Cilantro is a fresh herb that adds so much flavor to a variety of dishes. But, it doesn’t keep fresh for long, unless you store it properly. Learn how to keep cilantro fresh for 2-3 weeks in the fridge with the best two simple methods!

A bunch of cilantro being lowered into a glass mason jar with water.

Without proper storage (and a plan for how to use it), produce can easily end up in the garbage each week. 

Has that happened to you?

Rotten herbs, decayed lettuce, limp carrots…

One great way to save money is to buy seasonal produce and store the food properly!

This week, take a few extra minutes to care for your fresh produce, including that cilantro bunch (which we’ll talk about today). 

LEARN MORE: 6 favorite produce storage hacks

Doing this will save you money and time (allowing you to shop just once for everything you need to make healthy meals).

A bunch of cilantro being held in the kitchen.
fresh cilantro bunch

What is Cilantro?

Cilantro is a leafy green herb from the Coriandrum sativum plant. This popular herb is also referred to as Chinese Parsley, Mexican Parsley, or Coriander. Both the soft stems and leaves may be consumed raw or cooked.

Cilantro has a fresh, almost citrusy, bright flavor. Some people think it tastes like soap, which may be due to a genetic trait.

Cilantro is one of the most popular herbs in the world, used in many different cuisines: Indian, Asian, Caribbean, North African, and Latin American.

Mom and two kids shopping at a farmer's market looking for cilantro.
When buying cilantro, look for vibrant green leaves and a fresh, citrusy scent.

What to Look for When Buying Fresh Cilantro

First, it’s important to point out that no matter how you store cilantro, a bad bunch of cilantro is just that. No method will delay the inevitable if the herb has already gone bad.

When buying cilantro at the grocery store or market, look for…

  • A loose bunch of cilantro with both stems and leaves intact.
  • Vibrant, bright green leaves with little (or no) signs of yellowing or decay (or wilting).
  • A vibrant, fresh, citrusy scent.

Two Best Ways to Store Cilantro

The two best and easiest ways to store this delicate herb are: in a glass of water or a paper towel. These tricks keep cilantro fresh for about 2-3 weeks.

The most common causes of cilantro decay are:

  • Excess water on the leaves (causes spoilage and slimy leaves)
  • Dry air (causes the leaves to go limp and shrivel up, sometimes the cilantro can be revived by soaking the leaves in ice cold water)

Storage methods prevent these issues from occurring prematurely, extending the life of the herb.

A bunch of cilantro being lowered into a glass mason jar with water.
Method 1: Store cilantro in a glass of water, like a bouquet of flowers.

Method 1: Glass of Water (My Preferred Method)

Ingredients and Tools You’ll Need

  • fresh cilantro bunch
  • rubber band
  • wide mouth mason jar or drinking glass
  • water
  • gallon-size plastic bag or reusable bag

Fill a mason jar or drinking glass a 1/4 the way full with water (about an inch of water). Place unwashed cilantro, stems down, in the water (like a bouquet of flowers). The base of the stems should sit in the water.

Place a Ziploc bag (or a reusable silicone bag) over the cilantro leaves. Secure the bag at the mouth of the glass jar with a rubber band. Store the cilantro in the refrigerator.

Shelf Life: Cilantro will keep for about 2-3 weeks this way. Change the water as needed. This easy trick is my favorite of the different methods.

Cilantro rolled up a paper towel and placed in a ziploc bag.
Method 2: Store cilantro in a paper towel and reusable plastic bag or airtight container.

Method 2: Paper Towel & Ziploc Bag or Airtight Container

Ingredients and Tools You’ll Need

  • fresh cilantro bunch
  • paper towel or cloth towel
  • gallon-size plastic bag or airtight container

Place 1-2 layers of paper towel on the kitchen counter (or use a lightweight cloth towel, like a flour sack). Add the unwashed cilantro in a single layer over the top of the paper towel. Roll up the cilantro in the paper towel.

Place the rolled-up cilantro in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. Store in the fridge. If you have a large bunch of cilantro, you may need to separate the bunch into two portions and use multiple paper towels.

Shelf Life: Cilantro will keep for about 2 weeks this way. Change the paper towel if it becomes too wet.


  • NEVER WASH BEFORE STORING – The excess moisture from washing before storing will cause the leaves to decay and rot prematurely. This results in slimy, brown leaves. Slime will quickly spread from one leaf to another.
  • STORE THE WHOLE CILANTRO BUNCH – Both storage methods store the cilantro in its whole form, as it lasts the longest this way. When you’re ready to use the cilantro, grab the amount needed, then wash, dry, and chop.
How to store fresh produce: carrots in water, green onions in a glass of water, strawberries in a vinegar bath, and lettuce.
More kitchen hacks for storing fresh produce.

How to Wash

Unless cilantro is overly sandy or dirty, simply run a handful of cilantro (both stems and leaves) under cold water before use.

