How to Chop Cilantro

Three Parts:Rinsing the CilantroPreparing the CilantroChopping the Cilantro

Cilantro is an herb that resembles parsley and is used in many diverse dishes. It has an earthy aroma and adds a fresh and sweet dimension of flavor to vegetable and fruit salsas and sauces. However, to make a salsa or sauce that picks up the flavor of this aromatic herb, cilantro needs to be chopped a particular way. By cutting cilantro properly, your dishes can benefit from the aromatic scent and flavor this herb provides.

Part 1
Rinsing the Cilantro

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    Fill a medium sized bowl with cold water. Take the bundle of cilantro and place it inside the bowl. Twirl the cilantro around in the bowl and then let it soak for about 10 minutes. This helps to gently loosen any dirt particles on the cilantro leaves.
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    Set the bundle of cilantro in a colander. Turn on cold water and place the cilantro underneath the water in the kitchen sink. Rinse the cilantro well. Move the bundle of cilantro around while the water hits it.
    • By moving the cilantro around, you help to rinse away dirt particles underneath and between the leaves[1]
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    Shake the colander with the cilantro bundle well until all of the excess water exits the colander. Place the cilantro onto a large paper towel. Absorb any excess water from the cilantro with the paper towel. Keep the paper towel for storing the leftover cilantro.

Part 2
Preparing the Cilantro

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    Look through the cilantro for any discolored or wilted cilantro leaves. Pick these out of the bundle and discard appropriately (compost if available). You can simply use your hands for this. Make sure only the healthy, green leaves remain.
  2. 2
    Decide how much of the stems you want to keep. Depending on your preference for the texture and taste of cilantro stems, you may want to remove some of the long stems of the cilantro. For salsas and curries, many find the cilantro stems add a pleasant amount of concentrated cilantro flavor. If your recipe doesn't specify on the inclusion of stems, use your best judgement.[2]
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    Remove however much of the stems you wish. Place a cutting board on the counter. Place the cilantro on the cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut the long stems. These stems are located near the bottom of the cilantro bundle.
    • You can place a moist washcloth underneath the cutting board to help provide traction so the cutting board does not slide around when you are chopping the cilantro bundle.

Part 3
Chopping the Cilantro

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    Chop the bundle of cilantro in half, using the middle as a guideline. This is where the abundance of cilantro leaves are located. When you need to use a small amount of cilantro, separate the bunches in half. Avoid removing the leaves from the portion of the cilantro you are storing for later, as it will last longer intact.[3]
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    Store the unused cilantro. Wrap the unused bundle and the stems in the paper towel you used to dry the cilantro. Place them in a zip lock bag and place the bag in the refrigerator. This will keep it fresh for three to five days.[4]
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    Decide how finely chopped you want your cilantro. Cilantro is tender, so it isn't usually necessary for it to be very finely chopped. The later in the cooking process you intend on adding the cilantro, the more finely it should be chopped. If you are using your cilantro as a garnish, chop it just enough so that it can be easily sprinkled over your food.[5]
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    Fold the bunch of cilantro leaves in half and place them on the cutting board. Use a rocking motion with the knife when chopping cilantro. Go back again with the knife to ensure that all the cilantro is chopped. Regardless of how fine you want your cilantro, try to keep the chop even.[6]


  • Always make sure to rinse the cutting board with soap and water after chopping cilantro, which helps to kill any bacteria or dirt left on the cutting board. Use 1 cutting board for cutting meat and poultry items and use a different cutting board to chop fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Things You'll Need

  • Cilantro bundle
  • Colander
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Zip lock bag
  • Paper towels

Article Info

Categories: Herbs and Spices