Substitutes of Turmeric

Substitutes of Turmeric

Key Takeaways

1. Turmeric, a powdered spice from the Curcuma longa plant, is known for its bitter, pungent flavor and health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties.

2. While turmeric is irreplaceable in some dishes, alternatives like curry powder, ginger, cumin, and saffron can provide similar flavors and colors in cooking.

3. The use of turmeric substitutes depends on the dish’s requirements; some recipes may not need a replacement if the flavor of turmeric is not crucial.

4. Turmeric is consumed for its numerous health benefits, such as reducing joint pain and inflammation, improving digestion, and lowering cholesterol levels.

What is Turmeric?

  • It is a powdered spice that originated from Curcuma longa plant roots.
  • It is a bitter, pungent, and earthy spice that belongs to the ginger family.
  • Moreover, in contrast to its lovely orange colour, ginger aroma and unique flavour turmeric are difficult to replace.
  • It adds attractive colour to curries, soups, rice, baked goods, and marinades along with beverages.
  • Got a range of health benefits.
  • It is also a host of anti-oxidants, nutrients, and many important essential oils.
  • Used as a medicine in many Asian countries.
  • In turmeric, there is a compound Curcumin which contains anti-inflammatory properties that help to protect our bodies from bacteria and cancer.
  • It is good for arthritis patients.
  • Some of the ingredients present in the kitchen are used as an alternative to turmeric.

You have a big challenge to deal with if you are in search of turmeric substitutes. Sometimes your kitchen gets out of turmeric powder, so here are the alternatives to cater to your needs.

In this article, we will primarily focus on the substitutes of turmeric. So let’s start.

Is a turmeric substitute needed?

Before thinking or creating an alternative for turmeric, stop and think for a moment to decide whether you need to replace this spice/ ingredient or is it essential?

If your dish is ok with it and flavour isn’t that much important then there is no need to get worried and replace this ingredient.

This ingredient is added in small amounts in many recipes; however, skipping this spice will have no negative impact on your dish.

Few recipes call turmeric just as a seasoning ingredient and flavour is mainly dependent on it.

Some dishes are dependent on this spice, and nothing works without adding it.

Alternatives of turmeric powder

Many alternatives of turmeric are available that will help to add the same flavour, aroma, and colour to the dish.

Flavour substitutes for Turmeric

1. Curry Powder

  • Calls mostly for curry-based recipes
  • Used in many dishes because of a specific colour
  • The powder contains a blend of spices that has turmeric in it
  • Great choice in replacement of turmeric as it is the major ingredient
  • In Middle Eastern dishes and Indian recipes, the curry powder works great; however, in delicate recipes, this powder is not a good option
  • The burst of vibrant colours can be added to many savoury dishes
  • It has a more complex and strong flavour so add a little amount and taste it before you add further
  • It is similar to turmeric powder because of its texture and colour
  • 1 tsp of turmeric powder is equal to ½ tsp curry powder
  • It can be added to savoury dishes, curries, marinades, and sauces

2. Ginger

  • Belong to the same family as turmeric (Zingiberaceae)
  • It is a rhizome, an underground stem
  • Ginger is a famous aromatic herb used in Asian cuisines
  • It is not the best alternative for savoury dishes
  • Both share a lot of the same health benefits
  • It has inflammatory properties. However, the flavour is different
  • Ginger could be a substitute in hand depending upon what you are making
  • Throw some ginger in your smoothie if you don’t like the taste of turmeric
  • Ginger has the same minerals and vitamins as turmeric
  • The texture and nutritional properties are the same
  • It can be added to hot drinks, smoothies, and sweet dishes
  • 1 tsp turmeric is equal to ½ tsp ginger
  • It is recommended as an anti-oxidant that will help ease your stomach problem
  • The only main difference is turmeric is used in powdered form while ginger is added in the form of root
  • The flavour of ginger is sweet, spicy, and pungent
  • In ancient times Chinese and Indians use ginger as a medicine
  • Helps to fight against nausea, muscle cramps, indigestion, and a lot more
  • Natural boost to immunity
  • It can also be in marinating meat, vegetables and to prepare sauces
  • Fresh ginger must be chopped into small and thin slices

3. Cumin

  • The seeds of the Cuminum cyminum plant belongs to the parsley family
  • It has a strong aroma and flavour as compared to turmeric
  • Cumin is a great option in enhancing the aroma
  • It is a famous condiment in India, Asia, and Mediterranean dishes
  • The origin of cumin is ancient Egypt and Syria
  • The people used cumin as a spice as well as to preserve embalming mummies
  • It is available both in powdered form as well as seeds
  • The seeds are usually fried in hot oil for a few minutes before adding them to vegetables and broth
  • It is a great ingredient if turmeric is not liked or available
  • A robust and earthy flavour so it is advisable to add a small amount
  • It can also be used for seasoning by sprinkling over salads, soups, or eggs
  • Cumin seeds have the same smokiness, earthiness, and warmth
  • 1 tsp. of turmeric is equal to ½ cumin
  • It is used in soups, sauces, Mexican and Middle Eastern dishes, and marinades

4. Garam Masala

  • The authentic Indian recipes use this ingredient
  • It is a hot spice and is a blend of clove, cumin, black pepper, and cardamom
  • Nutmeg and mace might be included in some variations
  • More robust and spicier flavour
  • It should be added in smaller quantities
  • The spice must be diluted in a tablespoon of liquid before adding to a dish
  • The constituent species are bought and grounded at home if you can’t find garam masala in local stores
  • The whole spices are roasted and grounded well to have a better flavour
  • This grounded spice is better as compared to store-bought garam masala

