coriander substitutes

7 Best Coriander Substitutes to Give Your Dishes a New Twist

For those who are new to the world of cooking, choosing the right spice for the right dish can be tough. While a lot of recipes already have specified spices in them, sometimes it just doesn’t taste the way you want it to. One useful tip for newbie chefs is to find out what each and every spice does, so that they can experiment with infusing new tastes into their masterpieces. One important spice that you need to know about is coriander, a very versatile and flavorful ingredient that can enhance a lot of dishes.

What is Coriander?

Coriander is made from the seeds of the plant called Coriandrum sativum, part of the parsley family. It’s a spice that dates back to early history, when it was a precious trading good in India, China, and the Middle East. Coriander seeds were also found within tombs in Egypt, as well as in manuscripts written in Sanskrit.

It’s a very nifty ingredient with a variety of uses, either when it’s utilized whole or ground into powder. Its taste complements the flavor of garlic really well, and is a good partner for chili. Together, they can amp up the taste of pork and vegetable dishes. You can also grind the seeds and mix it into soups, as well as add it to your baking ingredients. The whole seeds may also be added to drinks. It’s best to heat coriander seeds first to enhance the flavor.

How is it Different from Cilantro?

In total, the plant produces two spices: coriander and cilantro, the latter of which comes from the stems and leaves. While having the same origin, both of these spices have different uses and tastes. Coriander has a mild flavor, described as being “warm, spicy, and nutty, with a hint of citrus.”

On the other hand, cilantro has a stronger, bolder taste, which it lends beautifully to Mexican dips like salsa and guacamole. It can also make soups more flavorful when used as garnish. Due to their differing properties and tastes, one cannot be substituted for the other. Spicy food that benefit from coriander may lose their signature flavor if cilantro is used instead. Make sure to know what each recipe needs between the two to avoid any kitchen disasters.

What are the Health Benefits of Coriander? 

Aside from enhancing the taster of your dishes, there are also health perks that coriander offers for you. It contains various amounts of essential oil components, vitamins, minerals, and healthy acids that are all good for your body. Because of these elements, including coriander in your recipe can help lower inflammation in the skin and swelling in other body parts.

Aside from that, it can also decrease the amount of bad cholesterol in your body and cure you from diarrhea. The iron content in coriander can also cure anemia due to iron deficiency. It also has anti-allergic properties and can aid your stomach in digesting food more effectively.

What are Some Coriander Substitutes? 

If you need to prepare a dish that calls for coriander but you have unfortunately ran out of supply, worry not! There are some substitutes you can use instead. Some of them may even add twists to your food, making cooking more exciting for you. Here are some suggestions:


1. Cumin

Cumin is a spice that is easier to find in supermarkets and stores, making it a good substitute for coriander. It comes from the seed of the plant with the same name, crushed into a fine powder to make the spice. It is grown in most countries with hot climates, such as India and North Africa, but it mainly comes from Egypt. The most famous users of cumin in the world are people from Morocco, where it dominates most of their street-cooked cuisines.

The seeds are often confused with caraway due to their similar appearances; however, the flavor of cumin is stronger, so you have to be careful when buying the spice in its seed form. Cumin is best used in spicy dishes such as Mexican chili con carne and European sausages.

It has a similar flavor with coriander: very earthy with hints of spice. However, it lacks the citrus hints present in coriander. To use this as a replacement, use three-fourths of a teaspoon of cumin for every teaspoon of coriander that you need. If you can find black cumin, use this instead, as its taste is closer to coriander. You may also combine cumin with caraway or fennel seeds to achieve a closer taste to coriander.

Cumin offers impressive health benefits that most people might not be aware of. Here are some of them:

  • It’s a great source of energy because it contains vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. This spice is also a source of amino acids.
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    It can help treat indigestion.
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    Cumin has antifungal and microbial properties.
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    It can lower the risk of having diabetes.
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    Cumin can help treat anemia.
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    The vitamin E that you can get fro cumin is great for your skin. Cumin seeds can also be boiled and used as a toner to take advantage of its anti-aging properties.
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    Improve your metabolism and help you lose weight.
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    Cumin can also help you get rid of the toxins in your body which can destroy cancerous cells.
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    For those who are stressed out in life, cumin can help you reduce the factors that is related to stress.
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    People from other countries also use cumin to treat people with intestinal parasites.
Curry Powder

2. Curry Powder

Among all the substitutes, curry powder is perhaps the most popular. This is a mix of different kinds of spices, which often includes coriander itself. Every country has their own mix of curry in their dishes; it is so complex that, while the taste of curry is distinctive, you can still recognize the uniqueness of the curry of Japan from the curry of the Philippines, for example. One of its ingredients is turmeric, which provides a different color to your dish when used. Take note of this when using curry as a substitute.

