How to Chop Cilantro

5 from 17 votes

Follow my step-by-step method to chop cilantro quickly for salsas and many recipes. Learning the best way to cut cilantro is a great knife skill to master.

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Knowing how to chop cilantro will help you add the perfect flavor to all sorts of salsas, as well as Lebanese and Asian dishes. Important to know: fresh cilantro is superior to dried, and cilantro is used to finish dishes. It loses oomph when simmered.

glass jar with cilantro in it

How do you clean cilantro?

Those plastic clamshells or bunches of herbs might look clean but unless specifically labeled as prewashed, you need to rinse away any bacteria, dirt, or chemical residual. Here are my tips:

  • Rinse under cold running water, shaking to make sure all leaves get washed.
  • Or soak in a bowl of cold water and swish gently to remove dirt.
  • If you are worried about bacteria, you can add white vinegar (two tablespoons vinegar for every one cup water) to the soak. Rinse afterward and be forewarned this can affect the taste.
  • Remember, using bleach or other strong solutions to rinse produce can make you sick.
washing cilantro in a sieve

Next, dry by laying on paper towels and blotting. Or spin in a salad spinner if you have one.

cilantro in a paper towel

How do you cut cilantro?

Start by lining up the cilantro bunch and use a sharp knife to cut off the larger, bottom stems especially if they are thick and woody. For a fine mince? Keep a longer length of the more tender stems but know they have a stronger flavor than the leaves. If you are chopping into large pieces or using whole leaves, toss the stems.

Fold the cilantro bunch in half the long way and use a rocking motion with the knife to chop horizontally as finely as needed.

chopping cilantro on a wooden chopping board

How do you store cilantro?

For chopped cilantro

Chopped cilantro needs to be frozen to last more than a day. Pack into ice cube trays and fill out with some water or olive oil. Once frozen the cubes can be transferred to a baggie or silicon bag. You can also pack them flat in a freezer-safe bag without any water or oil.

For whole cilantro

I’ve had good luck with two different storage methods. I prefer to wash the cilantro so that it’s ready to use, especially if I know I’m using it within a week. However, washing it can create excess moisture on the leaves which may make the cilantro decay faster. Both methods work for washed or unwashed cilantro.

  1. Storage Method 1: Place like a bunch of flowers in a glass jar covered by a plastic or silicon bag. You can trim the bottom of the sticks and be sure to change out the water every 3-5 days.
  2. Storage Method 2: Roll the cilantro in a clean, damp (not wet!) paper towel, then roll the whole bundle into a plastic or silicon bag.
cilantro in a jar wrapped in plastic wrap

Recipes with cilantro

Frequently asked questions

How long does chopped cilantro last?

Once chopped, you should use the cilantro within a couple days for best flavor. However, storing it with its stems in either method shared above can actually make the cilantro last for up to 2 weeks, especially if unwashed.

Are coriander and cilantro the same thing?

In the U.S., cilantro refers to the leafy herb and coriander refers to whole or ground seeds from the same plant. The seeds have a warmer flavor profile. Outside the U.S. coriander means both the leaf and the seed.

Can I substitute dried cilantro for fresh?

It is not the same. Essential oils are lost in the drying process and and dehydration concentrates the flavors in a way that makes them different.

cilantro on a paper towel

Cilantro, an assertive herb, pops out in cuisines all over the world from the Middle East and Africa to Asia and Latin America. Plus, it also boasts vitamins A and C and tiny amounts of calcium and iron. Chop some up today!

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How to Cut Cilantro

Follow my step-by-step method to chop cilantro quickly for salsas and many recipes. Learning the best way to cut cilantro is a great knife skill to master.
5 from 17 votes
Servings 8
Course Condiments
Calories 1
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bunch cilantro

Instructions

  • Place the cilantro in a colander and wash with cold water for a few minutes to loosen and remove any dirt. Dry on paper towels or in a salad spinner.
  • Decide how much cilantro you want to use and store the remainder in a mason jar filled with water. You want to place the cilantro stems down into the water and cover with a clear plastic bag. You can place a rubber band around the bag to keep the bag in place. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • For the remaining cilantro you’ll use in your recipe, transfer the washed cilantro to a salad spinner or paper towel to dry as much as possible.
  • Line up the cilantro bunch together and use a sharp knife to cut off where the stems start to look larger. The stems have a more concentrated flavor, so you can decide how much or little you want to keep for the recipe.
  • Fold the remaining cilantro bunch in half the long way and use a rocking motion with the knife to chop as finely as needed.
  • Use in your recipe as needed.

Notes

Storage: Store chopped cilantro in the freezer for up to 3 months. For whole cilantro that has not been chopped, try one of these two storage methods:
  1. Storage Method 1: Place like a bunch of flowers in a glass jar covered by a plastic or silicon bag. You can trim the bottom of the sticks and be sure to change out the water every 3-5 days.
  2. Storage Method 2: Roll the cilantro in a clean, damp (not wet!) paper towel, then roll the whole bundle into a plastic or silicon bag.
Photo Credit: Erin Jensen

Nutrition

Calories: 1kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Sodium: 1mg, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 17IU

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

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cilantro with ends cut off on a wooden chopping board

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