Coriander vs. Cilantro: What’s the difference?

Dear Cooks: 

 I have a lot of recipes that require using Coriander seeds and have been buying them for awhile. Then I noticed chefs on TV such as yourself using Cilantro for recipes as well; so I picked some of that up.  I have both in my cabinet and was wondering what the difference in their uses are.

Jason Miller

Dear Jason,

Thanks for your question. There is actually no difference between coriander and cilantro – they are the same plant. The herb is also known as Chinese parsley. The plant itself is a coriander plant – the coriander seeds that you have been buying are the dried seeds of the plant and the fresh cilantro you buy in the produce section of the supermarket is the fresh leafy green leaves and stems of the plant. You can also buy dried cilantro leaves in the spices aisle, but the flavor is not as strong as the fresh herb.

Fresh cilantro is aromatic and citrusy and should be added at the end of cooking time – it is also frequently used in fresh salsas. Coriander seeds, as they are dried, have a warmer, spicier flavor and are best in sauces, curries and stews. Although they come from the same plant, they have totally different flavors. Cilantro and coriander seeds are not interchangeable, so we don’t recommend using one in place of the other.

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