What To Do With Cilantro: Ways To Preserve + Recipe Ideas

I have a problem with wasting cilantro. I’m always buying a bunch, or two, and then using part of it and then letting it sit in the refrigerator until it rots because I either forgot about it, or never made anything else I thought about putting it in!

I’m determined to stop wasting so much food, and cilantro is where it starts. I will find a way to either use, or preserve leftover cilantro before it goes bad!

When I asked for help with my cilantro-wasting problem on Facebook, I didn’t expect so many answers of things to do or make with cilantro! You all had tons of great ideas, so I’m going to summize them here so that you non-Facebook readers can read the tips, too!

Marsha suggested this:

Chop it up and put in ice trays with chicken broth or water….drop a cube in soups or fresh salsa…you can do this with most fresh herbs.

From Kristine:

We put it in all kinds of stuff. Never have a problem using it. Use it in mandrain orange salad (mandrains, romaine, head letteus, roasted almonds, and a yummy dressing) instead of parsley.

Erin said:

I don’t know if it works with herbs, but I wrap everything in freezer paper and stick it in freezer bags. Most things will last for at least six months that way.

Kayte suggested:

I like to use my Pampered Chef 1/2 cup bowls and put the leaves in water to freeze. Then move to a baggie once it’s frozen.

Sheila and several others mentioned something I’d never thought about:

I’ve never gotten around to freezing it… but I do *try* to trim the bunch and put it in a glass with enough water to reach the stems. Poke holes in the produce bag and place it over the glass. Keeps it fresh for a LONG time in the fridge!

Cindi never has this problem… :)

I never have left-over cilantro because I never buy it in the first place. Hate the stuff. :)

Bobbie said:

I dry it. Fresh is better but I hate wasting the leftover and didn’t know I could freeze it.

Dee’s method of freezing:

One of best ways to save it is to puree it in food processor and then put it in ice trays and freeze. Then you can save in ziploc bags and when needed pop it into your recipe. You can do that with several veggies. :)

Sharon had a great idea:

I accidently discovered an new way to save it. I washed some and put the salad spinner in the refrigerator and it dried. When I tried it in the next dish I made, it was still great.

And then there were lots of ideas for recipes – I love the idea of Cilantro Pesto!

From Tina:

Make Spanish rice put little in there, home made salas. There is so much you can do with it.

From Daniella:

If you make Cilantro Pesto (Chelation Pesto), you don’t have to freeze it.  We love the stuff and eat it up quickly with tortilla chips!

From Janel:

My hubby is Puerto Rican….so I make Sofrito with it, put it in ice trays and freeze it. I pop it out as I need it. Sofrito is a blend of Cilantro, green pepper, onion and garlic in the food processor until creamy (sometimes I add a little chicken broth to make it less thick)…tastes good in taco meat, spanish rice, chili, PR rice and beans.

Sara suggested:

Pico de gallo!

Christine had a good idea:

It doesn’t work so great with cilantro but if you have other fresh herbs like parsley or rosemary just chop it up and mix it in with soft butter. Roll it into a log freeze the log and voila! Whenever you want to make Italian bread just slice as much as you need put it on the bread broil and enjoy :-)

Dee said:

Like Janel said, make sofrito and also Recaito. So we like to freeze it to use it in lots of recipes. Lasts a very long time. Plus, when you are latino that’s a must to have in your fridge and to use . It’s like a big no, no to not use cilantro. lol!

From Tina:

It won’t get you far, but, I put it on grilled ham & cheese w/tomato sandwiches.

And I’ll bet Kristine’s friends and neighbors like her in the summertime:

Find a friend and share the bunch with? Cilantro is one of several leaf veggies we have grown in our garden during the summer and taken to church to give away. We almost never had leftovers to bring home.

Whew! OK, so now I have absolutely no excuse for wasting cilantro! Thank you guys so much for all the suggestions.

If you’re now inspired to preserve cilantro, Rancho Liborio often has it on sale for a great price. In my experience, their bunches tend to be a bit on the small side, but when they’re on sale for 16¢ like they were on Thursday, well, it’s hard to complain about them being a bit smaller than bunches that are three times the price!



  1. Thanks so much for this post! I have a new recipe I want to try that calls for cilantro, but I was going to just leave it out since I’ve never bought it before and had no idea what I’d do with the leftovers. Now I have several ideas!

  2. I use Rachel Ray’s method of storing my fresh cilantro in the fridge and it lasts a very long time, 3 weeks or so, and that is usually enough time to use it all up. Wash your cilantro and then towel pat it dry, wrap it w/ a few paper towels and put it in a gallon size ziploc bag. The paper towel absorbs all the excess moisture that is what makes your cilantro go bad so quickly. You’ll be surprised how wet your paper towel gets. I always untie the bundle to let it breath. I do this w/ all my fresh herbs and it works great. It takes a little effort when you get home from the store but it’s either that or throw it away only a week in!

    • I do the same thing as Wendy, but I do it with all my cut veggies. If I make salad, I’ll make a little extra, stick it in a tupperware and put a paper towel over it. Also, if I just use part of a bell pepper, I wrap the remaining bell pepper in a paper towel. Like Wendy said, it absorbs the excess moisture and the veggies stay fresh longer. I just change out the paper towel for a new one every time I take salad out of the bowl.

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