7 Turmeric Substitute: Reason To Use, Taste & Famous Recipes

Turmeric Substitute

Some spices are unavoidable in our cuisines, simply because they play a dual role: add color as well as provide a good taste.

Not like chilies that only add flavor or food colors that only add color to the food.

One of such dual-functional spices is turmeric that you may find at every spice store.

But today, instead of discussing turmeric itself, we’re going to discuss turmeric substitutes.

So, let’s discuss how well each of the turmeric alternatives works, in terms of the taste, coloring feature, and health benefits.

7 Turmeric Substitutes for Similar Taste

If turmeric is not going to be your first choice in your recipe, simply because you are allergic to it or it’s not available, you may try the following seven alternatives.

So let’s get to know each of these.

1. Cumin


Many people ask like, “Can I use cumin instead of turmeric?”. The answer is yes because, from a taste perspective, cumin substitute is the closest replacement.

It’s one of the most versatile and easily available spices in the world, native to the Middle-east and Indian sub-continent. The edible part is the seeds that it is popular for.

It’s the best turmeric substitute in cooking because it would give you a similar taste.

Why cumin?

  • Earthy taste similar to turmeric
  • Gives aroma similar to that of turmeric
  • Easily available
  • Cheap

Downside of using cumin as a turmeric replacement

  • It won’t give the yellow-orange color to your food.

Best recipes that can substitute turmeric for cumin

  • Spicy Lamp Hand-smashed Noodles
  • Cumin is the best turmeric substitute for soups.

Nutrition Facts Comparison

Cumin Turmeric
Energy 375 kcal 312 kcal
Protein 17.81 9.68 g
Fats 22.27 3.25 g
Carbohydrates 44.24 67.14 g
Fiber 10.5 22.7

Taste of cumin

Warm, earthy with a bit of bitterness and sweetness together

Similar to caraway seeds, cumin has a warm, earthy taste with a bit.

How to use cumin?

Replace cumin seeds, whole or ground, with an equal amount of turmeric.

2. Mace & Paprika

Mace & Paprika

Paprika can truly be called a combination of different red peppers. Their taste ranges from fiery to a bit sweet. Even though its color is red, yet it’s not much spicy.

Mace, on the other hand, is an aromatic golden brown spice obtained from the dried aril of the Nutmeg seed.

Why mace & paprika mix?

  • The right combination of mace and paprika will match the taste of turmeric.

Downside of using mace and paprika as a turmeric replacement

  • The color would be different than what turmeric gives.

Best recipes that can substitute mace and paprika for turmeric

Mace & paprika mixture are one of the best turmeric substitutes for pickles.

Nutrition Facts Comparison

Mace Paprika Turmeric
Energy 525 kcal 282 kcal 312 kcal
Protein 6 g 14 g 9.68 g
Fats 36 g 13 g 3.25 g
Carbohydrates 49 g 54 g 67.14 g
Fiber 21 g 35 g 22.7

Taste of mace and paprika

Mace tastes pungent and spicy. On the other hand, paprika tastes pungent and heat varies depending upon the heat of the peppers that made up paprika.

How to use mace and paprika?

Since both ingredients in it are spicy, ½ the amount of turmeric is just fine.

For your information

1 ounce = 4 tablespoon (powdered)

1 tablespoon = 6.8 g

2 tablespoon fresh chopped turmeric rhizome = ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

Turmeric Substitutes for Similar Color

3. Mustard Powder

Mustard Powder

What’s the substitute for turmeric powder? Well, it’s none other than mustard powder if you are concerned about the coloring feature of turmeric here.

Mustard powder is obtained by grinding mustard seeds and filtering the seed coat to get a fine powder behind.

It’s the best turmeric substitute for curry, because you are more concerned about the color.

However, commercial packing of mustard powder is the combination of brown mustard seeds, white mustard seeds, a bit of saffron, or sometimes turmeric as well.

Why mustard powder?

  • The best thing about mustard powder is that it gives you a similar color you intended to have from turmeric.
  • Helps to fight against asthma and pneumonia.

Downside of using mustard powder as a turmeric replacement

Mustard powder won’t give the desired health benefits as turmeric can.

Best recipes that can substitute Mustard Powder for Turmeric

  • Pickles
  • Meat, to get a pungent flavor
  • Mustard pastes (which is widely used in hot dogs)

Nutrition Facts Comparison

Mustard Powder Turmeric
Energy 66 kcal 312 kcal
Protein 4.4 g 9.68 g
Fats 4 g 3.25 g
Carbohydrates 5 g 67.14 g
Fiber 3.3 g 22.7

Taste of mustard powder

It gives tangy heat to your food. In other words, strong and piquant flavor with fresh aroma.

How to use mustard powder?

  • Mostly used in salad dressing
  • Cheesy and creamy sauces
  • Add to minced beef

4. Saffron


Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice obtained from the flowers of Saffron crocus. The stigma and styles of the flowers, called thread, are what make saffron.

