Flavorful Parsley Substitutes to Garnish and Enhance Your Dishes

Parsley Substitute

Parsley is a great ingredient in adding flavor and improving the aesthetic appeal of your recipes. Its leafy appearance improves the presentation of your dish while its taste blends and emphasizes other flavors. If it is not available in your kitchen, don’t fret because there are plenty of parsley substitutes that can turn your recipes from a simple dish to a high class meal.

What are the best parsley substitutes to use?

1. Basil

Basil is a popular herb you can use to replace parsley. It has an appealing green color that represents its mint-like taste. You can chop and sprinkle it on your recipes for garnish or add it as an ingredient.

With a fragrant smell, this herb helps you make an appetizing aromatic dish. It’s used in a variety of cuisines but it is a staple addition in most Italian dishes. You’d mostly likely encounter it added in recipes using tomato sauce, vinegar, or pesto. When used as a relish, chopping or pounding the leaves are preferred to mix it in salads. Of course, using a whole leaf for presentation works too.

This annual herb is slightly sweeter and less bitter compared to parsley. It shares the same hints of mint, anise, and pepper taste which is perfect in giving recipes a kick of flavor.

2. Cilantro

Cilantro refers to the leaves of coriander plant which is edible in its entirety.  This annual herb is also called Chinese parsley and looks a lot like flat-leaf parsley. In fact, many use the two interchangeably as a garnish because of the similarities in appearance. In terms of taste however, cilantro has a strong and more distinct flavor that is different from parsley. 

Parsley tastes clean and earthy, while cilantro tastes like citrus with a hint of pepper. So, if you’re adding the flavor of parsley to your meal or using it as an ingredient, cilantro may affect the taste differently. But there are still lots of dishes that can be paired well with both herbs.

Cilantro is a popular herb in Indian, Thai, and Mexican dishes. It’s often added in soups and sauces. It’s a great way to add flavor to many veggie-based recipes. Its fresh leaves are the most popular option for garnishing foods or using as part of recipes.

Read more: Best Cilantro Substitutes For Use In Your Recipes

3. Chervil

Chervil is also known as French parsley and belongs to the same plant family as parsley. Both share a similar appearance and flavor profile but chervil is just a lighter, milder version. 

Since chervils originally have mild taste, it can easily get dissipated in cooking. As such, it’s best to add it at the very last second to keep its flavor. This annual herb also goes well with mild-flavored recipes like egg dishes, soups, salads, and French-based cooking.

If you want to substitute parsley with chervil leaves in cooking, use more amounts of the latter to get more flavor in your dish. This French parsley is great for many dishes that need that specific parsley taste but since it has a light flavor, remember to use a generous amount.

Apart from flavor, chervils also resemble parsley in appearance. It is however more delicate and frilly than flat-leaf parsley and has a lighter color which overall represents its milder taste. Still, it works beautifully as a garnish to complete your dish.

4. Celery leaves

Celery leaves also resemble flat-leaf parsley. It is a wonderful garnish suitable for almost every meal that needs parsley. Like chervil, it has a bland taste so  you can chop and use a lot of these leaves for your dishes to bring out the taste.

While celery leaves make for a great garnish alternative to fresh parsley, they won’t stand in for its seasoning qualities. Some point out that the leaves can have a bitter taste but many describe it as bland or tasteless like its stalks. Depending on how green the leaves are, you can get an estimate of how intensely flavored it is.

Like parsley, you can add celery leaves to salads, casseroles, soups, dips, and roasts. This veggie contains mostly water and very few calories, making for a healthy ingredient for its nutritional content.

5. Carrot leaves

This substitute for parsley is delicate and silky to touch. It looks almost like grass but when chopped, the green leafy bits look similar to chopped parsley. 

Carrot leaves used to be snubbed but these nutritious leaves can add more flavor to your dishes. Carrot leaves are part of the same plant family as parsley, easily making it another close substitute.

There are so many ways you can use carrot leaves in place of parsley. Use it to garnish main dishes, add to smoothies and cocktails, or sprinkle over soups and roasted veggies. 

Note that carrot leaves taste a little bitter and have that carroty taste that’s different from parsley. It would be better to use greens from younger carrots that have a milder flavor if you want to avoid affecting the overall taste of your recipe.

6. Endive

Endive is a fiber-rich food mainly used in salads. This leafy vegetable works as an alternative to parsley for garnishing or cooking your recipes if you are in a pinch. 

Curly endive looks similar to curly leaf parsley. It has a mild bittersweet taste with hints of nuttiness. It’s best to use sparingly because it has a more distinct flavor than parsley.

With its sharp, bitter flavor, curly endive is a staple in enhancing the flavor of salads, but also note that endive does not offer the same aromatic and peppery flavor as parsley.

7. Oregano

A member of the mint family, oregano is used for its savory taste and distinct aroma. Fresh oregano is nutritious and works as an antibacterial agent so you can benefit not only for its flavor but also its medicinal properties.

Compared to parsley, oregano has a more intense  flavor so it is best to use it sparingly. This savory herb is usually used as a garnish or added at the last minutes of cooking.

Oregano contains more nutrients than parsley so it is a healthier alternative. It’s common in Italian dishes and tomato-based foods like pizza and pasta. It’s also great to use this herb to add in doughs, marinade meat, or sprinkle over roasted chicken.