Compared to coriander, curry has a stronger flavor, more pungent than the former. Because of this, you should use only half the amount of curry as compared to the needed coriander in the recipe. Since there are different kinds of curry, it is important as well to know how each tastes like, so you can put different twists to your dishes. Try to vary the amounts as well.

Unknown to a lot of people, curry also has some health benefits. When using this in your recipes, you’ll get similar perks to coriander, such as boosting your bone growth, preventing inflammation, higher immune system, and it can even counteract certain carcinogens.  

Garam Masala

3. Garam Masala

Garam Masala is an Indian spice blend, similar to curry powder. It is equivalent to the French Herbes de Provence or to China’s five-spice powder, in that it contains various amounts of spices that vary depending on the region of India. Since its ingredients are usually found in supermarkets or online stores, you can easily make your own garam masala mix at home. This is also available in supermarkets, in case you don’t feel like experimenting on your own.

Among its many ingredients is coriander, making this an effective substitute. However, you should always be aware of the other spices that your garam masala mix contains, since different mixes will affect the flavor of your dish. Using this will give your food a spicy, earthy, and nutty flavor. To be safe, just use a lesser amount of garam masala for every amount of coriander that you need.

In terms of health benefits, this mixture does not disappoint. Garam masala can improve your digestive system, level-up your immune system, and help you body absorb nutrients better.

Caraway Seeds

4. Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds are the most suitable substitutes for coriander because it has the closest taste to it. It is also known as meridian fennel, and is often used as the spices in potato salad, rye bread, and sauerkraut. Finland is home to one-third of the world’s supply of caraway seeds, but it can also be found in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. The fruit of the plant is used whole and its flavor is close to how anise tastes. Because of its flavor, caraway seeds are often asked for in recipes in only small amounts.

The flavors that caraway lends to dishes can be earthy, nutty, and peppery, similar to coriander, since they come from the same family. However, caraway tends to be stronger than coriander, so make sure to use an equal or lesser amount of it in your recipes. They also tend to be aromatic, so make sure to vary the amounts, depending on how you want your dish to come out.

For nursing mothers, caraway is an effective ingredient in the production of breast milk. It can also help minimize allergic reactions and has some anti-bacterial attributes as well. Those with coughs will also benefit from caraway, since it helps relieve cough symptoms. Lastly, it can also improve your eye health and promote healthier skin.


5. Oregano

Oregano are leaves that come from the mint family. Its name is derived from the Greek words oros and ganos, which mean “mountain” and “joy”, respectively. It can grow up to 50 cm and has distinctive purple leaves. It’s a Mediterranean herb with a ton of health benefits, but it is also used for cooking due to its smell and strong flavor. It can be used to treat infections, repel insects, and its active ingredients also have the potential to treat diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Similar to coriander, oregano has citrus tones within it, making it a good substitute especially for those who like this part of coriander’s flavor. It works well with Mexican food, since it will be very hard to determine whether coriander or oregano was used in the recipe. You can also use oregano in place of coriander to add flavor to sauces, bread rolls, and meat marinades.

Aside from the flavor, you will also get the active ingredients in oregano infused in your dish. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and can help relieve muscle pain, headaches, allergies, and menstrual cramps. It also contains similar minerals as coriander, such as iron, manganese, and calcium.


6. Sage

Just like oregano, sage is another medicinal herb that can be used for cooking as well. It used to be called “Salvia Salvatrix”, which translates to “sage, the savior” due to its life-saving properties. It is very high on antioxidants and can be used as home remedies to various ailments. The Ancient Egyptians used sage to improve fertility. Dioscorides, the father of pharmacology, also discovered that sage can stop bleeding, disinfect sores, heal ulcers, and heal coughing and hoarseness.

People in Italy use sage for flavoring veal dishes, while French people stuff their sausages, turkeys, and cured meats with this herb. During Thanksgiving, Americans add sage to their turkey dressings. When used in cooking, it has the same light and zesty flavor as coriander, but it provides a cooler flavor to your dishes, making it a subtler substitute. It also has the same vitamin and mineral content as coriander, so not only do you get the flavor, but you also get the benefits as well. Aside from that, the medicinal properties of sage will also be infused in your dishes.

Fennel Seeds

7. Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are spices that have a slightly sweet and earthy flavor. The shape resembles cumin, but the taste is entirely different. It’s a spice that is widely used in India, which also happens to be the largest exporter of fennel seeds in the world. Most Indian households encourage having a few fennel seeds after every meal, similar to having dessert. Aside from the breath-freshening capabilities, it also gives out several vitamins and minerals like potassium, copper, calcium, zinc, and Vitamin C.

