Are curly- and flat-leaf parsleys interchangeable? We ran a series of blind taste tests to answer this question.
In the test kitchen, we almost always call for flat-leaf parsley because we prefer its flavor to that of curly-leaf parsley. A bonus is that it’s easier to chop than its curly-leafed cousin. But we’re never content to rest on our laurels, so we decided to revisit this preference with a series of blind taste tests.
We bought multiple bunches of both flat-leaf and curly-leaf parsley, chopped them fine so there was no visual difference, and used both in three of our recipes: Real Tabbouleh, Salsa Verde, and Herbed Croutons. Tasters were asked to try both versions of each side by side.
The crouton recipe calls for just a small amount of parsley, and tasters couldn’t tell a difference between the two. But parsley plays a starring role in the salsa and the tabbouleh. Tasters much preferred the flat-leaf versions, commenting that they had a “fresh,” “vibrant,” “lemon-pepper” astringency, whereas the curly-leaf batches were more “mild” and “vegetal.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: If you’re just sprinkling a little chopped parsley over a dish to add color, it doesn’t matter which kind you use. But if parsley is a major player in a recipe, we recommend using the flat-leaf variety (unless a recipe specifies otherwise).