Exploring the Top 7 Substitutes for Cilantro in Salsa

7 Best Cilantro Substitutes for Salsa

Cilantro, also known as fresh coriander or coriander leaves, is a widely used herb in various cuisines, especially in dishes like salsa, guacamole, and as a garnish for soups and salads. However, not everyone enjoys the distinct flavor of cilantro, and some people even find it unpleasant, describing it as tasting like soap. If you fall into this category, fear not! There are several excellent substitutes for cilantro that can still add delicious flavor to your salsa. In this article, we will explore the seven best substitutes for cilantro in salsa and how to use them effectively.

1. Parsley

Parsley is a bright green, leafy herb that bears some resemblance to cilantro in both appearance and flavor. While parsley has a slightly more bitter taste and a subtle peppery bite, it can serve as a suitable substitute for cilantro in salsa. Although it lacks the citrus notes found in cilantro, you can add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to your salsa for a similar flavor profile. In addition, parsley works well to enhance the flavors of other spices, so incorporating it with other greens on this list can help elevate the flavor of your salsa.

2. Mint

Although it may sound unconventional, mint can be an interesting substitute for cilantro in salsa. Salsa is known for its heat, and adding mint brings a refreshing and cooling factor to the mix. Mint offers a slightly sweet taste and a burst of freshness that complements the heat of the peppers in salsa. It works particularly well with mango salsas, as the sweetness and freshness create a delightful combination. To further enhance the flavor, you can add ground coriander seeds, which add warmth and some of the citrusy notes typically associated with cilantro. It’s worth noting that mint leaves are better suited to lime than lemon in salsa.

3. Basil

Known as a key ingredient in pesto, basil is also an excellent substitute for coriander in salsa. Basil has some similarities to mint in that it offers a fresh flavor with a hint of pepperiness. In addition, basil brings citrus elements, albeit in a sweeter form. Its natural sweetness makes it an ideal addition to fruit salsas. While a simple tomato salsa can benefit from the addition of basil, the combination becomes even more delightful when mango, peach or strawberry are involved.

4. Chives

Chives have a distinct flavor that is different from cilantro, but they work exceptionally well in salsa because of their bright green color and slightly pungent onion-garlic flavor. Since salsa often contains onion and garlic, adding chives enhances these flavors while providing an appetizing visual appeal. If you add avocado to your salsa along with chives, the creamy contrast will help balance the strong flavor of the dish.

5. Green Onions

Green onions, also known as scallions, are another great substitute for cilantro in salsa. They are similar in flavor to chives, with mild onion and garlic notes. An advantage of using green onions is that you can use both the bulb and the green leaves, allowing you to add or replace some of the onion in your recipe. While the green leaves of green onions tend to be milder in flavor than chives, they can still contribute to the overall flavor profile of your salsa. Pairing scallions with sour cream in your salsa can create a harmonious combination. The bright and slightly tart freshness of the sour cream helps to temper the heat of the onions.

6. Dill

Closely related to parsley, dill has a unique flavor of its own. While dill pickles are its most famous use, this versatile herb can also serve as a substitute for cilantro in salsa. There are two delicious ways to use dill in your salsa:
Sour and Spicy: Similar to dill pickles, salsa with dill and vinegar is a perfect combination. Adding a little apple cider vinegar helps bring all the flavors together.
Sweet and Spicy: For a salsa with a sweeter profile, use a splash of apple cider vinegar along with sugar or pure maple syrup. This combination adds complexity and depth to the salsa.
Dill also works well with mustard. Adding a few crushed mustard seeds or a pinch of ground mustard powder to your salsa can add an extra layer of flavor.

7. Carrot Greens

Often overlooked and underutilized, carrot greens can be a surprising substitute for cilantro in salsa. Many people do not know that carrot greens are edible, let alone how to incorporate them into their cooking. Adding carrot greens to your salsa offers a taste similar to parsley, but with a hint of carrot flavor. The greens have a slightly earthy and herbaceous quality that can add a unique twist to your salsa. To use carrot greens effectively, chop them finely and mix them with other herbs such as parsley or basil. This combination will enhance the overall flavor profile of your salsa while adding a hint of carrot undertones.


While cilantro is a popular herb in salsa, not everyone appreciates its taste. Fortunately, there are several excellent substitutes that can add exciting flavors to your salsa. Parsley, mint, basil, chives, scallions, dill, and carrot greens all offer unique characteristics that can up your salsa game. Experiment with these substitutes to find the combination that best suits your taste preferences. Remember, salsa is a versatile dish, and by exploring different herbs and flavors, you can create a salsa that is truly your own. So the next time you’re making salsa and you’re out of cilantro or just want to try something different, give these substitutes a try and enjoy a delicious twist on your favorite dip.


Can I eliminate cilantro from my salsa altogether?

Yes, you can omit cilantro from your salsa if you don’t like its flavor. There are several excellent substitutes that can still add delicious flavor to your salsa.

Can I use a combination of these substitutes in my salsa?

Absolutely! Feel free to experiment and combine different substitutes to create a unique flavor profile in your salsa. Mixing herbs such as parsley, mint, basil, or chives can result in a delicious blend of flavors.

Will these ingredients change the overall flavor of my salsa?

Yes, using cilantro substitutes will give your salsa a different flavor than the traditional cilantro-based version. However, these substitutes can bring their own unique flavors and enhance the overall flavor of your salsa in a delicious way.

Are there any substitutes that work best with certain types of salsa?

Yes, some substitutes work especially well with certain types of salsa. For example, mint is great with fruit salsas, and basil is great with tomato-based salsas. It’s worth experimenting with different substitutes to find the best match for your favorite salsa.

Can I use these substitutes in dishes other than salsa?

Absolutely! These substitutes are versatile and can be used in many other dishes that call for cilantro. From salads and dressings to marinades and soups, feel free to explore their flavors and experiment with different culinary creations.