, while cilantro has a strong, citrusy flavor and aroma. Additionally, parsley has flat leaves, while cilantro has rounder leaves.

Can I substitute parsley for cilantro in recipes (and vice versa)?

While you can substitute parsley for cilantro in some recipes, and vice versa, they have different flavors and may not be interchangeable in all dishes. If a recipe specifically calls for one or the other, it’s best to use that herb. However, if a recipe calls for a small amount of parsley or cilantro as a garnish, you can use either one.

How do I store parsley and cilantro?

To store parsley and cilantro, first remove any rubber bands or ties and rinse the herbs in cool water. Shake off any excess water and gently pat dry with paper towels. Then, wrap the herbs in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. Store the bag in the refrigerator and use the herbs within a week.

Are parsley and cilantro nutritious?

Both parsley and cilantro are low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. For example, parsley is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium, while cilantro is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron. However, the exact nutritional content of each herb can vary depending on how it’s grown and prepared.

How do I use parsley and cilantro in cooking?

Parsley and cilantro are versatile herbs that can be used in a variety of dishes. Parsley is often used as a garnish or added to soups, stews, and sauces for flavor. Cilantro is commonly used in Mexican, Indian, and Thai cuisine, and can be added to salsas, curries, and stir-fries for a fresh, citrusy flavor.

Parsley healthy foods from the garden, vitamin salads, fresh herbs


In conclusion, cilantro and parsley are two herbs that are frequently combined when cooking. They differ significantly in terms of flavor, appearance, and nutritional value.

Parsley is frequently used as a garnish or in soups and stews and has a mild, somewhat bitter flavor.

It is a good source of iron, folate, and the vitamins A, C, and K. Contrarily, cilantro, which is frequently used in Mexican, Indian, and Southeast Asian cuisines, has a more acrid, lemony flavor.

It contains a lot of antioxidants, minerals including calcium, potassium, and magnesium, as well as vitamins A and C.

While cilantro has delicate, lacy leaves that are brilliant green, parsley has flat, dark green leaves and a variant that is curly.

Long, thin stems are a feature of both herbs, but cilantro stems are more fragile than parsley stems.

Parsley is frequently used as a garnish while cilantro is a flavorful ingredient in foods like salsa, guacamole, and curries.

Although either of the two herbs can be used dried or fresh, fresh herbs have a stronger flavor.

The decision between parsley and cilantro ultimately comes down to personal preference and the particular meal being cooked.

Parsley can be a better option if you prefer a milder flavor, while cilantro might be the better option if you prefer strong, citrusy notes.

Whichever herb you decide to use, both parsley and cilantro have a number of health advantages and can enhance the flavor and nutritional value of your food.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.