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Culantro vs Cilantro vs Coriander: What’s the Difference?

Do you find yourself constantly in the middle of a debate about cilantro, culantro, and coriander?

Despite the seemingly obvious answer to what each is – many people struggle to differentiate them correctly.

Some arguments may go something like this: “Wait no! Coriander IS cilantro!” or “No way is that culantro!”.

To make sure there aren’t any more confusing debates on food identities and spelling wars among your friends, read through our ultimate guide up next on culantro vs. cilantro vs. coriander!

So grab some snacks and buckle up for a quick journey through these three common herbs used in cooking worldwide.

What is Culantro?

Culantro is a green leafy herb that belongs to the coriander plant family.

It is also known as Mexican coriander, long coriander or sawtooth herb.

Despite having a similar name, Culantro is different from Cilantro, both in terms of appearance and flavor.

Culantro has long leaves with serrated edges that are typically used as a culinary ingredient.

Unlike Cilantro which has soft leaves, culantro tends to have tougher texture.

The flavor of culantro is also more potent than cilantro – it has a pungent aroma that people either like or dislike.

In cooking, culantro is commonly used in Caribbean and Latin American dishes.

It can be found in soups, stews, sauces, dips, and marinades.

The strong flavor of culantro complements well with meat dishes which are usually common in these regions.

What is Cilantro?

Cilantro is an herb that is commonly used in cooking, especially in Latin American, Caribbean, and Asian cuisines.

It is also known by its scientific name Coriandrum sativum.

Cilantro has a very distinct taste and aroma that can be described as citrusy and slightly spicy.

Cilantro is often used fresh in dishes like salsa, guacamole, curries, stir-fries, and soups.

It can also be dried and ground into a spice called coriander.

For many people, cilantro has a love-it-or-hate-it flavor because of the presence of aldehydes which some people perceive as soapy or metallic.

This phenomenon is thought to be genetic and affects approximately 10% of the population.

Despite this polarization regarding its flavor profile, cilantro remains a staple ingredient in many dishes around the world due to its versatility and distinctive taste.

What is Coriander?

Coriander is a herb that has been used in traditional medicine and culinary practices for centuries.

It is also known as Chinese parsley, dhania, or cilantro, depending on the region where it is used.

The leaves and seeds of this plant are both widely used for various purposes.

Coriander belongs to the family of Umbelliferae and has small feathery leaves that grow on slender hollow stems.

The flavor of coriander can be described as pungent with a citrusy tone and slightly bitter undertones.

These properties make it ideal for adding depth to various dishes across many cuisines worldwide.

Apart from culinary usage, coriander is also known for its medicinal benefits.

Studies have shown that consuming coriander can help reduce oxidative stress in the body due to its high antioxidant content.

Additionally, it also possesses anti-inflammatory properties that make it useful in reducing inflammation associated with various ailments.

Differences Between Culantro, Cilantro, and Coriander

Culantro, cilantro, and coriander are three different plants belonging to the same family.

Although they share similar flavor profiles, they differ significantly in terms of taste, appearance, and usage.

Culantro is also known as long coriander or sawtooth herb.

It is commonly used in Latin American and Caribbean cuisine for its pungent flavor.

As compared to cilantro, it has a stronger aroma with hints of citrusy notes.

The plant grows tall with clusters of long serrated leaves that can be difficult to harvest due to their sharp edges.

Cilantro is also known as Chinese parsley or fresh coriander.

It is widely popular across Asia and Europe for its unique flavor profile.

It has a fresh and crispy taste with lemony overtones which makes it perfect for garnishing dishes like soups or stews.

The plant has short rounded leaves that grow on stems.

Coriander refers to the dried seeds of the cilantro plant.

It is most commonly used as a spice in Indian cuisine where it imparts its mildly sweet flavor to curries or chutneys.

The plant itself has small delicate leaves with pointed edges but is primarily grown for its seeds rather than the leaves.

Appearance and Leaf Shape

When it comes to distinguishing between culantro, cilantro, and coriander, the first thing to look at is their appearance and leaf shape.

A quick glance can help you identify which one you have in front of you.

Each herb has a unique appearance and leaf shape that sets it apart from the others.

Now let’s focus on Appearance and Leaf Shape.

While cilantro and coriander share similar leaf shapes with rounded edges, culantro’s long serrated leaves make it easy to distinguish.

Culantro also tends to form rosettes as it grows, unlike cilantro or coriander.

Understanding these visual cues will come in handy when cooking with these herbs or adding them to dishes as garnishes.

It’s important to use the right herb for the job as they each offer different flavors and aromas.

Flavor and Aroma

When it comes to flavor and aroma, there are some distinct differences between culantro, cilantro and coriander.

To put it simply, culantro tends to have a much stronger flavor and aroma than either cilantro or coriander.

It is often described as being slightly bitter, with hints of citrus and a powerful pungent aroma.

Cilantro, on the other hand, is known for its fresh and zesty taste, with a slightly sweet undertone that is often used in dishes that require a milder flavor.

Coriander falls somewhere in the middle, with a warm and spicy flavor that some describe as earthy or woody.

Each herb has its own unique flavor profile that makes it well-suited for certain types of cuisine.

