Best Substitute for Parsley

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A favorite restaurant garnish, parsley has a refreshing flavor that works well with many dishes, including soups, stews, and omelets. However, given its ornamental stature in the culinary world, parsley may not be an herb you keep in your fridge or cupboard.

If you’re making a French soup that includes a bouquet of Garni and you need a few sprigs of parsley, what can you do? Fortunately, when it comes to substitutes for parsley, you have many options especially if you are all out of the leafy herb or if you cannot get your hands on a fresh bunch. 

All About Parsley

Parsley is a bright green herb grown throughout the world for its look and flavor. It is a biennial plant—so it grows every other year—and only needs a small shady spot to sprout. This fact makes it the perfect addition to your indoor herb garden.

There are two types of parsley—flat-leaf and curled. Flat-leaf parsley, also known as Italian parsley, has the most flavor and is best for cooking. Curled parsley, on the other hand, is most often used for garnish because of its unique look.

With its grassy, peppery taste, flat-leaf parsley is a versatile herb used in soups, stews, and sauces. Though the curled parsley has a milder flavor, this slightly sweet and herby decorative parsley also works well as a seasoning for roasted vegetables, rice, and omelets.

Parsley Nutrition Facts

Like other herbs and spices, a small amount of parsley adds a lot of flavor to your dish. However, the small serving also means parsley is not a significant source of any essential nutrients. 

The nutrition facts for 1 tablespoon (3.8 grams) of fresh parsley come from the USDA.

  • Calories: 1.4
  • Fat: 0
  • Sodium: 2.13mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.241g
  • Fiber: 0.125g
  • Protein: 0.113g

Dried parsley packs a more concentrated flavor than the fresh variety. When using the dried herb in place of the fresh, add 1 teaspoon for every 1 tablespoon the recipe calls for. The nutrition information for 1 teaspoon (0.5 grams) of dried parsley comes from the USDA.

  • Calories: 1.46
  • Fat: 0
  • Sodium: 2.26mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.253g
  • Fiber: 0.134g
  • Protein: 0.133g

Interestingly, many cultures use parsley for medicinal purposes. Researchers note that the flavorful herb has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial activity. It is also a natural laxative that may help with digestion.


Why You Might Need a Parsley Substitute

There are numerous reasons why you might need a substitute for parsley. One of the most obvious is that you simply do not have the herb in your kitchen or you cannot find fresh parsley at your grocery store.

You may also need a parsley substitute if you have an allergy to the herb. Though not common, there have been reports of parsley causing hives and anaphylaxis—a life-threatening allergic reaction.

More common are nonallergic reactions to parsley. In these cases, eating parsley, or foods with parsley, may trigger a cough or cause a rash espeically if you have a grass or weed allergy.

Best Substitutes

So, what do you use in place of parsley when you are out or simply unable to use the flavorful herb? Fortunately, you have a number of different options. Here are the most common substitutes for parsley.


Chervil looks and tastes a lot like flat-leaf parsley and is often used as a substitute for the flavorful herb. Fresh chervil even makes a good parsley garnish substitute. Like parsley, chervil adds flavor to your food for nearly zero calories.

Though closely related to parsley, chervil has a milder flavor. When using this herb in place of parsley, you may need to add a little more to get the right flavor. Begin by using a one-to-one substitution with the understanding you may need to add more to punch up the flavor.


If you are all out of parsley, basil makes a good substitute. This popular herb is even easier to grow on your kitchen counter than parsley. Like parsley, basil isn’t a significant source of calories or essential nutrients.

Basil also has a stronger flavor than parsley. When substituting basil for parsley in a recipe, use smaller amounts. With its flavor profile, basil tends to work best as a substitute for parsley in Mediterranean and Italian dishes. 

Celery Leaves

Though not an herb, celery leaves have a refreshing flavor like parsley, making it a good substitute, especially if you have a nonallergic reaction to parsley or other herbs. Although nutrition information for celery leaves is not readily available, its nutrition profile may be similar to the celery stalk.

Like basil, celery leaves may pack a more powerful flavor punch than parsley, so add a smaller amount of this fresh green when using it as a substitute. Celery leaves also have a saltier flavor so you may need to reduce the amount of salt in your recipe as well.

A Word From Verywell

Parsley is a fairly simple herb to find substitutes for, especially if you are preparing a Mediterranean or Italian dish. Fortunately, most of the alternatives you can use in place of parsley are found in most home spice racks or with the fresh herbs in your market.

Whether you reach for basil, chervil, or even celery leaves, you might need to experiment a little to get just the right flavor profile. Start by adding a little at a time adjusting the seasonings as you go. Before you know it, you won't even realize the dish called for parsley.

12 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. University of Florida, Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences. Parsley.

  3. USDA. FoodData Central. Parsley, fresh.

  4. USDA, FoodData Central. Spices, parsley, dried.

  5. Al-Yousofy F, Gumaih H, Ibrahim H, Alasbahy A. Parsley! Mechanism as antiurolithiasis remedy. Am J Clin Exp Urol. 2017;5(3):55-62. PMID:29181438

  6. Arslan S, Ucar R, Caliskaner AZ. Cases of near-fatal anaphylaxis: Parsley "over-use" as an herbal remedy. Med Arch. 2014;68(6):426-427. doi:10.5455/medarh.2014.68.426-427

  7. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Can spices cause allergic reactions?.

  8. University of Illinois Extension, Herb Gardening. Chervil.

  9. USDA, FoodData Central. Spices, chervil, dried.

  10. University of Minnesota Extension. Growing basil in home gardens.

  11. USDA, FoodData Central. Basil, fresh.

  12. USDA, FoodData Central. Celery, raw.

By Jill Corleone, RD
Jill is a registered dietitian who's been learning and writing about nutrition for more than 20 years.