Need a coriander substitute because you suddenly run out of the flavorful herb while cooking your partner's favorite soup and air fryer garlic bread? Perhaps you're doing your weekly grocery shopping to fill your pantry with the common ingredients you use but can't seem to find coriander.
Fret not! I'm here to save you from your dilemma. I'll share with you my favorite substitutes for coriander, whether it may be the seed, the powder form, or the leaves.
Top 4 Coriander Substitutes
Let me start with the following options since you can use them to substitute both coriander powder and seeds:
Caraway is definitely the best substitute for coriander in terms of flavor profile because these two herbs belong to the same plant family. It has a similar earthy or anise, licorice, or peppery, nutty flavor but with a touch of sweetness.
With this hint of sweetness, I highly recommend gradually adding caraway to dishes that can taste differently or odd when there's too much sweetness. Otherwise, you can follow a 1:1 ratio when substituting coriander with caraway.
While you can find caraway seeds and powder, I highly suggest you stock up on the seeds rather than the ground or powder version. Why? Because you can quickly turn the caraway seeds into the ground or powder version without needing special appliances, which I will discuss below.
Two things that I want to note when it comes to this herb are that it is a bit pricier and isn't as easily accessible as other spices or herbs.
Best for Indian dishes and spice blends, one-pot dishes, potato salad, rye bread, and marinades.
So, what can you substitute for coriander if you can't find caraway or just need a cheaper option? While they belong to a different herb family, cumin seed or powder is your next best option.
Cumin is a popular spice that's almost always listed in a recipe that also requires coriander. It means that these herbs complement each other and that cumin works well with other ingredients you mix with coriander.
It has the same earthy tones as coriander, giving your dish the much-needed warm, spicy, nutty taste. While it lacks coriander's lemon or citrus like flavor, you can add a squeeze of lemon to your recipe to achieve the perfect flavor you're looking for.
Since it's a bit spicier and more aromatic than coriander, you will need to add less cumin than when using coriander. Based on my experience, you only need to use ¾ of the amount of coriander your recipe calls for.
However, if you'll use black cumin, a 1:1 ratio is okay since it has a sweeter aroma and taste than brown cumin.
Best for just about anything!
3. Dried Parsley
Coriander also belongs to the parsley family, so there is no doubt that it's a great substitute for coriander seeds. You can also turn it into a ground version if you need a coriander powder substitute.
Having the same earthy aroma and tone, you don't need to adjust any measurements in your recipe when using dried parsley as a substitute.
Best for any hot dishes.
4. Fennel Seeds
Like cumin, fennel seeds are different from coriander as they lack the familiar citrus-like flavor. They're also sweeter than cumin and coriander and have a stronger anise flavor, which not everyone would like.
Nonetheless, fennel seed also has earthy tones and is almost always included in recipes requiring coriander.
If you need ground coriander substitute and fennel seed is your only option, you can quickly turn it to powder like cumin and caraway. To use, simply follow a 1:1 ratio, but I suggest you adjust the amount of sugar or any sweet ingredient in your recipe.
Best for roasted root vegetables, bread, casseroles, soups, curries, and sweet dishes.
Bonus Pro Tip: Mix Them Up!
If you have most or all of these coriander seed substitutes, take advantage of their distinct flavor and aroma and similarity with coriander. Combine two or more and even all (one part of each coriander seed substitute) of the herbs above, and then grind them together.
How To Turn Coriander Seeds Substitutes Into Ground Powder
Before we proceed with the other tried-and-tested substitutes for coriander, let's first learn how to turn the four ingredients above into powder. When making powdered spice from these herbs, make sure you only make what your recipe calls for because it will slowly lose its flavor intensity during storage.
Unlike the whole seeds, you no longer need to toast the dried parsley to bring out its aroma and full flavor. Thus, all you have to do is grind a good amount of dried parsley using a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder, or coffee grinder until you have a fine powder.
