Play Nice: The Best Flavor Pairings For Cilantro

You know cilantro when you taste it. The pungent herb has a mixture of earthy, citrusy, and cooling flavors which, while fantastic at cutting through rich dishes, don’t play nice with everything in your kitchen. Although we’d never argue against culinary experimentation, there are a lot of cilantro flavor pairings that are always delicious. Here are a few of our favorites.

Cilantro and Chili Peppers

Cilantro and heat go hand in hand. Particularly popular in Latin American and Asian cuisine, cilantro and chili peppers are used to simultaneously compliment and mellow each other out. To see this interaction first hand, try whipping up some fresh salsa verde! 

Cilantro and Avocado

The combination that skyrocketed guacamole recipes around the country needs no introduction. Add cilantro and avocado to classic Mexican dishes or surprise your patrons with a cilantro-avocado salad dressing!

Cilantro and Beef

This combination works from Hong Kong to Tijuana. When added to beef dishes like beef stir fry or beef empanadas, cilantro helps enrich deep flavors in the meat while bringing new, aromatic flavors to the plate. Better yet, this pairing works well in large dishes, so you can cook multiple servings at once!  

Cilantro and Tropical Fruits

Health-conscience chefs can use the pairing to bring some unexpected complexity into diet-friendly dishes. We particularly like adding cilantro to a variety of green juices or smoothies. Try blending some cilantro and citrus alongside strawberries, pineapple, and cucumber for a delicious green smoothie!

  • Pro Tip: Revisit our intro course on juicing here!

Cilantro and Cream Cheese

What better way to spice up a morning menu than creating a cilantro infused cream cheese? Cilantro is an underrated partner to creamy dishes, bringing cooling aspects and a gentle earthiness in each bite. While most bagels work with cilantro cream cheese, we like pumping up the savoriness by using everything bagels. 

Cilantro and Other Fresh Herbs

This combination may be obvious but it isn’t any less powerful. Cilantro shares aspects of mint, basil, and sage while staying distinct, meaning it can simultaneously enhance and build off other herbs. Make sure to use cilantro during the cooking process, as the heat will mellow out potent flavors in the cilantro and give your herbs a more cohesive flavor profile.