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Can You Eat Cilantro Stems?

Cilantro leaves are used in many types of cuisine around the world, but what about the stems – can you eat cilantro stems, or should you just use the leaves of the plant in your recipe? This post has all the details on what to do with cilantro stems and what types of recipes you can use them in.

Hands chopping the stems off a bunch of cilantro.

Can you use cilantro stems?

Some people say the stems are bitter and not edible, but others say they are delicious and just as flavorful as the leaves. So, what’s the truth?

Well, it turns out that the stems are edible, and their flavor is very similar to the leaves. However, depending on the dish you are cooking you may or may not want to.

The leaves of the cilantro plant are the most commonly used part of the plant used in recipes. However, the small tender stems are fine to eat, and can be used in many recipes along with the leaves.

And what’s even better is that you can save yourself time because you don’t need to stand there picking the leaves off the stems before you use them – just chop the whole bunch.

Do you use cilantro stems?

With all the above said, there are situations where I would use the stems of cilantro, and other times when I would not.

Small, young cilantro stems are really tender, packed with flavor, and can be used along with cilantro leaves in many dishes.

However, the thick cilantro stalks that you get on older plants are less tasty and the texture can be much more noticeable in a dish. So if your cilantro has thick stalks then you may want to remove them depending on the type of recipe you are cooking.

What recipes do you use the stems of cilantro in?

In general, I just use the leaves of cilantro for a garnish, but would use the stems along with the leaves in most other recipes.

If you are blending or chopping your cilantro really finely (e.g. to make pesto or a paste), then the stems are fine to use. The flavor is similar to the leaves, and the texture will not be noticeable once it is chopped finely.

I would use fine stalks along with the leaves in the following types of recipes:

  • salads
  • salsa,
  • guacamole
  • stir-fries

In general I would use the whole bunch including thick cilantro stems in the following types of recipes:

  • sauces
  • curries
  • pastes
  • soups
  • marinades

What to do with cilantro stems?

If you choose not to use cilantro stems in your cooking, it is a good idea to find another sustainable way to use them. Feed them to your chickens, add them to the worm farm, or compost them.