Culinary Arts

Cilantro vs. Coriander: What's the Difference Between Cilantro and Coriander?

Written by MasterClass

Jun 25, 2019 • 1 min read

The herbaceous plant known as both coriander and cilantro is a popular ingredient in a wide range of cuisines including Indian, Latin American, Caribbean, French, Greek, Caribbean, and North African cuisine. However, despite its global reach, this polarizing plant doesn’t have a universal name worldwide.

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What Is Cilantro?

Cilantro (Eryngium foetidum) is an herb in the Apiaceae family of plants, known for its delicate, bright green leaves, reminiscent of flat leaf parsley. To many, cilantro has a pungent herbaceous green flavor; to others, cilantro tastes like soap or metal. Taken from the Coriandrum sativum plant—or coriander plant—cilantro is also known as coriander, Chinese parsley, and Mexican parsley. The word “cilantro” comes from the Spanish word coriander.

Find our complete guide with 12 recipes featuring cilantro here.

What Is Coriander?

Coriander can refer to either the herbaceous green leaves of the Coriandrum sativum plant, or to the common spice derived from the seeds of the plant. The coriander spice is comprised of the dried fruit of the plant, and is known for its earthy, slightly floral flavor. This spice is available in most grocery stores as ground coriander or as whole seeds. In many European and Asian countries, coriander also refers to the herb known as cilantro in North America. Fresh coriander can be used interchangeably with cilantro in recipes. In addition to the leaves and seeds, coriander roots are also edible.

Find our complete guide on coriander, including 5 ways to cook with the herb, here.

Is Cilantro Coriander?

Although the word coriander can refer to either the herb or spice derived from the plant's seeds, the word cilantro only refers to the herbaceous leaves of the plant.

What Do Coriander and Cilantro Mean in Different Countries?

While the UK and other European nations refer to both the spice and leafy herb as coriander, in the US the word cilantro is used for the herb. In India, the herb is referred to as “dhania” to distinguish the leaves from the coriander seeds.

Although coriander and cilantro refer to different parts of the plant in the US and Canada, in Europe and other international locales there aren’t different names for the various aspects of the coriander plant.

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