Home Articles 10 Substitutes for Cumin (Best Replacements)

10 Substitutes for Cumin (Best Replacements)

Try these substitutes for cumin when you don’t have any on hand!

When you’re in a pinch and suddenly realize that your dish is missing that essential cumin spice, fear not.

Want to save this blog post? Enter your email below and we'll send the article straight to your inbox!

There are quite a few ingredients out there as potential, tasty substitutes. 

Ground and Whole Cumin in Wooden Spoon

Cumin can bring warmth and smokiness to your dishes.

And the good news is there are plenty of fun alternatives to ensure your meal will still be mouthwatering. 

Sometimes all it takes is a simple switch of ingredients to make a seemingly “meh” dish instantly amazing!

1. Caraway Seeds

Caraway Seeds in a Wooden Spoon

If you find yourself scouring the spice cupboard, looking for cumin, and coming up empty-handed, all hope is not lost. 

Caraway seeds are an excellent substitute!

In fact, caraway and cumin have similar flavor profiles, making them interchangeable in many recipes. 

The taste of caraway will have a more pronounced sharpness, which can add a welcome complexity to your dishes. 

So the next time you don’t have any cumin on hand, just pluck some caraway from your pantry shelf. You won’t miss a beat!

Use half a teaspoon of caraway seeds for every teaspoon of cumin when substituting.

2. Coriander

Fresh Coriander on a Wooden Table

If you can’t find cumin in your spice cabinet, no need to despair! Coriander is the perfect substitute. 

Not only does it have a milder and slightly sweeter flavor than cumin, but it’s also less bitter.

Want to save this blog post? Enter your email below and we'll send the article straight to your inbox!

So if you’re looking for a subtle hint of spiciness without the “punch,” then coriander is just the thing for you! 

Best of all, it goes well with a variety of dishes from Mexican and Indian cuisines to salads and tofu scrambles.

So the next time you don’t have cumin, don’t sweat it. Just grab some coriander instead.

Use half a teaspoon of coriander for every teaspoon of cumin when substituting, to avoid overpowering the dish.

3. Fennel Seeds

Fennel Seeds in a Wooden Bowl

Fennel seed is a great substitute when you don’t have cumin on hand.

With its slightly sweet licorice-like flavor, you can still make all kinds of tasty dishes without feeling like you’re missing out. 

Fennel is also packed with nutrition, containing added benefits such as vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese. 

If you’re getting tired of tasting the same old herb in your food, switch it up and try fennel instead.

There’s no doubt that this light yet flavorful seasoning will give your meals the delicious boost they deserve. Enjoy!

Use half a teaspoon of fennel seeds for every teaspoon of cumin when substituting, and add more if necessary.

4. Taco Seasoning

Taco Seasoning in a Bowl

When you’re in the midst of making a delicious chili or burrito bowl and realize you don’t have cumin, don’t panic! 

Taco seasoning is an excellent substitute for cumin in dishes.

It’s also a great starter spice for those who aren’t yet confident in their own blending skills. 

With its hint of chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and oregano, taco seasoning packs a flavor punch.

It also won’t overpower your dish as cumin does. 

Don’t shy away from trying out taco seasoning. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting taco seasoning for cumin.

5. Cayenne Pepper + Ground Coriander

Cayenne Pepper + Ground Coriander Mixed in a White Bowl

Cayenne pepper and ground coriander make an ideal mix for any dish that calls for cumin. 

Though the heat of cayenne pepper is unmistakable, ground coriander adds balance and enhances other flavors. 

In fact, many adventurous chefs leave out traditional cumin altogether and rely on this fantastic flavor combination instead. 

So when you find yourself facing a void where your usual cumin should be, get creative with the spices you do have.

You might just create something even better than before!

Use half a teaspoon of coriander for every teaspoon of cumin when substituting to avoid overpowering the dish and a pinch of cayenne.

6. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle Powder in a Bowl

Chipotle powder is an amazing stand-in for cumin.

This smoky seasoning packs a punch that ordinary cumin doesn’t have, so thankfully you can use it when there’s no cumin on hand! 

It infuses food with rich flavor as well as color.

The subtle smoked pepper gives a huge variety of dishes zesty zing without overpowering them. 

Plus, blending in some chipotle powder can take away the need for adding salt, since this powder lends enough seasoning all on its own! 

Even when you do have cumin available, chipotle makes a great addition that turns boring meals into something more extraordinary!

Use half a teaspoon of chipotle powder for every teaspoon of cumin when substituting, and adjust if needed.

7. Chili Powder

Chili Powder in a Saucer

Chili powder is a great stand-in for when you find yourself without cumin. 

It certainly isn’t a perfect replacement.

But it does an admirable job of providing that earthy flavor we all love so much and giving your meal that extra zing. 

Not to mention, chili powder has a kick to it.

There’s just enough heat to make sure your guests don’t forget about the spice element on their plate. 

When you’re in a pinch and all you can find is chili powder, the good news is that the flavor won’t be far off.

Use half a teaspoon of chili powder for every teaspoon of cumin.

8. Curry Powder

Chili Powder in a Wooden Bowl with Label

Curry powder is a great substitute for when you don’t have cumin.

It combines the savory notes of turmeric, cardamom, and coriander with other spices like ginger, garlic, and red pepper. 

The variety of flavors will keep your dishes fresh and flavorful without overwhelming the taste buds. 

Add some warmth with a teaspoon of mustard seeds or chili flakes.

Or, use it as a rub before roasting vegetables for an extra boost of flavor. 

Spice up your meals with curries instead of cumin for a delicious evening meal.

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting curry powder for cumin.

9. Paprika

Paprika Powder in a Bowl

Paprika is the perfect pinch of glamour you need in your meals when you don’t have any cumin! 

Paprika is a luxurious red that instantly adds color and vibrancy.

Its sweet and mild spice will inject a new flavor into your kitchen repertoire. 

It’s surprisingly complex, too. The spectrum ranges from a boisterous smokiness all the way to a subtle sweetness.

It allows you to select the right intensity for each one of your dishes. 

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting paprika for cumin.

10. Star Anise

Star Anise in a Rustic Cloth

When the recipe calls for cumin, few spices can compete with its unique flavor profile. 

But have you ever been in a pinch, realizing you don’t have that special pinch of cumin for your perfect dish?

Not to worry! Star anise makes for an excellent substitute. 

This powerful spice packs quite a punch, and its savory notes enhance various dishes from Asian to Mexican cuisine. 

Using star anise as a substitute will add a new twist and flavor profile to your meal.

Plus, it saves you the hassle of having to race out (or wait for delivery) just to get that one missing ingredient! 

If you want that perfect dinner without any added stress or panic mode, reach for star anise instead of plain, old cumin.

Use half a teaspoon of star anise powder or 2-3 pods for every teaspoon of cumin.

10 Substitutes for Cumin (Best Replacements)

These substitutes for cumin give recipes a similar flavor! From coriander to taco seasoning to chili powder, each of these replacements packs a punch.


  • Caraway Seeds

  • Coriander

  • Fennel Seeds

  • Taco Seasoning

  • Cayenne Pepper + Ground Coriander

  • Chipotle Powder

  • Chili Powder

  • Curry Powder

  • Paprika

  • Star Anise


  • Choose your favorite cumin substitute.
  • Use in all your favorite baking recipes (from cookies and cakes to breads!)
Substitutes for Cumin

Did you like the recipe?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


Share on social media:

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?


Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

Leave a Comment