This Is The Difference Between Coriander And Parsley

You've found the perfect recipe for fresh salsa on Pinterest. The only problem? It calls for fresh coriander, which currently does not exist in your refrigerator. No worries — you'll just head to the grocery store to snag some. Confidently, you stroll into the produce section and reach for a bunch of the leafy greens you know (or thought you knew) is coriander. At the last minute, however, you look down and see you're actually grabbing parsley, which you could hardly tell apart from the coriander sitting right next to it. 

You know they aren't the same thing (the little chalkboard sign underneath of each one says so) but you don't know why. After all, they look almost identical, with their bright green, slightly curly leaves. What makes coriander — also known as cilantro — different than parsley? Here's what you need to know about the two greens and how they're actually nowhere near as similar as their appearance would suggest.

Coriander and parsley each have their own unique flavor

While you may not be able to differentiate coriander from parsley at first glance, you can definitely tell them apart at first bite. Spiceography describes the flavor of coriander as "earthy and nutty with a hint of sweet citrus." It's much bolder and strong than its milder counterpart, parsley, which is almost flavorless with a slightly bitter aftertaste. This is why Stack Exchange explains that in recipes, coriander can absolutely not be omitted without completely changing the flavor of the dish. On the other hand, if you have to skip the parsley, your meal might not be as colorful but the taste will hardly be impacted.

However, if you can't taste the greens before buying them, Fine Cooking says there is a way to distinguish parsley from coriander based on the shape of the leaves. Parsley leaves are slightly darker with more pointed edges, while coriander leaves are lighter and tend to have more rounded and lacy edges. You can also rub the leaves to get the aroma, in order to tell one from the other.