Herb That Tastes Like Soap: Discovering the Culinary Enigma

Herb that tastes like soap. These words have sparked intense discussions and debates among food enthusiasts and chefs alike. We are referring to none other than cilantro, a common herb found in kitchens around the world. While some people revel in its fresh and vibrant flavor, there is a significant faction who detest it, claiming it tastes remarkably like soap. This stark difference in taste perception has intrigued researchers for years, prompting them to delve into the intriguing nature of cilantro’s divisive flavor.

Cilantro, also known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is an herb that plays a significant role in various culinary traditions. Its distinct leaves and seeds are utilized in a multitude of dishes, ranging from salsas and curries to soups and salads, imparting a unique flavor profile. However, what causes the remarkable disparity in cilantro’s taste experience remains a subject of scientific investigation.

Numerous studies have attempted to unravel the mystery behind cilantro’s polarizing flavor, leading us into the realm of genetics and chemistry. Researchers have discovered that cilantro contains specific compounds known as aldehydes, which are responsible for the herb’s soapy taste and scent. These aldehydes are also found in some soaps, hence the connection drawn by those who find cilantro unappetizing.

Moreover, it turns out that our genes play a role in our perception of cilantro’s taste. A study published in a renowned scientific journal revealed that approximately 10 percent of the population possesses a genetic receptor that amplifies the perception of these aldehydes, making cilantro taste overwhelmingly soapy to them. On the other hand, the remaining majority lacks this receptor and experiences cilantro’s flavor as refreshing and delightful.

This article will delve deeper into the fascinating world of cilantro and its taste conundrum. We will explore the latest research findings, delve into the genetic and chemical aspects, and uncover the potential implications for the culinary world. Join us as we navigate the intricacies of cilantro’s flavor, aiming to demystify its controversial taste and perhaps offer a fresh perspective on this remarkable herb.

Overview of Herb That Tastes Like Soap

What causes Soapy Tasting Herbs?

The soapy taste experienced when consuming certain herbs, such as cilantro, can be attributed to a specific gene cluster called OR6A2, which is shared among individuals who perceive cilantro as tasting like soap. Researchers have discovered that this gene cluster is responsible for detecting the scent of aldehyde chemicals. Interestingly, natural aldehyde chemicals are present in cilantro leaves, and these same chemicals are also commonly used in soapmaking processes. 

This connection between the aldehyde compounds found in cilantro and those used in soap production sheds light on why some people detect a soapy flavor when consuming herbs like cilantro. The presence of the OR6A2 gene cluster among individuals who experience this taste further highlights the role of genetics in our perception of flavors and aromas.

Common herbs with soapy flavors

Common herbs with soapy flavors

There are several common herbs that are often associated with soapy flavors. One of the most notable examples is cilantro, which has a distinct flavor that some individuals describe as tasting like soap. This unique taste perception is attributed to the presence of aldehyde chemicals in cilantro leaves, similar to those used in soapmaking. 

Another herb known for its soapy flavor is lovage, which shares similarities with celery and parsley. Lovage contains high levels of a compound called limonene, which contributes to its distinct soap-like taste. A

Additionally, rue, an herb commonly used in Mediterranean cuisines, has a strong and bitter flavor reminiscent of soap for some people. While these herbs may offer unique flavor profiles appreciated by some, their soapy taste can be off-putting for others.

Herb That Tastes Like Soap

Cilantro-The Divisive Herb

Taste, smell, and their overlap

Cilantro, also known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is a herb that has earned a reputation for being incredibly divisive among people’s palates. The reason behind this stark division lies in the complex interplay between taste and smell, and the intriguing overlap of these sensory experiences when consuming cilantro.

For those who enjoy cilantro, its taste is often described as refreshing, vibrant, and citrusy. They find it to be an essential ingredient that adds a delightful and unique flavor to a wide range of dishes. The taste of cilantro is often associated with notes of lemon, lime, and fresh herbs, making it a popular choice in cuisines from around the world.

However, there exists a significant portion of the population who finds cilantro’s taste strikingly reminiscent of soap. For them, the flavor profile of cilantro is a source of aversion rather than enjoyment. This dichotomy in perception has puzzled researchers and sparked numerous scientific studies to unravel the mystery behind cilantro’s divisive nature.

Herb That Tastes Like Soap

One aspect that contributes to the contrasting taste experiences of cilantro is the presence of specific compounds, such as aldehydes, in cilantro leaves. These compounds are responsible for the herb’s distinct aroma, which is intimately linked to its taste. Interestingly, these same aldehyde compounds are also found in certain soaps, providing a potential explanation for the perception of a soapy flavor among some individuals.

