Mexican Tomato Salsa in white bowl with lime, red onion, jalapeno pepper, parsley and tortilla chips on wooden table

Making salsa from scratch gives you the freedom to choose your own ingredients, such as cilantro. Fresh cilantro is added to many Mexican dishes like salsas, guacamole, and soups for its distinctive, assertive flavor. People either love cilantro or hate it due to its particular taste, which some describe as "soapy." Cilantro, an herb, comes from the leaves of the coriander plant and these coriander leaves are available all year in produce areas of supermarkets. Coriander seeds are from this same plant. If you cannot find it or do not like the taste of cilantro, replace it with another fresh herb in your salsa and try different flavors!


Mint has a bright, refreshing flavor to it and is a good substitute. This flavor is unlike bold cilantro, but it will pair well with the ingredients in a fruit or tomato-based salsa with lime juice for a citrusy kick! Try replacing the cilantro with an equal amount of fresh mint leaves in pineapple, papaya, mango, peach or watermelon salsas. Opt for mint as a cilantro substitute in many Latin American dishes as a great substitute.


Basil and tomatoes are a perfect pizza sauce pairing, but these will also combine well in salsa, especially as a replacement for cilantro. The bright green color of the basil will approximate that of the missing cilantro and offer a similar flavor profile for curries, tacos, or Middle Eastern and Asian Cuisine, specifically in Vietnamese dishes. Opt for fresh basil instead of dried and substitute the same amount that the recipe calls in place of cilantro in your dish. Thai basil is not quite as good of a substitute because of its unique flavor.


Parsley's slight pepperiness lacks the assertive flavor of cilantro. Italian or flat-leaf parsley more closely resembles the flavor and look of cilantro, without the soapy flavor detected by some. It has a similar taste and is one of the best cilantro substitutes – parsley could be used in place of cilantro leaves in pesto or stews. This type of parsley is not as readily available as its more frequently seen cousin, curly leaf parsley, which is the parsley sold fresh in most grocery stores and used as a garnish in restaurants.


Chives can replace the green color from cilantro in salsa, but the flavor will be different. Seen topping baked potatoes or mixed into dip, chives taste similar to onions. In fact, they're related to onions and leeks. Instead of chopping the chives with a knife, snip them with kitchen shears to avoid bruising the plant. Like cilantro, add the chives at the end to retain their bright color and flavor. Due to their taste, use chives to replace cilantro in salsa recipes including onions, so the chives will be a complement to the dish.

Bad Substitutes

Bad substitutes for cilantro would be celery leaves, caraway, and fennel.