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Coriander vs. Cilantro: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 14, 2023
Coriander generally refers to the seeds of the Coriandrum sativum plant, used as a spice, while cilantro typically refers to the fresh leaves of the same plant, used as a herb.

Key Differences

Coriander is commonly the term used to describe the seed of the Coriandrum sativum plant, known for its warm, spicy, and citrus-like flavor. Cilantro, however, usually refers to the fresh green leaves of the same plant, offering a distinct, pungent flavor.
In many parts of the world, coriander is used as a ground or whole spice in cooking, contributing a nutty, lemony flavor to dishes. Cilantro is often used fresh, added to dishes like salsas and curries for a bright, fresh taste.
Coriander seeds are a staple in spice blends, such as garam masala in Indian cuisine, and are used in both sweet and savory dishes. Cilantro leaves are a common garnish in various cuisines, valued for their fresh, slightly citrusy flavor.
The term 'coriander' in the UK and other countries refers to the entire plant, including leaves and seeds. In contrast, 'cilantro' is primarily used in American English to specifically denote the fresh leaves.
Coriander seeds are used for their aromatic qualities in pickling, baking, and spice mixes. Cilantro leaves, being delicate, are typically used raw or added at the end of the cooking process to retain their flavor.

Comparison Chart

Part of Plant

Fresh Leaves

Flavor Profile

Warm, spicy, citrus-like
Pungent, bright, slightly citrusy

Culinary Use

Ground or whole in cooking
Used fresh, as garnish or in dishes


Refers to entire plant in UK, seeds in US
Refers to leaves, primarily in American English

Preparation in Cooking

Used in cooking and baking
Added raw or at the end of cooking

Coriander and Cilantro Definitions


Coriander is the seed of the Coriandrum sativum plant used as a spice.
She added ground coriander to the curry for extra flavor.


Cilantro is known for its distinct, fresh, and slightly citrusy flavor.
The cilantro added a fresh taste to the salsa.


In the UK, coriander refers to both the seeds and leaves of the plant.
Fresh coriander is a key ingredient in this dish.


Cilantro refers to the fresh leaves of the Coriandrum sativum plant, used as a herb.
I garnished the taco with fresh cilantro.


Coriander seeds are known for their aromatic and citrusy flavor profile.
Coriander seeds are often used in spice blends.


In American English, cilantro specifically denotes the leaves of the plant.
He added chopped cilantro to the soup.


Coriander is used whole or ground in various cuisines.
The recipe calls for whole coriander seeds.


Cilantro is often used raw or added at the end of cooking.
Sprinkle cilantro over the dish just before serving.


Coriander is a common ingredient in pickling and baking.
Coriander seeds add a unique taste to pickles.


Cilantro is a common ingredient in Mexican and Asian cuisines.
Cilantro is essential in many Vietnamese dishes.


An aromatic annual Eurasian herb (Coriandrum sativum) in the parsley family, having parsleylike leaves and umbels of tiny white to pinkish flowers. It is cultivated for its edible fruits, leafy shoots, and roots.


The fresh stems and finely divided young leaves of the coriander plant, used in salads and various dishes as a flavoring and garnish. Also called Chinese parsley, coriander.


The seedlike fruit of this plant, used whole or ground as a flavoring for food and as a seasoning, as in curry powder.


(US) The stems and leaves of the coriander plant, Coriandrum sativum, used as a seasoning and garnish in cooking.


See cilantro.


An Old World herb (Coriandrum sativum) with aromatic parsleylike leaves and seed.


The annual herb Coriandrum sativum, used in many cuisines.


A parsleylike herb used as seasoning or garnish.


The dried fruits thereof, used as a spice.


Old World herb with aromatic leaves and seed resembling parsley


An umbelliferous plant, the Coriandrum sativum, the fruit or seeds of which have a strong smell and a spicy taste, and in medicine are considered as stomachic and carminative.


Parsley-like herb used as seasoning or garnish


Old World herb with aromatic leaves and seed resembling parsley


Dried coriander seeds used whole or ground


Parsley-like herb used as seasoning or garnish


What is coriander?

Coriander is the seed of the Coriandrum sativum plant, used as a spice.

Is coriander the same in all countries?

In the UK, 'coriander' refers to both the seeds and leaves, while in the US, it typically refers only to the seeds.

What does coriander taste like?

Coriander has a warm, nutty, and citrus-like flavor.

What does cilantro taste like?

Cilantro has a fresh, pungent, and slightly citrusy flavor.

Can coriander seeds be eaten raw?

They can be, but are usually cooked or roasted to enhance flavor.

What is cilantro?

Cilantro refers to the fresh leaves of the Coriandrum sativum plant.

Can I substitute coriander for cilantro?

They have different flavors, so they are not ideal substitutes for each other.

Is coriander used in baking?

Yes, coriander is often used in baking and in spice mixes.

Can cilantro be used in smoothies?

Yes, cilantro can add a fresh flavor to smoothies.

Are coriander and cilantro from the same plant?

Yes, they come from the same plant but refer to different parts.

Is cilantro used in cooking?

Yes, cilantro is commonly used fresh in cooking, especially as a garnish.

How should I store fresh cilantro?

Fresh cilantro should be stored in the refrigerator, often in a jar with water.

Can I grow cilantro and coriander at home?

Yes, you can grow Coriandrum sativum at home for both leaves and seeds.

Why does cilantro taste like soap to some people?

This is due to a genetic trait that makes some people sensitive to certain compounds in cilantro.

Is cilantro only used raw?

Cilantro is mainly used raw but can be added at the end of cooking.

How long do coriander seeds last?

Stored in a cool, dry place, they can last up to 4 years.

Is cilantro used in salsa?

Yes, cilantro is a common ingredient in salsas.

Is coriander good for digestion?

Yes, coriander is often used for its digestive benefits.

Can I freeze cilantro for later use?

Yes, cilantro can be frozen, though it may lose some of its fresh texture.

Do coriander and cilantro have health benefits?

Both are known for their nutritional benefits, including vitamins and antioxidants.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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