Substitutes for Coriander

Two things come to mind when I think of coriander, the ground coriander and coriander leaves are commonly known as cilantro.

These two obviously come from the same plant. They both have a citrusy and spicy flavor.

In the United States, most people call coriander leaves cilantro. Coriander refers to the coriander seeds or ground coriander.

In the United Kingdom, Coriander refers to the fresh coriander leaves and not the ground coriander or the coriander seed.

Coriander is an amazing ingredient because of its unique flavor.

You can use the coriander leaves/ cilantro as garnish and the ground coriander and coriander seeds as a spice.

It is important to note that ground coriander loses its potency rather quickly, so you should use it when it is freshly ground.

Coriander has for the longest time been a major ingredient in Spanish and Mexican cuisine.

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Coriander is a versatile ingredient because it blends in perfectly with almost every spice. You can use it for meat dishes, vegetable dishes, and curries among others. It is also a major ingredient in several spice blends.

As amazing as coriander is, you may once in a while need to substitute it with something else when you have none of it in hand yet your recipe requires it.

Garam masala, caraway, cumin, and curry powder are great substitutes for coriander seeds or ground coriander. Basil, herb mixtures, and parsley are good substitutes for coriander leaves/cilantro.

These spices may not give you the exact same flavor as coriander, but they come pretty close. Your dish will taste amazing. You may even end up using them instead of coriander each time you cook a specific dish.

It is important to note that the substitutes for coriander seed and the substitutes for ground coriander are different. This is because they both serve different purposes.

Substitutes for Coriander Seeds/ Ground Coriander

Coriander seeds and ground coriander are quite easy to substitute. I personally prefer substituting them with spice blends that have coriander as one of the ingredients.

The depth these substitutes add to various dishes is simply amazing. You should know that some of these substitutes may slightly alter the flavor of your dish.

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Here are some of the best substitutes for coriander seeds/ ground coriander.

  1. Garam Masala

Garam is an Indian spice that has coriander as one of its major ingredients. Some of the other ingredients in garam include; bay leaf, turmeric, cumin, peppercorn, cinnamon, cloves, and mace.

Considering the fact that coriander is the main ingredient in garam masala, it can be a good substitute for coriander. However, the other spices contained in the garam masala may slightly alter the flavor of your dish.

I suggest that when adding it to your dish, add it little by little until you get the flavor that you want. Garam masala works great as a substitute in meat dishes.

  1. Caraway

Caraway is a herb whose flavor is similar to that of coriander. If you are looking for a substitute that will not alter the flavor of your dish, the caraway is your best bet.

Caraway comes from the same family as coriander. Just like coriander, it contains pinene and linalool which gives it an earthy amazing flavor.

Caraway generally has a slightly different taste from coriander. Therefore, it may alter the flavor of your dish. Add it little by little to build to the flavor that you want.

Use caraway as a substitute in vegetable dishes and baked goods. Desserts taste way better with some caraway in them. Substitute coriander with caraway in equal amounts i.e. if your recipe calls for two tablespoons of coriander, use two tablespoons of caraway instead.

  1. Cumin

Cumin is another good substitute for coriander which is readily available. Cumin lacks the citrus notes found in coriander, but it has the same earthy flavor.

Black cumin has a sweeter flavor compared to the others so I recommend using it as the substitute for coriander. Its aroma is also quite pleasing.

Cumin adds an amazing flavor to dishes, and you can use it as a substitute in any recipe that calls for coriander.

I particularly love using cumin as a substitute for coriander in meat dishes, curries, stews, and soups.

Substitute coriander with cumin in equal amounts.  Use the same amount that your recipe calls for.

  1. Curry Powder

Curry powder is basically a mixture of several spices. Just like garam, curry powder has coriander as one of its main ingredients. Other ingredients inside curry powder include; turmeric, ginger, chili, and fenugreek.

Curry powder adds depth to dishes. It has a powerful but amazing flavor. Substitute coriander with curry powder in small amounts because of its strong flavor. You should also know that curry powder will give your dish a bright yellow color.

Curry powder works perfectly in Indian cuisines because it blends in well with the other ingredients.

For every tablespoon of coriander that your recipe calls for, use half a tablespoon of curry powder.

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Substitutes for Coriander Leaves/ Cilantro

Coriander leaves/ cilantro have a different flavor compared to coriander seeds. The leaves have a unique citrusy flavor which is a favorite of many.

However, some people do not like the distinct taste of coriander leaves. Therefore, there is a need to find some great substitutes that will add an amazing flavor to your dish.

Below are some of the best substitutes for coriander leaves/ cilantro.

  1. Basil

Basil is one of the best substitutes for coriander. The flavor of basil is not exactly the same as that of coriander. However, it adds a unique brightness to dishes just like coriander does.

There are various types of basil in the market. The most common type is Thai basil which has a licorice flavor.

I suggest substituting coriander with basil when making soups and curries. Basil makes for an amazing garnish.

You should note that basil may slightly alter the flavor of your dish, so if you do not like the taste of basil, you probably won’t like it when you use it as a substitute for coriander.

  1. Herb Mixtures

A mixture of various herbs is bound to do the trick when you want a substitute for coriander. Mix herbs like oregano, dill, parsley, and tarragon to replicate the flavor of coriander in your dish.

A blend of these fresh herbs will give your dish an amazing flavor and aroma alike. Add the mixture to your dish to your liking. You can add the herb mixture bit by bit until it builds up to the flavor you want.

You can use herb mixtures as a substitute in literally any recipe that calls for coriander. The herbs will definitely add depth to your dish.

  1. Parsley

This bright green herb is another amazing substitute for coriander. Like coriander, it adds freshness to your dish and adds color to it.

Parsley does not have the citrus flavor that coriander does. However, you can add a little bit of lemon juice to the parsley to add citrus notes to your dish.

I suggest you use the Italian curly-leaf and flat-leaf as substitutes for coriander.

Can you substitute coriander seeds with coriander leaves and vice versa?

Coriander seeds and coriander leaves complement each other when used in dishes. However, you cannot substitute one for the other.

This is because coriander seeds have a citrus flavor that is slightly bitter unlike coriander leaves and its aroma is also quite different. Therefore, you probably won’t get the results that you want.

What to do when your recipe calls for ground coriander and you only have coriander seeds?

As discussed earlier, ground coriander is made from coriander seeds. All you need to do is grind the coriander seeds with a coffee grinder and you are good to go.

Alternatively, just use a mortar and pestle. You will have your ground coriander in no time.

Coriander Benefits

Other than being a great addition to dishes, coriander has several health benefits. Research shows that coriander contains anti-oxidants that prevent inflammation in your body.

Additionally, it tends to lower the blood pressure thus keeping your heart healthy.

There are arguments that coriander promotes healthy digestion by reducing bloating, getting rid of abdominal pains, and discomfort in general.

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These are just a few of the many benefits of coriander.


We all know that coriander seeds and coriander leaves are a great addition to various dishes.

Unfortunately, you may not have it in hand every time. These substitutes are a great option in case your recipe calls for coriander and you have none.

Note that the substitutes for coriander seeds are very different from those of coriander leaves.

This is because with coriander seeds, you are most likely looking for the citrusy earthy taste and with coriander leaves, you need a substitute that adds color, freshness, and a citrus flavor to your dish.

You also need to pay attention to the amount of substitutes you use in your dish.  Substitutes like curry powder and garam have other spices as their ingredients as well and using too much may overpower your dish.

No coriander? No problem. Just use any of the above substitutes to add amazing flavors to your dishes.

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