14 Good Parsley Substitutes
Some are ideal in salads and as garnishes. Other herbs are perfect in cooked dishes. We gathered some of the best parsley substitutes, regardless of your recipe. These ingredients will help you keep your menu in place, even if you ran out of parsley.
Parsley is quite the underdog if you’re not from Central and Eastern Europe or the Middle East. If you’re from anywhere else in the world, you might know parsley from when you’re making your own stock of veggies. Maybe from when you cook some prawns. Or perhaps a falafel and a bowl of fresh tabbouleh.
But parsley is such a vibrant, “feely”, comfort-food herb and deserves more attention in the kitchen! It changes the taste of food, making it fragrant and special, without overwhelming it. It will also add a pop of color! Still, if you don’t fancy it (or you don’t have it around) there are other ways to mimic its aroma. Here are some good parsley alternatives!
Parsley Flavor Profile
Quite versatile, parsley is a mild aromatic herb. With a slightly floral aroma, a bright, fresh touch, and a herbaceous flavor, parsley can be used in many recipes. Parsley also has a mild peppery touch that provides a certain freshness and crisp feel.
It can be used fresh as a garnish, or in salads (there’s even tabbouleh, a parsley salad in essence!). It can be added to soups, stews, pasta, meats, fish and seafood, eggs even, just as it can be used upon veggies, and, yes, potatoes! What can you replace parsley with if you’re cooking any of the above and discover you don’t have this herb at hand? Uh, plenty of options, foodie! Keep on reading! But before that: did you know that after eating a mouthful of onions and garlic, if you chew on some parsley, you’ll cleanse your breath? Carry on!
14 parsley substitutes to flavor up your plate!
It can be challenging to find that alternative that pops the right buttons. Some herbs will replicate the look of parsley. Others will taste so much like it no one would know you replaced it. Here they all are.
Chervil is one of the best alternatives for parsley. They come very close in terms of flavor and appearance. This herb can be a good fit to replace both fresh and dried parsley. The only thing is that chervil is milder, so you may have to use more to obtain parsley’s aroma.
Mostly used in Mexican and Asian cuisine, cilantro is a fair alternative to parsley. It even looks a lot like flat-leaf parsley. The only detail to keep in mind when swapping them is that cilantro is quite bright, zingy, and fragrant, compared to parsley.
Cilantro has a citrusy, peppery aroma, which is more pungent. So make sure to add less. Also, make sure to ask your guests because the ones that taste the “soap” in cilantro will know the difference, even in the smallest quantity. Extra tip: cilantro makes a good substitution for parsley in Thai and Mexican dishes involving fish and seafood.
Basil makes a good dried parsley substitute. While you could use the fresh herb to replace fresh parsley, there are some differences in flavor.
The minty, piny, floral, intense aroma of fresh basil is recognizable from a distance. Dried basil could be better in this case. Extra tip: basil is a great substitute for parsley in meatballs and minced meats.
Bonjour, tarragon! The French staple herb can be one of the best parsley substitutes. While their flavor differs, in small amounts, tarragon can give that hint of parsley.
FYI, tarragon will give your food a hint of licorice or anise as well, so add that to your decision-making process!
Oregano is a good substitute for parsley in garlic bread. While oregano is more intense and has a minty aroma, it can be used instead of parsley, both fresh and dried. Dried oregano can be a good substitute for parsley flakes.
Oregano can overpower other ingredients, so make sure to add half the amount. Keep in mind that oregano is on the savory side, while parsley has a playful, sweet side to it. Also, add it while you’re cooking the food, not at the end, as you would do with the delicate parsley.
6. Celery Leaves
They kind of look like parsley. They kind of taste like it too. Celery leaves are a good substitute for parsley especially in salads and garnishes. Make sure to finely chop them since they may have a stronger bite. You can use them to replace parsley in cooked foods as well. But do expect a potent, earthy, nutty, woody flavor, with a piny after taste, one that is quite intense, compared to parsley.
