Need a good substitute for parsley? Fresh parsley has a unique flavor that’s hard to replace. But if you’re in a pinch and need a replacement, here’s the best fresh parsley substitutes you can use.

A small bunch of fresh parsley lays on a white kitchen towel next to a knife for parsley substitute.

If you’re making a recipe that calls for fresh parsley and you don’t have any on hand, there’s a few substitutes you can use to replace it, like cilantro, chervil, basil and celery leaves.

Fresh vegetables (red potatoes, carrot, celery and onion) are chopped next to a kitchen towel and kitchen knife.

What is Parsley?

Parsley is one of the worlds most popular seasonings, adding flavor to so many dishes.  The name “parsley” comes from the Greek word “petroselinum”, which means “rock celery”. Parsley is commonly used in Mediterranean, American and Middle Eastern cuisines. In Europe, sprigs of fresh parsley are added to a small bundle of herbs called a bouquet garni, which is used to flavor soups, stocks and sauces.                                            

There are two types of parsley: flat-leaf (also called Italian parsley) and curly parsley. Flat-leaf parsley is popular with cooks, while curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. Curly parsley has thick tightly ruffled leaves, and flat-leaf parsley has wide flat leaves and skinny stems. It’s sometimes mistaken for cilantro because they look a lot a like. The best way to tell them apart is to smell the leaves. 

Best Parsley Substitutes

If you’re in the middle of making a dish that calls for fresh parsley but you don’t have any on hand, here are the top six best substitutes for parsley.

1. Cilantro

Cilantro looks a lot like parsley and the two herbs comes from the same botanical family. Even though cilantro doesn’t taste quite like parsley, it can be used as a substitute in many dishes. Use the same amount of fresh cilantro as you would use for fresh parsley. (1:1 ratio)

2. Chervil

Chervil (sometimes called “French parsley”) tastes like a combination of parsley and tarragon with a hint of licorice. It looks a lot like parsley and can be used as a substitute for parsley to cook with or garnish a dish with. Use the same amount of fresh chervil as you would use for fresh parsley in any recipe. (1:1 ratio)

3. Basil

Basil is a common herb featured in Italian and Asian cuisine. It has a sweet and slightly peppery flavor. It can be used as a substitute for parsley in certain dishes like sauces and curries. Use the same amount of fresh basil as you would use for fresh parsley in many recipes. (1:1 ratio)

4. Celery Leaves

Celery leaves have a mild flavor that can easily be used as a substitute for fresh parsley to cook with or to use as a garnish. Use the same amount of fresh celery leaves as you would use for fresh parsley. (1:1 ratio).

5. Carrot Tops

Carrot tops have a bitter taste similar to parsley. They can used as a substitute for fresh parsley to either cook with or garnish a dish with. Use the same amount of fresh carrot top leaves as you would use for fresh parsley in any recipe. (1:1 ratio).

6. Dried Parsley

Dried parsley has a mild and fairly bland flavor, so fresh parsley can make a good substitute for dried parsley, but dried parsley doesn’t make a very good substitute for fresh parsley. If dried parsley is all you have to use as a substitute for fresh parsley, then a general rule of thumb is to use 1 teaspoon of dried parsley for every 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley that is called for in a recipe.

A small bunch of fresh parsley lays on a white kitchen towel next to a knife.

How Do You Use Fresh Parsley?

Parsley is commonly used to add a unique fresh pop of flavor to many dishes like salads, soups and stews. It’s best to add parsley leaves at the end of cooking to retain the herb’s fresh flavor. Sprigs of parsley are also added to a bouquet garni (a small bundle of herbs) which is used to flavor soups, stocks, stews and sauces.                                            

What Parts of Parsley Do You Use?

Parsley leaves and the stems are both edible. Curly parsley leaves are most commonly used as a garnish while flat-leaf  parsley leaves are used to cook with. These delicate leaves tend to lose most of their flavor when cooked, so they’re best added at the end of cooking time or sprinkled over your dish just before serving. The stems are a little more potent and durable than the leaves, so they’re also good to cook with whether finely chopped or added to a bouquet garni. 

Should You Rinse Parsley Before Using It?

Parsley should be rinsed before using it to cook with or garnish a dish with. Rinse under cool water and gently pat dry with paper towels or add the leaves to a salad spinner. 

What’s The Best Way To Store Parsley?

It’s best to store fresh parsley in the refrigerator with the stems still attached. Place the stems in a glass of water and  loosely cover the leaves with a plastic bag. If the stems have been cut away, then wrap the leaves in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag leaving the end open for circulation. Parsley with stems attached can last in the refrigerator up to 1 week and without the stems it’ll last between 3 to 5 days.

A small bunch of parsley lays next to a small bowl of dried parsley for parsley substitutes.

More Resources

Parsley Substitute

Parsley Substitute

Need a good substitute for parsley? Fresh parsley has a unique flavor that’s hard to replace. But if you’re in a pinch and need a replacement, here’s the best fresh parsley substitutes you can use.

Ingredients

  • Cilantro
  • Chervil
  • Basil
  • Celery Leaves
  • Carrot Tops
  • Dried Parsley

Instructions

  1. Cilantro can be used as a substitute for parsley in many dishes. Use the same amount of fresh cilantro as you would use for fresh parsley. (1:1 ratio)
  2. Chervil can be used as a substitute for parsley to cook with or garnish a dish with. Use the same amount of fresh chervil as you would use for fresh parsley in any recipe. (1:1 ratio)
  3. Basil is a common herb featured in Italian and Asian cuisine. It can be used as a substitute for parsley in certain dishes like sauces and curries. Use the same amount of fresh basil as you would use for fresh parsley in many recipes. (1:1 ratio)
  4. Celery leaves can easily be used as a substitute for parsley to cook with or to use as a garnish. Use the same amount of fresh celery leaves as you would use for fresh parsley. (1:1 ratio).
  5. Carrot tops can be added while cooking a dish or used as a garnish. Use the same amount of fresh carrot top leaves as you would use for fresh parsley in any recipe. (1:1 ratio).
  6. Dried parsley can also be used as a substitute for fresh parsley. Use 1 teaspoon of dried parsley for every 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley that is called for in a recipe.