14 Best Substitutes for Turmeric You Can Find Easily

Never in my life did I think I’d have to cook without turmeric. But it happened one day when I was following a recipe for a vegetarian dish, and I needed to add some color to it.

It turned out that I didn’t have any at home and the recipe called for a teaspoon. The shops were closed and I had to think fast.

I remembered that I had read about substitutes for turmeric before. So, I went to my spice cabinet and started looking for anything that would work. After a few minutes of searching, I had a few ideas.

It took a while for me to decide on which one would go better with the dish I was preparing, but then the substitute I chose turned out great! The color was perfect, and the dish tasted delicious.

Here are a few of the alternatives you’ll want to try.

Best Substitutes for Turmeric:

  1. Mustard seeds
  2. Turmeric paste
  3. Saffron
  4. Curry powder
  5. Paprika
  6. Madras Curry Powder 
  7. Ginger
  8. Sweet pepper powder
  9. Fennel seeds 
  10. Annatto seeds
  11. Garam Masala
  12. Galangal powder 
  13. Cumin seeds
  14. Anise seeds

Mustard seeds

While many people think of mustard seeds as nothing more than an ingredient in their favorite condiment, this humble spice can actually be used as a substitute for turmeric in some cases.

It has a stronger flavor than turmeric, so you may need to use a different ratio when cooking with it. For instance, you can use this ratio: 1/4 of a teaspoon of mustard seeds for every 1 teaspoon of turmeric. 

Additionally, some people find that the flavor of mustard is better than turmeric. So, if you’re looking for a new spice to add to your repertoire, why not give mustard seeds a try? You might just find that they make your food taste even better.

Turmeric paste

Turmeric paste is a great substitute for turmeric when you’re in a bind. Whether you’re out of turmeric or just don’t have any on hand, it is an easy-to-find and easy-to-use replacement.

This substitute has all the same benefits as turmeric powder, including the same taste and flavor.

The only difference is that it has a milder flavor, so you may need to add more to your recipe if you’re using a turmeric paste as a substitute. But overall, it’s a great way to get your Turmeric fix!


Turmeric is often lauded as the “best” spice. But what if I told you that there’s a cheaper, more widely available spice that tastes just as good? Enter saffron, the yin to turmeric’s yang.

Both spices are yellow, and they have a similar taste and flavor profile. Saffron is slightly sweeter, while turmeric has a more earthy flavor.

The best part is that you can use less saffron than you would turmeric, so it’s a good choice if you’re watching your budget. To substitute 1 teaspoon of turmeric add 1/2 teaspoon of saffron. 

Saffron is also more delicate, so it’s best suited for dishes where you want a subtle flavor. And it imparts a beautiful yellow color to whatever dish it’s added to.

If you’re looking for the best possible substitute for turmeric, saffron is definitely worth considering.

Curry powder

Curry powder is a blend of spices, and it just so happens to include turmeric.

So, if you have curry powder on hand, you’re in luck! It’s a great substitute for turmeric because it has all the same flavors.

The only thing to keep in mind is that curry powder also includes other spices, so it will change the flavor of your dish. Curry powder also contains chilli, so keep that in mind when you’re cooking with it. Because curry is spicier than turmeric, use a ratio of half a teaspoon of curry to each teaspoon of turmeric to achieve an even flavor.

Curry is such a great substitute for turmeric because it will give your food the same yellowish-orange hue as turmeric.


Paprika is a spice made from dried peppers, and it’s one of the best substitutes for turmeric.

It has a similar flavor profile to turmeric, but it’s not as strong. So, if you’re looking for a milder flavor, paprika is a great choice. You may also give your dish the combined effect of paprika and mace. It works brilliantly well to strengthen the flavor.

To substitute turmeric with paprika, use a ratio of one teaspoon of paprika to each tablespoon of turmeric. Ultimately, the ratio you choose should be dependent on your preference.

Paprika is also a great way to add color to your dish. If you’re looking for that beautiful yellow hue that turmeric imparts, paprika is the way to go.

Madras Curry Powder

Madras curry powder is another great substitute for turmeric.

It’s a blend of spices that includes turmeric, chili powder, cumin, and fenugreek and it has a similar flavor profile. You must take note that madras curry powder is spicier than regular curry powder.

It will provide a deeper, red tone when it comes to color. It looks great in South Asian and Indian meals, but if you’re using it for other dishes, it is safer to taste the dish as you cook.

However, you may start with half a teaspoon of Madras curry powder for every one teaspoon of turmeric. You’re free to add it to fish, shellfish, and meat marinades, stews and sauces.


Ginger and turmeric come from the same family of plants, but ginger is the stronger tasting of the two. Ginger is spicy, while turmeric is milder.

The best way to use ginger as a substitute for turmeric is in any cold dish or in Asian recipes that require cooking. Just add a pinch of ginger to replace the turmeric.

Ginger is easier to find in most grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can also use ground cloves or nutmeg as a substitute.

