What’s A Good Coriander Substitute?

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Coriander is from the parsley family. The seeds of the plant are ground to make the coriander spice while the leaves and stems are called cilantro. If you are preparing a dish and find that you have no coriander, you have two options: you can either run to the grocery store or you can seek out a substitute. If you decide on the latter option, you have several spices that you can use as a coriander substitute. 

Your best bet: Caraway seeds

Coriander’s flavor is often described as earthy, nutty and peppery with some varieties also having notes of lemon zest. Caraway seeds are members of the same family as coriander and can provide a similar earthy flavor. While the seeds themselves do look different from coriander seeds, they share some of the same flavor characteristics as well as notes of anise. Caraway seeds are used in rye bread, some potato salad recipes as well as a variety of other dishes.

Caraway seeds are particularly aromatic and therefore should be used carefully. In order to use this spice as a substitute for coriander, you will replace the coriander in your recipe with an equal amount of caraway seeds.

A decent second choice: Cumin

Like coriander, cumin is easy to find. You can find it in the Mexican section of most grocery stores even if it is not on the main spice aisle. Cumin bears some similarity to coriander in terms of flavor as well. While it may lack the lemony citrus notes that coriander provides, cumin can provide a similar earthy flavor. Cumin is also very pungent. This means that you should use 3/4 teaspoon of cumin for every teaspoon of coriander that your recipe requires. If you can find it, opt for black cumin. Black cumin seeds are smaller and with a sweeter aroma that may bear an even greater similarity to that of coriander.

Some experts suggest combining cumin with fennel seeds or combining cumin with both caraway and fennel seeds to get a flavor that is even closer to that of coriander.

In a pinch: Curry powder

Curry powder will have coriander as an ingredient, along with other spices. If you are cooking an Indian dish, curry powder may be an acceptable coriander substitute. However, note that the other spices that it contains are pungent. If your recipe includes some of the other ingredients in curry powder, you will have to be careful to avoid doubling up on them. You should also note that curry powder contains turmeric, which will add a bright yellow to the food you are cooking. That bright color may detract from some dishes.

Other alternatives

Garam masala is another spice mix used in cooking Indian food. Garam masala also contains coriander and therefore may be an acceptable substitute for coriander by itself. Like curry powder, it contains other pungent spices that may affect the taste of your dish.

Because cilantro sprouts from the coriander seed, some experts suggest using it as a substitute. If you decide to use cilantro, note that fresh cilantro leaves can change the color and texture of some dishes.