Genetics also play a significant role in determining one’s preference for cilantro. Researchers have identified a gene cluster called OR6A2 that is common among individuals who find cilantro soapy-tasting. This gene cluster influences the perception of scent, particularly aldehyde chemicals. When cilantro’s aldehyde compounds interact with the receptors associated with this gene cluster, they can trigger an unpleasant and soapy flavor sensation.

Moreover, the intricate relationship between taste and smell further contributes to the cilantro debate. These two senses are intricately connected, and the way we perceive flavors is influenced by the aroma of the food we consume. In the case of cilantro, its distinctive scent can heavily influence how its taste is experienced, exacerbating the polarizing responses among different individuals.

It is worth noting that cultural and environmental factors can also influence our perception of cilantro’s taste. Growing up in a culinary tradition where cilantro is a prevalent ingredient may lead to an increased familiarity and acceptance of its flavor, while limited exposure to cilantro or cultural differences in food preferences may contribute to a stronger aversion to its taste.

Soapy taste of coriander

The soapy taste of coriander, also known as cilantro, has been a subject of much debate and intrigue among culinary enthusiasts. For some individuals, coriander leaves evoke an unmistakable flavor that is remarkably reminiscent of soap. This unique taste experience can be attributed to the presence of specific compounds, such as aldehydes, which are naturally found in coriander leaves. These compounds, responsible for the herb’s distinct aroma, can give rise to the perception of a soapy flavor when consumed. 

While the reasons behind this taste phenomenon are not yet fully understood, it is believed to be influenced by genetic factors and individual differences in taste receptors. The soapy taste of coriander has sparked diverse opinions and preferences, making it a fascinating herb that elicits a wide range of reactions in culinary settings.

Genetic basis of coriander taste

The taste perception of coriander, also known as cilantro, is believed to have a genetic basis. Scientific research has revealed that a specific gene cluster called OR6A2 plays a role in determining how individuals experience the flavor of coriander. Those who find coriander to have a refreshing and pleasant taste possess a genetic makeup that allows them to detect and appreciate the flavors and aromas present in the herb. 

On the other hand, individuals who perceive coriander as having a soapy or unpleasant taste often carry a variation of the OR6A2 gene that causes them to be more sensitive to certain compounds, such as aldehydes, which are naturally found in coriander leaves. This genetic difference in taste perception offers an explanation for the polarizing opinions on coriander’s flavor and highlights the significant influence of genetics on our sensory experiences with food.



The soapy taste experienced when consuming parsley has been a subject of curiosity and discussion among culinary enthusiasts. While parsley is widely recognized for its fresh and herbaceous flavor, some individuals perceive a distinct soapy undertone when consuming it. This intriguing taste phenomenon can be attributed to the presence of specific compounds, particularly aldehydes, which are naturally occurring in parsley leaves. These compounds contribute to the herb’s characteristic aroma, but for a subset of individuals, they can evoke a soapy taste sensation.

The perception of a soapy taste in parsley, similar to cilantro, can vary widely among individuals. Genetic factors are believed to play a significant role in determining whether an individual perceives parsley as having a soapy flavor or not. Variations in taste receptors, influenced by genetic differences, can affect how these compounds are detected and interpreted by the taste buds, leading to divergent taste experiences.

It is worth noting that the soapy taste of parsley is not universally experienced. Many individuals find parsley to have a pleasant and vibrant flavor, adding a refreshing element to various dishes. In fact, parsley is often used as a garnish or ingredient in numerous culinary preparations, contributing a distinctive herbal note.

The perception of a soapy taste in parsley can also be influenced by cultural and personal factors. Different culinary traditions and regional preferences may shape individuals’ perceptions of flavors, including the taste of parsley. Additionally, individual sensitivity to certain flavors or textures can play a role in the interpretation of parsley’s taste, further contributing to the diversity of experiences.

Despite the soapy taste experienced by some, parsley remains a popular and versatile herb used in a wide range of cuisines. Its vibrant green color and refreshing flavor continue to be appreciated by many, adding depth and complexity to dishes. Chefs and home cooks often utilize parsley in salads, soups, sauces, and as a garnish, taking advantage of its bright and herbaceous qualities.


Similar to other herbs like cilantro and parsley, the perception of a soapy taste in dill can vary among individuals. Genetic factors are believed to play a significant role in determining whether someone experiences dill as having a soapy flavor or not. Genetic variations in taste receptors influence how these compounds are detected and interpreted by the taste buds, leading to diverse taste experiences.

It is important to note that the soapy taste of dill is not universally experienced. For many, dill is cherished for its delicate and slightly tangy flavor, which pairs well with a variety of dishes. It is a common ingredient in pickles, salads, sauces, and fish dishes, where its distinct flavor adds a unique touch.

