Try These 11 Parsley Substitutes

  • Medical Reviewer: Mahammad Juber, MD
Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2022

What is parsley?

Parsley is a popular garnish and seasoning with a mild herbaceous flavor. Substitutes for parsley include chervil, cilantro, oregano, and other herbs.
Parsley is a popular garnish and seasoning with a mild herbaceous flavor. Substitutes for parsley include chervil, cilantro, oregano, and other herbs.

Parsley is a popular garnish and seasoning with a mild herbaceous flavor. If you’re fresh out of parsley, you can use lots of other herbs as a parsley substitute.

Parsley, or Petroselinum crispum, is an herb with bright green, fern-like leaves. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals, like B vitamins, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. 

There are two popular types of parsley: curly leaf and flat leaf. Curly leaf parsley is bright green with finely cut, toothed leaves. It’s almost decorative and makes a great garnish. Flat leaf parsley is a darker green with flat leaves and a stronger flavor. You can use both types, fresh or dried, with your favorite dishes. 

What seasoning can you use in place of parsley?

Whether you’re out of parsley or don’t like the taste, there are plenty of alternatives:


Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is an aromatic herb with lacy leaves and delicate white flowers. The plant looks a lot like parsley, though it is a lighter green. You can use dried chervil, though some people feel it tastes better fresh.

Its delicate leaves make it an excellent garnish, and you can chop them up and sprinkle them in salads, dressing, sauces, cheese, herb butter, and egg and chicken dishes. Chervil is a source of magnesium, vitamin C, and natural plant compounds.


Also called coriander, cilantro is another close parsley substitute. Cilantro leaves look a lot like European parsley leaves, but it’s pungent and has a sweet, almost musk-like smell and taste that many people don’t like. 

Cilantro leaves are best fresh as a garnish and for flavor. You can freeze or dry them, which will cause them to lose some flavor. Cilantro is a common seasoning in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia in salsas, curries, and meat dishes. Add cilantro at the very end when cooking, so you don’t overcook it. 

Salad burnet

Like parsley, salad burnet (Poterium sanguisorba) has a delicate flavor profile. The plant has a fern-like appearance and grows round, pink flowers. Old leaves are bitter and tough, so it’s best to use fresh and young salad burnet leaves. The leaves have a nutty cucumber flavor and can be used as a garnish or a seasoning in beverages, salads, vinegar, and soups.


Chives are another parsley substitute. The plant is a perennial herb, so it comes back every year. It comes up in the spring and grows in clumps of slim bulbs with purple flowers. The herb is often used fresh or dried and has a mild onion or garlic taste. You can chop chive leaves into small pieces and use them to garnish your dishes or as a seasoning. 


Oregano leaf is a good parsley substitute if you’re looking for a strong, savory flavor. The plant is a hardy perennial with sprawling stems and small white or pink flowers. The leaves contain essential oil, including specific compounds called thymol and carvacrol, with antimicrobial properties. 

You can use fresh oregano as a vibrant garnish or use it fresh or dried as a seasoning. It’s a common herb used for pizza, pasta, meats, and other Italian sauces. 


Thyme is similar to oregano in smell and taste. It has a strong, savory flavor and also contains the thymol compound, giving it antimicrobial activity. The plant is a woody, evergreen and grows tube-like white, purple, or red flowers. 

You can snap off a stem from a thyme plant and then pull the leaves off to use fresh or dry. If you don’t have a plant, you can also buy it fresh in the grocery store. Use fresh thyme to garnish a dish and fresh or dried leaves as a seasoning in cooking. Thyme compliments stews, casseroles, meat dishes, marinades, herb butter, and vegetable dishes. 


Basil is another parsley substitute. It’s not as strong as oregano or thyme, but it still has a medium-strength flavor and aroma. It’s an easy plant to grow, making it a popular garden herb. The leaves are fragrant and contain a mixture of antimicrobial compounds. Some people find it’s better to cook with young basil leaves. 

Fresh basil leaves are often used in pesto, Caprese salad (with tomatoes, basil, cheese, oils, and vinegar), and teas. You can also use dried basil as a seasoning. 

Celery leaves

If you’re looking for a garnishing herb to replace parsley, try celery leaves. Celery belongs to the same family as parsley, dill, and carrots, and the leaves look like parsley leaves. The seeds have a strong flavor and are often mixed with salt to make celery salt, but you can also eat the leaves for flavor. 


The tarragon plant is an aromatic herb with somewhat twisted leaves. There are two different common cooking types with different but medium-strong flavors: French tarragon and Russian tarragon. French tarragon almost always grows from stem cuttings or divisions because it rarely flowers and doesn’t produce many seeds. 

Tarragon is the best fresh, but you can use it dry to garnish or season your recipe. It’s commonly used to flavor fish, meats, vegetables, vinegar, and condiments. The herb contains B vitamins, potassium, calcium, and vitamin A


In terms of flavor, a surprising parsley substitute is mint. While it doesn’t taste the same as parsley, it is an excellent garnish substitute. Mint leaf is commonly used in teas, salads, and desserts but also works well with meat dishes. It has a warm, spicy scent but a cool, sweet flavor, and you can use it fresh or dried. 


Sage is another savory alternative to parsley. There are many sage varieties, but common sage is a woody, perennial shrub with purple-blue or purple-pink flowers. The leaves contain essential oil compounds that make the plant fragrant and have some medicinal properties. 

You can garnish a stew or meat dish with fresh sage leaves. You can also use fresh or dried sage as a flavoring in stuffing, chicken or fish dishes, vinegar, and salads. 

Bottom line

Parsley is one way to add flavor to your meal without adding extra salt. While there are lots of alternatives, chervil and cilantro may be the closest substitutes. Use smaller amounts if you swap parsley for stronger herbs like oregano and thyme. Chop or crush fresh herbs for more flavor. 

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Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2022

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