Who doesn’t love growing some fresh herbs at home? They’re easy to access and great to add to your meals as you cook. However, you won’t want to make the mistake of adding cilantro to a meal that actually requires coriander.
Although similar and looks, and from the same plant, their flavours and aromas differ greatly. This also means that they’re not really interchangeable in recipes.
So, how do you know the distinction between coriander vs cilantro and which one you’re actually growing and using?
Distinction Between Coriander vs Cilantro
Is cilantro and coriander the same? Firstly, it’s important to note the linguistic difference between the two. In European standard, the preferred word for the leaves and stems of the Coriandrum sativum is coriander.
However, in the United States, cilantro refers only to fresh leaves, and coriander refers to the seeds that the plants produce. The word cilantro is of Spanish origin and used extensively throughout Spanish and Central South American cuisines.
Now, while the popularity of cilantro and coriander may be up for debate, the difference in taste and aroma isn’t. Despite growing from the same plant, they don’t quite offer the same flavour.
Cilantro, in other words, the fresh leaves, have a very strong fragrant, citrusy flavour. Interestingly, because of that very strong flavour, many people don’t enjoy eating it as much as the coriander seeds.
A firmer favourite across nations, coriander seeds offer a warmer, spicy and nutty flavour profile to food, often paired with other nutty aromatics like cumin and cinnamon.
Unfortunately, this will mean that you’ll need to double-check your recipes that call for either cilantro or coriander, to make sure whether they’re asking for the leaves or seeds because that will impact the taste.
Cilantro vs Coriander - Which is Better?
There is a significant distinction between the nutrient profiles of cilantro and coriander. Cilantro offers a far greater abundance of Vitamins including, vitamin A, K and E.
On the other hand, coriander is jam-packed with important minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese but offers little to no vitamins.
One amazing similarity which both cilantro and coriander share is that they actually have some pretty remarkable health benefits. Several studies have shown the vast range of potential benefits these incredible herbs offer, including:
- Reduced inflammation. Being rich in anti-oxidants, cilantro and coriander are great at suppressing inflammation, promoting healthy skin and even suppressing the effects of certain cancers.
- Lower Blood Sugar Levels. Lower blood sugar levels are what we all need, and luckily cilantro and coriander can help increase enzyme activity, resulting in significantly less sugar in the bloodstream.
- Reduced Risk for Heart Disease. Due to their properties, both cilantro and coriander have been shown to help reduce the risk of blood clotting and high blood pressure, both common causes of heart failure.
Here are 5 Coriander recipes you can try.
Can I Substitute Cilantro and Coriander?
Again, there is a significant difference in flavour between fresh cilantro and coriander, so it’s always a good idea to check what your recipe is asking for.
While you can substitute one with the other, you’re not going to get the desired result or taste you’re looking for. Cilantro is often used as a garnish, applied fresh without heating it, so it won’t lose its flavour.
Coriander seeds, however, are usually added during the cooking process to help create a more dynamic flavour profile. Fresh cilantro is great as an additive to salads, salsas, guacamole, chutneys and soups.
Coriander seeds are ideal for curries, rice dishes, soups, stews, in bread and as part of a meat rub.
Here are 19 recipes for Cilantro lovers.
How to Grow Cilantro at Home
Fresh coriander leaves or cilantro are a great addition to meals, so it’s always a good option to add some to your herb garden at home.
Coriander seeds are only produced after the plant flowers for a period of time, so you will need to wait slightly longer for them.
When planting cilantro, it’s best to only grow the early spring, after the last frost date, to give your plant the ideal conditions. Pick a sunny spot where it stays nice and warm to grow.
When planting, be sure to:
- Use a well-draining soil medium.
- Space seeds about 1 to 2 inches apart.
- Space rows about 12 inches apart.
- Keep the soil moist during germination.
If you want a continued harvest of cilantro, it’s a good idea to sow new seeds every 3 or 4 weeks for a continued harvesting cycle.
Once established, you’ll need to water your seedlings regularly, about 1-inch of water every week. Once they begin to grow leaves, you can cut back quite a bit to avoid the risk of over-watering or root rot
Support your cilantro with some extra plant food or fertilizer every now and then. Choose a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for the best results. Again, avoid over-doing it, as over-fertilization can cause your cilantro to rot.
As with most herbs, it’s always a good idea to mulch around the base of your plant to prevent the growth of any weeds.
What Cilantro Variety is best to Grow at Home?
There are quite a few cilantro varieties to choose from, each offering a slightly different flavour profile.
Our top picks include:
- Indian Summer Cilantro
- Long Standing or Jantar Cilantro
- Mexican Coriander
- Vietnamese Cilantro
How to Harvest Cilantro
Once your cilantro is growing happily in your herb garden, you can start thinking about harvesting. Of course, you can pick off some cilantro leaves for yourself at any point.
Larger leaves can be individually cut directly from the plant. At the same time, smaller leaves should be left to grow. Once your cilantro has begun to grow its stalk, allow it to self-seed and then cut down the stalk.
How to Store Cilantro Leaves?
The beauty of cilantro is that you can use it fresh, or you can freeze it to use at a later time. When freezing, be sure to use a sealable freezer bag and then simply pop them into your freezer.
You can also dry the leaves out to add to a dried herbs mix. Simply hang them in a warm, dry space until the leaves are fully dried.
How to Store Coriander Seeds?
Your cilantro plant will produce seed heads, which is where we get coriander seeds from. Once these heads begin to brown, simply cut them off and place them into a paper bag.
Hang the bag in a cool, dry spot until the plant withers and the seeds fall off. You can store these seeds in sealed containers.
Final Tips & Tricks
- When growing cilantro at home, always be mindful of its ideal growing season. When the weather gets too warm, it will send out a long shoot, signalling that harvest season is soon over.
- Give your seedlings enough space to grow and eventually re-seed.
- Pinch back young cilantro plants to help promote bushy growth.
- When harvesting, take as much as one-third of the plant so as not to weaken it too much.
- Overwatering is a common mistake, so keep an eye on soil moisture at all times.
Wrapping Up Our Coriander vs Cilantro Guide
So, there's the difference between coriander and cilantro. Now you can happily grow cilantro at home and even have some coriander seeds to help you pack your meals with plenty of flavours.
Packed with flavour-filled aromatics and a bunch of nutrients and vitamins, it really is a great idea to add some fresh cilantro to your salads and salsas and some coriander seeds to your curries and stews.
Just keep in mind, some people do have a genetic aversion to the taste of coriander, so if you’re entertaining new guests, we recommend using it sparingly. Now you know the difference between coriander vs cilantro.