How to Store and Preserve Cilantro 3 Ways

By the time your avocados ripen for guac, your cilantro is wilted. We've all been there. Here's how to store cilantro so it lasts as long as possible. 

I love cilantro for its citrusy, herbaceous bite — but I don't love the fact that I can't seem to use a whole bunch before the leaves begin to turn brown, soggy, and sad. The good news is there are several ways to keep cilantro fresh, including in the refrigerator, the freezer, and more.

How to Store Fresh Cilantro

cilantro in a glass with water
Mark Thomas/Meredith

Storage starts in the store — make sure you're purchasing the greenest, perkiest cilantro you can find. Once you've got a beautiful bunch of fresh cilantro, put them in water, just as you would with freshly cut flowers.

Here's What You'll Need:

  • Glass or jar
  • Water
  • A plastic bag (produce or grocery bags work well)


  1. Start by removing the rubber bands from your bunch of cilantro. No need to wash the cilantro until you're ready to use.
  2. Place cilantro (stems-on) upright in a glass or jar. Add about an inch of water.
  3. Loosely cover the leaves of the cilantro with a plastic bag.
  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month (yes, really!). Replace the water as needed.

How to Preserve Cilantro for Long-Term Use

If you want to get more than a month's worth of use out of your cilantro, there are ways to preserve it for long-term use.

Freezing Cilantro

Cilantro, like other fresh herbs, does well in the freezer. Here's how to freeze it:

  1. Rinse and blanch the cilantro. Rinse the herbs as usual. Prepare a bowl of ice and water. Bring a separate pot of water to a boil and use a pair of tongs to dunk the cilantro (with stems still intact) in the boiling water for about 10 seconds. Once the herbs are bright green, immediately plunge them into the prepared ice bath to stop the cooking process.
  2. Dry and prep the cilantro. Pat the herbs dry (or better yet, use a salad spinner). Remove the leaves from the stems.
  3. Process the cilantro with oil. Add a little olive oil (just enough to create a paste) and cilantro to a food processor and process until the mixture resembles pesto. Freeze the cilantro in portions using an ice cube tray. This way you have pre-portioned, chopped cilantro for adding to any dish. Freeze for up to six months this way.

For cooked dishes, add the cilantro straight from the freezer. For cold or room temperature dishes, thaw the herbs and drain the excess oil and moisture before adding to your dish.

cilantro on cutting board with knife
Debra Williams/Meredith

Drying Cilantro

The final way to preserve cilantro is to dry it. You can purchase dried cilantro at most supermarkets, but if you have some fresh cilantro on hand that you know you're not going to get to, why not save a little money and dry it yourself? Here's how:

  1. Wash and dry the cilantro. Remove the leaves from the stems.
  2. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Add cilantro leaves to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place on the upper rack of the oven. Spread the leaves out so that they're in a single layer.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cilantro is dry and crumbly. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Use a spatula edge to crumble the leaves into smaller pieces, then scrape the pieces off the baking sheet into an airtight container. Store for up to three years.

As with all dried herbs, the conversion ratio is about one teaspoon dried for one tablespoon fresh.


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