Turmeric is a spice cherished for its versatility and beautiful yellowish color. It has a delicious, kind of spicy, earthy taste and aroma that is hard to match. Plus, it also provides many health benefits!
In short, turmeric is the perfect ingredient to add flavor and color to a wide variety of dishes, including soups, rice, stews, and beverages— just to mention a few. Yet, if you don’t have it in your pantry, there are several alternatives you might use instead.
So, in this post, you will find the 5 best substitutes for turmeric, along with some tips to use each.
Note that these options will work differently depending on the use of turmeric in the original recipe. For example, if it is only for coloring, choose an ingredient that can do the job without affecting the flavor so much.
That said, let’s get into our top 5 substitutes for turmeric:
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Saffron is a good substitute for turmeric, as it provides the same yellow-orange color with no need to use it in high amounts. As for the flavor, it is a bit hard to describe. It is sweet and bitter, aromatic, but still subtle enough that you don’t notice much difference from turmeric.
Overall, saffron can do the trick very well for most recipes, mainly rice dishes, casseroles, and stews. However, it is a pretty expensive spice, so you may want to consider other options.
Ground ginger can substitute turmeric if you want a little extra flavor. It is best suited for hot drinks, but you can use it in some stews and marinades as well. Nevertheless, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Ginger belongs to the same family as turmeric; thus, they share some similarities. Both have several nutrients and medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory effects. Even so, ginger has a sharper, spicier flavor, so you should use it sparingly— try adding half the amount required in the original recipe, tasting as you go.
Besides, although it adds a delicious taste to the food, ground ginger doesn’t provide the same vibrant color as turmeric. So, if your main goal is to color a dish, you should use another option.
If you are looking for a substitute that can mimic both the color and flavor of turmeric, this might be your winner. Although it is a bit more potent, dry mustard (or ground mustard) tastes quite similar and gives a nice color to the dish. It is perfect for soups, sauces, stews, and vinaigrettes.
Annatto is a versatile, natural food coloring and condiment with a slightly peppery taste. It gives a rich yellowish-orange color that is very similar to turmeric. Plus, it is full of antioxidants and other health benefits!
This is a fitting substitute for turmeric in almost any recipe you can think of: rice dishes, baked goods, sauces, marinades, and more. That aside, the flavor is quite different, but it is still mild and won’t make a significant change. Likewise, if you use other spices and condiments for more flavoring, you probably won’t notice the difference.
Smoked paprika and mace
Smoked paprika and mace make an ideal combination to replace the taste and color of turmeric. The smokiness and reddish color of paprika blend very well with the sweet spiciness of mace. They are great for coloring and flavoring savory dishes, like sauces, soups, marinades, stews, and even rice dishes.
Is curry powder the same as turmeric?
Some people might think that curry powder can replace turmeric because of its beautiful color and spicy taste. But, in reality, it is not a good option.
Curry powder is a mix of many spices, including turmeric. However, that doesn’t make it a good substitute. Since curry has more ingredients, it has a much stronger flavor that can drastically change the taste of your recipe.
Is ground cumin the same as turmeric?
When used sparingly, cumin can be a good substitute for turmeric in terms of flavor. Yet, when it comes to color, cumin is not a great alternative, as it does not add any special tint to the food. What’s more, it is merely suitable for savory dishes, so it is not as versatile as other substitutes.
While it can be hard to replace turmeric in a dish, these five alternatives can fit the bill pretty well— you only need to know how and when to use each. Don’t forget that the most reliable way to know which one is the best is to try them all, so get cooking!
Owner and Food blogger on The Cookware Geek. She loves cooking, baking, traveling, playing with the cats, and knitting. She believes that eating delicious meals doesn’t require a culinary degree or a Michelin-star chef in your kitchen.