How do you keep cilantro fresh longer?

Quick Answers

Here are some quick tips for keeping cilantro fresh longer:

  • Store cilantro in the fridge in a plastic bag or container of water – This prevents wilting
  • Trim the ends – Cut off the ends of the stems before storing to allow for better water absorption
  • Keep it dry – Pat cilantro dry before refrigerating to prevent rotting
  • Use it quickly – Try to use cilantro within 3-5 days for maximum freshness
  • Avoid freezing – Freezing can damage cilantro’s texture and flavor

Proper Storage

The key to keeping cilantro fresh longer is proper storage. Here are some best practices:

  • Refrigerate cilantro as soon as possible after purchasing – Leaving it out at room temperature will cause it to wilt faster
  • Store in a plastic bag or container with a small amount of water – The water will keep the stems hydrated and upright
  • Make sure the bag or container is not airtight – Cilantro still needs access to oxygen while stored
  • Place the cilantro in the crisper drawer of your fridge – The high humidity helps maintain freshness
  • Keep the temperature between 32-40°F – Colder than 32°F can damage leaves

By properly refrigerating cilantro in a loosely closed plastic bag with water, you can expect it to last 3-5 days before wilting or spoiling occurs.

Preparation Tips

In addition to storage, how you handle cilantro can also affect its shelf life. Here are some prep tips:

  • Rinse under cool water before refrigerating – This removes dirt and debris
  • Dry thoroughly with paper towels or a salad spinner – Excess moisture leads to spoilage
  • Trim the ends of the stems – Newly cut ends better absorb water for hydration
  • Keep leaves attached to stems before storing – They will stay fresh longer this way
  • Pick leaves as needed rather than chopping all at once – The intact plant lasts longer

Proper rinsing, drying, and trimming before refrigeration gives cilantro the best chance of staying fresh and flavorful.

Avoid Freezing

While freezing extends the shelf life of many herbs, cilantro does not retain its flavor or texture well when frozen. This is because the cold temperatures damage the delicate leaves and stems. Here’s what happens when cilantro is frozen:

  • Leaves become limp and wilted upon thawing
  • Stems become bendy and soft instead of crisp
  • Oils that give cilantro its signature flavor are lost
  • Dried out, black spots develop on leaves
  • Texture changes from fresh and crisp to mushy

For the best quality, it’s recommended to enjoy fresh cilantro within a few days and avoid freezing it. If you do end up freezing cilantro, use it in cooked dishes where texture is less important.

How to Revive Wilted Cilantro

If your cilantro starts to wilt before you get a chance to use it, don’t throw it out! There are a few tricks to revive cilantro and perk it up:

  • Cut off 1-2 inches from the stems – This exposes fresh plant tissue
  • Submerge stems in bowl of ice water for 1 hour – The cold water rehydrates the plant
  • Store revived cilantro in the fridge in water – Use within a day or two
  • Rinse leaves and pat dry before using – Gets rid of excess moisture

Snipping the stems and soaking in icy water can bring wilted cilantro back to life. Just be sure to use it soon after reviving and remove any slimy parts.

Signs It’s Time to Throw Out

Once cilantro starts displaying these signs, it’s time to discard it:

  • Yellow or brown leaves
  • Dry, shriveled stems
  • Slimy texture
  • Foul, rotten smell
  • Dark black spots
  • Excessive wilting

Spoiled cilantro is unsafe to eat. If your cilantro shows any mold, mushiness, or foul odor, err on the side of caution and throw it out.

Storing Cilantro Leaves vs Stems

When it comes to maximizing cilantro’s shelf life, you may wonder whether it’s best to separate the stems from the leaves. Here’s a comparison:

Cilantro Leaves Cilantro Stems
More delicate – wilt faster Sturdier and stay crisp longer
Best stored dry in air tight container Best stored upright in water in refrigertor
Last 2-3 days when stored properly Last 3-5 days when stored properly
More flavor – contain most of the essential oils More subtle in flavor
Often added raw at the end of cooking Can be cooked longer without losing flavor
Prone to spoilage and wilting Slower to wilt or spoil

The takeaway is that cilantro stems stay fresh longer than the leaves when separated. But keeping them attached maximizes the shelf life of the whole bunch.

How Long Does Cilantro Last?

Here is a table summarizing how long cilantro lasts under different storage conditions:

Storage Method Fridge (40°F) Counter (68°F)
Plastic bag with water 5-7 days 1-2 days
Plastic container dry 3-5 days 1 day
Left out dry 0 days 4-6 hours
Frozen 6 months 6 months

As you can see, refrigeration and proper storage methods extend cilantro’s shelf life significantly. But without refrigeration, cilantro will only last about 4-6 hours before wilting.

How to Use Up Cilantro Before It Goes Bad

To avoid waste and make the most of your cilantro, here are some delicious ways to use it up quickly:

  • Chimichurri sauce – Blend with oil, vinegar, garlic, onion, parsley
  • Pesto – Blend with olive oil, parmesan, nuts, garlic
  • Salads – Add raw leaves to green, potato, pasta, or grain salads
  • Salsas and dips – Mix into pico de gallo, guacamole, salsa verde
  • Sandwiches – Top tacos, burgers, sandwiches, wraps with fresh leaves
  • Garnishes – Use as a garnish for tacos, noodles, eggs, soup
  • Smoothies – Add a few leaves to fruit or green smoothies
  • Compounds butters – Blend with softened butter and spread over meats or bread

Incorporating cilantro into sauces, dips, dressings, and garnishes is an easy way to use it up fast. The flavors pair well with Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian dishes.

How to Store Chopped Cilantro

Once cilantro is chopped, it loses shelf life quickly due to oxidation. Here are some tips for storing chopped cilantro:

  • Place in an airtight container lined with paper towels
  • Remove as much air as possible and seal the container
  • Refrigerate for up to 3 days maximum
  • Add a slice of bread to the container to absorb excess moisture
  • Consider freezing chopped cilantro in ice cube trays covered with a bit of water or oil
  • Place in a plastic freezer bag after frozen for storing cubes

Chopped cilantro is very delicate, so minimizing air exposure is key. Use frozen cilantro within 6 months.

Common Mistakes

It’s easy to make mistakes when storing cilantro that lead to premature wilting. Avoid these common errors:

  • Letting cilantro sit out on the counter for extended periods
  • Storing cilantro in the door of the refrigerator (too warm)
  • Putting cilantro in an airtight container or bag
  • Placing cilantro beside ethylene-producing fruits like apples
  • Forgetting to trim the ends of the stems before refrigerating
  • Leaving cilantro wet or damp before storing
  • Storing cilantro beside pungent foods like onions

Always remember to rinse, dry, trim, and promptly refrigerate cilantro in a loose plastic bag or container of water.


With proper storage techniques, cilantro can stay fresh and flavorful for 5-7 days when kept refrigerated in water. Dry storage and warm temperatures will shorten its shelf life to just hours or days. Prepping cilantro correctly by rinsing, drying, and trimming before refrigeration is key. Avoid common mistakes like overexposure to air, ethylene gas, and excess moisture. Use cilantro soon after purchasing, within 3-5 days for best quality and flavor. With a little extra care in storage and handling, you can enjoy fresh tasting cilantro for many dishes.

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