With an oval shape and thicker, greener appearance that is different from parsley, this spice has a different appeal but still works beautifully when its whole leaf is used as garnish.

Read more: 13 Best Oregano Substitutes

8. Thyme

Thyme is among the most popular herbs in the world and can substitute parsley in multiple dishes. 

Thyme has an earthy, minty, and slightly zesty flavor that can elevate the aroma and flavor of your recipes. There are plenty of varieties of thyme but most share the same slightly peppery taste that is comparable to parsley.

You can use thyme as a primary herb in soups and stews. The aromatic flavor of thyme will boost the taste of soups, braises, and sauces. You can also sprinkle it on rice dishes and veggies. There is an endless variety of dishes that you can use thyme on.

Thyme may work differently in some dishes that need the closest flavor to parsley. Since it has a hint of floral scent and taste, it may not be appealing to pair with some of those dishes. If you’re willing to experiment, there’s no harm in it.

9. Tarragon

Tarragon is a leafy green herb you can use for garnish or as an ingredient instead of parsley. One most commonly used variety in cooking is French tarragon.

Although tarragon has a distinct taste far from parsley with its pungent licorice-like flavor, it shares the same culinary function. It’s perfect for seasoning poultry, making sauces, and adding to many fish recipes much like parsley.

In terms of appearance, it’s just as good as parsley for garnish or relish. You can use this herb for many recipes, especially French cuisine.

10. Mint

Mint is often used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine. It has a recognizable sweet and refreshing taste popular for desserts and some hearty dishes.

This herb is slightly more pungent than parsley and has a distinct kind of cool spice. Due to its sweetness and lingering cool effect on the tongue, it’s best added to desserts, confections, salads, snacks, and drinks. It will give your recipes a refreshing taste aside from the peppery taste and a good aroma that parallels parsley. 

If you want to replace parsley with mint as an ingredient, you can also try using dried mint.

11. Chives

Chives belong to the same plant family as onions, garlic, shallot, and leek. This veggie is bright green with thin grass-like leaves. 

This plant is a great seasoning for many recipes. While it is different to parsley in appearance or flavor, its function as an ingredient or garnish works in the same way.

Chives are a great addition to soups, dips, omelets, and seafood dishes. With its delicate flavor and texture, it’s best to add it at the end of your cooking or as a beautiful green garnish. 

When you want to replace parsley with chives, add only a little of this herb so it will not overpower or influence the flavor of your cooking. Chives are also on the milder side, so it is a doable replacement for parsley in a pinch.

12. Arugula

Arugula is an annual plant otherwise called a roquette or rocket or as white pepper in England. It shares a similar peppery flavor like parsley.

Although at some points this plant has the same aromatic and peppery notes as parsley, it is slightly more bitter. So if you use it to replace parsley, add a small amount and gradually adjust to your preference.

The leaves of this plant are large so it is a must to chop them finely for most recipes needing parsley. 

Arugula is often eaten raw as a fresh topping for pizza, sandwiches, and wraps. It can be used in cooked dishes too, much like spinach and other greens. It also tastes good mixed in sauces, salads, and steamed veggies.

13. Rosemary

Rosemary is an aromatic nutritious herb that can replace parsley for a number of dishes. It looks a lot different from parsley with its thick, leathery grayish-green leaves that resemble needles. Still, it can work wonders in the same recipes needing parsley.

In cooking, use rosemary as a seasoning for stews, soups, casseroles, and salads. It also tastes great added to poultry dishes and oily fishes. 

Rosemary is different in appearance from parsley. While parsley has bright green stems and leaves, rosemary has dark green leaves that resemble needles. Its taste has notes of wood, pepper, citrus, sage, lavender, and mint. It is excellent for creating a savory aromatic flavor to your meals.

14. Fines Herbes

Fines herbes is a blend of herbs for French cuisine. It is traditionally made with tarragon, chervil, chives, and fresh parsley.

Creating your own fines herbes is easy if you have the herbs available. If not, you can buy readymade ones in stores. Fines herbes is a perfect mixture to add in soups and salads. It is also commonly used in mild flavored dishes like egg and poultry recipes. 

FAQ:

What is parsley used for?

People like using parsley for its flavor, appearance, and health benefits whether as a culinary herb or dried spice.

Is it better to use dried herbs or fresh parsley substitutes?

Some recipes require fresh herbs for a cleaner, more straightforward taste while some need dried herbs for a more concentrated flavor.

If your recipe needs parsley, you can always use dried parsley instead of fresh ones and vice versa. Just note that most dried herbs and spices have intense flavor so it’s best to use a little at first. 

For reference, you can substitute 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs with only 1 teaspoon of dried herbs. 

What is the best parsley substitute for your cooking?

If you need replacements for garnish, you can choose either basil, celery leaves, cilantro, or carrot greens. In fact, all those with green leaves can replace parsley as long as you chop them finely.

If you want to boost the flavor and aroma of your recipes, using chives, rosemary, arugula, chervil leaves, or endives would be good.

Conclusion:

Parsley is an efficient herb that is available in most supermarkets. It is a healthy and tasty ingredient that can improve the quality of your recipes. 

If you don’t have it, don’t worry because there are several alternatives that can easily replace parsley depending on the use. Just consider which cuisine or what type of food you need it for so you can get the closest replacement. 

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