How many calories is 2 tbsp of cilantro?

Quick Answer

Cilantro is a very low-calorie herb. Two tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro contain only about 2 calories.

Cilantro, also known as coriander, is an herb that is commonly used to add flavor to dishes around the world. It has a bright, citrusy flavor that pairs well with many foods. Cilantro is nutritious and very low in calories, making it a great addition to a healthy diet. But exactly how many calories are in 2 tablespoons of cilantro? Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding Calories

First, it helps to understand what calories are and how they relate to food. A calorie is a unit of energy found in food and drink. The number of calories a food contains tells us how much potential energy it provides for the body.

The calories we eat give our body the fuel it needs for metabolic functions, physical activity, brain function, breathing, digestion, and everything else it must do on a daily basis. Consuming more calories than our body burns leads to weight gain over time, while a deficit between calories consumed and calories burned leads to weight loss.

Nutrition labels provide the calorie counts in packaged foods. For fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, and herbs, the USDA National Nutrient Database offers calorie counts for standard serving sizes. Knowing the calorie content helps us make informed food choices that align with our health and nutrition goals.

Calories in Cilantro

Cilantro is incredibly low in calories, especially when consumed in smaller amounts like 1-2 tablespoons.

According to the USDA, 2 tablespoons (10 grams) of chopped fresh cilantro contains:[1]

  • 2 calories
  • 0.5 g protein
  • 0 g fat
  • 0 g carbohydrates
  • 0.2 g fiber

As you can see, cilantro provides only 2 calories per 2 tablespoon serving. This makes it a very low-calorie way to add flavor, nutrients, and texture to meals and snacks.

Calorie Density of Cilantro

In addition to looking at the calorie count, it is useful to consider the calorie density of foods. Calorie density tells us how many calories are packed into a standard serving or certain weight of a food.

Foods with higher calorie density provide more calories per bite or serving compared to foods with lower calorie density. For example, 2 tablespoons of oil contains around 240 calories and has a high calorie density. 2 tablespoons of cilantro has a very low calorie density with only 2 calories.

Choosing more foods with lower calorie density can help reduce overall calorie intake while still providing satisfying portions of food. Cilantro is an excellent choice for adding flavor and nutrition without significantly increasing the calories.

Cilantro Nutrition Facts

In addition to being low in calories, cilantro provides an impressive array of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. Here is an overview of the nutrition found in 2 tablespoons (10 grams) of cilantro:[1]


  • 11% DV vitamin C
  • 7% DV vitamin A
  • 5% DV vitamin K


  • 2% DV calcium
  • 2% DV iron
  • 1% DV magnesium
  • 1% DV potassium

Other Compounds

  • Flavonoids
  • Phenolic acids
  • Carotenoids

As you can see, even a small amount of cilantro provides good amounts of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, and disease-fighting plant compounds. Adding more cilantro can quickly increase the nutrient and phytochemical content without adding significant calories.

Benefits of Cilantro

Incorporating cilantro into your diet provides several potential health benefits beyond its low calorie content. Here is an overview of some of the top benefits of cilantro:

Supports Immune Function

Cilantro is packed with antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic acids, and carotenoids.[2] These compounds help neutralize harmful free radicals to protect cells against oxidative damage. The antioxidant content contributes to the immune-supporting effects of cilantro.

Cilantro also provides antimicrobial properties, which may help prevent infections.[3]

Promotes Heart Health

The antioxidants in cilantro may help protect cholesterol from oxidizing into a form that can build up in arteries and lead to cardiovascular disease.[4]

Some of the plant compounds in cilantro also help relax blood vessels, which supports healthy blood flow.[5]


Cilantro has been used traditionally as a detoxifier given its ability to help bind to and remove heavy metals from the body. The chlorophyll, flavonoids, and phenolic acids are thought to contribute to these cleansing effects.[6]

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Chronic inflammation is at the root of many diseases. The antioxidants and plant compounds found in cilantro provide anti-inflammatory properties, which may help lower inflammation.[7]

Blood Sugar Control

Some studies have found cilantro helps reduce serum glucose levels and regulate insulin secretion and sensitivity. This indicates it may provide benefits for blood sugar control, especially for those with diabetes.[8]

How to Add Cilantro to Your Diet

Here are some tips for incorporating more cilantro into your regular diet:

Add it to dishes

Use cilantro as a garnish or ingredient in dishes like tacos, salsa, guacamole, salad dressing, stir frys, and egg dishes. The options are endless!