If the cilantro is sandy and dirty and needs an extra washing, fill a large bowl (or the basin of a salad spinner) with cold water. Submerge the cilantro in the water for a few minutes. The dirt and sand should drop to the bottom of the bowl after a quick soak. Remove the cilantro and rinse with cold running water before drying.

Drying cilantro in a salad spinner on the kitchen counter.
Dry washed cilantro in a salad spinner or pat dry with a kitchen cloth.

How to Dry

One of the best kitchen investments you can make is to buy a salad spinner! It’s the most-used item in my kitchen.

Place the washed cilantro in the salad spinner and give it a spin for a few seconds.

If you don’t have a salad spinner, place the washed cilantro in a kitchen towel and pat the stems and leaves dry. This is much faster than the air dry method.

Or, bundle up the cilantro in a kitchen cloth, holding one end of the cloth like a bag (with the cilantro tucked inside), and give the cloth a good shake/spin. The shaking/spinning method is best performed outside–hello, wet kitchen!

Cutting cilantro on a cutting board with a knife.
Cut and use cilantro to make or garnish a variety of dishes. Both the leaves and stems may be consumed.

How to Cut

Check out this tutorial for how to chop cilantro for a detailed photo-by-photo example. The best part about cilantro is that you can eat both the stems and leaves! And both taste amazing, with great texture.

9 Delicious Uses & Recipes

How to Freeze

If you want to preserve cilantro for a long time (up to 6 months), the best way to do this…

  • Place cilantro (whole or chopped) in a freezer bag and then directly in the freezer. Use the frozen cilantro for making soups, curries, or add to meat when making tacos (for extra flavor).
  • Puree cilantro (leaves and stems) in a blender or food processor, and blend with water or olive oil to make a paste. Pour the paste into an ice cube tray to make small cubes. Freeze. Drop the cubes into a freezer bag. Add cilantro cubes while cooking soup (like black bean soup), stews, sauces, or curry dishes.

Learn how to freeze cilantro

Frozen cilantro will be limp after freezing, so it’s best to use the frozen herb for cooking; not garnishing dishes or making slaws or salads. Fresh cilantro is always best, in my opinion, but if you need to freeze cilantro, it is possible.

Fresh cilantro on a paper towel.
5 from 4 votes

How to Store Cilantro Guide

How to store fresh cilantro and keep it fresh for 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Choose one of the two methods below.
Kristin Marr
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time2 mins
Total Time7 mins
Course How To
Cuisine food storage
Servings 1 cilantro bunch
Cost: $2

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh cilantro bunch

Method 1: Glass of Water

  • 1 wide-mouth mason jar 8 ounces or larger, or drinking glass
  • 1 gallon-size plastic bag
  • 1 rubber band
  • 1-2 inches water

Method 2: Paper Towel & Bag or Airtight Container

  • 1-2 paper towel sheets or a lightweight cloth towel, like a flour sack
  • 1 gallon-size bag or airtight container (large enough to fit the rolled up cilantro)

Instructions

Method 1: Glass of Water

  • Fill a mason jar or drinking glass a 1/4 the way full with water (about an inch of water). Place unwashed cilantro, stems down, in the water (like a bouquet of flowers). The base of the stems should sit in the water.
  • Place a Ziploc bag (or a reusable silicone bag) over the cilantro leaves. Secure the bag at the mouth of the glass jar with a rubber band. Store the cilantro in the refrigerator.
  • Shelf Life: Cilantro will keep for about 2-3 weeks this way. Change the water as needed. This easy trick is my favorite of the different methods.

Method 2: Paper Towel & Bag or Airtight Container

  • Place 1-2 layers of paper towel on the kitchen counter (or use a lightweight cloth towel, like a flour sack). Add the unwashed cilantro in a single layer over the top of the paper towel. Roll up the cilantro in the paper towel.
  • Place the rolled up cilantro in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. Store in the fridge. If you have a large bunch of cilantro, you may need to separate the bunch into two portions and use multiple paper towels.
  • Shelf Life: Cilantro will keep for about 2 weeks this way. Change the paper towel if it becomes too wet.

Video

Notes

Storage Tips: 
USE A REUSABLE PRODUCE SAVER INSTEAD – If you don’t want to use a plastic bag to cover the cilantro, the next best option is to buy a reusable produce saver. The produce saver works just like the mason jar and bag method.
NEVER WASH BEFORE STORING – The excess moisture from washing before storing will cause the leaves to decay and rot prematurely. This results in slimy, brown leaves. Slime will quickly spread from one leaf to another.
STORE THE WHOLE CILANTRO BUNCH – Both storage methods store the cilantro in its whole form, as it lasts the longest this way. When you’re ready to use the cilantro, grab the amount needed, then wash, dry, and chop.
 
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

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