When making sauces, soups, and curries, this is a good substitute for coriander due to its hints of sweetness. However, its flavor is strong, so you should still measure out the amount of fennel seeds that you use. Once you figure out the flavor that you wish to have in your recipe’s outcome, use the appropriate amount of fennel seeds that you need.

Aside from flavoring your food, it also has some other health benefits. Other than the ones mentioned above, fennel seeds can also minimize flatulence, promote healthier digestive systems, and lower inflammation, similar to coriander.

Keeping Your Spices Fresh

Spices are important ingredients for your dishes. They are usually bought in packs or small cans which allow you to use them longer. However, without proper storage, they can be contaminated or won’t be fresh enough for next time. This is why knowing how to keep them properly in your kitchen is also important. Follow the following tips when it comes to storing your spices:

  • Keep the spices away from direct sunlight, moisture, and heat, especially from your stove.
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    When stored properly, spices can last for years. Whole spices can be stored for 4 years, mustard for 2-3 years, and herbs for 1-3 years.
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    The older your spices get, the weaker their flavors get.
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    If you want to know the freshness of your spices, simply observe it. You can tell by looking at the spice’s color, smell, and even taste. If you think that the flavors have faded, then it’s time to buy new ones.
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    Avoid sprinkling the spices using the bottle when cooking. The steam that comes from the pot or the pan can get into the bottle and reduce the power of your spices!
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    Don’t use a wet measuring spoon when scooping your spices. The moisture will destroy the flavor of your spices.
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    Some spices like paprika and chili powder are best kept inside your fridge.
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    Close the lids of the container or bottles tightly to avoid letting moisture in and to keep the flavors inside.
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    You can use a coffee grinder to grind some spices and activate their flavors.
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    Dried herbs or spices have stronger flavors than fresh herbs. When using herbs as substitutes, you’ll have to use more.

Summing it All Up!

As a spice, coriander already offers a lot of flavor and health perks, but as seen here, so many other herbs offer twists and benefits that you can get from using them. Even though the recipe calls for coriander, it doesn’t mean that you’ll limit yourself to using just that herb alone. You have so many other options to choose from, especially if you want to vary the tastes of your food. For example, curry powder alone has a lot of varieties, same with garam masala.

All of these 7 spices are unique. They have various health benefits that everyone can enjoy.  But in spite of their differences, they are similar in one aspect, and that aspect is being a great coriander substitute.

Choosing which of these spices the right substitute for you will depend on various factors as well. It might depend on the availability of the spices in your country, the prices, the health benefits, and of course, the kind of recipe you are making.

If the recipe that you want to try indicates a specific substitute for coriander, then you should follow as instructed. However, if it doesn’t, then these 7 substitutes are worth trying.

The nutrients and vitamins that you can get using these substitutes is also important. If you want your dish to be suitable for those who have diabetes, then spices like cumin is a great option. Meanwhile, people who are looking for a substitute in herb form should try sage to have the same zest flavor that coriander gives to dishes.

Meanwhile, caraway and fennel seeds are also great because they also have strong flavors like coriander. But most importantly, they are also packed with great health benefits that health-conscious cooks and foodies would love.

You can easily look for these spices in your favorite grocery store but in some countries, these spices can be grown in your own garden. If you want to try growing spices in your backyard, you can do it! It would save you money, and will assure you that your spices are fresh because you’re the one who took care of it.

Keeping your spices fresh is also a must. Although they might be used only in small amounts, spices are still ingredients that you are using in your dishes and you want to use the best ones if you want your food to be a masterpiece.

Some of the basic things that you need to know when storing your spices is to seal the bottle or the container tightly. It will keep your spices away from getting contaminated or by getting eaten or smelled by insects.

Although you might see it from cooking shows, and it looks satisfying to do it, sprinkling your spices straight from the bottle is not good practice. This habit allows the steam to get inside the bottle and can cause the flavor of your spices to fade.

Do your best to store your spices in an area away from direct sunlight, heat, or moisture. Most importantly, make sure to use clean containers, bottles, and spoon for your spices. Your kitchen is a place where you cook dishes that your family eats. Which is why being conscious with the cleanliness of the things that you use for your spices or any kind of ingredient is important.

The sky is the limit when it comes to spicing up your dishes. These spices are not just substitutes but they give you various ways of adding flavor and new twists to your dishes. However, don’t get carried away when using these spices because most of them have strong tastes. Try to use small amounts of your chosen spice first and then gradually increase until you reach the flavor that you want your food to have. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

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