The perception of a soapy taste in Dill can also be influenced by cultural and personal factors. Culinary traditions and regional preferences may shape individuals’ perceptions of flavors, including the taste of dill. Additionally, individual sensitivities and preferences for certain flavors or aromas can contribute to the interpretation of Dill’s taste, resulting in varying experiences among different individuals.

Despite the occasional soapy taste detected by some, dill remains a popular and versatile herb used in culinary creations around the world. Its bright green appearance, delicate fronds, and unique flavor continue to be appreciated in various cuisines. Whether used as a seasoning or garnish, dill adds a distinctive and refreshing element to many dishes, showcasing its culinary value despite the subjective nature of taste experiences.

Medicinal Uses of Herb That Tastes Like Soap

Medicinal Uses of Herb That Tastes Like Soap

The herb that tastes like soap, such as cilantro, parsley, or dill, not only has culinary applications but also holds medicinal value in various traditional practices. Despite the polarizing taste, these herbs have been utilized for their therapeutic properties for centuries. They contain essential oils, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that contribute to their medicinal potential. In traditional medicine, these herbs are often used for their digestive properties, aiding in digestion and relieving bloating and indigestion. 

They are also believed to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for skin conditions and minor wounds. Additionally, these herbs are sometimes used as natural remedies for ailments like coughs, colds, and respiratory issues due to their potential expectorant and decongestant properties. While further scientific research is needed to validate their medicinal uses, the herb that tastes like soap continues to be explored for its potential health benefits in traditional and alternative medicine practices.

Tips and Tricks to Use Herb That Tastes Like Soap

How to Substitute the Soapy Taste of these herbs.

When faced with the challenge of substituting the soapy taste of herbs like cilantro, parsley, or dill, there are several effective strategies to explore. One approach is to replace these herbs with alternative options that offer a similar fresh and herbaceous flavor profile without the perceived soapy undertone. For instance, if cilantro is the herb in question, you can try substituting it with fresh basil or mint leaves. These herbs provide a vibrant and aromatic taste that can add a similar touch of freshness to your dishes. Similarly, flat-leaf parsley can be substituted with celery leaves or chervil, both of which offer a mild and refreshing flavor. When it comes to dill, alternatives such as tarragon or fennel fronds can be utilized, as they provide a hint of anise-like flavor that complements many dishes. Experimenting with these alternative herbs can help you discover new flavors and find substitutes that better suit your taste preferences.

In addition to exploring alternative herbs, another approach is to incorporate other complementary spices and ingredients to enhance the overall flavor profile of your dishes. For example, garlic can add a savory element, while lemon zest can provide a bright and citrusy note. Green onions or scallions can contribute a mild onion-like flavor that pairs well with many dishes. By experimenting with various combinations of spices and ingredients, you can create unique flavor profiles that help mask or balance the soapy taste.

Furthermore, considering the cooking method can also impact the perception of the soapy taste. Certain herbs, when cooked, can undergo flavor transformations that reduce or alter the soapy notes. Roasting or sautéing herbs like cilantro, parsley, or dill can help mellow their flavors and minimize the soapy taste, making them more enjoyable for those who find it off-putting. Additionally, incorporating these herbs into dishes with stronger flavors, such as spicy curries or rich stews, can help mask the soapy taste and allow other ingredients to take the forefront.

Lastly, it is essential to remember that taste preferences can vary greatly among individuals, and what tastes soapy to some may be delicious to others. Being aware of your own taste preferences and those of your guests can guide your choices when substituting these herbs. Open communication and experimentation in the kitchen can lead to delightful discoveries and unique flavor combinations that suit your individual palate.

Cooking methods and techniques to mellow the soapy taste of these herbs.

One effective approach is to lightly blanch or steam the herbs before incorporating them into your dishes. This gentle cooking method helps to soften the flavors and reduce the intensity of the soapy taste while retaining the herbs’ fresh and herbaceous qualities. To blanch the herbs, briefly immerse them in boiling water for about 10-15 seconds, then transfer them to an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Steaming can be done by placing the herbs in a steamer basket or colander over simmering water for a few minutes until they become tender.

Another technique to consider is incorporating herbs towards the end of the cooking process. By adding them as a finishing touch, such as a garnish or last-minute stir-in, their flavors are preserved and the soapy taste can be less pronounced. This method works well with dishes like soups, stews, or sauces, where the herbs can be added just before serving to impart a fresh and aromatic note without overpowering the overall flavor profile.