4 Best Ground Coriander Substitutes
While you can grind coriander seeds substitute, I understand that sometimes that few minutes taken away from your time can greatly affect your schedule. So, what can you substitute for coriander powder that is readily available?
Here are my go-to options that you probably already have in your pantry:
1. Coriander Seeds
Undoubtedly, there is no better coriander powder substitute than coriander seeds if you have them in your pantry. Like the coriander seed substitutes above, you can toast the whole seed to bring out its complete flavor and aroma and turn it into ground form.
Best for just about anything.
2. Curry Powder
Curry powder is a spice made of several herbs like cardamon, cumin, turmeric, chili powder, and, of course, coriander. While it's a bit sweeter than plain coriander, it will give your dishes, sauces, and marinades a richer and more complex flavor.
When using curry powder as a substitute, follow a 2:1 (coriander powder:curry powder) ratio to ensure the right balance of flavors. That is especially if your recipe has a long list of other spices. It's also best to adjust the amount of the other spices in your recipe or refrain from adding some of them.
Best for curries, marinades, sauces, and stews.
2. Garam Masala
Another good substitute for ground coriander that will give your dish the much-needed coriander taste or a coriander-like kick is garam masala. While not all garam masala products contain coriander, they're known for their earthy flavors.
Depending on your garam masala's specific herb and spice blend, it can elevate your recipe's sweetness or spiciness. My best advice when using this ground coriander substitute is to add a smaller amount than coriander. Add half the amount of what's originally required, and then add more if you still haven't achieved your desired flavor.
Like with the curry powder, you need to adjust the amount of or completely omit the other spices your recipe requires.
Best for Indian dishes.
Turmeric is another common answer to the question, "What can I substitute for coriander powder?" Unlike curry powder and garam masala, turmeric isn't an herb or spice blend.
It has a more pronounced earthy flavor than coriander but has a milder nutty or floral aroma. For this reason, you can easily incorporate this ground spice with many ingredients, spices, and herbs.
While it gives your dish the familiar flavor coriander brings, you should be mindful of the amount of turmeric you add. Start by using half the amount of the required ground coriander in your recipe, and just add more as and when needed.
Best for Asian and Middle Eastern dishes.
4. Spice Blend
Like with the best substitutes for whole coriander seeds, you can combine two of the spices, specifically curry powder and garam masala, to make a more flavorful coriander spice substitute. Just make sure it won't negatively affect the distinct taste of your dish or sauce.
Best for savory dishes from the Middle East and India.
3 Best Coriander Leaves Substitute
As home cooks, we know that the fresh leaves of the coriander plant are also used in several recipes. Thus, I included a list of the best coriander substitutes you can use when you run out or can't seem to find coriander leaves.
1. Fresh Parsley
As mentioned, parsley and coriander belong to the same plant family, so the first fresh herb you should look for when you need a substitute is parsley. You can choose between flat or curly parsley leaves, but ensure they're chopped finely before use.
Also, don't add a little too much of this substitute for coriander leaves because it has a distinct bitter taste.
Best for salads, casseroles, soups, and guacamole.
Another coriander leaf substitute that I love to use and highly recommend is tarragon's thin fresh leaves.
While it doesn't have the exact flavor profile of coriander, tarragon has a distinct earthy taste that will remind you of coriander. Specifically, this fresh coriander substitute has a combination of citrus and licorice taste with hints of pepper, vanilla, and mint.
When using tarragon as a coriander leaves substitute, make sure you chop it finely. You can follow a 1:1 ratio, but I recommend gradually adding it to your recipe, especially when preparing salads and condiments.
Best for condiments, soups, salads, egg dishes, and chicken dishes.
Now, parsley can easily get out of stock, and tarragon isn't very popular, so if you're wondering, "What can I substitute for coriander plant leaves?", basil is a great alternative.
As one of the most popular herbs, it's among the easiest to find. I also love that it pairs well with common ingredients like lemon, garlic, and tomato.
