Culantro vs Cilantro: What is the difference?

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Culantro vs Cilantro – Have you ever wondered what is the difference between culantro and cilantro? Can one letter make than much of a difference in taste and flavor? Is culantro a good substitute in place of cilantro and vice versa?

You are probably most familiar with cilantro (aka coriander or Chinese parsley) due to the popularity of Mexican and Indian food here in America. However culantro is used a lot in the cuisines of the Caribbean, Latin America (especially Central America) and some parts of China and Southeast Asia like Vietnam and Indonesia.

culantro and cilantro - differences and uses

Different Names of Culantro

A lot of people often wonder about coriander vs. cilantro, so let me first clarify this point. In America, we refer to the herb as cilantro, most likely due to our proximity to Mexico and the Spanish word for cilantro, which is cilantrillo. The rest of the English speaking world calls it coriander.

While in the United States fresh cilantro leaves is referred to as cilantro, we do use the word coriander seeds when referring to the seeds of the cilantro plant.

Now that you know the difference between cilantro and coriander, what are the different names of culantro? I am going to focus on the names used in the western hemisphere and we are going to be here a long time if I go through all the names in the native languages of Southeast Asia.

Culantro is the English word for it, although it is sometimes referred to as long coriander. Recaito is the Spanish word for it. In the Caribbean, spellings can be fluid so you might see it sold as shadoe beni, shado beni, chandon beny and in Trinidad the name is bhandaniya. Throughout most of the West Indies and Spanish speaking Caribbean especially Puerto Rico, culantro is a beloved herb.

These are the most common names you will see it sold as in America, however some people might refer to it as wide-leaf cilantro, long-leafed coriander, Mexican coriander, sawtooth coriander, saw-toothed mint, spiny coriander, spiny cilantro or ngo gai (Vietnamese name).

Culantro for Culantro vs Cilantro article

Is Cilantro and Culantro the Same Thing?

Both culantro and cilantro are members of the apiaceae family, but they are two different herbs. Both being a member of the apiaceae family, they join some other delicious and aromatic flowering plants with family members like celery, carrot, dill, parsnip, ajwain, fennel, anise and parsley – just to name a few!

Health Benefits of Culantro vs Cilantro

  • Both Culantro and cilantro are high in Vitamins C and Vitamin A and rich in anti oxidants.
  • While both herbs are good sources of iron, calcium and potassium, there are higher levels of these in culantro, where as the cilantro levels are minor.
  • Cilantro is also a good source of Vitamin K.

Medicinal Purposes

Both of these have been used as a medicinal herb for centuries. Both herbs include aiding with digestion issues as one of its medicinal uses.

Culantro is known for its anti bacterial, anti fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used to treat ailments like:

  • infections
  • fever
  • high blood pressure
  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • indigestion

Cilantro is knows for its assistance with digestive issues like:

  • nausea
  • bloating
  • flatulence
  • bad breath

NOTE: THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL FOR SERIOUS MEDICAL ISSUES.

Taste of Cilantro vs Culantro

Cilantro is one of those things you either love it or hate it. There’s no middle ground. You will always hear people say “OMG I love cilantro the more the better”. or “How can you eat that? Cilantro makes everything inedible!” You never hear people say “I could take it or leave it”. Did you know it’s a genetic anomaly that causes some people to hate it as it tastes like soap or perfume to them?

It is because they all share a olfactory-receptor gene cluster called OR6A2. This gene cluster picks up the smell of aldehyde chemicals. Cilantro/ Coriander has natural aldehyde in it and aldehyde is used in making soap. Therefore, for these people, cilantro has a soapy flavor.

Both cilantro and culantro have a similar aroma and taste – a floral and citrusy flavor, although culantro has a slight anise flavor also.

Both culantro and cilantro have a very strong flavor, however culantro has a more pungent flavor. This is why there is no middle ground in the appreciation of lack there of in regards to these herbs. Despite culantro having a more pungent flavor and similar taste to cilantro, the flavor of culantro does not seem to offend as many people as cilantro does.