Extra tip: the dark green leaves pack extra flavor, but are more fibrous, so use them in cooked dishes. The inner leaves, which are lighter in color, are tender and mild in flavor (still pretty intense!) and can be easily chewed when raw. Extra-extra tip: celery leaves can be used in falafel instead of parsley.
7. Carrot Greens
Many people don’t even eat them. But the top green part of the carrot is a good parsley replacement, especially in salads and as a garnish. They have a bitter aroma, so don’t add them to cooked dishes.
8. Dried Thyme
Dried thyme is a good replacement, especially in recipes that call for dried parsley. Thyme can be rather earthy, piny, nutty, and even more floral than parsley. But their dried versions can be swapped. How to substitute parsley for thyme? A 1:1 should be just fine.
Lovage is another underdog in the kitchen! But it’s such a good substitute for parsley! It’s somewhere in between parsley and celery, but with a minty, fragrant, exotic touch to it. And yes, it even looks like parsley! Just make sure to know that lovage leaves tend to be chewier than the delicate, fine parsley.
Marjoram is a good substitute for Italian parsley. With a herbaceous hint, a pine aroma (way milder than oregano), and on the sweet, floral side, marjoram can replace parsley, both fresh and dried.
Dill is one of the best parsley substitutes in fish, seafood, potatoes, and falafel, both fresh and dried. Just remember that dill is more intense, mintier, with a tartness to it (when fresh), and a mild anise or licorice flavor.
What to use instead of parsley in garnishes and salads? Well, uhm, how about arugula? Yup, this slightly bitter, peppery salad green is a mouthful of flavor. Just finely chop it and you can sprinkle it instead of parsley.
13. Curly Leaf Endive
In terms of appearance, curly leaf endive is one of the best parsley substitutes: when we’re talking curly leaf parsley, that is. A little peppery and with a mildly bitter aftertaste, curly leaf endive could overwhelm your food. So make sure to add just a small amount.
We bet you didn’t see this one coming! Chives, however, can be a good option to replace parsley. With a hint of garlic and spring onions, chives are a good garnish suggestion when you lack parsley. They have a bright, fresh aroma that stands in well.
Other herbs that would do
While we don’t exactly recommend using this, since they are less than “meh” in terms of similarities, if push comes to shove, you can replace parsley with the following aromatic herbs:
- Rosemary, although it’s minty, peppery, pungent, and reminds you of camphor, it works fine in potatoes, stews, and meats. Add it from the get-go.
- Mint, but it will be intense, uber-fresh, and soooo much brighter than parsley. It’s best in salads, in small amounts.
- Sage, although it’s going to be earthy, nutty, piny, and quite robust, will work especially in meaty dishes.
Can you substitute fresh parsley for dried?
The dried version of the aromatic herb can be a good substitute for fresh parsley. Just make sure to adapt the amount you use, since dried parsley is stronger in flavor. You need to use about one teaspoon of dried parsley for every tablespoon of fresh parsley.
Just like you would with the fresh herb, add dried parsley towards the end of the cooking process. Parsley is quite sensitive and loses its flavor when cooked for a long time. When added after the dish is cooked, parsley keeps its aroma intact. Extra info: you can swap flat-leaf parsley for curly-leaf parsley. Just remember that the latter is milder when it comes to aroma.
Substitutes for parsley root
If you’re preparing a soup, stew or casserole and the recipe calls for parsley root, if you don’t have it around, you can always go for an alternative such as:
- Celery root: which is similar in flavor, maybe on the earthy, woody, piny side.
- Parsnip root: this is so similar to parsley root, even in appearance, that no one will know. Parsnip can be sweeter, softer, creamier, and milder in flavor though.
- Carrots: these can replace parsley root, but they will provide a sweeter taste and alter the color of the dish, most likely.
- Turnips: these are white just like parsley root. They tend to be rather crispy in texture and not as flavorsome, but they will do if there’s no other choice.
While a kitchen with no parsley is a kitchen with no aroma, as you can see, we always make do. And if you have more parsley substitute suggestions you can share with us, do tell! Our kitchen is always open.