How to Cut Cilantro: 3 Easy Ways

Here are three ways to cut cilantro including tips for how to store the herb.


If you’ve tasted many tacos, salsas, and guacamoles, you probably know that cilantro is a popular herb used in Asian, Caribbean, and Latin American cuisine. Its zesty, hint of citrus pairs perfectly with bold spices and flavors. So, when you finally find time to cook and decide to make a recipe that calls for cilantro, you’ll find that the leafy herb is easily found in most grocery stores year-round and conveniently sold in bunches. But did you know that there are several ways to cut cilantro? Determining which method to use comes down to whether the recipe calls for detailed prep such as snipped or chopped cilantro leaves and how the herb will ultimately be used in the recipe. We’ll explore the differences between the three methods and explain which part of the herb to use in recipes.

How to Cut Cilantro

Just before using cilantro, thoroughly rinse the cilantro plant under cool water to remove any dirt. Blot dry with paper towels or use a salad spinner.

Method 1: Chop Leaves with a Chef’s Knife

The easiest way to cut cilantro for cooking is to chop the cilantro leaves with your chef’s knife. Chopped cilantro is a breeze to stir into recipes. Start by cutting off the long stems—the thicker part of the plant that doesn’t have any leaves attached to it—with your chef’s knife. Chop the leaves from the top of the bunch to the bottom of the bunch, and then from side to side. When chopping, the back end of your knife should come straight down on the leaves.

Method 2: Snip Leaves with Kitchen Scissors

If you want to know how to cut cilantro for a garnish, simply snip leaves with kitchen scissors so they don’t get crushed or bruised. The easiest way to snip cilantro leaves is to place the leaves in a measuring cup or bowl and snip them with kitchen scissors, using short, quick strokes.

Method 3: Strip Leaves by Hand

Remove cilantro leaves from plant by holding onto the plant’s stem with one hand and stripping the leaves into a bowl using the other hand. This method is very time-consuming, but it allows you to easily see that the leaves are separated from the stems. But don’t worry if some stems remain connected to the leaves—the stems are edible but have a tougher texture than the leaves.

How To Cut Cilantro Without Killing the Plant

If you’ve taken the time to grow your own cilantro plant, you’ve invested your time and energy into its growth and more than likely you’ll want to get several cuttings from the plant before you’re ready to say “goodbye” to the plant. The easiest way to help keep your cilantro plant growing is to make sure you’re using a scissors to snip off whole stems that are next to the base of the plant. Harvest the outside stems first because they’re the oldest stems. It’s important that you harvest no more than 30% of a single plant at a time. Waiting at least seven days between large harvests will help the plant to replenish itself.

How to Cut Cilantro for Tacos

Many taco recipes call for cilantro as a garnish, so you’ll want to snip the cilantro leaves using a kitchen scissors so that the leaves will add a beautiful topping to your tacos. If you want to add homemade guacamole to your tacos, you can coarsely chop your cilantro with a chef’s knife so it can be easily incorporated into your guacamole recipe without a lot of fuss.

How to Cut Cilantro for Salsa

When cilantro is an ingredient in a fresh salsa or pico de gallo recipe, it’s usually sprinkled in with the other fresh ingredients so it will likely be visible part of the finished salsa. To maintain the beauty of the cilantro leaves, you’ll want to snip them with kitchen scissors so they don’t get crushed or bruised.

How to Store Cut Cilantro

To store cut cilantro, trim ends of stems. Stand stems in a jar with water. Loosely cover leaves with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. You can also try other test-kitchen approved ways to preserve herbs like hanging stems in bunches for drying or wrapping small bunches in a damp paper towel and keeping them in an airtight resealable bag in the refrigerator.

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