Cooking methods and techniques to mellow the soapy taste of these herbs

Pairing the herbs with bold and aromatic ingredients can also help balance out the soapy taste. Combining them with spices like cumin, coriander, or chili powder can add depth and complexity to your dishes, masking the soapy undertones. Citrus zest, such as lemon or lime, can bring a vibrant tanginess that complements the herbs and helps cut through the soapy flavor. Additionally, incorporating robust sauces, like a tangy yogurt dressing or a zesty salsa, can help enhance the overall taste and create a more harmonious flavor profile.

It’s important to note that taste preferences can vary, and what might be perceived as soapy by some can be enjoyed by others. Experimenting with different cooking methods, techniques, and flavor combinations allows you to tailor the herbs’ taste to your liking. Don’t be afraid to explore and adapt these methods based on personal preferences and the specific dish you’re preparing.

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FAQs for Herb That Tastes Like Soap

Which herbs are known to have a taste resembling soap?

Cilantro, parsley, and dill are the most commonly known herbs that can have a taste resembling soap. While the perception of a soapy flavor varies among individuals, these herbs contain certain compounds, such as aldehydes and terpenes, that contribute to the distinct taste.

Source: https://www.allrecipes.com/article/why-does-cilantro-taste-like-soap/

Why do some people perceive certain herbs to taste like soap?

The perception of herbs tasting like soap is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Studies suggest that genetics play a role in determining one’s sensitivity to specific compounds found in these herbs, which can result in a soapy taste sensation for some individuals.

Source: https://www.allrecipes.com/article/why-does-cilantro-taste-like-soap/

Can the soapy taste of these herbs be eliminated or reduced?

While it may be challenging to completely eliminate the soapy taste, there are techniques to reduce its intensity. For instance, blanching cilantro leaves briefly in hot water or combining these herbs with other flavorful ingredients can help balance and minimize the soap-like flavor in a dish.

How can I incorporate herbs that taste like soap into my cooking?

To incorporate these herbs into your cooking, start by using them in small amounts and gradually increase them based on your taste preference. Experiment with recipes that complement the herb’s unique flavor profile, such as adding cilantro to salsas or using parsley as a garnish for roasted dishes.

Are there any alternative herbs that have a similar flavor without the soapy taste?

Yes, if you prefer to avoid herbs with a soapy taste, you can explore alternative options. Herbs like basil, mint, tarragon, and thyme offer distinct flavors without the perception of soapiness, making them suitable substitutes in recipes where the soap-like taste is undesirable.

What are some common dishes or cuisines that use herbs with a soapy taste?

Herbs that taste like soap are commonly used in various cuisines around the world. Cilantro, for example, is a staple in Mexican, Indian, and Thai cuisine, while parsley is often found in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. Dill is frequently used in Scandinavian and Eastern European cooking.

Is there a genetic reason why some people dislike the taste of these herbs?

Yes, genetics can influence an individual’s preference for these herbs. Some people have a genetic predisposition that makes them more sensitive to the specific compounds responsible for the soapy taste. As a result, they may find these herbs less enjoyable or even unpleasant.

Source: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-you-love-or-hate-cilantro-the-reason-may-surprise-you/

Can the soapy taste of these herbs be an acquired preference?

Answer: It is possible for the perception of the soapy taste to change over time. Through repeated exposure and gradual incorporation into dishes, some individuals may acquire a preference for these herbs and develop a more nuanced appreciation for their unique flavors.

Are there any traditional or cultural uses for herbs that taste like soap?

Yes, these herbs have been used traditionally in various culinary and medicinal practices. For example, cilantro has been a staple in Mexican cuisine for centuries, while parsley has been valued for its freshness in Mediterranean dishes. Dill has a long history of use in pickling and as a flavoring agent in Scandinavian cuisine.

Are there any specific compounds in these herbs that cause the soapy flavor?

The soapy flavor in these herbs is attributed to certain compounds, such as aldehydes (like decimal and duodenal) and terpenes (like limonene). These compounds can create an olfactory and gustatory experience reminiscent of soap when consumed, contributing to the unique taste of these herbs.

Conclusion about Herbs That Tastes Like Soap

Herbs that taste like soap, such as cilantro, parsley, and dill, have sparked diverse opinions and discussions among food enthusiasts. The soapy flavor experienced by some individuals can be attributed to genetic factors and the presence of certain compounds in these herbs. Despite the divisive taste, these herbs continue to play a significant role in culinary applications, adding freshness and complexity to a wide range of dishes.  By understanding the genetic basis and exploring various cooking methods and flavor combinations, it becomes possible to appreciate and enjoy these herbs in a way that suits individual preferences. 

So, whether you embrace the unique taste or seek alternatives, the world of herbs offers endless possibilities to enhance your culinary experiences. Join the conversation and share this post with your friends, neighbors, market housewives, and fellow food enthusiasts. Let’s celebrate the diverse flavors and preferences that make the culinary world so rich and exciting.

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