Substitutes for Parsley

Parsley is a popular herb used in various cuisines worldwide, adding a fresh and vibrant flavor to dishes. However, there might be times when you find yourself short on parsley, or you’re simply looking for an alternative due to personal preferences. In such situations, knowing the right substitutes for this versatile herb can come in handy to achieve the desired taste and presentation.

Understanding the different substitutes for both fresh and dried parsley is essential when trying to recreate a recipe or introduce a twist to your culinary creations. Some of these substitutes include other herbs like cilantro, chervil, and basil, which have distinct flavors and appearances that can complement various dishes. It’s also crucial to assess how these alternatives will interact with other ingredients, and their suitability as garnishes in your meals.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover suitable substitutes for both fresh and dried parsley
  • Learn how to assess flavors and substitute compatibility in recipes
  • Consider alternative garnishes and nutritional factors when incorporating parsley substitutes
Sprig of Parsley

Understanding Parsley

Parsley is a versatile herb frequently used in cooking to add flavor and color to various dishes. It comes in three main types: flat-leaf parsley, curly leaf parsley, and root parsley.

Flat-leaf parsley has a more robust flavor and is preferred by many cooks for its versatility. It is easier to chop and is excellent for use in sauces, soups, and as a garnish. Flat-leaf parsley is also sometimes called Italian parsley.

Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish due to its attractive appearance. It has a milder flavor compared to flat-leaf parsley, making it suitable for general use in various recipes.

Root parsley is less common and is grown primarily for its edible root, which is used in soups, stews, and casseroles. The leaves can also be used like other types of parsley, but they tend to have a slightly stronger flavor.

When working with parsley, you can use both fresh and dried forms. Fresh parsley offers a brighter flavor and more vibrant color, making it ideal for garnishing or adding a burst of taste to your dish. When using fresh parsley, it’s best to add it towards the end of the cooking process to retain its flavor and color.

Dried parsley has a more muted flavor and can be used in longer-cooking recipes. Keep in mind that dried parsley loses its potency over time, so it’s essential to store it in a cool, dry place and replace it regularly.

In summary, parsley is a flavorful and attractive herb that adds depth and color to various dishes. Understanding the differences between the types of parsley and how to use fresh or dried forms will enable you to make the most of this versatile herb in your cooking.

Substitutes for Fresh Parsley

When you’re out of fresh parsley or if you happen to have an aversion to it, there are several alternatives you can consider. Here are some substitutes that can provide similar flavors and textures to your dish.


Chervil, also known as French parsley, possesses a delicate, mild flavor with a hint of licorice. Its light, feathery leaves resemble those of parsley, making it an ideal replacement in both texture and appearance. To use chervil as a substitute, swap in equal amounts for fresh parsley in your recipe.


While cilantro may be a polarizing choice due to its unique, slightly soapy flavor, it can still be an effective substitute for parsley in certain dishes. Its vibrant green color and leafy texture can provide a visual appeal similar to parsley. Use cilantro in a 1:1 ratio when replacing fresh parsley, but consider the dish’s other flavors and personal preferences.


Arugula, known for its peppery taste, can serve as a bold substitute for parsley. It adds a robust, spicy kick to dishes where parsley’s milder taste might be lost. Replace fresh parsley with arugula in equal amounts, keeping in mind that the flavor profile will be slightly different.


Endive, with its crisp texture and slightly bitter flavor, can be a unique alternative to fresh parsley. Chopped endive leaves can add complexity to dishes and stand up well to other bold flavors. Substitute endive for parsley in the same quantity, but consider it as an option for recipes where its unique characteristics will shine.

Experiment with these substitutes based on the specific dish and flavors you’re aiming for, and you’ll soon discover your own favorites to use when fresh parsley is not available.

Substitutes for Dried Parsley

When you’re out of dried parsley or simply want to add a different flavor to your dish, there are several dried herbs that make excellent substitutes. Each of these herbs has its own unique taste, so pick the one that best suits your needs and preferences.

Dried Chervil

Dried chervil, a delicate and slightly sweet herb similar to parsley, is a great substitute for dried parsley. Its mild flavor with hints of anise pairs well with various dishes, including salads, soups, and sauces. To match the taste of dried parsley, use dried chervil in a 1:1 ratio.

Dried Oregano

Dried oregano is another suitable substitute for dried parsley. It has a robust and slightly bitter flavor, making it ideal for pasta, tomato-based dishes, and Mediterranean cuisine. When using dried oregano to replace dried parsley, start with half the amount called for in the recipe and adjust to taste.

Dried Tarragon

For a distinct taste, dried tarragon can replace dried parsley in your recipes. Its bittersweet and slightly peppery flavor works well in French dishes, salad dressings, and sauces. Like oregano, use half the amount of dried tarragon as you would dried parsley, and adjust as needed.

