Difference Between Cilantro and Parsley

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 07, 2023

       

Difference Between Cilantro and Parsley

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Introduction

Cilantro and Parsley belong to the same family – Apiaceae. Both are herbs and are used as cooking ingredients or for garnishing. Their appearances are incredibly similar, which means people will have a hard time distinguishing them unless they know what to look for. Cilantro, more commonly known as Coriander, is widely used in multiple cuisines. It is also known as the Chinese herb. Hippocrates (the father of medicine), a Greek physician, made a reference to coriander in 400 BC. That’s how long this herb has been around.

Parsleys are similar herbs that have a subtler taste. The use of parsley differs depending on its type. Some parsleys are used as garnish or toppings on chicken soups and salads, while others are used as main or supplementary ingredients, especially in Italian and French cuisine. Though parsley is highly popular, pregnant women are advised against excessive consumption, as it may result in premature labor. However, lactating mothers may consume it without fear, as it helps increase lactation.

Cilantro Vs. Parsley

The quickest way to distinguish cilantro and parsley is by scenting them. Cilantro has a strong citrusy scent. On the other hand, parsley has a fresh, grassy, and peppery scent that is almost unobtrusive. However, the scent is enhanced when the parsley is rubbed or pinched. In short, people do not have to be Hannibal (after all, his acute sense of smell is unparalleled) to smell and figure out which herb they picked up.

Difference Between Cilantro And Parsley In Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonCilantroParsley
AppearanceCilantro leaves are thinner and more rounded.Parsley has pointed leaves.
TasteIt has a tart, lemony taste, and a spicy, bold flavor when crushed. Some describe the flavor as soapy (the difference in opinion is due to gene type). Cilantro does not retain its taste after it is cooked.It is grassy with peppery tones. Parsley retains its taste even after it is cooked.
Origin wordThe term coriander is derived from the Old French word coriandre. The term Cilantro is the Spanish name for coriander. On the other hand, the word parsley originated as a result of the merging of two words – petersilie (Old English) and peresil (Old French).
UsesAll parts of Cilantro are edible; However, the leaves and seeds are the traditional cooking ingredients. It is also used for garnishing.The Parsleys’ leaves and stems are the only parts used in cooking. Italian parsley is used as an ingredient (and not as a garnish), whereas Curly parsley is for garnishing (and not for use as an ingredient).
DelicacyIt is more delicate than parsley.Parsley is much sturdier and can be pureed, roasted, and chopped (looks like parsley is much easier to cook with!).

What Is Cilantro?

Cilantro’s scientific name is Coriandrum sativum. The herb is broad at the base and becomes slender towards the top. As it forms an integral part of Mexican cuisine, most Americans prefer the word Cilantro. However, the seeds are known as coriander. Coriander has been present in Greece since the second millennium BC. Its seeds are used as spices, whereas the leaves are used as a garnish or an ingredient. Some people are allergic to coriander leaves and seeds. The allergy displays symptoms similar to food allergies (abnormal immune response to food) and may be minor or life-threatening.

Culinary Uses Of Cilantro

All parts of the cilantro plant are edible and are used in multiple cuisines prevalent throughout the world. Each part serves a different purpose in cooking, and they are as follows:

Leaves

Referred to as coriander leaves, fresh coriander, or cilantro, these leaves act as ingredients (in chutneys, guacamoles, etc.) and garnish (in soup, fish, and other meat types). Coriander leaves are added to the dish being prepared towards the end of the required cooking time. Some people add them raw to the dishes, as heat tends to reduce the flavor’s intensity.

However, in India and Central Asia, the leaves are cooked until the flavor seeps out almost completely from the herb and into the dish. Moreover, the flavors of the leaves and seeds differ. Therefore, one recipe may require the leaves, whereas another may require seeds. People need to read the recipe twice before starting to cook; otherwise, they may end up using the leaves instead of the seeds (eeks! That never ends well.).

Seeds

Coriander seeds are used to make Belgian Wheat Beer and flavor gins. These seeds were part of the original formula for making Coca-Cola (wow, who knew soft drinks contained herbs?). They have a warm, spicy, and nutty flavor when crushed. Roasting or sautéing coriander seeds heightens the aroma and flavor. Moreover, these seeds are ingredients for making sausages (in Germany), rye bread (in Russia), and condiments (in Zuni). Cilantro seeds contain moderate amounts of calcium, iron, and manganese.

