substitute for cilantro in salsa

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Are you about to make some salsa? If you’re out of fresh cilantro then you may be wondering if you can replace this herb with great results. Thankfully, you can do so. We’ll show you 7 easy ways to substitute for cilantro in salsa.

substitute for cilantro in salsa

We’ve shared the best substitutes for lime juice in salsa, and today, we thought it fit to share the best replacements for cilantro in salsa.

Cilantro is a fresh aromatic herb that imparts a pungent, tangy, lemon-like flavor to dishes. It is usually used in recipes like soups, sauces, dips, tacos and and of course, in salsa.

When making salsa, cilantro is often roughly chopped then mixed in with the other salsa ingredients. It is usually also added to the top of a salsa dish as a garnish as well.

But if you are here, you likely have no cilantro available and you are here to learn what the best alternatives are, especially for a salsa recipe. You will not be disappointed.

What are the best substitutes for cilantro in salsa?

The best way to replace cilantro in salsa is with fresh herbs like parsley, culantro, marjoram, basil, mint, oregano, dill and chives.

It bears saying that each of these herbs will impart a different flavor to a salsa dish, but they work quite well in brightening up the flavor of salsa albeit in their own unique way.

Best cilantro substitutes for salsa




Parsley is quite popular in salsa recipes and thus can be used to replace cilantro. While parsley has a flavor that is more fresh, peppery, and earthy unlike that of cilantro, it adds its own unique qualities to salsa and can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio.




Another herb that can easily replace cilantro in salsa is culantro. Culantro is not the same as cilantro. In fact, it is a herb that has long spiky leaves and grows to look kind of like long-leaf lettuce, but, it has a very similar flavor to cilantro. 

Culantro does have a much stronger lemony-pungent flavor than cilantro so it is advisable to use less in your dish.

It is often added to foods that take longer to cook since it is not a delicate herb like cilantro and its flavors will not degrade easily. While it works in dishes that take longer to cook as its flavor holds up better, you can also chop it up and add it to salsa. It works quite well in all types of salsa including fresh tomato salsa at a ratio of ½:1. For example ½ cup of culantro is equal to 1 cup of cilantro.

Also, culantro is a superior ingredient in cooked salsas as it can withstand the cooking time without losing its flavor, unlike fresh cilantro.

Papalo (or summer cilantro)



Papalo or summer cilantro is another ideal substitute for cilantro in salsa. Papalo is a Mexican herb used to season food that is a cross between cilantro mixed with citrus and cucumber. It is of course more robust than cilantro so less of it is required. 




Mint is a great cilantro substitute for salsa as well. Mint adds a beautiful sweet flavor to any salsa with a lingering cooling effect. Nonetheless, it works for tomato salsa, mango salsa, pineapple salsa, strawberry salsa, cucumber salsa, and more.

Simply chop up some fresh mint and add it to the salsa like you would add the cilantro. Substitute at a 1:1 ratio. 


Basil is a great sub for cilantro in salsa


Another herb that works in place of cilantro in a salsa recipe is basil. In fact, basil is quite a common herb used in salsa dishes.

This is so because the fresh, sweet, peppery flavor of basil complements tomatoes and by extension, tomato salsa quite well. The flavor of basil also complements mango and watermelon quite well, so if you’re making a mango salsa, or watermelon salsa, basil is a great herb to pair with these.




Marjoram is not a popular herb used to make salsa, but in a pinch, it can be used with great results. It works because its flavor is a mix of sweet, citrusy, and floral with some bitter undertones.

Marjoram pairs well with tomatoes so it does a really good job of replacing cilantro in tomato salsa.




Dill is another great cilantro substitute in salsa. Dill has a grassy flavor with hints of citrus and anise. Roughly chop the fresh dill and add the salsa like you would cilantro. 




Lastly, chives can be used to replace cilantro in salsa. Chives are bright green with a mild garlic flavor, and while this herb will not replicate the citrusy flavor of cilantro, it does add a nice touch to salsa.

Recipes with each cilantro substitute in salsa

There you have it! 7 easy alternatives for cilantro in salsa. So, if you’re ever out of fresh cilantro, you have plenty of other fresh herbs that can easily replace it!

More cilantro substitutes for specific recipes

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