Dried Chives

Dried chives provide a mild, onion-like flavor that can be used in place of dried parsley. They work well in egg dishes, soups, and potato recipes. Utilize dried chives in a 1:1 ratio to substitute for dried parsley, but note the taste will vary due to the different herb profiles.

Dried Basil

Lastly, dried basil is a reliable option when substituting for dried parsley. It has a sweet and slightly minty taste, making it suitable for Italian dishes, tomato sauces, and soups. As with oregano and tarragon, begin by using half the amount of dried basil called for in the recipe, then adjust to taste.

Assessing Flavors

When looking for a substitute for parsley, it’s important to consider the flavor profile of the alternative herb or ingredient. Parsley has a mild, fresh taste with subtle bitter and peppery notes that complements various dishes without overpowering them.

First, think about the dish you’re preparing and the flavors you want to achieve. In case you prefer an herb with a similar taste to parsley, consider chervil or cilantro. Both of these herbs share some of parsley’s characteristics with their mild and fresh flavors.

Chervil is sometimes described as having a delicate, anise-like flavor, which can work well in dishes that require a hint of sweetness. Keep in mind that its flavor is quite delicate, so it may be better for garnishes or dishes with lighter flavors.

Cilantro, on the other hand, has a more robust flavor but still possesses some of parsley’s characteristics. If you’re looking for a more pronounced taste in your dish, cilantro could be a suitable option.

For those who want to replace the peppery or bitter taste of parsley, consider some of these alternatives:

  • Arugula: A leafy green with a peppery kick, arugula can add texture and sharpness to various dishes, especially salads. Just be aware that its distinct flavor may stand out more than parsley would.
  • Watercress: With its subtly bitter, peppery notes, this leafy green is another viable option for adding complexity to a recipe.
  • Dandelion Greens: These wild greens are known for their slightly bitter taste and can bring an earthy touch to a dish.

Remember to assess flavors carefully. Choose a parsley substitute based on the specific dish you’re making and consider the desired tastes and textures. Ultimately, the key is to find a balance that enhances your recipe and satisfies your palate.

Alternative Garnishes


Basil is a versatile and aromatic herb that can be used as a substitute for parsley. It adds a distinct flavor to your dishes, especially if you’re working with Italian or Mediterranean cuisine. You can choose between different varieties, such as sweet basil, Thai basil, or lemon basil, to suit your preferences. To boost your dish’s presentation, simply pick off fresh leaves from the basil plant and scatter them across your dish.

Celery Leaves

Celery leaves are often overlooked as a garnish, but their delicate, slightly bitter flavor makes them an excellent alternative to parsley. Pick tender, bright green leaves from a celery stalk, and wash them thoroughly. You can either chop them up or leave them whole before sprinkling them over your dish. Celery leaves work especially well with soups, stews, and salads.


Coriander, sometimes referred to as cilantro, is another popular garnish option. With its bold, citrusy flavor, coriander pairs well with various cuisines such as Mexican, Indian, and Thai dishes. To use coriander as a garnish, just snip off a few sprigs from the plant and scatter them on top of your dish. Be aware that some people have a genetic aversion to the taste of coriander, so consider your audience when using this garnish.

Carrot Greens

Carrot greens are not only edible but also make a great alternative to parsley. Their mild, earthy flavor complements a wide range of dishes. To prepare carrot greens, remove them from the carrot, rinse them, and discard any yellowed or wilted leaves. Chopped or whole, they can be used to garnish salads, roasted vegetables, or grain dishes.


Onions bring a sharp, slightly sweet flavor as a garnish. Opt for green onions or scallions in place of parsley. Finely chop the green tops or use larger pieces to add visual appeal and a burst of flavor to your dishes. Green onions work well with a variety of dishes, from stir-fries and noodle bowls to soups and omelets.

Parsley in Different Cuisines

Italian Cuisine

In Italian cuisine, parsley is a widely used herb that adds flavor and color to various dishes. You’ll often find it in soups, sauces, stews, and salads. One of the most well-known Italian dishes, pesto, prominently features parsley as a key ingredient. When making pesto, combine fresh parsley, basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and salt to create a flavorful sauce for pasta, bread, and other dishes.

French Cuisine

French cuisine also frequently incorporates parsley, as it is highly valued for its aromatic qualities. You can find parsley in many French soups, sauces, and stews, where it is used as a seasoning or garnish. A classic French sauce, persillade, utilizes parsley and is made by blending together chopped parsley, garlic, oil, and vinegar. This versatile sauce can elevate the flavors of salads, roasted vegetables, fish, and meat dishes.

Indian Cuisine

Although parsley is not a common ingredient in traditional Indian cuisine, it can add freshness and zest to a variety of dishes. In recent years, parsley has become more popular in Indian kitchens and has found its way into salads, soups, and sauces. When cooking Indian food, you can use parsley in much the same way as cilantro, adding it as a finishing touch to brighten the dish. It’s important to note that parsley should be added in small amounts, as it can easily overpower other flavors if used excessively.

