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How to Chop Cilantro

Chopped cilantro is a simple way to elevate your favorite recipes and give added freshness. As a home cook, I always make sure I have my spice cabinet filled with dried herbs and spices, as well as having some fresh herbs to incorporate into my everyday cooking.

chopped cilantro on a cutting board with a sharp knife.

Having a home herb garden is a great way to make sure you always have fresh herbs on hand.

This eliminates trips to the store, and ensures that you don’t have a bunch of herbs going bad too quickly. 

In my home I have been using the GreenStalk vertical garden and I find this a great way to grow plants, vegetables, and herbs with a limited amount of space.

You can also find tips on how to start an herb garden on my blog.

If you don’t have an herb garden at home you can easily store your cilantro to use in many different dishes over the week.

I like to plan my recipes around the fresh herbs I need to use, so that I can have multiple dishes that use the same herbs to eliminate food waste.

cilantro in a glass jar standing on a wooden table.

What is Cilantro?

Cilantro is the leafy stems of a coriander plant.

Once the plant flowers, the seeds are used to make coriander.

While cilantro and coriander are from the same plant, they have very different flavors and uses.

Cilantro is mainly used as an herb to add a fresh citrus-like flavor to many different dishes. 

Cilantro is an herb that you either love or you hate.

Some people find that cilantro can have a soapy bitter taste that can be quite off-putting.

Others find the flavor to be bright, citrusy, and add an almost peppery taste to food.

chopped cilantro on a cutting board with a sharp knife.

What Dishes is Cilantro Good For?

  • Asian Dishes- Cilantro is most commonly used in Asian dishes such as curry pastes. Consider adding it on top of your Pad Thai.
  • Mexican Dishes– Mexican dishes, giving a bright fresh taste that pairs well with rich flavorful meals. I like to top my tacos with a bunch of freshly chopped cilantro.
  • Salads– It’s also delicious in salad dressings.
  • Salsas and Toppings– Chopped cilantro is commonly used in pico de Gallo and almost any salsa, providing a bold citrus flavor that pairs beautifully with the sweet and spicy salsa.
  • Marinades– You can even use the stems in many different types of marinades that can hold up to the stronger flavor found in the stem. You can add a handful of cilantro and blend it in a food processor to make a delicious marinade for steak and chicken.

Cilantro leaves are bright green and leafy, adding a beautiful pop of color to any dish.

cilantro in a glass mason jar.

What are the Parts of Cilantro?

Cilantro plants include leafy herbs with tender stems.

You can use the whole leaves and long stems can both be used in a variety of dishes.

The dried seed can also be used, which are actually coriander seeds.

How to Wash Cilantro

Washing your herbs is a very important step to remove any dirt, pesticides, or impurities from the leaves.

  1. Gently place the herbs in a colander in the sink.
  2. Remove any browned or imperfect leaves before washing.
  3. Using cold water, rinse the herbs thoroughly, being as gentle as possible.
  4. Dry the excess water off with a paper towel.
chopped cilantro on a cutting board with a sharp knife.

How do you store cilantro?

  • Fill a Jar with Water– Fresh cilantro should be stored in a jar filled with 1 to 2 inches of cold water. Be sure to get the stems submerged in water.
  • Remove Leaves in Water– Make sure that you do not have any leaves in the water. If the leaves are in the water they will turn the water brown and make the cilantro wilt a lot faster.
  • Cover the Cilantro Leaves– You will want to cover the leaves with plastic and store them on the counter or in the refrigerator. 
  • Change the Water– Make sure to change the water frequently to keep the leaves from wilting and the water turning brown.

Using these methods should keep your parsley fresh for 4 to 5 days. 

Tips for chopping cilantro

  • The best way to chop cilantro is with a good sharp knife. Since cilantro is a soft leafy herb you want to chop in a rocking motion with as sharp of a knife as possible. You can damage the herbs delicate stems by sawing the leaves, turning them brown. 
  • You will want to remove the leaves by gently plucking them from the stem or using your knife to chop the leaves from the stem. Once the leaves are removed, you want to combine them into a small pile and gently chop the leaves in one direction using a rocking method. You will want to go back through the pile of leaves in the opposite direction, using the same method until they are finely chopped.  
  • If you are using your cilantro in a sauce or rub, you can save some time by chopping it in a food processor. Place the washed cilantro into the bowl of the food processor. Hold the button for 2-3 seconds at a time until the cilantro is chopped to the desired consistency. This method is not recommended if you plan on using the herb as a garnish, since the blades can damage the leaves and turn the cilantro brown. 
chopped cilantro on a cutting board with a sharp knife.

How Do You Remove the Stems from Cilantro?

Wrap a rubber band around the stems of the entire bunch of cilantro.

Hold the bunch of washed cilantro upside down.

Use the blade of a sharp knife at an angle and run down the length of the stem.

You will want to press down hard enough so that the leaves are cut cleanly away from the stems.

You can also delicately pull the leaves from the stems, however, take care not to pull too hard and damage the leaves.

a pile of chopped cilantro.

How to chop cilantro in 3 easy steps

  1. Remove the leaves from the stem of a washed and dried cilantro bunch. Combine the leaves into a small pile onto a cutting board. 
  2. Using a sharp chef’s knife, start at one end of the pile and use a small rocking motion in one direction.  
  3. Turn the leaves a quarter turn, and using the same method, chop the leaves until they are finely chopped. 
chopped up cilantro on a cutting board.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat the stems?

Cilantro stems are edible but tend to be a stronger flavor than the leaves.
If you are using cilantro as a garnish it is best to remove the stems to keep the flavor a bit more mild.
The stems can be used in any dish that has a very mild flavor.
It is best to cook the stems to remove some of the bitter flavor.

How to Chop Cilantro Recipe

chopped cilantro on a cutting board with a sharp knife.

How to Chop Cilantro Recipe

Liz Quick
Chopped cilantro is a simple way to elevate your favorite recipes and give added freshness. As a home cook, I always make sure I have my spice cabinet filled with dried herbs and spices, as well as having some fresh herbs to incorporate into my everyday cooking.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
0 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 1 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 chopping board

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 sharp chef's knife

Instructions
 

  • Remove leaves from the stem of a washed and dried cilantro bunch. Combine the leaves into a small pile onto a cutting board.
  • Using a sharp chef's knife, start at one end of the pile and use a small rocking motion in one direction.
  • Turn the leaves a quarter turn and using the same method, chop the leaves until they are finely chopped.

Notes

  • The best way to chop cilantro is with a good sharp knife. Since cilantro is a soft leafy herb you want to chop in a rocking motion with as sharp of a knife as possible. You can damage the herbs delicate stems by sawing the leaves, turning them brown. 
  • You will want to remove the leaves by gently plucking them from the stem or using your knife to chop the leaves from the stem. Once the leaves are removed, you want to combine them into a small pile and gently chop the leaves in one direction using a rocking method. You will want to go back through the pile of leaves in the opposite direction, using the same method until they are finely chopped.  
  • If you are using your cilantro in a sauce or rub, you can save some time by chopping it in a food processor. Place the washed cilantro into the bowl of the food processor. Hold the button for 2-3 seconds at a time until the cilantro is chopped to the desired consistency. This method is not recommended if you plan on using the herb as a garnish, since the blades can damage the leaves and turn the cilantro brown. 
Keyword How to Chop Cilantro

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