Make cilantro sauce

Blend cilantro with olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and salt for a tasty sauce to drizzle over meat, fish, and vegetables.

Add it to smoothies

Add a handful of cilantro to your favorite smoothies. It blends up nicely and adds a fresh flavor.

Use it in dips

Chopped cilantro tastes great in hummus, baba ghanoush, and spinach dip.

Make cilantro water

Soak cilantro in water overnight, then drink the water which will be infused with its flavor and nutrients.

Throw it in soups

Add cilantro at the end to finish off soup recipes with its bright, fresh taste.

Cilantro Calorie Count in Different Forms

While 2 tablespoons of chopped raw cilantro has 2 calories, keep in mind that different forms of cilantro vary in their calorie content:

Form of Cilantro Calories per 2 Tablespoons
Chopped raw 2 calories
Cilantro leaves 3 calories
Cilantro sprigs 1 calorie
Dried ground coriander 27 calories

As shown, dried and ground coriander contains significantly more calories than fresh cilantro, with 27 calories in 2 tablespoons. Focusing on using fresh cilantro is the best way to maximize nutrients and flavor while minimizing calories.

Cilantro Serving Size

The standard serving size for cilantro is generally 1-2 tablespoons chopped. This provides just 2-3 calories while also delivering a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Some examples of typical cilantro serving sizes and their calorie content:[1]

  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped cilantro: 1 calorie
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro: 2 calories
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro: 2 calories
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro: 4 calories
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro: 7 calories

Aim to use at least 1-2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro at a time to maximize the benefits while keeping calories very low. Cilantro works nicely as an ingredient but also makes a pretty, flavorful garnish atop finished dishes.

Comparing Calories in Cilantro vs. Other Herbs

How does cilantro compare to other fresh herbs in terms of calories? Here is a calories comparison per 2 tablespoons of some popular fresh herbs:[9]

Herb Calories per 2 Tablespoons
Cilantro 2 calories
Parsley 2 calories
Chives 3 calories
Mint 4 calories
Oregano 5 calories
Basil 6 calories
Thyme 7 calories
Dill 8 calories

As you can see, along with parsley, cilantro is one of the lowest-calorie fresh herb options. While all herbs provide an array of nutrients and plant compounds, cilantro is one of the most nutritious choices while providing just 2 calories per serving.

Cilantro for Weight Loss

Due to its exceptionally low calorie count, cilantro can be a great addition to a weight loss diet.

Replacing higher calorie ingredients with cilantro allows you to eat satisfying portions while reducing overall calories. And its fiber content helps promote feelings of fullness.

Cilantro also contains antioxidants that may help boost fat burning and reduce fat accumulation by improving lipid metabolism.[10]

Make sure not tonegate cilantro’s low-calorie advantage by pairing it with high-calorie sauces and dressings like ranch, cheese dips, or creamy salad dressings.


Cilantro is an incredibly low-calorie herb, with only 2 calories in 2 tablespoons of the chopped fresh leaves and stems. It provides robust flavor along with an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant compounds that provide many benefits from immune support to detoxification.

Add cilantro generously to your meals and snacks to take advantage of its health promoting effects while adding very minimal calories. Use it in sauces, salsas, dressings, dips, soups, salads, and other savory dishes. Cilantro requires no cooking, so add it fresh at the end to preserve nutrients.

With its outstanding nutrition and health benefits, super low calorie count, and delicious taste, cilantro is a staple herb that belongs in any healthy diet.

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