For those of you who do not have the OR6A2 gene cluster, you will find it one of the most flavorful herbs that can elevate almost anything it is added to.

Appearance

Cilantro has small, delicate, spiny leaves on thin stems, with an appearance similar to parsley leaves.

cilantro image for article on culantro vs cilantro

Culantro leaves are longer and wider, almost lettuce-like leaves in appearance, but not as wide – similar to dandelion leaves.

Where can you purchase culantro?

While cilantro is commonly available, culantro is not unless you live in a city with large Caribbean communities like NYC, Boston or Miami. Look for it at a local market or vegetable stands in Caribbean neighborhoods or good international markets with a large selection of international produce. Although culantro is used in some Asian cuisines, it is not very commonly sold in Asian markets in America.

How to Store Culantro and Cilantro

Both herbs can be stored wrapped in damp paper towels in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

However, culantro wilts very quickly, so will have a longer shelf life. It is best to use culantro within 5 days of purchase.

Cilantro can last up to a month if you place it in a jar with some water and cover the top with an upside down plastic bag. Remember to change the water every few days.

Culinary Uses

There are many ways they can both be used:

  • Add them into broths when making soups to infuse flavor.
  • Essential ingredient In seasoning pastes like green seasoning or sofrito.
  • Flavor up meat dishes, rice dishes or vegetable dishes with some chopped cilantro or culantro as a finishing herb at the end of cooking.
  • Salads (I prefer the finer texture of cilantro in salads)

Now I know you are excited to utilize both of these delicious herbs. Here are some recipes you should try!

Cilantro Recipes and Culantro Recipes

These herbs are really useful in creating delicious marinades and sauces like:

or delicious main dishes like:

Homemade Sofrito – Marinade & Seasoning Paste
Sofrito – the backbone of most Latin Caribbean cuisine. This marinade & seasoning paste is used to add flavor to every meal
MAKE IT TODAY
bowl of sofrito marinade with fresh vegetables in background
Green Seasoning – Caribbean Marinade
Green Seasoning is a flavorful mix of aromatic herbs and vegetables blended for an all purpose seasining paste.
MAKE IT TODAY
Green Seasoning Recipe in a small bowl with jars in the background
Indian Green Chutney – Cilantro Mint Chutney
This basic green chutney can be enjoyed with all of your Indian foods and you can even use it as sandwich spread.
MAKE IT TODAY
Indian Green Chutney - Cilantro Mint Chutney in a bowl
Green Coconut Chutney
This coconut green chilli chutney is perfect with any Indian flatbread or inside a wrap. It's also great for both vegans and vegetarians!
MAKE IT TODAY
Green Coconut Chutney

Better Meals, Every Step of the Way – Shop Cooking & Baking Essentials at OXO!

Tamarind Chutney
Tamarind Chutney to go with all your delicious Indian and Indo Caribbean snacks like Phulourie.
MAKE IT TODAY
Salsa Criolla – Ecuadorian Creole Sauce
This quick and easy Ecuadorian Creole Sauce has just enough spice. It is a great compliment to any meal or dip.
MAKE IT TODAY
Latin American Salsa Creole
Coriander Matar Poha – Flattened Rice with Cilantro & Green Peas
Coriander Matar Poha – Flattened Rice with Cilantro & Green Peas is a quick and easy breakfast that comes together within 15 minutes! Vegan & Gluten Free!
MAKE IT TODAY
Coriander Matar Poha - Flattened Rice with Cilantro & Green Peas
Lamb Kofta Bowl
Lamb Kofta Bowl is perfect for dinner. Gluten Free Lamb Meatballs with steamed couscous and an herbaceous salad is perfect for any season!
Check out this recipe

Need more culinary inspiration? Check out the Recipe Index with over 1500 Recipes from Around the World with lots of Vegetarian πŸ₯•πŸ†πŸ…and Gluten Free Recipes!

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