The most popular herb might also be the most polarizing one

(Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images) /

While that dash of salt might be the perfect finishing touch to a dish, herbs and spices create that depth of flavor. Even though that infamous fried chicken has 11 herbs and spices, that idea is just one of a multitude of food options. In a recent Instacart survey, the most popular herb is not necessarily a universally appreciated flavor.

According to Instacart’s survey, the majority of Americans (94%) cook with herbs and spices. Whether it is that heaping spoonful of garlic in a pasta sauce or a sprinkle of cinnamon in that epic chili recipe, there is no shortage of uses for herbs and spices. Even though cooks are learning to appreciate the concept of use it or lose it when it comes to dried spices, the reality is that there is always a reason to add depth of flavor and avoid bland food.

While flavor preferences vary, the most popular herb was not an expected choice. Even if it is popular across various cuisines, some people will avoid that fresh herb at all costs. It is cilantro.

As Laurentia Romaniuk, Instacart’s Trends Expert said, “Cilantro’s distinctive taste has created quite a divide. While many enjoy its vibrant notes, others recoil at its mere presence — making it a subject of passionate consumer discussions. Our survey with The Harris Poll found that more than 1 in 3 Americans (35%) love cilantro and believe it tastes refreshing, while 13% dislike or hate cilantro. Further, among those who hate and cannot tolerate the taste of cilantro, 65% find its aroma equally displeasing, with 33% saying cilantro smells and tastes like soap.”

That statement sums up cilantro’s dichotomy. Love it, hate it, but few are ambivalent about it. Given that scenario, it is surprising that it is the most popular herb. Maybe it is a taste test that determines whether a person is a perfect match or if they should have swiped left on those dinner plans.

While cilantro was the top fresh option, the top dried option was garlic. Garlic powder is the foundation for a plethora of recipes. Plus, some people prefer the simplicity of dried garlic versus the tedious nature of peeling those cloves.

Overall, the top 10 list features commonly used ingredients. From cinnamon to chili powder and thyme to flat-leaf parsley, the food options are familiar. It is interesting that items like rosemary, nutmeg, or even chives did not make the list.

In addition, food trends did not seem to overtake the old familiar flavors. There is no mention of turmeric or even cardamon. It might take a few more years for those flavors to become more common. Or, maybe people’s food adventurous nature will evolve in another way.

Where do you stand on the most popular herb findings? Are you team cilantro?