Cilantro VS. Parsley: The Battle To Be The Best Spice

cilantro vs parsley

From wide numbers of herbs out there, cilantro and parsley are known to be popular and mostly used as well. And this is also one of the reasons as to why they are mostly compared by many. So, in comparing cilantro vs. parsley, which one do you think is better? Choosing between the two could be a bit challenging knowing that they are almost similar in certain aspects. But still, it is up to you if whether which one to use or whether what the recipe calls for.

Cilantro vs. Parsley: Defined

Cilantro and parsley are both herbs from the same botanical family known as Apiaceae. Both of these herbs are being used in cooking. But, both are also into their battle of whether which one is the best to be used in spicing up cooking.

Cilantro or also referred as coriander is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae while the parsley is a biennial herb. These two are different plants with subtle variations when it comes to taste, appearance and culinary taste.

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Cilantro is known as the leaves of the coriander plant and along with the seeds, they are used in cooking. On the other hand, parsley has two varieties and they are the flat leaf and curly leaf. The curly leaf parsley is most of the used as a garnish because of the pleasing and bright green appearance.

Where Are These Cilantro And Parsley Used And Found?

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Cilantro is known to be native to Southern Europe, Southwestern Asia and also in North Africa while the parsley is common in Middle Eastern, American and European cooking.

Parsley is use for its leaf in the same way to coriander however it has a lot milder flavor.

What About The Appearance Of These Two?

In terms of appearance, cilantro and parsley might be similar which they could easily be mistaken for one another particularly if the herbs are being sold in unlabelled bundles. You might find parsley as something that has a brighter green color compared to cilantro and this color could fade once the parsley is not fresh.

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You could tell the difference of these two when it comes to appearance through the shade of green and the shapes of the leaves too. The leaves of cilantro are a lot more rounded and would have more curves while the leaves of the parsley are a lot more pointed. Cilantro could be easily differentiated from the curly parsley as the latter has thickly ruffled leaves.

Are There Similarities And Differences Between Cilantro and Parsley?

In terms of taste or flavor, are there similarities and differences between cilantro and parsley?


For numbers of people, one of the important differences between certain herbs has to do with the flavors. The flavor of cilantro is polarizing and dramatic while the flavor of the parsley is much less so. Cilantro’s flavor could be described as bright as well as intensely herbal having notes of citrus. This is also accompanied by an aroma combine as for creating a delightful and versatile complement to foods. But for some, the herb might taste like a soap.

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There could be two types of parsley which are easy to find however that have different flavor profiles. Curly leaf parsley has a simple herbal flavor. It is also mild and sometimes considered to be grassy. On the other hand, the flat leaf parsley might have stronger and grassier taste which would make it better in flavoring foods. And neither cilantro has a controversial perfume taste.

In addition, seeds of cilantro once crushed would have a warm, spicy and nutty flavor. But the leaves of parsley could have a mild flavor once chopped.

What Are Their Uses?

Which Part?

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All part of the cilantro could be used right from the roots, stems, and seeds. They could be used in cooking as a garnish, powder or key ingredients. But in the case of parsley, only the leaves are being used. Leaves are chopped then sprinkled as a garnish. And also, as a part of bouquet garni or bundle of herbs in order to flavor stocks and soups.

Which Cuisine?

Both the herbs are used somewhat differently in terms of cooking. Cilantro is popularly used in Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian and Latin American cuisine, however, parsley is a lot more popular in the Middle East, Europe and North America. Since curly parsley has very little flavor, garnish is the general use of this herb.

Cilantro is being mainly used in small amounts in cooking since it has a strong flavor but some of the Central Asian and Indian dishes would use it in huge amount since the cooking process might reduce the flavor. With that, cilantro is being added to cooked dishes before serving or considered as a garnish instead. In addition, it is also used as fresh one to add taste, color, and aroma to different dishes such as chutneys, salsas, and curries. The popularity of cilantro to a variety of meat dishes, soups and salads could also be observed.

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On the other hand, flat leaf parsley is as well used in order to add taste, color, and aroma to the dishes. It is also commonly used as a seasoning in the sauces, salads, and soups. The flat leaf parsley is also considered as an important ingredient of the bouquet garni or the component of soup bases.

Apart from that, these herbs are traditionally used by Mexicans for their favorites like guacamole, salsas and also in mole Verde. Because of the curly leaf parsley lack of flavor, it is perfect as the garnish due to its attractive presentation without having to distract from the flavors in a certain dish. A little more versatile, flat leaf parsley could bring herbal flavor notes to numbers of dishes as well as condiments such as pesto, gremolata, and chimichurri.

How About Their Health Benefits?

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Indeed, fresh herbs have their place to those health-conscious ones since they add bright and fresh flavor to the meals at the same time providing low calories, sodium, and fat. So, cilantro and parsley are no exceptions. They have the same nutritional profiles and they boost mineral and vitamin intake. Some of the health benefits that these herbs could provide include the following:

Vitamin A Powerhouse


Both of these herbs serve to be excellent sources of Vitamin A or a nutrient needed for a healthy cell growth. A cup of fresh parsley will provide 5054 international units of this Vitamin while 4049 IU for fresh cilantro. This will help in boosting immune system too through guiding the development of the white blood cells at the same time supporting skin cell growth for healthy skin.

Vitamin C and Iron


The body would use iron as for producing hemoglobin or the protein that would help the red blood cells in transporting oxygen. Vitamin C will also help the body in absorbing iron as well as strengthening the connective tissues. So, consuming either of these two herbs will indeed provide you a great source of vitamin C and iron.

Vitamin K and Folate


You might add a cilantro or parsley into your diet as a great source of folate or Vitamin B9 and also Vitamin K. The body relies on the folate as for promoting healthy growth of cell through helping make DNA and maintaining brain function. Proteins are activated by Vitamin K needed for blood clot formation. Adults would need 90 up to 125 micrograms of this Vitamin K every single day. And both men and women would also need 400 micrograms of folate every day. So, both parsley and cilantro could provide such daily needs.

cilantro-vs-parsley

You might add a cilantro or parsley into your diet as a great source of folate or Vitamin B9 and also Vitamin K. The body relies on the folate as for promoting healthy growth of cell through helping make DNA and maintaining brain function. Proteins are activated by Vitamin K needed for blood clot formation. Adults would need 90 up to 125 micrograms of this Vitamin K every single day. And both men and women would also need 400 micrograms of folate every day. So, both parsley and cilantro could provide such daily needs.

Those are some of the health benefits that could be provided by parsley and cilantro. In addition, they are both considered to be rich in terms of antioxidants. Cilantro also offers antimicrobial and antibacterial properties due to having high magnesium, iron, and dietary fiber. Meanwhile, parsley contains a high level of vitamin C and folic acid, therefore, both of them are great dietary options.

At the end of the day, it will depend on your choice whether which one wins the battle between cilantro vs. parsley. Certain recipes that might call only for cilantro or parsley as well. But in most cases in the kitchen, having them both could be a great advantage as you could reap the benefits that these two great herbs could offer. For more information, you might also consider watching the difference of cilantro and parsley here.

For comments about this article, please leave your thoughts below. Happy reading!



Jeanette Schmidt

Hi all, I am Jeanette Schmidt. At the age of 29, my learning never stops. A native of Texas, I was raised to go big or go home. Although food is currently my life, I’m still looking forward to the day when I can cook for my own family. At present, I am engaged to my long-time boyfriend, Paul, who’s very supportive of what I do. Read more about me here.

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