Cilantro is one of the most popular and versatile culinary herbs used in cuisines around the world. With its bright, citrusy flavor, cilantro adds a fresh pop of flavor to salsas, curries, soups, and countless other dishes. But how much should you expect to pay for this flavorful herb at the grocery store or farmers market? Read on for a comprehensive guide to cilantro pricing.
This article will cover everything from current average prices per bunch or pound to factors impacting costs like organic certification, seasonality, and geographical region. You’ll also find money-saving tips for getting the best deals on fresh cilantro along with ideas for stretching your cilantro budget in the kitchen.
How Much Does Cilantro Cost?
The minimum cost for cilantro typically ranges from $0.79 to $1.99 per bunch for conventional, and $1.99 to $3.49 per bunch for organic. On the higher end, specialty grocers may charge around $3 per organic bunch, with prices for organic cilantro by the pound averaging $4 to $5, while conventional cilantro tends to cost around $2.50 per pound.
Here is an overview of current typical prices:
- Cilantro bunch: $0.79 to $1.99 per bunch
- Cilantro 1 pound: $2 to $3.50 per pound
- Organic cilantro bunch: $1.99 to $3.49 per bunch
- Organic cilantro 1 pound: $3.50 to $6 per pound
Within those ranges, you’re most likely to find conventional cilantro bunches priced around $1.29 and organic around $2.49 at major grocery stores. Specialty grocers like Whole Foods may charge closer to $3 per organic bunch.
Cilantro sold by the pound tends to cost $2.50 on average per pound for conventional and $4 to $5 on average per pound for organic. Farmers market stands attract shoppers with deals like $2 per pound for conventional cilantro.
These cilantro prices can fluctuate up or down 50 cents based on seasonal availability. And prices on the coasts run 25-50% higher than the national averages. But in general, these price points represent what most U.S. shoppers pay. Understanding the average cost can help you spot a good deal or overpricing.
Walmart sells cilantro leaves in bunches for an average cost of $0.98 per bunch.
The Zesty Moose sells cilantro for $1.75 per package.
Home Depot sells Bonnie Plants 19 oz. Cilantro Herb Plant (2-Pack) for $7.98.
Lowe’s sells cilantro plants for an average cost of $3.98 per plant.
Purvey’d sells cilantro in bulk for $19.99 for 24 bunches.
What Impacts the Cost of Cilantro?
Several factors influence the retail price you’ll pay for cilantro at different times of the year. Here are some of the main elements that affect the cost of fresh cilantro bunches:
- Seasonality: Like many fresh herbs, cilantro availability and price fluctuate based on the time of year and geography. During peak growing seasons like spring and summer, prices tend to drop. In cooler winter months, prices rise due to lower yields.
- Organic vs. conventional: Organic cilantro typically costs 20-30% more than conventionally grown bunches. The price premium reflects higher production costs for organic farmers.
- Supply chain: Lengthy transit for imported cilantro and distributor markup along the supply chain impact the final retail price. Locally grown cilantro may be cheaper.
- Store type: Grocery stores, specialty markets, farmers markets, and online sellers have varying markups. Farmers markets often offer the best deals.
- Geography: Regional agriculture differences lead to variations in average costs. Prices on both coasts tend to be higher.
Understanding these pricing factors helps explain the range and fluctuations you may see in cilantro costs.
Cilantro Price Range Factors
While the averages provide a snapshot, you’re likely to encounter a wide cilantro price range at different stores based on these key factors:
Time of year heavily influences the cost of fresh cilantro. In peak summer growing seasons, you’re more likely to find deals like:
- Cilantro bunches for $0.99
- Cilantro pounds for $1.99
In cooler fall and winter months when availability declines, prices may jump to:
- $1.49 or more per bunch
- $2.99 to $3.99 per pound
Following the seasonal cycles in your area is key to grabbing the lowest cilantro prices.
Organic cilantro grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers carries a natural price premium. Nationally, you can expect to pay:
- $1.99 to $3.49 per organic bunch
- $3.50 to $6 per organic pound
In some regions or stores, the gap between organic and conventional widens even more. Shop sales and farmers markets for the best organic deals.
Where you live also sway cilantro costs. Prices run higher on the coasts due to greater demand and transportation costs. Average per bunch costs by region are:
- Northeast: $1.49 to $1.99
- Southeast: $0.99 to $1.49
- Midwest: $0.79 to $1.29
- Southwest: $0.99 to $1.49
- West Coast: $1.49 to $1.99
Within a given city, prices can also vary widely between grocers based on brand and supply chains. Comparing neighborhood options can uncover savings.
Shopping beyond big supermarket chains opens up more cilantro pricing options:
- Warehouse clubs: Offer lower prices for bulk packaged herbs and produce.
- Ethnic grocers: Specialize in Latino and Asian cuisine ingredients like cilantro for less.
- Farmers markets: Provide fresh-picked local cilantro, sometimes as low as $1 per pound.
- Online sellers: Offer wider selection but markup prices to offset shipping.
Considering alternative grocery options beyond your chain supermarket is an easy way to keep cilantro costs down.
