How to Tell if Cilantro is Bad? 3 Key Signs

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Last Updated on March 5, 2023

Cilantro is a popular ingredient in many savory dishes. In addition, it is also great to grow if you have your own garden, as it is best picked fresh. However, if you cook with it you will want to know how to tell if cilantro is bad.

Whether in tacos, salsa, or salad, cilantro brings a wonderful flavor addition. It is a versatile herb that pairs nicely in many different dishes. However, it is perishable, so it is important that you properly store your cilantro to keep it fresh for as long as possible.

What is Cilantro?

Cilantro, also known as coriander, Chinese parsley, or dhania, is an annual herb that is part of the family Apiaceae. Though all parts of the plant are edible, the leaves and seeds, which are dried up to make spice, are the most commonly used parts.

To many, cilantro has a tart, lemon/lime type of taste. However, for about 25% of people, it will taste like dish soap. This is because some people have a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes, which leads them to experience the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves.

Cilantro is commonly used for chutneys, salads, salsa, and guacamole. In addition, it is a popular garnish for soup, fish, and meat.

The seeds are also used as both whole dried and ground. By heating the seeds, the aroma, and flavor heighten. As a spice, it is used in garam masala and Indian curries, German sausages, beer, and pickling as well.

Cilantro also has many health benefits as well. It can help with your digestive health and is even beneficial for your skin. This unique herb can also help with pain, inflammation, and anti-fungal properties.

How Long Does Cilantro Last?

Fresh, raw cilantro will last for about seven to 10 days in the fridge. Since it is highly perishable, it will only last for a few hours at room temperature after you pick it up. You will want to know how to tell if cilantro is bad to know how long it lasts.

If it is too warm for too long, it will begin to wilt and dry up, making it undesirable to eat.

How to Properly Store it

Since cilantro is sensitive, you want to properly store it to ensure that it will stay fresh for as long as possible. Once you bring your cilantro home from the store, remove the rubber band that holds them together.

The best way to store your cilantro is to fill a glass with an inch of water. Then, place your cilantro in the glass of water and lightly cover it with a plastic bag to maintain freshness.

 how long does cilantro last

The best place to store it is in the crisper drawer or on the middle shelf of your fridge. You want to keep it in one of the coolest areas of your fridge to maintain freshness. You can also store it in a produce bag as well in your fridge.

Though washing your cilantro before using it is important, you want to wait to wash it until you are ready to use it. Excess moisture can cause it to go bad quickly and will lead it to become inedible.

How to Tell if the Cilantro in Your Fridge Has Gone Bad

If you cook regularly, it is important to know how to tell if cilantro is bad. If your cilantro is soft and becomes discolored, it is no longer good.

In addition, if you notice an off-smell or taste, it is best to just disregard it. If you notice any mold or it feels slimy, throw it out right away, bad cilantro is not safe to eat.

Can you freeze it?

You can freeze cilantro, which is a great way to prevent throwing out any extra before it goes bad. To freeze, start by washing it, then trim and chop it. After that, make sure to thoroughly dry it to remove any moisture.

Once dry, you can place the leaves in a Ziploc bag, removing as much air as possible. Then, place the bag in your freezer and use it as needed. Your cilantro will last for around three to four months in the fridge.

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In addition, you can also freeze your cilantro in cubes as well. To do this, add the cilantro to your blender with water and olive oil to create a thick paste. Then, place the paste in ice cube trays and freeze them.

Once they are frozen, add your cubes to a plastic bag and return them to the freezer for up to six months. Then, you can use them for curries, soups, and other dishes as well.

How to Grow Cilantro

The best time to plant cilantro is in cool weather, such as early spring. It does best in loose soil, with good drainage where it has full sun. You can grow it in your garden or a planter, just be sure not to plant it too close to taller plants that will take away its sunlight.

Plant the seeds one to two inches apart and about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch deep for best results. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy; about one inch of water a week. Cilantro will do best in temperatures between 60-70 degrees.

Knowing How Long is Cilantro Good For

Once you pick it, cilantro will not last long at room temperature. Fresh, raw cilantro will only last for a few hours at room temperature. In the fridge, you can keep it for up to seven to 10 days, or in the freezer for up to four to six months.

Knowing How Long Is Cilantro Good For

The best way to keep your cilantro is in a jar with about an inch of water. Then cover the top loosely with a plastic bag to help keep them crisp and excess moisture out. You can also keep it in a produce bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge.

To freeze it, keep it in a Ziploc bag or blend it with olive oil or water to make a paste. Both of these options will keep well in the freezer and are easy to use.