These threads are dried before put to use.

Quite interestingly. Both turmeric and saffron are termed as each other’s replacement: turmeric as saffron replacement and vice-versa.

Why saffron?

  • If you want to give your dish the same color as turmeric, then substitute turmeric for saffron without thinking twice.

Downside of using saffron as a turmeric replacement

  • Very expensive
  • It’s a bit sweeter, so may not match the bitter and earthy taste of turmeric.

Best recipes that can substitute saffron for turmeric

Here, Geoffrey Zakarian’s recommendation can be taken, who is a famous American chef and restaurateur.

His actual recommendation is to substitute saffron with a mixture of turmeric and paprika. But conversely, we can substitute turmeric with twice the amount of saffron.

Nutrition Facts Comparison

Saffron Turmeric
Energy 310 kcal 312 kcal
Protein 11 g 9.68 g
Fats 6 g 3.25 g
Carbohydrates 65 g 67.14 g
Fiber 3.9 g (Dietary) 22.7

Taste of saffron

The taste of saffron is subtle; different people describe it differently.

It’s either floral, pungent or honey-like.

How to use saffron?

For ½ teaspoon of turmeric, substitute with 10-15 threads of saffron.

5. Annatto Seeds

Annatto Seeds

If you’re looking for the same color as turmeric, annatto seeds are another good option.

Annatto seeds are a food-coloring agent obtained from achiote tree, native to Mexico and Brazil.

It adds yellow or orange color to foods.

Why annatto seeds?

  • Give the yellow-orange color to the food, similar to turmeric
  • Helpful in diabetes, fever, diarrhea, heartburn, malaria, and hepatitis

Downside of using annatto as a turmeric replacement

  • If you’re looking for the benefits and taste similar to turmeric, then it’s not recommended.

Best recipes that can substitute annatto for turmeric

Any rice or curry recipe.

Nutrition Facts Comparison

Annatto Turmeric
Energy 350 kcal 312 kcal
Protein 20 g 9.68 g
Fats 0 3.25 g
Carbohydrates 60 g 67.14 g
Fiber 3 g 22.7

Taste of annatto

Sweet, peppery, and slightly nutty.

How to use annatto?

Start with half the amount and increase it to the same amount.

Turmeric Substitutes for Similar Health Benefits

6. Ginger


Ginger is another close substitute for turmeric. It’s a flowering plant, the roots of which are used as a spice, like turmeric.

Ginger, in its fresh form, is the nearest fresh turmeric substitutes.

Why ginger?

  • Being from the same family as turmeric, it possesses similar health benefits, like Anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventing as turmeric.
  • Easily available. Almost every kitchen has it.

Downside of using ginger as a turmeric replacement

  • Unlike turmeric, it’s not available in the powdered form mostly.
  • Won’t give the orange-yellow taste to your food

Best recipes that can substitute ginger for turmeric

Soup is one of the dishes where ginger can substitute turmeric well.

Nutrition Facts Comparison

Ginger Turmeric
Energy 80 kcal 312 kcal
Protein 1.8 g 9.68 g
Fats 0.8 g 3.25 g
Carbohydrates 18 g 67.14 g
Fiber 2 g 22.7

Taste of ginger

Sharp, spicy, pungent taste.

How to use ginger?

Use the same amount. Both fresh and powdered garlic can be used for turmeric. But it’s better to use fresh garlic for fresh turmeric and vice-versa.

7. Curry Powder

Curry Powder

It’s the most common spice available in any home in the Indian sub-continent.

Curry powder is a combination of turmeric, chili powder, ground ginger, ground cumin, ground coriander, available in low to high intensity.

Why curry powder?

  • Contains turmeric itself along with other spices
  • Gives you the health benefits of multiple spices
  • Give almost the same color

Downside of using curry powder as a turmeric replacement

  • Since it’s a combination of different spices, it won’t give your food exactly the same taste as turmeric could.

Best recipes that can substitute curry powder for turmeric

  • Deviled eggs
  • Pulses

Nutrition Facts Comparison

Curry Powder Turmeric
Energy 325 kcal 312 kcal
Protein 13 g 9.68 g
Fats 14 g 3.25 g
Carbohydrates 58 g 67.14 g
Fiber 33 g 22.7

Taste of curry powder

Unique flavor, because both savory and sweet spices make it. The heat intensity relies on the quantity of pepper used.

How to use curry powder?

½ or ¾ tsp of curry powder is enough to substitute 1 teaspoon of turmeric.



If you have run out of turmeric or simply looking for a turmeric substitute, use cumin and mace & paprika mixture for a similar taste. Use mustard powder, saffron, or annatto seeds for a similar orange-yellow color in your dish; and, finally, ginger and curry powder are the best substitutes of turmeric that can give you similar health benefits.

How many times have you used an alternative of turmeric in your recipe? How did it work? Let us know in the comment section below.

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