Cilantro Price Trends and Fluctuations
Analyzing longer-term cilantro price trends can help forecast costs. Here are some patterns that have impacted cilantro prices over the past decade:
- Increasing consumer demand for Mexican cuisine has driven up cilantro usage and prices over the past 20 years.
- Rising minimum wages and labor costs for farmers have translated to marginally higher cilantro prices passed onto consumers.
- Climate change disruptions like droughts and floods in key cilantro growing regions lead to temporary supply crunches that push up pricing.
- Currency fluctuations impact prices for imported cilantro from Mexico, which supplies over 80% of U.S. demand.
- Food inflation has caused cilantro prices to rise moderately in recent years, though less dramatically than for other fresh produce.
These factors point towards a continued gradual uplift in cilantro prices in coming years, though specific growing seasons and weather events lead to temporary price instability. Tracking pricing trends helps anticipate changes.
Saving Money on Cilantro
With the typical price range for fresh cilantro spanning anywhere from $0.79 to $3.50 per bunch or pound, it pays to be strategic in your shopping approach. Here are tips for getting the best deal on fresh cilantro for your recipes:
- Buy in bulk: Pound pricing saves up to 30% compared to small bunches. Split big batches with friends.
- Shop seasonal changes: Load up when cilantro is abundant and cheap in summer and early fall.
- Pick your store: Compare pricing across grocers including ethnic and warehouse stores. Don’t overpay at convenience stores.
- Look for sales: Grab deals on bulk cilantro or manager special discounted bunches.
- Join loyalty programs: Membership clubs like Costco offer exclusive bulk deals.
- Grow your own: A backyard herb patch provides almost unlimited cilantro for free.
- Preserve abundance: Freeze or dry overflowing cilantro from peak season for use all year.
With the right shopping strategies, you can stock up on cilantro for salsa, guacamole, curries, and more without overspending.
Cooking Economically with Cilantro
Besides smart shopping, you can also stretch your cilantro budget in the kitchen. Follow these tips:
- Use stems too: Chop and add soft inner stems for free extra flavor and bulk.
- Freeze for later: Ice cube trays or bags are perfect for freezing chopped cilantro.
- Substitute when pricey: Swap parsley or culantro for cilantro in cooler low-supply seasons.
- Buy whole bunches: Pre-chopped cilantro can cost 2-3 times more.
- Make flavored oils: Blend cilantro into affordable oil to infuse dishes.
- Dehydrate extras: Dried cilantro adds concentrated flavor to off-season cooking.
With waste-reducing usage tips and substitutions, your cilantro dollars go further.
The Future of Cilantro Pricing
Looking ahead, what could cilantro costs look like in the coming years? Projections include:
- Continued gradual inflation, likely trailing overall food price increases.
- Potentially more volatility tied to climate change and events like droughts or floods.
- Higher organic premiums as demand increases faster than conventional.
- Ongoing regional variations based on geography and growing conditions.
But new developments could also impact prices:
- Indoor urban farming could stabilize supply but with higher energy costs.
- New growing regions like Canada may help meet demand and balance prices.
- Changes in consumer preferences away from cilantro could soften prices.
Overall, expect cilantro to remain an affordable staple herb but with pricing dependent on location, season, and farming innovations. Shopping smart will maximize your savings.
To recap, tips for understanding cilantro prices include:
- Compare organic vs. conventional prices and buy what fits your budget.
- Buy in bulk for pounds during seasonal peaks for the best deal.
- Shop multiple stores from grocery chains to farmers markets to find savings.
- Learn seasonal patterns and preserve surplus cilantro for later use.
- Substitute parsley or culantro in expensive times to replicate that flavor.
- Monitor price trends and buy bigger quantities when prices drop.
With the right shopping strategies and a bit of planning, it’s possible to keep your cooking full of bright, fresh cilantro flavor without overspending, even as prices incrementally rise overall.
Now that you know what impacts cilantro costs and how to find the best pricing in your area, you can confidently use this flavor-packed herb in your kitchen.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does cilantro last after you buy it?
Properly stored fresh cilantro will last around 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. To maximize freshness, trim the ends, stand the bunch in a glass of water, and loosely bag it with a paper towel. Discard when the leaves turn dark or wilted.
How is cilantro marketed?
Cilantro is typically sold in bunches or weighed loose by the pound. Bunches contain 0.5-1 ounce of leaves. Bunches are popular at grocery stores for convenience, while loose cilantro is more affordable. Some stores also sell pre-chopped cilantro, often in plastic clamshell containers, for 2-3 times the price of bunches.
Why is cilantro so popular?
Cilantro is essential in many World cuisines like Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian. Its bright, citrusy, herbal flavor pairs perfectly with spicy dishes. Cilantro also contains antioxidants and has culinary versatility as a garnish, seasoning, condiment, and ingredient. Both the leaves and seeds (sold as coriander) are used.
How do you store cilantro the longest?
To maximize fresh cilantro storage, trim the ends of the stems and place the bunch upright in a tall glass with about an inch of water. Loosely cover the leaves with a plastic produce bag. Keep the cilantro refrigerated. Change the water every 2-3 days. With proper moisture and cold air, cilantro lasts 10-14 days. You can also freeze chopped cilantro in ice cube trays for longer storage.