How to Freeze Cilantro
What dish does cilantro make you think of? It might be the Californian in me, but I immediately dream of a plate of street tacos topped with this flavorful herb.
While cilantro is my go-to garnish for tacos and a key ingredient in homemade pico de gallo, over the years it’s become a favorite for all kinds of dishes. I use it to top salads, mix it into rice, add it to spring rolls, eggs, shrimp dishes, homemade hummus, pesto, the list goes on.
Because of its versatility, I almost always have cilantro on hand, but as you all know it wilts after a few days in the fridge. So how do you preserve cilantro longer?
Can You Freeze Cilantro?
Yes, you can freeze cilantro! Frozen cilantro works well if you’d like to add the flavor to cooked or blended dishes like soups, smoothies, or chutneys. It does not work well as a garnish, so make sure you buy fresh cilantro if you’d like to use it to top a dish.
How to Freeze Cilantro
Prepping Your Cilantro
Before freezing your cilantro, rinse your cilantro with water and then pat it dry with paper towels making sure it’s clean and dry.
It’s especially important that the cilantro is dry if you’re using the freezer bag method, as you don’t want ice crystals to stick to the leaves.
Method 1: Ice Cube Trays
Preserving cilantro in frozen water or oil helps to keep its green color. You can freeze it in measurements you typically use (like a tablespoon) and quickly add it to your dish. Cilantro ice cubes should be added near the end of cooking so that you don’t overcook the herb and lose its flavor.
- Chop up cilantro or blend it in a food processor.
- Add water or olive oil to create a puree. The exact proportion is up to you, but the puree should be thick. I tend to use 1.2 parts cilantro to 1 part liquid. Or in other words 90g cilantro and 70g of oil.
- Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.
- Transfer cilantro cubes to a freezer bag and label with the date.
Cilantro frozen in water is a great addition to soups, stews, and other cooked dishes that don’t require oil. Cilantro frozen in olive oil can be used to roast vegetables or potatoes and in dressings and sauces.
Method 2: Freezer Bags
If you’d rather keep the leave intact or don’t want to spend the extra time chopping and freezing the cilantro, you can simply store it in a freezer bag. When cilantro is frozen like this, it loses its bright green color — don’t be alarmed if it turns a dull green. It will still maintain its flavor!
- Place clean and dry cilantro in an airtight freezer bag. You can separate the leaves from the stems if you only use the leaves when cooking.
- Squeeze out the air and seal.
- Place in the freezer and label with the date.
Using Frozen Cilantro
Frozen cilantro maintains its flavor fairly well, but it won’t maintain its fresh, crisp texture. When cooking with frozen cilantro, keep these things in mind:
- Don’t use the frozen cilantro as a garnish.
- Add frozen cilantro at the end of the dish. This will prevent you from overcooking the cilantro and diminishing its flavor.
- Thaw olive oil cubes at room temperature if you’re using in a dressing or to roast vegetables or potatoes.
Now you know how to freeze cilantro, but if you prefer the fresh version here are a few tips to maximize your cilantro’s shelf life.
How to Choose Cilantro
Keep in mind cilantro’s appearance and smell when choosing a fresh bunch. Avoid cilantro that’s wilted or has yellow or brown spots. Fragrant cilantro is fresher than cilantro that has a dull smell.
How to Store Fresh Cilantro
Instead of just throwing it in the produce drawer and watching it wilt within days (guilty), trim the stems, place it in a jar of water, and cover the top with a plastic bag. This will keep the cilantro hydrated and fresh for 2+ weeks.
How Long Does Cilantro Last
If you don’t place your cilantro in water like suggested above, cilantro will last 5-7 days in the refrigerator, though it’ll appear wilted in about 2-3 days. I typically use cilantro about a week from the purchase date, regardless of if it looks wilted or not.
Can You Dry Cilantro
You can dry cilantro, but it loses much of its flavor, so I suggest using fresh cilantro or frozen cilantro instead. If you want to dry cilantro, there are three methods commonly used:
- Oven: Heat your oven to 250℉. Wash and dry your cilantro, then separate leaves from stems. Coat a baking sheet with oil or spray and place the cilantro leaves on the sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 25 minutes. Once the cilantro leaves are cool, crumble them and store them in an airtight container.
- Microwave: Place clean, dry cilantro leaves on a microwave safe plate between two paper towels. Microwave on high for 1 minute and then in 30 second intervals until the cilantro leaves are dry. Crumble and store in an airtight container.
- Air dry: Tie a string around the cilantro stems. Cover with a paper bag, adding holes in the bag for ventilation. Hang upside down in a warm, dry place out of direct sunlight. The bunch will take about a week to dry.
How to Freeze Cilantro
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- water or olive oil (optional)
- Rinse off cilantro and dry completely.
- If you’d like to freeze cilantro as-is, separate leaves from stems. Place in a freezer bag and squeeze out all the air. Seal the bag and freeze.
- If you’d like to freeze in ice cubes, blend or chop cilantro. Add water or oil to form a thick puree. I use a 3:1 ratio of cilantro to liquid. Place in an ice cube tray and freeze. Once ice cubes are completely frozen, remove from the tray and store in a freezer bag.