Colour substitutes for Turmeric

5. Saffron

  • Saffron comes from a flowering plant Crocus sativus
  • It is an excellent option if you want a vibrant, yellow-orange colour for the meal
  • Saffron is the best alternative to turmeric
  • Most expensive spice available in the market
  • A small amount is required for a recipe
  • As compared to turmeric, saffron is slightly sweet.
  • Saffron contains many health benefits.
  • It is full of anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidants, reducing PMS symptoms, improved mood, and increasing weight loss goals.
  • The flavour of both turmeric and saffron is the same as it provides a flower-like smell to the dish.
  • Sometimes it is used for the creation of golden paste.
  • It is special because it is harvested and grown in a small amount.
  • To produce just one ounce of saffron powder, approximately 4000 flowers are needed.
  • From flowers, the small threads are picked and used in cooking.
  • Saffron is also available in powdered form.
  • It is used in risottos, casseroles, marinades, sauces, stews, and seafood dishes
  • 1 tsp. Turmeric is equal to ¼ tsp. saffron
  • The negative point is that it is harvested by hand in a short season.

6. Annatto

  • Depending on the colour, it is the best substitute for turmeric
  • The seeds of Achiote-tree can be extracted from Latin to native American countries
  • It has an intense-yellow colour
  • Not only a food colourant but however it is also used in the textile and cosmetic industry as a dye
  • Chefs often consider it as a “poor man’s saffron” in the culinary world
  • The traditional dishes of the Caribbean and Mexico use this as an important ingredient
  • It is added at the start of the cooking
  • It can be added directly or as a marinade
  • Annatto is dominantly used as a colourant. However, it has a peppery aroma
  • It is enriched with antioxidants and helps against constipation, heartburn, diarrhoea, and high blood pressure
  • The flavour is different from turmeric
  • It is also known as Cuban turmeric
  • Annatto is used to make sausage, rice, poultry, marinades, baked goods smoothies

7. Safflower

  • This spice can be described as an “imposter” of saffron
  • Saffron and safflower are alike, so people get confused with both of them
  • The thistles of Carthamus tinctorius flower is used to make it
  • It is native to Egypt and nearby land
  • In ancient times, it was used as a dyeing agent
  • The early Europeans started using it as a colouring agent in the food industry
  • The main difference between saffron and safflower is the colour intensity
  • Flavour of safflower is a bit mild as compared to saffron

8. Mustard

  • It is not a great substitute. However, the mustard powder provides the same yellow colour
  • It is a herbal plant of the Brassicaceae family
  • Some minerals present in mustard has anti-inflammatory properties
  • These anti-inflammatory properties cure asthma, arthritis, and migraine
  • The flavour is strong as compared to turmeric so a little amount can be added
  • The texture and colour is similar to turmeric
  • 1 tsp. Of turmeric is equal to ½ tsp. mustard
  • It is used in sauces, Indian and Mediterranean dishes

9. Paprika

  • It is a famous spice present in your kitchen cabinet
  • In the old days, the powdered form of Capsicum annum is used to make this spice
  • It possesses medicinal value
  • Paprika is used as a dye
  • It has three main flavours hot, sweet, and smoked
  • Paprika gives an earthy aroma
  • It is used in soups, sauces, poultry, savoury dishes, and marinades
  • Use this spice as a substitute for turmeric depending on your choice

10. Galangal powder

  • This powder has a piney sharp flavour
  • Galangal powder is an addition to Indian recipes
  • Colour might not be added to the dish. However, the taste is enhanced by it
  • If want a different taste and don’t want to add turmeric then this is a great alternative
  • It has an overpowering quality so must be used sparingly

11. Dried and fresh turmeric

  • Dry turmeric can be used in place of a fresh one
  • The fresh one is hardly beaten for its flavour despite all the spices and herbs
  • For every teaspoon of ground turmeric, ½ inch piece of fresh turmeric can be used


Health Benefits of turmeric

The most well-known benefits of turmeric are mentioned below.

  1. Joint pain reduction
  2. Inflammation and arthritis have been reduced.
  3. Heat burn and acid reflux is improved.
  4. Digestive inflammation like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Colitis is improved.
  5. Low cholesterol level

Can I take turmeric daily?

Yes, you can consume turmeric daily, and you can observe health benefits visibly with a daily intake.

How much turmeric per day?

The studies revealed that the intake of turmeric is 500 mg – 2000 mg per day, depending on your health. The amount can be increased slowly per day.


Turmeric is an important ingredient in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Asian cuisine. There are various reasons to substitute turmeric like inability to source any, food allergies, or maybe you don’t like the taste. The reason can be many, but you have to decide either the substitution is important or not.

The most important characteristic of turmeric is its colour so check the colour of the closest option present in your kitchen.


1. Does turmeric go in Curry?

The turmeric will add deep golden colour to the curry. This helps to bring flavour to any stew or curry. When the vegetables are sautéed, 1 t.sp. of turmeric can be added. 2.


2. What are the negative effects of turmeric?

The negative effects are

  • Constipation
  • Distension
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach ache
  • Yellow stool
  • Gastroesophageal reflux

3. Is turmeric bad for kidneys?

Herbs like turmeric, garlic, and cinnamon if consuming in normal amounts are healthy. But in a higher amount,  it can change the enzymes of the liver, change kidney function, and thinning of the blood.

4. Can turmeric burn belly fat?

Curcumin, in reality, suppresses fat tissue growth. It reduces the sugar level with further prevention of insulin resistance