Why Do Some People Love Cilantro and Some People Hate It?

It all comes down to science

Wikimedia Commons

If you hate cilantro, it could be in your genes.

Out of all the most divisive foods out there, cilantro is one of the worst offenders. Some people love it and can’t eat a taco without it, while to others it simply tastes like soap and ruins everything it touches. Is this wide disparity just a matter of taste, or is there something deeper going on?

According to a report issued by the journal Nature in 2012, there are two genetic variants that are linked to the way we perceive the herb. In a genetic survey of nearly 30,000 people, the major variant was traced to a cluster of genes that influence smell, called olfactory-receptor genes. This doesn’t mean that whether someone will like cilantro or not is definitively linked to genes, but it does mean that genes play a part in preference.


Another reason why some like cilantro and others don’t is because of the form it takes. The study advocates turning the cilantro into a pesto (or grinding it up in general before use), because that will do away with a lot of the smell.