A lot of falafel recipe calls for both chopped coriander/cilantro and parsley. Online images look the same to me. Is there a difference between the two? Would omission of one drastically change the flavor?

  • 8
    The flavor is dramatically different.
    – Preston
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 11:22

7 Answers 7


Coriander leaf/cilantro looks VERY similar to flat leaf parsley. When I have both at the house I sometimes resort to smelling them to know which is which.

Cilantro is very strong smelling, and you'd definitely change the flavor of the dish if you left it out.

Flat leaf parsley is significantly more subtle and has a much milder flavor and scent. It is not flavorless, and in a recipe that calls for a lot of it, you'd really be missing something by leaving it out.

When you've got a recipe that calls for both parsley and cilantro, you're definitely going to be more able to taste/smell the cilantro more than parsley, but they'll both contribute different notes. If you have to leave one out, leave out the parsley, but don't try to make up the volume with more cilantro, as you may wind up overpowering your dish. Just leave the parsley out and proceed as normal.

Do not use curly leave parsley in anything--it is tough and virtually flavorless. It is ONLY a garnish and not worth wasting your time on.

  • 1
    I'll just add that cilantro is not as pungent in either smell or taste when it is very fresh. But it "expires" quickly.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 2:16
  • 3
    True enough, but compared to parsley, even very fresh it has a much stronger flavor and scent.
    – bikeboy389
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 2:19
  • 9
    It is worth noting that Cilantro has an unusual characteristic; depending on your genetic makeup your tasting abilities differ. For some small percentage of the population the taste of cilantro is very unpleasant, I've heard it described as soapy. I wouldn't know as I'm lucky enough to enjoy it, and I find the few things I use it in (fajitas, a few 'don' style dishes) it is wonderful and essential.
    – renegade
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 15:31
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    "virtually flavorless", no.... but weaker, yes. The advantage with curly is that the texture might be desired here and there, and that the stuff has less of a tendency to rot in your fridge :) Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 9:55
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    I agree with this answer apart from the last paragraph - there are many uses for curly leaf parsley. It has a slightly different flavour (a bit more metallic and grassy) and a different texture, and is definitely not 'virtually flavourless'. A traditional english parsley sauce would not be right with flat-leaf parsley
    – canardgras
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 14:46

enter image description here


The leaf on the left is Coriander - it's a slightly lighter green, and has rounder leaves.

  • Botanical Classification

Coriandrum sativum is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae.

  • Uses

All parts: leaves, roots, stems and seeds are used in cooking either as a garnish, a key ingredient or as a powder.

  • Regions used/found

Native to Southern Europe, North Africa and South western Asia. Common in Middle Eastern, European and American cooking.

  • Flavor

Seeds when crushed have a warm, nutty, spicy flavor. The leaves have been described to a have 'soapy' taste.


Parsley on the right is a darker green and has more pointy, sharper leaves.

  • Botanical Classification

Petroselinum crispum is a biennial herb from the family Apiaceae.

  • Uses

Only the leaves are used, chopped and sprinkled as a garnish. Also as part of a bouquet garni (bundle of herbs) to flavor soups and stocks.

  • Regions used/found

Use for its leaf in similar way to coriander but has a milder flavor.

  • Flavor

The leaves when chopped have a mild flavor.

  • The structure of this answer looks impressive, but it does not mesh with my experience. 1) Parsley roots are commonly eaten - in the big scheme of vegetables, not as common as potatoes, but certainly more common than things like nopale or okra, and 2) I find the flavor of parsley stronger than the flavor of coriander.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 15:13
  • Coriander is the key element in many Moroccan dishes; Couscous, Tajine etc.. It is hard to distinguish the difference between coriander and parsley however if you have them both then you can use the small to distinguish them as noted by other replies.
    – numediaweb
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 17:09
  • 2
    Yes. you might want to add Root parsley to your answer. But apart from that great job.
    – Umbranus
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 14:09

Coriander/Cilantro is also known as "Chinese Parsley"... which hints that they are similar, but not quite the same. The parsley you likely typically think of has ruffled, curly leaves and is commonly used as a garnish. Cilantro has flatter leaves and stronger flavor and aroma.

You may be able to omit the curly parsley without a drastic change in flavor, but I would recommend not skipping the Cilantro as that will certainly have an impact.

  • 1
    I'm fairly certain that they have similar names because they look similar. It doesn't really indicate much about the flavor. Look at the other things in that family - I don't think you'd try to suggest they're all "similar".
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 17:39
  • +1 for the Apiaceae. Who knew you could learn so much from a cooking forum?
    – user194
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 14:59
  • 1
    many herbs are in the "mint" family but bear little other useful similarity in terms of cuisine
    – zanlok
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 18:35

Apart from being green they're quite different, in flavour terms at least. Coriander is deep, earthy, and almost soapy - good with hot and oily food. Parsley - flat not curled which is almost tasteless - is fresh, green and good with fish and cured meats. You can switch but the flavour of the dish will change - if falafel I'd ditch the parsley if I had to choose, but They're both important. In 'older' (pre 1960s before they discovered coriander in the UK) recipes they tended to use the two interchangeably.


The most obvious visual guide would be to look at how the leaves are connected to the main stalk. Look at each joint where the stem is connected to the little branches (petiole?) to the leaves. for coriander, one leave per joint. But for flat parsley, you can see that at each joint, they branch out to a few more leaves, so it's more than one leave per joint. But if someone tear all the tiny leaves out then I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference!


In the US, coriander refers to ground coriander seeds, not coriander leaf. Its a brown powder. The seeds are spherical and slightly larger than peppercorns.


It's the fact that Coriander leaf/cilantro looks VERY similar to flat leaf parsley,I always believe that they are same.Cilantro has flatter leaves and stronger flavor and aroma while Parsley don't.

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