The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat cilantro. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What cilantro etiquette is

Cilantro etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat cilantro. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve cilantro to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat cilantro at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat cilantro

What you should know about cilantro

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is an herb that is part of the parsley family.

Cilantro has small, lacy leaves that are bright green in color. The leaves are soft and delicate, with a slightly fuzzy texture. Cilantro has a distinct, pungent flavor that is often described as citrusy and slightly peppery.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat cilantro

1) How to store cilantro

You should store cilantro in the fridge in a plastic bag or container. The ideal temperature for storing cilantro is between 32-40°F (0-4°C). You can also store it in the freezer, either whole or chopped, in an airtight container or freezer bag. In the pantry, store cilantro in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Cilantro can last up to 1-2 weeks in the fridge, 6 months in the freezer, and a few days in the pantry.

Store sliced or cooked cilantro in an airtight container in the fridge and use it within a few days.

2) How to clean cilantro

To clean cilantro, rinse it thoroughly in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. There are no major risks associated with cleaning cilantro, but some people may have allergies to the plant. A colander can be used to rinse and drain cilantro.

Cilantro will turn brown and wilt when it has gone bad. The leaves will also have a slimy texture and a strong and unpleasant odor.

3) How to prepare & cook cilantro

Cilantro can be eaten both raw and cooked. To prepare cilantro for cooking, chop it finely with a sharp knife. A cutting board and a sharp knife are the most common utensils used to prepare cilantro. Cilantro is commonly used in salsa, guacamole, soups, stews, and curries.

Some of the most popular dishes that feature cilantro include salsa, guacamole, and ceviche.

Cilantro is great in salads and sandwiches. You can also use it to make sauces, marinades, and dressings. Cilantro can also be blended into smoothies or used to make cilantro juice. It is suitable for vegan, keto, and paleo diets. However, some guests may dislike cilantro, as it is one of the most disliked foods.

4) How to serve & present cilantro

Cilantro is appropriate for both formal and informal meals. You can serve it at any time of day. It is common as a garnish or side dish, but can also be in a main course or appetizer.

The aroma of cilantro is best at room temperature or slightly chilled. A simple white plate or bowl is ideal for presenting cilantro. You can use a pair of scissors or kitchen shears to snip the leaves.

It is common to serve cilantro as a garnish for spicy dishes. It is a popular ingredient in a variety of cuisines, including Mexican, Indian, and Thai.

5) Food and wine to pair cilantro with

Cilantro pairs well with lime, garlic, tomatoes, avocados, onions, and peppers. It also goes well with citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits. Some vegetables that do not pair well with cilantro include asparagus and artichokes.

Cilantro goes well with many types of cheese and dairy, including feta, goat cheese, and sour cream. It is best to avoid pairing cilantro with strong, aged cheeses like blue cheese or Parmesan.

Cilantro pairs well with both meat and fish. For meat, the best pairings are with chicken, beef, pork, and lamb. For fish, the best pairings are with white fish, shrimp, and scallops. Avoid cilantro with stronger-tasting meats like game meats, as well as oily fish like salmon.

When it comes to pairing with wine and other beverages, cilantro pairs well with light-bodied wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling. Beer and light-bodied spirits like vodka and gin also pair well with cilantro. Avoid pairing cilantro with heavy-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, as well as dark spirits like whiskey or rum.

6) How to eat cilantro

The most polite etiquette to eat cilantro is to use a fork or chopsticks to pick up the cilantro leaves and add them to your food. It is also acceptable to eat cilantro with your fingers if you are eating it as a garnish. It is not necessary to discard any parts of the cilantro, as the entire plant is edible.

Cilantro etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common cilantro etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Failing to clean cilantro properly before serving it.
  • 7/10. Serving cilantro to guests who have a known dislike for it.
  • 7/10. Allowing cilantro to wilt or turn brown before serving it.

Additional information for properly serving cilantro

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

Cilantro is low in calories, with only 1 calorie per 1/4 cup serving and 23 calories per 100 grams. A single cilantro leaf contains less than 1 calorie.

How to buy the best cilantro

A crucial factor in cilantro etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Cilantro is available all year round, but the best season to buy it is from late spring to early fall.

Choose the best

The most common ways to find cilantro in commerce are fresh, either sold as bunches or pre-packaged in plastic containers, and dried, either in whole leaf form or ground into a spice. It is less common to find canned or frozen cilantro.

The most popular varieties of cilantro in commerce are Santo, Slow Bolt, and Leisure. Santo is the most commonly grown variety and is prized for its resistance to bolting, or going to seed too quickly.

To buy the best cilantro, look for bright green leaves that are not wilted or yellowing. The stems should be firm and not slimy. Avoid cilantro that has a strong odor or has been sitting out at room temperature for too long.

Alternatives to cilantro

The most common alternatives to cilantro are parsley and basil. While they do not have the same flavor as cilantro, they can be used in similar ways as a fresh herb in cooking and garnishing.