Is It Better To Cook With Curly Or Flat-Leaf Parsley?

Often delegated as a decorative garnish on a plate, the humble parsley is frequently overlooked in favor of its more glamorous herb cousins, such as dill. However, parsley should play a role in your cooking. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, less salt can be added when parsley is used in soups, sauces, and salads. The green herb also contains iron and vitamins A and C. 

Additionally, the delicate herb is not without flavor. Martha Stewart describes parsley's flavor as being mild, but says it can add a little flavor kick to recipes. Dishes that rely heavily on parsley include tabbouleh (a Middle Eastern salad), chimichurri, and salsa verde, among others. While these recipes all rely on fresh parsley, the herb can also be found dried. Although the flavor of herbs often intensifies during the drying process, Spiceography says that parsley's flavor becomes milder.

Once purchased or harvested from the backyard garden, two of the best ways to store parsley for easy access are on the countertop in a jar with water, or in a bag (or wrapped in loosely in plastic wrap) in the refrigerator. Parsley can also be frozen for longer keeping — but which one should you buy if a recipe you are making calls for fresh parsley, curly or flat-leaf? Martha Stewart advises that one is superior to the other for several reasons.

This type has more flavor and better texture

When purchasing a bunch of parsley for cooking, reach for the flat-leaf parsley. It is also known as Italian parsley, for its citrusy flavor that is reminiscent of celery (via Martha Stewart).

Flat-leaf parsley also has a hint of pepper, which describes the taste of curly parsley as being without much flavor at all. In addition to its stronger flavor, flat-leaf parsley has a texture that works better in dishes than curly (also called French parsley), chef Mehdi Boujrada told Martha Stewart. He said that because curly parsley is drier than flat-leafed, it can be tougher and harder to chew when incorporated into a dish. However, it still works well as a decorative garnish with its lovely green color.

Whether using flat-leaf or curly for cooking, MasterClass says that parsley is most often chopped and added to the dish at the end of the process to maintain as much flavor as possible. While fresh parsley loses its flavor quickly when exposed to heat, dried parsley does not. It can be incorporated into a dish throughout the cooking process. Knowing when and how to use parsley is relatively easy. Allrecipes describes it as an "all-purpose" herb because its taste complements most savory dishes, like creamy egg salad