I can't stand cilantro, but I like Mexican food. What can be susubstituted?

I would like to make chicken/tomatillo empanadas, but EVERY recipe calls for cilantro...Sigh!

Miss_Karen
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14 Comments

Jacque July 25, 2021
You should look into Papalo. Some of my vegetable and herb starts this year came from a Latino grower and I was excited to try Papalo 'the summer cilantro'. You might be able to find it at a farmers market as I don't think it is readily available yet.
 
Charlene V. June 20, 2021
For salsa, especially fruit-based, I use mint. Not sure how it would work in other applications. I typically use parsley in more savory dishes. My husband is allergic to both cilantro and coriander, so Iā€™m very careful.
 
Miss_Karen June 16, 2021
702551- thank you! This is a wealth of information šŸ™‚ I will investigate more thoroughly, and query my local spice shop. They are pretty well stocked with all kinds of fun ingredients.
 
Valhalla June 15, 2021
Just leave it out--there is no substitute, and it is not vital for the dish.
There is a more hard-to-find herb called culantro, but if you don't like cilantro, you are not likely to like it either.
 
Fran June 20, 2021
Culantro and cilantro are the same thing, just depends where in Latin America you are.
 
Richard S. June 20, 2021
Sorry, Fran. They are distantly related but are not the same. See:

https://www.thespruceeats.com/is-culantro-the-same-as-cilantro-1807011
 
Guadalupe L. July 25, 2021
The problem strives in how those two herbs are called in different countries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriander
and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eryngium_foetidum
 
Miss_Karen June 15, 2021
Thank you. Cilantro is easily available, I just hate the taste. Possibly the oregano would work. Coriander maybe?
 
Nancy June 15, 2021
By coriander do you mean the seeds?
If you like them, yrs they give a nice, mildly spicy and somewhat citrus flavor. Either warm them whole in oil used for frying (and remove before serving), or add ground to sauce.
 
702551 June 15, 2021
Coriander and cilantro are the same plant. Coriander is the name used for the seeds. Cilantro is the name used for the leaves.

You have multiple options here. You can replace the cilantro with another herb from the same family (chervil, parsley). You could replace it with another common used Mexican herb that is unrelated to cilantro (like Mexican oregano or epazote). Or you could simply use some completely unrelated Old World herb that you like such as thyme or marjoram.

Note that there are various types of oregano. Origanum is a Old World genus. This covers many oreganos as well marjoram. "Mexican oregano" is an unrelated plant that is widely used in Mexican cuisine.

Ultimately you should just use what will please the diners at your table.
 
Miss_Karen June 15, 2021
702551, Thanks! I did know that coriander & cilantro are from the same plant (go figure.) But, I did not know about chervil and parsley being in the same family. I also didn't know about different types of oregano. What is epazote?
 
702551 June 16, 2021
"Epazote is, in my opinion, the most Mexican of the culinary herbs... It is the sine qua non for the cooking of black beans, for tortilla and other brothy soups, in quesadillas, chopped with fresh corn, and elsewhere." -Diana Kennedy (The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, p. 486)

I'll leave it as an exercise for you to read more about this on the Internet. There's no need for me to regurgitate what's on Wikipedia. I'm sure Rick Bayless has written volumes on epazote.

Seeds are not difficult to find online and many nurseries on the West Coast have epazote.

This perennial is rather invasive so have you have successfully grown it, it will tend to spread. It is not a fussy crop and thrives with very little maintenance.
 
Gammy June 15, 2021
Definitely agree with Nancy! I doubt every home cook in Mexico has access to cilantro at all times. Make the chicken/tomatillo empanada recipe YOURS by adding whatever herbs YOU enjoy.
 
Nancy June 15, 2021
Miss Karen - see the spruceeats or Mexico connect web sites, or your favorite Mexican cookbook writer for more info
I know fresh oregano, parsley, thyme and maybe marjoram are used in Mexican cooking (alone or in combo).
I sometimes use basil instead of cilantro - it's not traditional, but I find the flavor more pleasing and substantial than the predominant grassiness of flat parsley.
Choose what you and your guests like, and what you can get now.
 
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