Food and Drink

5 Differences Between Cilantro (in the US) vs. Coriander (in the UK)

cilantro and coriander

There’s some confusion around the similarities between cilantro and coriander. Depending on where you are in the world could yield a different answer. Particularly when looking at the UK vs. North America we see a different story.

In this article, we discuss why in the UK it’s described as coriander, while in the US they call it cilantro. Settling this overseas debate once and for all.

Are Cilantro and Coriander the Same?

Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, the Coriandrum Sativum. As herbs and spices are naturally two different parts of the same plant, so are cilantro and coriander. 

In the US, cilantro refers to the stems and leaves of the plant. These are used as the herb or garnish. The seeds are ground into a powder for the spice, called coriander.

While in the UK, the whole thing is called coriander. The leaves and stalk are called coriander, while the seeds are called coriander seeds.

What are the Differences Between Cilantro (US) and Coriander (UK)?

Despite the fact that cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, there are several differences. Let’s delve into the flavoursome world of herbs and spices.

1. Smell and Taste

As cilantro and coriander are two different parts of the same plant, they are herbs and spices. So naturally they have two distinct smells and tastes due to this. 

Coriander leaves can be broken into two groups. Those that like it and those that don’t. Those who like it say it has a fresh citrus taste and aroma. While those who don’t say it tastes like soap.

Coriander seeds have a considerably less controversial taste and smell.  The smell is warm, nutty, and spicy, with a suggestion of citrus. 

cilantro and coriander leaves, stem and seeds
The cilantro/coriander leaves and stem, and the coriander seeds

2. Contents of the Plant

The fact that both cilantro and coriander are part of the same part may be obvious. But the differences between the UK and the US, make it important to clarify which part is which.

There are technically three parts to the Coriandrum Sativum plant. The stem, the leaves, and the seeds. Cilantro (in the US), sees two parts of those plants, the stem and the leaves. While the coriander (in both the US and UK) has the third part, the seeds.

3. Nutrition 

One of the differences between cilantro and coriander is their nutritional value. In fact, cilantro leaves have considerably more vitamins than that of coriander seeds. The leaves in the plant have 634% more Vitamin A than the seeds.

Similarly, coriander seeds have much more minerals than cilantro leaves. The seeds are rich in phosphorus, calcium and potassium, whereas the leaves are lacking.

In each of these tables, we have described the leaves both as cilantro (US) and coriander (UK). The seeds are called coriander in both the UK and the US.

Nutrition Value

Here are the nutritional values of the cilantro (or coriander leaves) and coriander (seeds).

NutritionCilantro / Coriander (Leaves)Coriander (Seeds)
Calories31.07268.88
Carbohydrate1.93 g12.98 g
Protein3.52 g10.66 g
Water86.99 g8.72 g
Fat0.70 g17.47 g
Fibre4.66 g44.81 g

Vitamins

Here are the vitamin values of the cilantro (or coriander leaves) and coriander (seeds).

VitaminCilantro / Coriander (Leaves)Coriander (Seeds)
Vitamin C135 mg0 mg
Vitamin A6918 mcg942 mcg

Minerals

Here are the mineral values of the cilantro (or coriander leaves) and coriander (seeds).

MineralCilantro / Coriander (Leaves)Coriander (Seeds)
Phosphorous71 mg393 mg
Iron1.42 mg7.1 mg
Calcium184 mg630 mg
Magnesium31 mg239 mg
Sodium58.3 mg32 mg
Potassium256 mg990 mg
Sulphur49 mg0 mg
Chlorine43 mg0 mg
Zinc0 mg3.26 mg
Choline0 mg1077 mg
Folic acid0 mcg32 mcg

4. Uses in Dishes

As cilantro and coriander are herbs and spices respectively, they have different uses in cooking. Coriander seeds are reserved for dishes that require spice, while cilantro leaves are used for garnishes.

Coriander (the spice) is added to meals during cooking as would any spice. While cilantro (the herb) is added just before serving, as the heat can quickly reduce its flavour.

Coriander Dishes

Here are some coriander dishes for you to try:

  • Curries
  • Rice
  • Soup
  • Dips
  • Smoothies
  • Hummus
  • Chutney
  • Meat rubs

Cilantro Dishes

Not to mention, some delicious cilantro dishes:

  • Salsa
  • Soups
  • Guacamole
  • Chutney

5. Health Benefits

Alongside the taste, there are health benefits to both cilantro and coriander. Coriander has benefits to health, skin and hair, while cilantro has some nice benefits of its own.

Both coriander and cilantro lower blood sugar levels, support heart health and promote digestion.

Coriander Health Benefits

Here are some health benefits of coriander:

  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Improves heart health and improves brain health
  • Promotes digestion and gut health
  • Detoxifies and exfoliates the skin
  • Improves kidney function

Cilantro Health Benefits

Here are some health benefits of cilantro:

  • Reduces anxiety and protects against stress
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Supports heart health
  • Supports healthy menstrual function
  • Protects against food poisoning

Final Thoughts from UK vs. USA

Cilantro and coriander are similar, but not the same. They’re part of the same plant but have different smells, tastes, and uses. But hopefully, this article demystifies the confusion around how the Brits and Americans choose to name these herbs and spices.

If you liked our guide to cilantro and coriander, why not check out our blog about the differences between scallions and spring onions?

Cilantro (US) vs. Coriander (UK) FAQ:

Can you substitute cilantro for coriander?

While cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, the Coriandrum sativum, they have two different distinctive tastes. 

While there are overlap in how they can be used, for example, cilantro and coriander can be used in both soups and chutney. They have two different distinct tastes and smells which means they can’t be used interchangeably. Or at least, not ideally.

Why is coriander called cilantro in the US?

Coriander is the English word, while cilantro is the Spanish word. The UK has chosen to use the English word, while Americans use the Spanish word. The names also describe the different parts of the Coriandrum Sativum plant. The cilantro describes the leaves and stem, while coriander are the seeds that are produced.

Is coriander dried cilantro?

The dried seeds of the plant are called coriander, used for spices. Dried coriander leaves are something entirely different. So technically, coriander is not dried cilantro.

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