You must note that there are two different varieties: Thai basil and Italian basil. That said, the best coriander leaf substitute is Thai basil because it has the anise or licorice tone that coriander is known for, and a bit of bitter and spicy flavor.
Like the two fresh coriander substitutes above, chop the Thai basil finely. Then, follow a 2:1 (coriander leaves:Thai basil) ratio.
Best for Southeast Asian dishes, curries, and stir fries.
Bonus Pro Tip: Add More Herbs!
Most recipes use coriander leaves as garnish and/or as an additional herb. So when it comes to what is a substitute for coriander leaves, just adding several fresh herbs to your dish, sauce, marinade, or rub will work just fine.
Best for dishes, sauces, marinades, and rubs whose main flavor is coriander.
FAQs About Coriander and Coriander Spice Substitutes
1. What is the difference between coriander and cilantro?
When looking for answers to "What is a substitute for coriander?", you'll often get answers that include cilantro. I didn't include it in my list above because cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, so they're technically the same.
In the US and Spain, cilantro refers to the coriander leaf, while coriander refers to the plant's seed, whether as a whole seed or ground form. On the other hand, people in the UK and other countries call the fresh coriander herb coriander, while as a spice, they refer to it as either coriander seed or ground coriander.
In this guide, the coriander and cilantro leaves mentioned are the same.
2. What does coriander taste like?
Both ground coriander and coriander seed have a distinct earthy or floral taste with a hint of citrus or lemon and sweetness. That's why I describe its flavor as fresh-tasting. However, you must note that the only way to harness its citrusy and sweet taste is to pair it with the right spices.
On the other hand, fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves have a bright, fresh taste like most other herbs. Those who don't like fresh cilantro or coriander leaves say the herb has a soapy taste.
Thus, the coriander substitutes also come in handy if you're preparing food for someone who doesn't like the taste of coriander or cilantro leaves.
3. Can I use coriander powder instead of coriander seed?
While there are great coriander seed substitutes, coriander powder is your best option if you have one in your pantry. However, like most spice powders, ground coriander has a less concentrated flavor than seeds. Thus, you need to add more to achieve the right flavor your dish needs.
The ratio that works well for my recipe is that for every teaspoon of coriander seed required, I substitute it with one and one-fourth teaspoon of coriander powder.
I suggest you try a 1:1 ratio first, taste, and add more if needed. This way, you can find the ratio that will work best for your taste.
A Coriander Kick Without the Coriander
With the many available ingredients to use as a coriander substitute, you're assured you can whip up a meal anytime.
Whether you're looking for a substitute for ground coriander, a substitute for coriander seeds, or a substitute for coriander leaves, this list provides you with an ingredient and tips to give your dish, sauce, rub, or marinade the earthy flavor kick it needs.
Recipes for Coriander Seeds Substitutes
- Frying Pan
- Mortar and pestle, blender, food processor, or spice or coffee grinder
Caraway, Fennel, and Cumin Seeds
- 2 tablespoon Caraway seeds
- 2 tablespoon Fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoon Cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoon Dried parsley
Caraway, Fennel, and Cumin Seeds
- For these three seeds, here are the steps you need to take when turning them into powder:
- Preheat your frying pan using a low-heat setting.
- Place enough amount of the seeds in your hot pan and adjust the heat to a medium setting
- Allow the seeds to toast for three to four minutes, making sure you stir them occasionally to avoid burning.
- Once they look darker than their original color, remove the pan from the heat and transfer the toasted seeds to a bowl. I suggest you do a taste test of one of the seeds to check if it isn't bitter, indicating you over-toasted the seeds.
- If everything seems good, transfer the toasted seeds to your mortar and pestle's mortar (bowl), spice grinder, or coffee grinder.
- Grind them until you have a fine powder.
- That's it! You're now ready to use the powder to add flavor to your dish, sauce, dip, or marinade.
- Unlike the whole seeds, you no longer need to toast the dried parsley to bring out its aroma and full flavor. Thus, all you have to do is grind dried parsley using a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder, or coffee grinder until you have a fine powder.
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