Nutritional Considerations

When looking for substitutes for parsley, it’s important to consider the nutritional aspects of the alternatives. While some substitutions may provide similar flavors, their nutritional profiles can vary significantly.

Cilantro is a popular alternative to parsley, and it offers a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Like parsley, cilantro is rich in vitamin K, and it also provides some dietary fiber. However, it has lower amounts of iron and calcium compared to parsley.

Basil is another common herb used as a parsley substitute. Basil contains antioxidants and a moderate amount of vitamin K. It also provides small amounts of calcium, iron, and dietary fiber, but less than parsley.

For a more nutritious substitution, consider spinach. Spinach is packed with nutrients including iron, calcium, and beta carotene. It is also an excellent source of dietary fiber and boasts higher levels of vitamin K than parsley.

If you’re looking for a substitution with a similar nutrient profile, arugula might be a suitable option. Arugula contains notable amounts of calcium, iron, and dietary fiber. This green leafy vegetable also offers a good amount of vitamin K, making it a worthy alternative.

In summary, finding a parsley substitute with similar nutritional benefits depends on your specific needs. While cilantro and basil provide some of the same nutrients, spinach and arugula offer more comparable profiles in terms of iron, calcium, fiber, and vitamin K content. It’s essential to weigh your options and determine which alternative best fits your nutritional requirements while offering a satisfying flavor profile as a substitute for parsley.

Incorporating Substitutes into Recipes

Substituting in Soups and Stews

When substituting parsley in soups and stews, use lovage or beet greens. Both provide an earthy flavor and vibrant color. Add them directly to your stock, as you would parsley, to infuse flavor and maintain a similar texture. For a more delicate flavor, consider using fines herbes, a blend of chervil, chives, tarragon, and parsley. Add this mixture towards the end of cooking to preserve its subtle taste.

Parsley in Rice Dishes

To replace parsley in rice dishes, try using fines herbes or chopped onions. Fines herbes will lend a similar fresh flavor, while onions will add depth and a slight crunch. Mix your chosen substitute directly into the cooked rice for an even distribution of flavors.

Inclusion in Salads

For salads, your best bet is to use chopped beet greens or lovage. These substitutions offer a fresh and peppery taste, similar to parsley. Simply toss your chosen substitute with the other salad ingredients for even seasoning.

Use in Fish Dishes

Fish dishes often call for parsley to provide a fresh, herbaceous contrast. Opt for fines herbes or lovage as a substitute. Sprinkle the fines herbes mixture over your cooked fish, or mix lovage into a sauce or marinade before cooking.

Substitutes in Meatballs

For meatballs, replace parsley with beet greens or lovage. Finely chop your chosen substitute, and mix it into your meat mixture like you would parsley. This will provide a similar texture and taste while adapting to your preferences.

Applying Substitutes in Garlic Bread

In garlic bread, you can use fines herbes as a parsley substitute. Mix the herb blend into the butter and garlic mixture before spreading it onto your bread. This will provide a similar herby flavor while maintaining the garlic bread’s signature taste.

Experimenting with Parsley in Falafel

Falafel recipes commonly include parsley for its fresh flavor. You can try using finely chopped beet greens or lovage in place of parsley without compromising the falafel’s taste. Mix your chosen substitute into the chickpea mixture for even flavor distribution.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use instead of parsley in soup?

If you’re looking to replace parsley in soup, you can use alternatives such as cilantro, chervil, or celery leaves. These herbs offer similar flavors and textures, making them suitable substitutes.

What is a good alternative for parsley in meatballs?

In meatballs, you can replace parsley with oregano, thyme, or basil. These herbs complement the flavors and enhance the overall taste, making them great alternatives for parsley.

What can replace parsley in aglio olio?

For aglio olio, a suitable parsley substitute would be basil or red pepper flakes. Both can provide a similar flavor profile, and they blend well with the other ingredients in the dish.

What herb can be used instead of parsley for garlic bread?

When making garlic bread, consider using herbs like chives, oregano, or basil in place of parsley. These herbs complement the flavor of garlic and provide a different, but equally delicious taste.

Is coriander a suitable substitute for parsley?

Yes, coriander (also known as cilantro) can be a suitable substitute for parsley, especially in dishes with strong, spicy flavors. The taste of coriander is slightly different, but it can provide a similar texture and appearance.

How to substitute dried parsley flakes for fresh parsley?

To substitute dried parsley flakes for fresh parsley, you can use a ratio of 1:3. For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh parsley, you can use one teaspoon of dried parsley flakes.

The Best Substitutes for Parsley

These options are sure to be a hit. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 5 votes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Seasoning, Substitute
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 123 kcal


  • Dried herbs
  • Celery Leaves
  • Chervil Leaves
  • Cilantro
  • Basil


  • Try our kitchen tested parsley substitutes.


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Calories: 123kcal
Keyword parsley substitutes
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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