Signs to Look Out for When Cilantro Has Gone Bad

You may be wondering what the key signs to look out for are when you’re trying to see if your fresh cilantro is still safe to eat. There are a few ways you can test this. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Appearance. One of the easiest ways is to look at your cilantro simply. Your cilantro should be green in color when it’s at its freshest. However, if you notice that your cilantro has a yellow tinge or even a slightly brown tinge, it means it’s on its way to going bad or is already bad. As well as this, if you notice any black spots, or spots of mold, they should be discarded immediately. Your cilantro may also become floppy, and limp when it’s starting to go bad.
  • Smell. Another good way of checking is to simply smell your cilantro. It should smell leafy and earthy; but mild. However, if it has a sour smell, it’s likely it’s already gone bad and you should discard it.
  • Taste. If it’s passed the first two tests and you’re still unsure, try a small amount of cilantro. If it doesn’t have much flavor, then discard it, just to be safe. Cilantro loses flavor over time, so the more flavorful it is, the fresher it is.

What Do Black Spots on Cilantro Mean?

If you notice black spots on your cilantro, then you should discard it right away. This usually means that your cilantro has a bacterial leaf infection. You could become quite ill if you decide to eat cilantro with black or brown spots.

What Happens if You Eat Bad Cilantro?

If you eat bad cilantro, you’ll likely be ill; depending on how much you eat. You may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as sickness and abdominal pain. The following bacteria can be found on herbs like cilantro: E. coli, listeria, and salmonella. All of these can be very dangerous, so it’s best to avoid bad cilantro, when possible.

What to Do With Cilantro Before It Goes Bad?

If you notice that your cilantro has past its peak freshness, you may be wondering what to do with it. With any leftover cilantro, why not try using it in one of the following:

  • as seasoning or flavoring
  • in breakfasts, such as eggs
  • salsa topping
  • taco topping
  • salad dressing
  • in smoothies
  • on top of rice

Does Dried Cilantro Go Bad?

Dried cilantro lasts significantly longer than fresh cilantro. However, it does still deteriorate. Depending on your storage method, it can last anywhere from 1-3 years.

How to Dry Cilantro

You may be wondering how to dry your cilantro. I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is in the oven. To do this at home, all you’ll need to do is:

  1. Preheat oven to 300F and wash and completely dry your cilantro, in preparation.
  2. Grab a baking sheet and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Add the leaves to your prepared baking sheet, and spread them apart.
  3. Place in the center of your preheated oven and dehydrate for around 20-30 minutes. The leaves should be completely crisp and dry.
  4. Leave to cool and then crush your leaves and add them to an airtight jar. Keep in a cool, dry place and use within a year.

cilantro is bad


I hope this post has helped to answer the question: of how to tell if cilantro has gone bad, and given you the warning signs to look out for. Do you have any tips or tricks for knowing if cilantro is bad? If so, let us know. And remember, sharing is caring! 

Do you have any questions regarding how to tell if cilantro is bad? If so, please ask any questions about how to store this herb in the comment section below.


How can you tell if cilantro has gone bad?

The best way to figure it out is by taste.

If it tastes good, then it’s good. If it tastes bad, then it’s bad. A few weeks ago, I got a call from a friend who wanted some good quality cilantro for her salad. She wanted to make sure she had some good cilantro, because she knew that some of the cilantro she was getting was a little on the stale side. So she called me and asked me what she should do. I told her that the best thing to do is to eat it. So she did. And her salad was delicious. So in this case, she found out that it wasn’t the cilantro that was bad, it was the salad. And that’s the way you find out if your herbs are bad or not.

What do I do if my cilantro tuns black when I chop it?

I've seen this before. It's usually caused by too much heat or a too long drying time.

In either case, it's better to just throw out the bunch and buy a new one.

It's called oxidation, and can happen when you cut the cilantro in the sun or on a hot surface. You can minimize the amount of this happening if you put the bunch in the fridge for a few hours after you've cut it.

Should I buy organic cilantro?

Yes, cilantro is an herb that you want to buy organically. It is known to have antibiotic resistance so it is best to buy organic.

How does bad cilantro smell?

When it’s not a pleasant one. The smell is so strong and pungent, that you can almost imagine it being used as an insect repellent. And it’s not just the smell that makes bad cilantro bad; it’s also the taste.

Can I eat cilantro with brown spots?

The answer to your question is: it depends.

The brown spots are actually dead leaves that have fallen onto the cilantro plant.

Can I eat limp cilantro?

Yes, but it's not the same as fresh. Use fresh, and it'll taste better. 

It's considered "very low risk" for food poisoning because it has a high water content.

How long does cilantro last in the fridge?

The general rule is that it will keep for a week or two if you remove the stems and leave the leaves. You can freeze it and it should be ok for about 6 months. If you store it in the refrigerator, it will go bad faster than if you store it in the freezer.

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