Air Drying Cilantro and How to Dry Cilantro in an Oven

cilantro on burlap
To air-dry cilantro, hang the herbs upside down in bunches for 1-2 weeks in a warm, dry place away from direct sunlight. To dry the herb in the oven, pluck the leaves off the stems and dry at the lowest temperature for 30 minutes.

How to Air Dry Cilantro

Air-drying cilantro takes 1-2 weeks and works best using fresh cilantro from your herb garden rather than cilantro bought from the grocery store.

  1. Select the freshest cilantro with a vibrant color. Pick bunches of cilantro with no wilted or discolored leaves.
  2. Separate the bunches and rinse the cilantro under cool running water.
  3. Use a salad spinner to remove excess water from the cilantro or pat it dry with paper towels.
  4. Bring the stem ends together and use twine to tie the cilantro in bunches of 4-5 stems. Make the knot tight enough so the stems will still hold together even after they shrink during the drying process.
  5. Hang the bunches in a warm, dry place, away from direct sunlight or air conditioning vents, for 1-2 weeks. If dander or cold air is a problem, place the tied bunches into brown paper bags. Tie the bag to the stems with twine and hang the bags so the opening is at the bottom. Poke holes in the bag for ventilation and let it dry for 1-3 weeks.
  6. When the cilantro gets flaky or crumbly, store it at room temperature in airtight herb storage containers.
Bundles of different herbs tied at the base laid on a table
Herb bundles for air drying

How to Dry Cilantro in an Oven

It’s much faster to dehydrate cilantro in an oven, but it’s important to monitor the herbs so they don’t burn.

  1. Select fresh cilantro sprigs from home-grown coriander plants.
  2. Preheat the oven to the lowest temperature setting, between 170°F and 200°F.
  3. Rinse the stems under cold running water. Pat the cilantro dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  4. Pluck the coriander leaves off the stems to shorten the drying time. Discard the stems or dry them separately.
  5. Line a baking sheet or cookie sheet with parchment paper. Applying baking spray on the sheet will prevent leaves from sticking to the paper. Spread the leaves on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  6. Place the loaded sheet on the middle oven rack for even heat circulation and bake the leaves for 30 minutes at the lowest setting. Leave the oven door open to promote airflow and moisture removal.
  7. Check the cilantro after 30 minutes. Take out some leaves and cool them to room temperature. Fully dried cilantro should be crumbly.
  8. Take out all the dried cilantro leaves and allow them to cool to room temperature.
  9. Scoop the cooled cilantro and pack it in airtight containers to condition it for seven days. Shake the containers once daily and check for signs of moisture or stickiness.
  10. Continue with long-term storage if there are no signs of stickiness and moisture. Keep the dried cilantro in labeled airtight containers in a cool, dry, dark place.
Dried cilantro in a wooden spoon next to fresh cilantro
Dried cilantro

What is the Best Way to Dry Cilantro?

Air drying is the best way to dry cilantro for maximum flavor and aroma. This method doesn’t expose the fresh herb to direct heat, which helps preserve the flavor. Leaving the leaves unsevered from the stems of preserved cilantro also helps prevent aroma and flavor loss since the essential oil cells are not exposed to the air.

Should Cilantro Leaves be Washed Before Drying?

Wash cilantro leaves before drying them. Use cool running water and gently run your fingers through the separated stems. Washing the leaves removes bugs, pesticides, dirt, dust, and pollen that may have landed on them. Cilantro leaves are fragile, so wash them under low pressure and squeeze them gently when washing.

Woman rinsing bundle of herbs under running water
Rinsing herbs

What Temperature is Needed to Oven Dry Cilantro?

The best temperature for drying cilantro in an oven is the lowest temperature setting. This could be as low as 125°F or as high as 250°F, depending on the oven. The ideal temperature range is 125°F to 150°F.

Tips for Oven Drying Cilantro

Oven-drying delicate herbs like cilantro is tricky because of the risk of burning them. Here are some tips to ensure you dry the herbs successfully:

  • Always dry herbs using the lowest temperature setting.
  • Leave the oven door slightly open to enhance moisture removal and air circulation.
  • Separate cilantro leaves from the stems to promote faster and even drying.
  • Use an in-oven thermometer to monitor the actual temperature during the drying process.
  • Whenever preheating is required, stay close to the lowest temperature setting and not more than 250°F for delicate herbs.
Bowl of cilantro leaves without stems
Separated cilantro leaves

How Long Does it Take to Dry Cilantro in an Oven?

It takes 30 minutes to dry cilantro in an oven set to 170°-200°F. Higher temperatures result in faster drying, while lower temperatures may mean a longer time to fully dry the herbs. If the cilantro is not fully dried after 30 minutes, continue drying it in 10-minute increments until it crumbles upon cooling.

Is Drying Cilantro Worth It?

Drying cilantro prolongs the shelf life of the herb and comes with many benefits:

  • Dried cilantro is more concentrated than fresh cilantro.
  • Dried cilantro may help the body remove heavy metals from fat tissue.
  • Dried cilantro is a tasty garnish for many dishes in Indian, Mexican, Latin American, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisines.
  • Dried cilantro makes tasty and healthy cilantro tea or water, which may help improve digestion.
  • It’s easier to store dried cilantro at room temperature than fresh cilantro in the refrigerator or freezer.

Is it Better to Freeze or Dry Cilantro?

Drying cilantro is much better than freezing it. Dried cilantro can last 1-3 years at room temperature in airtight containers, while it only lasts six months when frozen.

Freezing cilantro also takes more prep time. Cilantro should be blanched for 10 seconds before freezing it. Processing with oil before freezing is also important for flavor preservation.

How Can You Tell if Dried Cilantro Has Gone Bad?

Like other dried herbs, dried cilantro doesn’t go bad in the sense of expiring and becoming harmful to your health. It disintegrates with time and loses its flavor and aroma. You’ll know your dried cilantro has gone bad if it has a weak odor when crumbled.

How to Store Oven-Dried Cilantro

To keep your dried cilantro fresh, store it in airtight containers like Mason jars in a cool, dry, dark place. Ensure the location is away from sources of humidity and direct sunlight, and the containers are at least six inches off of the floor.

How Long Does Oven-Dried Cilantro Last?

Dried cilantro lasts 1-3 years in airtight containers at room temperature in a cool, dark, dry place. Storing it in vacuum-sealed airtight containers ensures the herb stays fresh for up to 3 years. It’s best to use the dried herb within one year for the best flavor and aroma.

Alex Maina

Preserving food has become a meeting point for Alex's passions—gardening, cooking, and writing. Having grown up on a farm with cows, goats, chickens, and fresh fruits and vegetables, Alex knows the importance of preserving food for leaner times. He spends his time drying and canning foods, trying new recipes, and writing for Dehydrated Cookbook.

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