Roots

Coriander roots have a much more intense flavor than their leaves and seeds. Therefore, they are not popular throughout the world. But they figure prominently in Thai cuisine (like soups and curry pastes).

Health Benefits

Cilantro or coriander is used as cold medicine in Iran to treat anxiety and insomnia (that is useful even today, as many people suffer from sleeplessness). It contains antioxidants and has antiseptic properties. Moreover, cilantro has potassium – which helps maintain heart rate, calcium – which ensures healthy bones and quercetin – which helps reduce inflammation (which, in turn, minimizes the chances of Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease). The following are the other health benefits of coriander:

Helps Reduce Blood Sugar

Coriander seeds and the oils extracted from them are highly effective in lowering blood sugar. That is why people with high blood sugar benefit when they add it to their food (if they are not already taking medications). On the other hand, people with low blood sugar need to steer clear of cilantro (too much lowering of blood sugar may cause people to faint. No one wants that, do they?).

Promotes Digestion

Apparently, medications containing coriander help reduce abdominal pain and discomfort. It is also believed to increase appetite (no wonder it is a popular ingredient in so many cuisines). In short, oil extracts from coriander seeds promote healthy digestion. That does not mean a few drops of coriander extracts will miraculously cure all problems related to digestion.

Helps Fight Infections

The antimicrobial compounds present in coriander help fight foodborne illnesses (unless people are allergic to coriander) and illnesses acquired in hospitals. Additionally, coriander seeds can fight off bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections and Salmonella (a bacterium that causes food poisoning).

May Protect The Skin

Coriander may help against dermatitis and diaper rash. Extracts from cilantro’s leaves can help clear acne and get rid of oiliness. However, these are merely theories, as more research is needed to prove them.

Using Parsley Instead Of Cilantro

Replacing cilantro with parsley will not be disastrous; however, the flavor may lack intensity, as parsley has a mild flavor. Drops of lemon juice can be added to the parsley to get the cilantro’s citrus note. Adding sugar or honey is a good idea if the taste feels slightly bitter. Or, people can mix parsley with oregano or basil before substituting it for cilantro. (But why go to all that trouble? Just stick with cilantro guys, unless experimenting feels exciting.)

What Is Parsley?

Petroselinum crispum, better known by its common name parsley, is believed to have been first cultivated in Sardinia around the 3rd century BC. It is bright green and grows in temperate, tropical, and subtropical climates. Parsley seeds are about 2 – 3 mm long. A parsley plant dies after its seeds mature (huh, so the plant’s death is not the people’s fault? Yay! That can be people’s excuse even if the plant dies because of them). Parsley grows in moist soil, and the sun’s rays are essential for their cultivation. Swallowtail butterflies lay their larvae in parsleys.

Types Of Parsley

Each parsley variety is uniquely used in various types of cuisine. Therefore, knowing which one to use for a dish can help prevent feeling regret the moment the taste hits people’s senses.

Flat-Leaf Parsley

Flat-leaf parsleys are used for seasoning dishes, and the consensus is that they improve the flavor. It is easy to grow parsley in home gardens; therefore, most home-cooked meals are seasoned with parsley. Flat-leaf parsley flourishes in moderate conditions and does not require too much sunlight or watering (aha! So that’s why most people prefer to grow flat-leaf parsley rather than the other types.). This type of parsley has flat, serrated leaves and may reach 36 inches in height.

Curly-Leaf Parsley

Curly or common parsley is an excellent garnish for almost any dish. These parsleys require a lot of sun, and planting them somewhere the afternoon sun hits will help them grow well. Of course, people must not forget to water them regularly, whether they are planted in the home garden or merely in plastic containers. Curly-leaf parsleys are shiny green and have curly leaves.

Japanese Parsley

Japanese parsley is abundant in Japan and China and, as such, plays a great role in Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Raw Japanese parsley is added to various dishes, as when heated it becomes bitter. This type of parsley is also known as the purple-leaved Japanese honewort (probably because the shrubs have pink flowers).