If you’re looking to infuse your dishes with bold flavors and aromas, culantro might be your best bet.

If you prefer something lighter and more refreshing, cilantro could be the way to go.

And if you want to add a bit of spice to your meals without overwhelming them completely, coriander might be just what you need.

Of course, everyone’s tastes are different so it’s always worth experimenting with different herbs until you find the ones that work best for your palate.

Just remember that when it comes to culinary herbs like culantro, cilantro and coriander, a little goes a long way.

Culinary Uses

Now that we’ve discussed the flavors and aromas of Culantro, Cilantro, and Coriander, let’s dive into their culinary uses.

Different parts of each plant are used in different ways for different dishes.

Culantro’s intense flavor makes it perfect in dishes that require bold tastes like ceviche or sofrito.

On the other hand, cilantro has a much lighter taste, making it versatile enough to be an ingredient in various types of cuisine.

Its subtle flavor pairs well with different spice blends like cumin found in Indian cuisine or chili flakes popular in Mexican food.

Coriander seeds are more commonly used than the leaves because of their mild, earthy flavor.

The powdered form has become ubiquitous in spice blends and curry powders across the world because of its versatility.

The whole seeds can also be toasted and pulverized into rubs for ribs or steaks.

Additionally, the seeds can be crushed with vinegar or other acidic liquids and added to pickled vegetables.

In summary, each plant – Culantro, Cilantro, and Coriander – has its unique flavor profile that makes them different from one another.

These flavors contribute significantly to various cuisines worldwide, where these plants are required ingredients in everything from soups and stews to marinades and rubs.

Growing Conditions and Availability

When it comes to growing conditions and availability, Culantro, Cilantro, and Coriander have distinct differences.

Let’s take a look at a table depicting their variations.

Culantro requires specific conditions to thrive.

It grows best in hot, humid climates with plenty of sunshine and rich soil, making it mostly available in tropical regions.

On the other hand, cilantro prefers mild temperatures and well-drained soil.

It can be grown worldwide and is available fresh throughout the year.

Coriander grows best in cooler temperatures with well-draining soil.

Unlike culantro, coriander is widely available throughout the year in both fresh and dried forms.

The ideal climatic conditions for each herb affect their availability across different regions of the world.

For example, culantro is not as readily available as cilantro or coriander because it cannot withstand colder climates.

That being said, there are still other factors that contribute to the availability of these herbs such as local demand for them, transportation costs for importation or distribution within a country or region.

Benefits of Culantro, Cilantro, and Coriander

Culantro, cilantro, and coriander are herbs that have a variety of benefits.

Culantro has high levels of iron, making it beneficial for those with anemia or other iron deficiencies.

Additionally, it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

Cilantro is rich in vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting and bone health.

It also aids digestion and has been shown to have antibacterial properties.

Coriander is a good source of zinc, which is essential for immune function and helps prevent illnesses like the common cold.

It also has been found to help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Overall, each herb offers unique benefits that make them valuable additions to any diet or herbal medicine collection.

In culinary application, culantro pairs well with bold flavors, such as in Latin American cuisine.

Cilantro adds a fresh kick to salads or salsas.

Coriander seeds are popularly used in curries and stews for their mild sweetness.

Culinary Tips for Using Culantro, Cilantro, and Coriander

When it comes to using culantro, cilantro, and coriander in your cooking, there are several tips that can help you get the most out of these flavorful herbs.

Culantro has a more pungent taste than cilantro or coriander, so you’ll want to use it sparingly.

Adding too much could overwhelm the other flavors in your dish.

On the other hand, cilantro should be added at the end of cooking to preserve its bright green color and distinct flavor.

Finally, when using coriander seeds, it’s best to toast them briefly in a dry pan before grinding.

This will help release the full aroma of the spice and enhance its flavor.

By following these culinary tips, you’ll be able to make the most out of these versatile herbs.

So go ahead and experiment with different ways to use culantro, cilantro, and coriander in your cooking.


To sum up, culinary enthusiasts and chefs have strong opinions about the differences between culantro, cilantro, and coriander.

While all three herbs come from the same plant family, each has its distinct flavor profile that can enhance or ruin a dish depending on how it’s used.

Here, we explored the characteristics of each herb and provided tips for incorporating them into your recipes.

As you can see from the table above, each herb has its unique flavors that correspond to specific cooking traditions worldwide.

By understanding these differences and applying them appropriately during meal preparation, you can elevate your dish’s flavor profile significantly.

Culantro vs Cilantro vs Coriander: What’s the Difference?

Andrew Gray
Confused about Culantro, Cilantro, and Coriander? Let's clear it up! Explore the disparities between these three related herbs to enhance your culinary expertise.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Culantro
  • Cilantro
  • Coriander


  • Choose between two items based on your preference and availability.
  • Follow the cooking directions for your chosen option, using the appropriate ratio of ingredients.
  • Prepare it according to your desired recipes.
  • Incorporate them into your dish, adjusting the amount to suit your taste.
  • Enjoy the unique taste experience and experiment with different dishes to explore their versatility.
Keyword Culantro vs Cilantro vs Coriander
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