Dry Cilantro Vs Fresh Cilantro: Best Choice And Substitutions

Cilantro is a great herb to add to many dishes. You can toss some fresh leaves into a recipe for added flavor or use them as a garnish on top. On the other hand, you can dry the leaves out and save them for later. However, which is better to use: dried cilantro or fresh cilantro? This article will answer that question and more. But, first, we’ll talk about some ways that you dry fresh cilantro. Then, we’ll go more in-depth about dried cilantro vs. fresh cilantro.

We’ll discuss the similarities and differences of their taste, availability, price, appearance, health benefits, and ways they can be cooked. After, we’ll explain which one is better to use in certain situations. Finally, we’ll talk about substituting one over the other for specific recipes and whether you should replace them or not. 


How To Dry Fresh Cilantro

Cilantro can be used fresh, or it can be dried out. It’s a herb that goes well with various recipes or is used as a garnish on top.

But do you dry fresh cilantro leaves?

Fresh cilantro can be dried using a few methods. For example, you can dry cilantro by using the following:

  • Oven
  • Microwave
  • Dehydrator
  • Air-dry

Learn more about how to dry fresh cilantro here.

Make sure you want to use dried cilantro before going through the drying process. You can dry fresh leaves but can’t turn the dried leaves back to fresh.

So, what are the differences between the two, and what are the similarities?

drying cilantro with fresh cilantro

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Dry Cilantro Vs. Fresh Cilantro

Fresh cilantro is the leaves, stems, or seeds used as a garnish or within a recipe. As soon as you harvest it from your garden or buy it from the store, you can use the fresh cilantro leaves in your cooking.

On the other hand, you can dry out the leaves. Dried cilantro is fresh leaves that have been air-dried or heated to be preserved longer.

So, which one is better to use? Fresh or dried cilantro?

Fresh Vs. Dried Cilantro: Taste Differences

Fresh cilantro has a strong flavor. Some herbs taste more potent when dried out, but that’s not the case for cilantro.

Once dried out, cilantro’s flavor becomes milder.

For example, fresh cilantro has a lemon-pepper flavor to it. Dried cilantro is a weaker flavor of that.

Dried Cilantro Vs. Fresh Cilantro: Appearance

Fresh cilantro has long, thin green stems. Flat green leaves grow on these stems. The leaves have jagged edges but are round in shape.

On the other hand, when dried, cilantro dulls its color. Dried cilantro is a darker green, with its leaves shrinking, crumbling to the touch.

When dried, the cilantro will lose its water content. Thus, its leaves will shrivel, giving it a crumbling look and touch. 

Fresh Cilantro Vs. Dried Cilantro: Price And Availability

You can get cilantro – fresh or dried – in two different ways.

First, you can grow fresh cilantro yourself in your garden. Then, you can harvest the leaves and use them in recipes or dry them out yourself using a few different methods.

Learn more about drying cilantro in the oven here.

Alternatively, you can buy fresh cilantro and dried cilantro at your local grocery store. Both are available to buy all year round.

Fresh cilantro is more expensive to get than dried. The fresh leaves don’t last as long as the dried herbs.

So, you can buy fresh herbs if needed, but if you don’t want to take the time to dry them out yourself, you can easily buy a container of dried cilantro leaves at a cheaper price.

Dried Vs. Fresh Cilantro: Health Benefits

Fresh cilantro provides many health benefits, for example:

  • Brain health
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Reduces heart disease
  • Reduces obesity
  • Reduces diabetes
  • Manages blood sugar
  • It contains various vitamins and minerals

Cilantro carries vitamins A, C, and K. It also has folate, potassium, and manganese.

In addition, dried cilantro holds onto health benefits as well. Cilantro may lose its flavor when dried, but it keeps its benefits.

Fresh Cilantro
Fresh Cilantro

Fresh Vs. Dried Cilantro: How It Is Used In Cooking

Cilantro is used in a variety of dishes. However, fresh is best used in some while dried is better to use in others.

When specific recipes, such as sandwiches or sauces, call for fresh cilantro, it’s best to use cilantro. You won’t want to bite into a dried herb with little flavor in your sandwich.

In addition, when making salsa, fresh cilantro is the way to go. Otherwise, your salsa won’t be able to get that intense flavor. 

However, you can use dried cilantro in recipes that take longer to cook. For example, beans, rice, soups, stews, and marinades can use dried or fresh cilantro.

Since those recipes take longer to cook, you can add dried cilantro at the beginning of the recipe, and the flavor will slowly seep into the dish. 

What Is The Winner?

Overall, fresh cilantro seems to be the better option.

For instance, the flavor is stronger, and it has many health benefits. Depending on the dish you’re cooking, fresh cilantro is needed if you want the flavor to come through.

On the other hand, if you don’t care for the flavor too much but want the health benefits, dried cilantro is completely fine to use.

You can easily grow fresh cilantro yourself, dry whatever you need, and save the fresh leaves for certain meals. Or, if you only need a little bit of fresh or dried cilantro, you can buy it from your local grocery store at any time of the year.

Finally, if you use cilantro a lot, dried cilantro is good to have on hand since it keeps much longer. For example, dried cilantro can last for about one to two years, whereas fresh cilantro will begin to go bad after a few days.

Can You Substitute Fresh Cilantro For Dried Cilantro?

Yes, substituting dried cilantro for fresh cilantro is possible. You can also substitute fresh to dry cilantro. However, remember that you won’t get the same flavor from your dish.

Fresh cilantro has a strong flavor, so if a recipe calls for it and you use dried cilantro instead, the dish won’t taste as strong.

On the other hand, if you use fresh when the recipe calls for dried cilantro, the dish will have a much stronger flavor.

So, you can substitute one for the other, but it’s not necessarily recommended. If you don’t want to change the flavor of your meal drastically, then it’s not a good idea to substitute one for the other.

Alternatively, if you’re cooking for someone who doesn’t like cilantro, adding dried cilantro is okay. You don’t get as strong a flavor but won’t need to withhold the ingredient.

In the end, it’s not necessarily common to substitute one for the other. However, it’ll depend on the recipe you’re making. Also, it’ll depend on your taste buds and how strong you want the flavor to be. 

How Much Dried Cilantro Equals Fresh? And Vice Versa

If you’re substituting one for the other, you can use about half-dried cilantro to fresh cilantro.

For example, if a recipe calls for four tablespoons of fresh cilantro, you can add two tablespoons of dried cilantro instead.

It sounds backward to add less of the dried herb when the flavor is milder. However, the flavor will come out if it’s cooked longer.

So, if you use dried over fresh, be sure to add it as one of the first ingredients, so the flavor has enough time to mix in with everything else.

Remember, no matter how much you add, dried cilantro will not taste as strong as fresh cilantro. 

Final Words on Dry Cilantro vs Fresh Cilantro

There’s a lot to love about cilantro. It has a unique flavor (when fresh), it’s easy to get from the store or grow yourself, and it can be used in many different dishes. Plus, it’s healthy for you. When it comes to whether you should use dried cilantro or fresh cilantro, it’s more of a preference. However, this is because it’s sometimes best to use one over the other depending on the meal.

Want to learn more? Find out if Cilantro needs full sun to grow here and find all my Cilantro guides here.

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