Menu
Search
Menu
Close

Can You Eat Cilantro Stems?

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2018

Cilantro is more than just leaves. Here's some information about the rest of this entirely edible plant.

Coriandrum sativum—better known as cilantro or coriander—is an entirely edible plant. The leaves and stems are used widely in Asian and South American cuisines. Coriander “seeds” are the dried fruit of the plant (and inside each fruit is a seed). They're used whole, crushed, or ground and are a common ingredient in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes and in vegetable pickling. The plant's roots, while not as widely used as the leaves and seeds, are sometimes found in Asian curries and soups, particularly in Thailand. In general, delicate cilantro leaves are used as a garnish before serving or added late in the cooking process because they quickly lose their aroma when heated, whereas the heartier roots and seeds are typically added earlier to contribute to the foundational flavor of a dish. Interestingly, around 12 percent of the global population are able to detect particular fatty aldehyde compounds in cilantro that give it an unpleasant “soapy” flavor.

Seeds: Toasty, soft, citrus flavor reminiscent of leaves but with more “perfumy” hints of peppery spice

Roots: Slightly sweet, citrusy, and vegetal

Leaves: Floral, herbal, bright, grassy, slightly peppery

Stems: Similar in flavor to leaves but more potent