What if you are preparing a dish that needs coriander (whole or ground) and you don't find it in your pantry? OR you don't like its taste and want to replace it? Don't panic. These 7 substitutes for coriander seeds will help you as to how and when to use them.
It is commonly used in the ground and in the whole form. What if you run out of coriander? Here is the list of the 7 BEST coriander seeds substitutes you can use for any occasion. We will see how to choose the right alternative for coriander depending on the particular need.
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What Is Coriander?
Before we dive into the best coriander seeds substitutes let see what is coriander in the true sense.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is an annual herb and belongs to the Apiaceae family. Carrots, parsley, and celery are also from the same family. All parts (leaf, stem, and seed) of this plant are edible but seeds and leaves are the only two we use most often. It has a floral aroma with a lemony flavor that goes well with cumin seeds/powder.
- Coriander Leaves (Cilantro)- It is the fresh leafy part of the plant. In many countries it is known as coriander leaves. In US we call them as cilantro.
- Coriander Seeds- The seed part of the plant (Coriandrum sativum) is what we call whole coriander seeds. An integral part of Indian spice box.
- Ground Coriander- It is the ground form of whole seeds. Mostly used in curries and Indian cuisine.
These seeds are used in Indian, African, and Middle East spice mixes, for example, Panch Phoron, Pickling Spice, Tabil, and Kadai Masala.
Ground vs Whole
Whole or ground, which coriander is best to use?
Whole seeds do not create an aromatic flavor in recipes and are sometimes annoying to bite. Only when you crush the seeds, the aromatic oils release the aroma. You can easily spot them in the dishes and feels like taking them out. It is definitely not appealing to kids. However, whole seeds are great to store for a longer time. As per requirement just roast them slightly and grind.
Ground coriander is made by grinding the whole seeds, which makes it the BEST whole coriander substitute anytime for any dish. For making the grinding process easy, just dry roast the seeds for a few minutes. Once you smell the roasting aroma, stop and let them cool down. Grind them to a fine powder. Ground version is aromatic and a very flavorful spice for use.
You can substitute ¾ teaspoon of ground coriander with 1 teaspoon of the whole coriander.
Is Coriander The Same As Cilantro?
Both coriander and cilantro are part of the same plant "Coriandrum sativum". Both are widely used for culinary purposes in a number of cuisines all over the world.
Coriander is the seeds a part of the plant and comes in ground and whole form. Both forms are part of cooking and preparing spice blends, like curry masala, garam masala, Baharat, Ras El Hanout. Pickling spice mix uses its whole form. When whole seeds are crushed you can smell a citrusy smell because of essential oils (linalool and pinene) found in the coriander plant. Coriander can be stored for a longer duration in its ground or whole form easily.
Cilantro is a leaf part of the plant. Whether you call it cilantro or coriander, it all depends on the country coming from.
Coriander Seeds (Whole/Ground) Substitutes
It is the BEST substitute for coriander seeds in cooking. It has a nutty, spicy, warm flavor that resembles the earthy tone of coriander. Cumin seeds are widely used in recipes like cumin potatoes, cumin rice, and spice blends like garam masala. It is a great coriander substitute in casseroles, curries, and soups. Since cumin has a stronger aroma and flavors, start with less quantity while replacing coriander.
2. Caraway seeds
They are similar to cumin seeds but slightly curved, dark brown, and bigger in size. Persian cumin and shah jeera are its other few names. Caraway is a member of the Apiaceae family and has a slightly earthy taste with the aroma of anise. It is a good substitute for coriander (whole or ground form) in curries and rice dishes. Just replace the coriander in the recipe with an equal amount of caraway seeds. Caraway is a good substitute for coriander seeds in sauces, marinades, and one-pot dishes.
3. Fennel seeds
These are another good alternative to coriander seeds in soups, salads, casserole, curries, and roasting root vegetables. Fennel has a sweet tone similar to anise & licorice and is used for creating flavors and textures. Along with cumin seeds, fennel creates the flavors and creates a flavor profile similar to coriander. In case you are not a fan of anise or licorice, better check for other coriander substitutes.