Sweet pepper powder

Sweet pepper powder is a good substitute for turmeric. It’s not spicy, so it won’t give dishes an extra kick – which is quite contradictory to its name, I know!

Also, sweet pepper powder is red in color, not yellow, so it won’t impart that turmeric color to foods. However, it can be used in many dishes, including curries, stews, and soups.

It also has several benefits, like being rich in antioxidants and having anti-inflammatory properties.

It can also help to boost metabolism and improve circulation. So if you’re looking for a healthier alternative to turmeric, sweet pepper powder is a great choice.

Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds can be used as a substitute for turmeric in many cases. They are small, greenish-brown, and have a sweet, earthy flavor. They can be used in savory and sweet dishes, and are often used to season sausage.

Fennel seeds can be used in the same way as turmeric, but they are sweeter, so you should use less of them. If you don’t want your food to end up being too sweet, use a half teaspoon of fennel seeds for each teaspoon of turmeric.

Fennel seeds have many health benefits, including aiding digestion and helping to relieve gas and bloating. They can also be used to make a tea that is soothing and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Fennel seeds are a versatile spice that can be used as a substitute for turmeric in many dishes.

Annatto seeds

Annatto seeds are another amazing substitute for turmeric. They come from the achiote tree and have a slightly sweet, peppery flavor.

They are most commonly used to color food, but they can also be used to add flavor. Annatto seeds can be used in the same way as turmeric, but they will impart a different taste to your food. Although the good thing is they have the same color.

Annatto seeds as a substitute for turmeric might have a number of weak points, but a pro-tip to get it to work well for you is to realize that you can’t just throw it into your meal like that, you see.

You must combine a half cup of these seeds with a half cup of vegetable oil of your choosing. Allow this combination to rest for up to ten minutes before adding it to your dish.

Garam Masala

Garam Masala is a blend of ground spices used extensively in Indian cooking. The word ‘garam’ means “hot” in Hindi, and this spice mix is indeed quite spicy.

It typically includes black pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace. As a result, it has a deep, intense flavor that can be used to great effect in many dishes.

In some cases, Garam Masala can be used as a substitute for turmeric. Turmeric is a key ingredient in many Indian dishes, but it can be quite mild in flavor. Garam Masala, on the other hand, has a much bolder taste.

As a result, you may need to use a less quantity of it to achieve the desired flavor. Nevertheless, it can be a great way to add some extra heat and depth of flavor to your cooking.

Galangal powder

Galangal powder is a great substitute for turmeric. It’s made from the root of the plant and has a slightly peppery, ginger-like flavor.

It can be used in savory and sweet dishes and is often used in Thai cooking. Galangal powder can be used in the same way as turmeric, but it will impart a different taste to your food. So, take a small bit of it for tasting, before putting it in your dish to see whether you want it in there.

If you want your dish to have a more ginger-like flavor, use galangal powder instead of turmeric. Galangal powder can be found in Asian markets or online.

Cumin seeds

Cumin seeds are a common ingredient in curry powders and other spice blends. While they have a similar flavor to turmeric, they are different in many respects.

They are often used as a substitute for turmeric when the latter is not available. However, there are some important differences to keep in mind.

Cumin seeds have a sharper, more pungent flavor than turmeric. Therefore, they should be used in different ratios. When substituting cumin seeds for turmeric, use half as much cumin as you would turmeric.

This substitute can also be used whole or ground. Ground cumin will have a stronger flavor than whole cumin, so use it sparingly.

Finally, cumin seeds should be roasted before use to bring out their flavor. To roast cumin seeds, simply dry roast them in a pan over medium heat until they are fragrant and slightly darker in color.

Anise seeds

Anise seeds are another great substitute for turmeric. They come from the anise plant and have a sweet, licorice-like flavor.

They can be used in the same way as turmeric, and you can get them in powder for. But they will impart a different taste to your food. If you don’t mind that your dish will have a sweet and earthy taste without changing color much, it’s an excellent choice for you.

Use the same amount of anise seeds as turmeric and these seeds are great if you don’t like the turmeric flavor much. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an alternative to turmeric for inflammation?

There are a number of substitutes that can be used for turmeric when it comes to reducing inflammation. These include ginger, cayenne pepper, and garlic.

What is a substitute for turmeric in pickles?

In pickles, turmeric is best complemented with saffron, annatto, or safflower. Ginger, garlic, and black pepper are some of the most popular alternatives.

Can I use curry powder as a substitute for turmeric?

Curry powder is a blend of spices that often includes turmeric. As such, it can be used as a substitute for turmeric in many dishes.


There you have it! These are the best substitutes for turmeric. If you’re looking for a cheaper, more widely available option, go for curry powder or paprika.

If you’re looking for a more authentic flavor, saffron or madras curry powder are great choices. And if you’re looking for health benefits, ginger is a great option. Ultimately, the best substitute for turmeric is the one that you have on hand and that you think will taste the best in your dish.

Just remember to adjust the quantities according to the flavor of the substitutes. And don’t forget to have fun experimenting in the kitchen!