How to Harvest Cilantro

One hand holds a cilantro plant steady while another clips the stems.
Harvest At-A-Glance
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Harvesting cilantro can be as easy as snipping it and letting it regrow. Learn how to harvest cilantro to get the most out of your plants.

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If you’re new to growing herbs, you might not realize that herbs love to be cut back! Regular harvesting makes herbs grow stronger and stockier, and cilantro is no exception. Frequently clipping makes cilantro grow stronger and delays bolting. So the next time you go to make salsa or curry, make sure you harvest lots of fresh cilantro leaves to keep your plant happy and healthy!

If you’re still nervous to give your cilantro a haircut, let us give you everything you need to know to keep your cilantro plant happy and healthy with regular harvests!

Close up on cilantro leaves

How do you know when cilantro is ready to be picked?

Cilantro (coriandrum sativum) is an annual herb that is ready to be harvested as soon as the leaves are large enough to use. In fact, the more often you harvest cilantro for your favorite dishes, the bigger and stronger your cilantro plant will grow.

Let’s learn how to harvest cilantro!

Harvesting cilantro couldn’t be easier. In commercial agriculture, entire cilantro plants are harvested, but we recommend you harvest just what you need so your cilantro plant will keep growing. To harvest cilantro at home:

  1. Using scissors, snip off whole stems right next to the base of the plant.
  2. In general, it’s best to work from the outside stems in, because the outside stems are the oldest.

That’s it! You’ve harvested cilantro. Use it in your cooking, use it as a garnish, just use it!

Hands use shears to harvest cilantro

Will cilantro grow back after cutting?

Cilantro that is cut back entirely will eventually grow back, but we recommend cutting just what you need at a time to encourage robust growth. If cilantro is grown under ideal conditions with regular harvests, the same plant will keep producing for many weeks.

How often should you harvest cilantro?

The general rule of thumb is to never take more than 30% of a single plant at a time—but we’ve harvested cilantro more heavily than that with great results. You can feel free to take stems and leaves from the plant as often as you need them.

Growfully Protip

If you do a particularly heavy cilantro harvest (taking more than 50% of the plant), it’s a good idea to give it 7-10 days to replenish itself before harvesting again.

Tight view of cilantro leaves.

How many times can you harvest cilantro?

You can harvest cilantro as many times as you’d like during the growing season. Cilantro does have a short life cycle, so don’t be surprised if it bolts when the weather starts to warm up.

Will my cilantro plants come back every year?

Cilantro is an annual herb, but it does reseed itself well. If you let your cilantro plants flower and go to seed, they will reseed themselves easily. In mild climates, due to the short life cycle of cilantro, you can get 2-3 cycles of cilantro in one season.

Can I eat the stems?

Sure can! Don’t let those crunchy stems go to waste. They add great flavor to all kinds of dishes like fresh spring rolls, soups, and salads.

Fresh spring rolls filled with herbs and veggies

Should I let my cilantro plants flower?

Cilantro has a very short life cycle, and will flower in hot weather. No worries! We recommend letting a few of your cilantro plants produce flower stalks for a number of reasons. Pollinators love cilantro flowers and the flowers eventually turn into cilantro seeds. The dried, mature cilantro seeds (AKA: coriander) are used in the kitchen as a wonderful spice, plus they can be used to plant your next batch of cilantro plants.

Growfully Protip

While cilantro plants like full sun, some light shade during the hottest part of the day can help delay the bolting of your cilantro plants.

White flowers on a bolting cilantro plant
Once cilantro starts to bolt, the leaves and stems of the cilantro plant tend to get spindly and leggy. That’s okay! You can still clip off the leaves and use them in your cooking—you just won’t get quite the harvest you would before flowering.

How do you harvest coriander seeds from cilantro?

To harvest coriander seeds, let your cilantro plant flower, produce green fruit, and then allow the seeds to being to turn brown. When the plant begins to turn brown, cut off the seed heads and place them in a paper bag. As the seeds mature and brown, they will fall off and into the paper bag.

Store the finished coriander seeds in your pantry away from direct sunlight or in the refrigerator. Use them in curry, relishes, pickles, or to start your next batch of cilantro plants!

A cluster of coriander seeds on the plant

How do you use and store cilantro?

Cilantro adds a bright taste to all kinds of dishes from Latin America and Asia. Store fresh-cut cilantro in a damp kitchen towel in the crisper. Or, if you have a large amount, you can store a bouquet of cilantro in a jar of water on the countertop for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 7-10 days—changing the water every day.

If the humidity in your home is low, you might get longer storage if you increase the moisture around the cilantro by placing an open zip-top bag on top of the cilantro.

Can I freeze cilantro? What about drying?

You can both freeze and dry cilantro, but we don’t recommend drying cilantro—it loses a lot of its strong flavor during the drying process. Instead, to get a similar flavor from a dried spice, use ground coriander seeds. Freezing is definitely the best way to preserve cilantro’s flavor!

Frozen green cubes made of pureed cilantro
You can make frozen herb bombs using cilantro to add a nice, bright flavor to soups, stews, and sauces. Finely mince fresh cilantro in a food processor. Mix with olive oil, and then spoon the paste into ice cube trays. Freeze solid, and then pop the cubes out and store them in an airtight container in the freezer. When you’re ready to use, drop a cube or two into your favorite dish!

Growfully Protip

You can also make freezer herb bombs with other herbs like sage, mint, and basil!

What are some good cilantro recipes?

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Cassie is a Certified Master Gardener and the founder of Growfully. She's been gardening organically for over two decades, and she's so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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3 Responses
  1. Tina

    Wow. I love cilantro and it’s a favorite . I didn’t realize that it would be best to freeze vs dry. I also didn’t know about the cutting it back and it would grow stronger.

    I do have a question. Last year my cilantro got poison ivy in it I think from a pollinator. But I don’t know what you can do for that.

    Thank you for these tips.

    1. Cassie Johnston

      Oh no! I think we’d put on good gloves and long sleeves to pull out the poison ivy and destroy it. Hope you don’t get a repeat this year!

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Hi! My name is Cassie.

I’m a Certified Master Gardener and founder of Growfully. I’ve been gardening organically for over two decades, and I’m so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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