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Cumin Powder vs. Coriander Powder: What’s the Difference?

15 March 2023

Can you tell the difference between coriander and cumin? Don’t be concerned if you aren’t sure, as these two aromatic spices are frequently confused. Most people can’t tell the difference because they are commonly paired with each other in recipes.

Although they share many things in common, the differences come down to flavour. In this article, Canadian spice company, Hela Spice, clarifies the differences between the two commonly used spices.

Cumin and Coriander: The Taste Test

Cumin adds an earthy, smokey, and warm flavour to your dish. It also has some nutty undertones and even a bitter edge. Cumin has a strong role in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Latin American cuisine. If you taste cumin, you will note a savoury chilli powder mixed with taco seasoning blends.

In contrast, coriander has its own distinct flavour. It tends to have a hint of lemon combined with a sweet taste. Its versatility makes it ideal for savoury meals and desserts.

When to Use Cumin

If you want to buy cumin, look for one containing narrow, flat seeds. They should be brown, accompanied by pale stripes. They look like thin, long, smaller grains of rice and should closely resemble caraway seeds.

The best way to add them to a recipe is during the early stages of cooking. They taste best if you toast them using a dry pan or blooming them in hot oil. Incorporating these methods enhances the gentle flavouring of the seeds.

Since ground cumin is aromatic, you can use it by itself or in rubs/blends. If you are substituting it for whole cumin, then use a little less. Cumin works well in various savoury meat or vegetarian recipes. These include baked salmon, chilli, and chickpea salads.

When to Use Coriander

To buy coriander, look for one that is ground or whole. Whole coriander has round seeds and is light brown in colour. Do not select anything that reads “fresh coriander”, as it means fresh cilantro. Cilantro and coriander are used interchangeably in many places, which can be confusing. The reason for the confusion is that cilantro is grown from a coriander seed.

Coriander contains a citrus, sweet flavour. It can be added to Mexican chicken stews or to sweeten baking products, such as blueberry muffins or coriander ginger cakes.

What are the differences between the two powders?

One of the more notable differences is that they come from two different plants. These differences lead to their distinct flavour profiles. Cumin is an herb that’s sourced from a flowering plant. The seeds of this plant are utilized for flavouring food.

Native to the Middle East, cumin is called a warming spice, yet it is also commonly used globally. It is a staple flavour in chilli, curries, and barbecue sauce. It is widely used in taco seasonings, too. You can buy cumin whole or ground. Overall, experts recommend ground cumin as it preserves its freshness.

Coriander is considered an herb where all plant parts (from leaves to seeds) are used in food. Coriander is closely related to parsley. It is a close relative to the celery and carrot family as well.

Coriander’s flavour profile is more of a peppery lemon with a subtle sweetness. Coriander plants create the herb cilantro and the coriander seed spice. Each variation provides different types of flavours.

When it comes to nutritional benefits, cumin contains 105 calories per ounce, whereas coriander has 83 calories per ounce. As for the rest of the benefits, they are as follows:

  • Coriander has 5 grams of fat, and cumin has 6.2 grams of fat.
  • Cumin has 12.4 grams of carbohydrates, while coriander has 15.4 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Coriander contains 0 grams of sugar, and cumin comes in at 0.6 grams of sugar.
  • Regarding fibre, cumin has 2.9 grams, and coriander has 11.7 grams.
  • Cumin has 5 grams of protein, and coriander contains 3.5 grams of protein.

Coriander seeds are rich in vitamin C (10%), calcium (20%), iron (25%), magnesium (23%), and manganese (27%). Meanwhile, cumin contains 7% of vitamin A, 4% of vitamin C, 6% of vitamin B6, 26% calcium, 103% iron, 26% magnesium, and 47% manganese.

What are the different health benefits?

Cumin is considered a healthy spice for its many benefits. People frequently use it for medicinal purposes in traditional medicine. Cumin increases digestive protein activity or gut enzymes, thereby improving digestion. It assists in processing fats and additional nutrients.

Since it is a good source of iron, which is a common mineral deficiency, cumin is a natural supplement. It provides a healthy and smart solution. Cumin’s antibacterial properties promote good health and reduce food-borne sickness. In addition, it contains minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, which are essential to good overall well-being.

Similarly, coriander is full of antioxidants and nutrients. However, it has different health properties. It assists in maintaining heart health and improving the metabolic system. It also has digestive advantages and is antibacterial in nature. Coriander is good at helping with irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections, and additional infections


Studies indicate that coriander can promote brain health because of its anti-inflammatory factors. Currently, it is under consideration for treating various illnesses, from Alzheimer’s disease to anxiety.

Can coriander be substituted for cumin?

You can substitute cumin for dried coriander. The mildly spicy and warm flavour can work well for most cuisines. However, replacing coriander with cumin may not work that well. It will depend on the meal and how the sweetness/bitterness affects the recipe’s taste.

Are you looking for the best Canadian spice company?

If you are searching for a great Canadian spice company, consider Hela Spice. Product development and custom blending are our specialties. Using a mix of culinary expertise and food science, we work hard to provide enriching flavours and superior products to our customers.

Our promise is to provide great-tasting blends at a good value. Additionally, we use sustainable food production with our broad knowledge of ingredients, drive for culinary excellence, creativity, nutritional education, and superior food-processing facilities.

Please get in touch with us at 905-852-5100 to learn more about what we have to offer, or contact us on our website here.

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