turmeric substitutes

Top 7 Turmeric Substitutes That Are Healthy and Delicious

This golden spice is part of so many cuisines and trends lately that we are all accustomed to it. Its unique color and flavor can be added to so many things, from soups to sauces and drinks.

However, it can also be devastating if you can’t find it anywhere, so knowing what substitutes to use is essential.

What Is Turmeric?

This spice is part of the ginger family and has a distinct earthy and pungent flavor. It has a very unique yellow and orange color. Aside from the aroma and flavor, turmeric is known to be anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, as well as full of vitamins and minerals.

If you like Indian, Middle Eastern, and African food, you have surely had turmeric in plenty of dishes. This spice is part of soups, curries, sauces, and drinks. These days, turmeric is part of baked goods, food supplements, hot teas, and more.

What Can I Replace Turmeric With?

While it may be hard to find it or use it at times, these substitutes for fresh and powdered turmeric can work wonders in plenty of dishes and recipes:

For Cooking, Curry, Soup, and Sauce

#1. Saffron

While it can be difficult to find and expensive, saffron is the perfect substitution for turmeric. You can use both saffron threads or powder form when cooking things like curries, soups, sauces, and rice. Since this spice is only harvested during a short period a year, it is not available everywhere, but you can try the organic market or a specialty store. 

Use about half the amount that the recipe calls for, as it may overpower the rest of the ingredients. Keep in mind that saffron has a sweeter and more subtle flavor.

See more: Best Saffron Alternatives

#2. Curry Powder

Since turmeric is usually part of curry dishes, adding this spice in its place makes a lot of sense. You can find curry powder in most grocery stores, as it is a common ingredient in many cuisines. Use this spice when making curry, soup, sauces, rice, and meat dishes.

You can try adding the same amount of curry powder as you would turmeric, but keep in mind that this spice may be a bit stronger. You may want to mix in other spices as well for color and flavor, like paprika or cumin.

#3. Annatto Seeds

These seeds come from the Achiote trees and are added to food as a coloring in some cuisines. You can steep the seeds in water or oil overnight, filter the liquid, and then use it when cooking. Try adding annatto seeds to curries, sauces, soups, and even desserts, but do it in the middle of the cooking process.

The flavor of these seeds is sweet, nutty, and a bit peppery, so you may want to cut the amount you use in half. It may not be very easy to find annatto seeds, but try an organic supermarket or a Latin American food store.

For Baking, Smoothies, Pickles, and Paella

#4. Yellow Mustard Seeds

If you want to mimic the color of turmeric, using yellow mustard seeds can be a good replacement. Keep in mind that mustard seeds have a peppery flavor and can change the texture of your dish. These seeds are very common in sauces and European dishes, so you can find them in most grocery stores.

Use about ½ teaspoon of yellow mustard seeds for every one teaspoon of turmeric. Use this choice when making pickled foods, paella, sauces, and when baking bread. Consider mixing some other spices to balance out the spice.

See More: Mustard Shelf Life

#5. Ginger Powder

Since ginger is part of the turmeric family, using it as a replacement for this spice makes a lot of sense. Just like turmeric, ginger has many health benefits, including reducing inflammation and aiding indigestion. Use ginger powder, or paste if you don’t have any other options, in baking, cooking sauces, soups, or when you are making smoothies.

You can find ginger powder in any grocery store, usually in the spice section. This powder has a distinctly warm, pungent, and spicy flavor. Use about half the amount as you would turmeric, as you don’t want to overpower the rest of the ingredients.

#6. Galangal Powder

This Indian powder is the dry and ground form of the root. This spice has a tart, warm, and slightly citrus flavor and aroma. It is commonly part of Indian cuisine, including curry or chai tea, but you can use it in smoothies, pickling vegetables, and rice dishes.

Galangal powder is not as common everywhere, but you can try an Indian food store or an organic market. Use half of what the recipe indicates and taste as you go. The flavor of your food may change, so you can mix in other spices, like curry.

#7. Cumin

This spice is very common across many cuisines, including Indian, Middle Eastern, and African. You can use cumin when making sauces, paella, pickled vegetables, and soups. Make sure you like the flavor, as it is a bit peppery and citrus, but mixes well with other spices.

Use the same amount of cumin as you would turmeric, but consider mixing in a bit of curry or annatto seeds. Cumin is widely available everywhere, so try the spice section of your grocery store.

See More: Best Substitutes for Cumin


Can I use paprika instead of turmeric?

You can use smoked paprika in some dishes to add color that resembles turmeric. However, you may need to mix in other spices as the flavor can be overpowering. Try adding smoked paprika and a bit of mace or cumin.

What spices help reduce inflammation?

Some of the spices that can help fight off inflammation in your body include turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Keep in mind that these don’t replace medications, but can be a boost for your body when you add them to your meals.

What are the negative effects of turmeric?

Turmeric is tolerated well in most cases, but as with every food and spice, there could be some side effects. In some cases, consuming turmeric can cause stomach upset, nausea, and dizziness. When used in large amounts, turmeric can promote blood flow and prevent blood coagulation, which is dangerous for those that suffer from bleeding disorders.


Using turmeric is a given for most of us, but have you thought of what to do if you ever run out of it? Your dishes shouldn’t have to suffer because you don’t have any turmeric. Instead, use any of these 7 choices that work in various recipes and add a great flavor as well.

turmeric powder alternatives

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