Are you out of coriander or not a fan of the way it tastes? To find a proper substitute for coriander, you first need to understand what your recipe means by "coriander."
In the United States, coriander typically refers to the dried whole or ground coriander spice, while cilantro is the term used to refer to the fresh leaves of the coriander plant, and is an herb.
In the United Kingdom, however, "coriander" is used interchangeably for both. Coriander alone refers to the herb (the fresh leaves), and the spice (the seeds) are known as coriander seed or ground coriander. Confusing? Definitely. But once you understand what your recipe is asking for, finding a substitute is a snap.
Herb: Best Fresh Cilantro/Coriander Leaf Substitutes
Cilantro/Coriander Herb Substitute
Replace the fresh cilantro (aka coriander leaf) called for in your recipe with an equal amount of fresh parsley, tarragon, dill, or a combination of the three. For maximum flavor, add the herbs to the dish just before serving it. Cooking diminishes the flavor of fresh herbs significantly.
These substitutes work best when you're using the cilantro as a garnish. If the recipe you're working on calls for a large amount of cilantro, consider making something else. Replacing the cilantro that's supposed to be sprinkled on top of a finished dish is very different than replacing the spice in a recipe like chimichurri, where the finished product is almost 50 percent cilantro.
Note that dried coriander leaf isn't a good substitute for fresh. It loses much of its flavor when it's dried and incorporates into the dish quite differently. If you don't have any of the suggested fresh herbs on hand, just leave the cilantro out. Your recipe should still taste fine without it.
Spice: Best Coriander Seed/Ground Coriander Substitutes
Coriander Spice Substitute
- Caraway Seeds
Replace the coriander seed or ground coriander called for in the recipe with an equal amount of caraway seeds, cumin, fennel, or a combination of the three.
Equivalents: Substituting Ground Coriander For Whole Coriander Seeds
Replace every teaspoon of coriander seed called for with 3/4 teaspoon of ground coriander. Since ground coriander loses its flavor quickly, you may find it necessary to add more ground coriander to the dish to achieve the intended flavor. Do a taste test, and adjust the quantity as needed.
Equivalents: Substituting Coriander Seed for Ground Coriander
If your recipe calls for ground coriander, and all you have is coriander seed, grind it with a coffee/spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. If you don't own either, the seeds are soft enough that you can grind them with a rolling pin.
Just place them inside a sandwich bag, and roll over them until they're ground up. This will give you a coarser grind than a spice grinder, but that's OK. Since ground coriander loses its potency quickly, aim to grind only what you need for your recipe. Whole coriander seeds store much better.