Japanese parsley grows well in shade; therefore, it is a good idea to plant them beneath trees. An interesting fact about this type of parsley is that it self-seeds. As a result, though it dies in winter, it emerges again in spring. (A low-maintenance herb that looks after itself? People have absolutely no reason not to plant them.)

Hamburg Parsley

Hamburg parsleys are also known as root parsleys, as they have thicker roots compared to leaf parsleys (flat-leaf and curly-leaf). European cuisine makes use of Hamburg parsley roots (especially in stews and soups), and some people eat them raw similar to how most eat a carrot.

The leaves, though not as popular as that of the leafy types, can be used as ingredients. However, most people do not like the strong flavor. Hamburg parsley resembles parsnip in appearance; however, they taste very different (root parsley has a nutty taste).

Culinary Uses Of Parsley

Green parsley is used to garnish meat stews like beef bourguignon (beef stew), goulash (cold, uncooked sauce), and chicken paprika. Sometimes, parsley seeds are used instead of the leaves, as they have a stronger flavor. Freshly chopped parsley is an excellent topping for chicken soups and open sandwiches. The French use persillade, a chopped garlic-parsley mixture in their cuisine. In Italy, parsley is an ingredient of the traditional salsa verde (a condiment).

Substituting Cilantro For Parsley

Using cilantro instead of parsley may cause cooking catastrophes (so people should try to avoid switching these herbs unless they want to start a YouTube channel featuring their cooking disasters). However, it is plausible to do so when making certain dishes. People must not forget to adjust the measurements when using cilantro instead of parsley. In some South-Asian and Mexican dishes, switching the two will not have a too noticeable effect.

Health Benefits Of Parsley

Parsley offers a myriad of health benefits. Some of the main benefits are as follows:

Prevents Cellular Damage

Parsleys are rich in antioxidants that help prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals. They contain flavonoids (myricetin and apigenin) that protect people from colon cancer and heart diseases. The carotenoids present in parsley help reduce the chances of lung cancer and certain other diseases.

Protects The Eyes

Who does not hate having poor eyesight? Well, as people say, prevention is indeed better than cure. Lutein and zeaxanthin (carotenoids present in parsley) may help prevent or delay AMD (an incurable age-related eye disease). Beta carotene (another type of carotenoid) converts into Vitamin A, which is essential for healthy eyes.

Acts As Breath Freshener

This benefit may not seem awe-inspiring; however, bad breath succeeds in doing something where most other diseases fail – it drives people away! Jake Long’s dragon breath in an episode of the American Dragon series proves this point. Even a sprig of parsley is enough to freshen one’s breath naturally instead of resorting to breath mints.

Main Difference Between Cilantro And Parsley (In Points)

  • Cilantro is native to Southern Europe and South Western Asia, whereas parsley is native to Italy, Morocco, and Greece.
  • Parsley is rich in vitamins K and B, whereas cilantro is rich in vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Cilantro stars prominently in Indian, Middle Eastern, and American cuisines. Parsley is predominantly used in Mediterranean and European cuisines.
  • The leaves of curly parsley are curly, whereas cilantro leaves are flat.
  • The intensity of cilantro’s soapy taste can be reduced by crushing it into smaller bits. On the contrary, parsley’s flavor is mild; therefore, people need not take such measures.
  • Parsley is used in several dishes like soups, sauces, marinades, etc. Popular Italian dishes like pizza and pasta call for Italian parsley to be used as ingredients. Cilantro is used to prepare tacos, chutneys, salsas, and so on. In soups and curries, they are used for garnishing purposes.

Conclusion

Cilantro and parsley lose their taste and potency when stored in the fridge for long. Therefore, it is better to use fresh ones while cooking. Grocery shopping is daunting but necessary if people want their food to pack a punch. Moreover, picking the right herb, be it cilantro or parsley, is easy, as the difference between the two is clear now. Who knows, shopping for groceries may be fun hereafter! (Stop making that face, or it will stick that way. Now, go out and shop.)

References

  • https://www.lacademie.com/parsley-vs-cilantro/
  • https://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/packages/food-network-essentials/what-is-a-sprig-of-thyme
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriander
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsley
  • https://www.littleyellowwheelbarrow.com/guide-to-types-of-parsley/
  • https://bustlingnest.com/different-parsley-varieties/

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"Difference Between Cilantro and Parsley." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 20 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-cilantro-and-parsley>.



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