Coriander Seeds Substitutes In A Pinch
Please note, if you are already using some of the ingredients in the recipe that are part of these spice blends, start by adding a small quantity.
4. Garam Masala
It is a spice mix and contains spices like cumin, coriander, pepper, cinnamon, clove, and bay leaf. You can see, coriander is one of the ingredients here which makes garam masala is an alternative to coriander. Please understand garam masala is a spice mix of many whole spices, using it in good quantity can overpower the dish. You can always use a pinch in order to fulfill the coriander requirement.
5. Curry Powder
It is another spice mix just like garam masala and uses cumin, coriander, turmeric, clove, pepper, ginger, and chili. Standalone curry powder brings out tons of flavors when added to curries. However, it can be the last resort to substitute for coriander. it contains turmeric, nor all recipes require turmeric. So use in small quality to replace coriander and adjust accordingly. I used curry powder in curry tofu scramble.
6. Tabil (Tunisian and Algerian Spice Mix)
Tabil means "coriander" in Tunisian Arabic. It is a warm and earthy spice blend with the flavors of anise & caraway. Made with four basic spices, coriander, cumin, caraway seeds, and red chiles. Tabil enhances the flavors in soups, stews, tagine, make delicious yogurt-based condiments, and marinades. Check this four-ingredient tabil spice mix. Having coriander seeds as a large part of tabil, it can be used in a pinch as a coriander substitute.
7. Kadai Masala
It is another Indian traditional spice blend like garam masala and curry powder. Basic ingredients are coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and red chilies. Other whole spices like clove, peppercorns, and cardamom may also be added but the main ingredients remain the same. Kadai masala is widely used to make Indian curries like Kadai veg, Kadai mushroom, Kadai paneer, and Kadai tofu. In a pinch, it makes a good alternative to coriander seeds.
Can I Use Cilantro For Coriander?
Cilantro (dried or fresh leaves) and coriander seeds have different flavors profile. Due to which cilantro & coriander seeds can not be used interchangeably. Cilantro will always work in garnishing and cooking if a recipe calls for it, but you can not replace it with ground coriander.
Now we have discussed the seven best substitutes for coriander, how and when to use them. Always remember each alternative has its unique properties, flavor profile, and reason to add to a recipe. Sometimes you just have to use a substitute for coriander or just omit it completely.
Finally, I will say, caraway, cumin, and fennel make a great substitute for coriander in whole or ground form. Spice blends like garam masala, kadhai masala, and tabil can be used in a pinch for ground coriander. Use curry powder as the last resort.
Here is the infographic for easy use and to remember how and when to use coriander substitutes.
Must-Try Coriander Recipes
What to do when you have an abundance of coriander seeds? You can make ground coriander, tabil spice blend, and other Indian spice mixes. Or just store them in an airtight container and use them as per requirement.
Frequently Asked Questions
In many countries the entire part of the coriander plant is known as "Coriander" and seeds are referred to as coriander seeds. In America, the edible leafy part of the plant is called "Cilantro" and seeds are called coriander seeds.
You can substitute 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds a recipe calls for with a ¾ teaspoon of ground coriander. Ground cumin may lose its aroma over a period of time so you may need to adjust as per taste. Start by adding less and adjust accordingly.
If you need ground coriander but all you have is the whole coriander seeds, then just use mortar and pestle or spice/coffee grinding machine to make the powder. For instant coarse coriander powder use the rolling pin and voila you have your own coriander powder to use further.
Caraway, cumin, and fennel are the best substitutes for coriander in the whole form.
Caraway, cumin, and fennel are the best substitutes for ground coriander. Another good alternative is Indian Kadai masala, and a Tunisian spice mix named Tabil.
Fennel and Mustard seeds are good substitutes in pickling.
Let me know in the comments if I missed any other good substitutes for coriander. Will add to the list. Thank You.