Food & Drink

Coriander vs. Cilantro: Are They the Same?

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 | 0 Comments
fresh cilantro and coriander seeds

Coriander vs cilantro; are they the same but with a different name? Or do they actually have different flavors? Believe it or not, these are common questions that have people debating constantly. And the main reason is that it depends on whom you ask.

The different terms are often used to distinguish different parts of the plant, but these are highly influenced by location. In North America “cilantro” and “coriander” are not the same as in the international context. 

To unravel the confusion and discover the truth, let’s explore the debate between coriander vs. cilantro, defining if they are truly the same, analyzing their distinctive tastes and discussing how to effectively use them in the kitchen.


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Coriander vs. Cilantro

The first thing you need to know about the coriander vs. cilantro dilemma is that both refer to the same herb. However, these terms are used to distinguish different parts of the plant, and their usage is influenced by regional preferences.

In the U.S. and Canada, cilantro typically refers to the leaves and stalks of the plant. The term “cilantro” is the Spanish name for coriander leaves, while the dried seeds of the plant are called "coriander."

Interestingly, the international perspective, particularly in Europe and Asia, reverses this nomenclature. In these regions, "coriander" refers to the leaves and stalks, while the dried seeds are known as coriander seeds.

The dual terminology can lead to confusion in recipes and cooking experiences.  For instance, in a local Indian cooking class near you, the term "coriander" may not be interchangeable with "cilantro." 

Just as when you scroll through recipes on the internet, you need to pay attention to the context and regional conventions, as coriander vs. cilantro can refer to different things.

chef chopping cilantro
via Cozymeal

What Is Coriander and/or Cilantro?

Cilantro, scientifically known as Coriandrum sativum, is a globally recognized herb celebrated for its distinctive flavor and aromatic qualities. 

With delicate leaves and a vibrant green color, cilantro is a common ingredient used in various countries. Understanding the nuances of coriander vs. cilantro is crucial as these terms refer to the same herb but are often used in different culinary contexts.

Renowned for its versatility, it lends a fresh and crisp texture, imparting a distinctive taste for many dishes, ranging from salsas to curries.

coriander seeds and cilantro
via Canva

What Does Cilantro Taste Like?

Cilantro boasts a distinct and refreshing taste, often described as a combination of citrusy with slightly peppery notes, and a flavor profile comparable to the undertones of parsley. 

While many appreciate its vibrant and zesty taste, it's important to note that cilantro can be polarizing, with a small percentage of people possessing the gene that makes cilantro have a soapy flavor.

Overall, cilantro stands as a versatile herb that adds a unique and lively element to a wide range of dishes, contributing a fresh and aromatic essence to cuisines across the globe.

a dish of lentil curry garnished with cilantro
via Canva

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Cooking With Cilantro and/or Coriander

Cilantro is a versatile herb that complements a wide range of dishes and cuisines. Its bright and citrusy flavors pair exceptionally well with Mexican and Thai dishes, enhancing the taste of salsas, guacamole and curries.

Coriander, in its seed form, is often used in spice blends and lends a warm and citrusy note to roasted meats, stews and even pickles. 

Other delightful applications of cilantro are in fresh sauces like cilantro chimichurri made with finely chopped cilantro, parsely, garlic, vinegar and olive oil — a perfect pairing for grilled meats.

Whether incorporated into marinades, dressings or as a garnish, cilantro and coriander contribute to a broad spectrum of culinary creations.

cilantro chimichurri
via Cozymeal

Cilantro vs. coriander are interchangeable terms for the same herb, but their usage can vary based on location. By understanding the context, you can fully appreciate the significance of this key ingredient. With its vibrant and citrusy notes, cilantro contributes unique aromatic profiles that effortlessly complement various cuisines.

For even more ways to explore your favorite foods, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.