What Does Cilantro Taste Like?

Cilantro is one of those foods that people either love or hate. Depending on who you ask, cilantro is either a magical herb, or it tastes like soap.

If you’ve never had cilantro before and are curious about the taste, the answer might depend on your genes. 23andMe is a company that looks at genetic traits and DNA. They found that some people have aversions to cilantro based on their gene, which makes the herb taste like soap.

For those of us who do not have that gene, cilantro tastes like mint and pepper. It also tastes bright, fresh, and somewhat citrusy. Unfortunately for those people with the ‘cilantro gene,’ cilantro tastes like soap. 

It’s been said that we ‘eat with our eyes first.’ The way we perceive food modifies the characteristics of the food. Depending on how it looks, it changes our perception of flavor, smell, and texture. 

Cilantro’s Appearance

Cilantro is a beautiful, bright, vibrant green. It stands out in any dish and gives the appearance of making a dish fresh and rich with flavor. 

Generally, cilantro is served as a garnish on top of the finished meal. Its delicate thin leaves make a pretty picture sprinkled over your food.

Cilantro’s Texture

If you’ve ever eaten parsley, cilantro has a similar texture. Cilantro has leaves that are very smooth and a stem that is tender and edible. There is no need to remove the stems before eating.

What’s That Smell

Cilantro smells both like it looks and tastes. It has a bright, refreshing scent that is reminiscent of both lime and mint.

Its aroma is very distinctive and stands out among other herbs in a dish.

Changes to Your Cilantro

There are some things that alter the characteristics of your cilantro. If you want to keep your cilantro tasting and smelling as it should, you should avoid the following.


When you are using cilantro, you generally don’t want to add it to your meals until they are finished. 

If you cook with your cilantro, it’s very easy to overcook it. Overcooked cilantro tends to taste bitter, which is not going to add to your dish. Even if you only overcook slightly, the flavor will leach out of the cilantro.

Forgetting About Your Cilantro

It’s easy to toss your fresh herbs in the bottom drawer of your fridge and forget they’re there.

If you’ve forgotten about your cilantro, you’ll find the texture has become mushy and slimy. The bag or wrapping may be stained with green streaks. Or your cilantro may have turned yellow or brown.

You don’t want to use cilantro that has these characteristics. 

How to Store Cilantro to Keep It Fresh

As with all fresh herbs, no matter what you do you won’t be able to keep them from going bad forever. However, there are some tips to keep your cilantro fresh longer.

  • Dry it off the leaves as soon as you get your cilantro home
  • Do not store it in a bag
  • Keep a dry paper or kitchen towel wrapped loosely around it
  • Change the wrapping everyday
  • Store towards the front of your refrigerator

You don’t want your cilantro to get too wet, this causes it to get mushy and slimy. Also, if your cilantro gets too cold, it may start to wilt. If this happens you can still eat your cilantro but you will lose some flavor.

Is Cilantro Just Coriander?

Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant. Cilantro consists of the leaves and stem of the plant, and coriander seeds are the seeds it produces. To make it even more confusing, in other regions, the leaves of the coriander plant are often called fresh coriander. 

Interestingly, cilantro and coriander have vastly different tastes. Cilantro tastes bright, fresh, and minty, while coriander seeds have a warmer, nutty flavor.

Notes on Cilantro

Trying to figure out what cilantro tastes like can be difficult, but it is similar to other herbs, such as mint. For those people with the gene that gives cilantro a soapy taste, there are many suitable substitutions.

However, if you do not contain this gene (or even if you do) give cilantro a taste. It’s a wonderful, bright fresh herb that packs a punch to finish off your dishes.