Home Articles 13 Substitutes for Turmeric (Best Alternatives for Cooking)

13 Substitutes for Turmeric (Best Alternatives for Cooking)

Do you love the flavors of Indian cuisine, but find that you don’t have quite enough turmeric in your pantry? Never fear! 

These substitutes for turmeric work well in a pinch!

Turmeric Powder in a Wooden Spoon

Turmeric has become an almost indispensable ingredient in certain dishes.

But there are a few hard-working alternatives that can take its place. 

From smoked paprika to galangal root powder, with a few clever substitutions here and there, you won’t even miss the turmeric. 

So, get creative and surprise yourself with a new twist on the classic flavor combination you know and love!

What Is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a powerful yellow powder that has earned itself the nickname “magic spice” for its wide array of health benefits. 

This wonderful cooking ingredient has a signature earthy and peppery taste.

It’s packed with potent antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. 

What’s more, its popularity as an herbal remedy has been around for centuries, mainly in India and Southeast Asia.

Fresh Turmeric vs. Ground Turmeric

Turmeric has long been revered for its powerful antioxidants, as well as a myriad of other beneficial properties. 

If you want to use this India-sourced spice in recipes, there are two options: fresh and ground. 

Fresh turmeric is an organic root that looks like ginger but packs more of a punch.

Its vibrant orange hue makes it easy to spot among other root veggies. 

Ground turmeric takes a more humble approach and can be found at most markets already powdered down.

Fresh turmeric can last you only a couple of weeks, while ground turmeric has a much longer shelf life, over 2 years.

Turmeric Paste in a Clay Bowl

1. Turmeric Paste

Not only is turmeric paste the simpler alternative to its powered counterpart, but its flavor holds up even better in recipes. 

The convenience of having pre-mixed turmeric paste makes adding an extra punch to any dish a breeze.

Just spoon as much or as little as you need to achieve just the right color and taste.

And you can get creative, too, with the option of spicing it up with garlic and freshly squeezed lime juice.

You’ll never look at food the same way again!

Annatto Seeds in a Wooden Bowl

2. Annatto Seeds

Annatto seeds are a wonderful alternative for those looking to satisfy their taste for turmeric when you don’t have it around the house. 

They have a milder taste and provide many of the same health benefits that turmeric is known and loved for. 

And here’s the best part, they can also be used as a vivid culinary coloring agent.

They make dishes more inviting even before people have had the chance to take their first bite! 

Heap of Curry Powder in a Wooden Saucer

3. Curry Powder

Curry powder is a natural-born stand-in for turmeric. 

With turmeric as one of its main ingredients, you can get the same flavor in much less time and hassle! 

Curry powder is also more versatile than turmeric.

It adds a punch of flavor to anything from soups and stews to roasted vegetables. 

So if you’re in a pinch for turmeric but want all the deliciousness, reach for curry powder instead.

Dry Mustard in a Wooden Bowl

4. Dry Mustard

If you’re ever in a pinch there’s no need to lament over your options, dry mustard is a great replacement! 

It adds a satisfying spiciness and creaminess when added to dishes. 

It doesn’t have the same bright yellow hue as its predecessor.

But it will do an admirable job fulfilling other roles in any dish that calls for turmeric. 

So fret not, simply look to dry mustard as a fun and delicious solution.

Galangal Powder in a Wooden Bowl

5. Galangal Powder

Wait, what is galangal powder?

Well, it’s made from a root that looks a lot like ginger. It has a milder flavor than turmeric and imparts more complex aromas when cooked.

It also possesses tons of vitamins and minerals that have been known to increase immune health.

Not only does galangal powder make a great substitute for turmeric, but it also offers an entire host of new flavors.

It can help add an exciting twist to your favorite dishes! 

Garam Masala in a White Ceramic Bowl

6. Garam Masala

A bit of garam masala can provide a complex flavor profile that will spice up your kitchen. 

But what is garam masala? Well, it’s a spice blend that contains many more spices than just turmeric.

As a result, it has the potential to deepen flavors and elevate a dish in ways that turmeric simply can’t.

Think unique and luscious curries, fragrant sides, and tantalizing marinades. 

Heap of Ground Cumin in a Wooden Spoon

7. Ground Cumin

If you’re in a pinch and don’t have the turmeric you need for your recipe, fear not.

Ground cumin is here to save the day. 

Since they both originate from a similar plant, they have similarities in taste.

Ground cumin makes a great substitute ingredient. 

Best of all, you won’t have to sacrifice flavor or texture.

You might even find yourself preferring its warm but slightly smoky taste compared to that of turmeric. 

Ground Ginger in a Wooden Bowl with Rustic Background

8. Ground Ginger

Ground ginger can certainly be used as an alternative to the golden-hued spice. 

In addition to having its own unique flavor, it has anti-inflammatory properties similar to those of turmeric, making it a great solution in a pinch. 

So don’t let your meal recipes get the best of you.

Try substituting ground ginger in place of turmeric every once in a while. 

The vibrant flavor will surprise and delight your tastebuds.

Mace + Smoked Paprika in White Bowls

9. Mace + Smoked Paprika

This winning combination of savory flavors can be a great substitute for turmeric.

It’s perfect if you can’t find any in the store or just want to try something new. 

The woodsy flavor of mace, combined with the smokiness of paprika, brings a delicious depth that won’t disappoint.

Plus, you get the added bonus of a hint of acidity from the paprika.

Try this combination in future dishes for some exciting flavor exploration.

Paprika in a Wooden Bowl

10. Paprika

If you’re looking for a flavorful lightweight to take the place of heavy-hitter turmeric, then look no further than paprika! 

It not only has a similar flavor profile as turmeric but provides an eye-catching, red-orange hue to your meals on top of that. 

Plus, it’s much easier to find in most spice racks.

For the cooks looking for an alternative to full-bodied turmeric without compromising flavor or color, paprika has your back!

Saffron in a Wooden Bowl with Flower

11. Saffron

While they may look different and have their own distinct flavor profiles, saffron and turmeric are surprisingly similar in the kitchen. 

Both spices boast health benefits such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

They can infuse dishes with a warm, earthy taste. 

Plus, saffron is more accessible than ever these days and can be found in most grocery stores or online.

Now, that’s a spice worth swapping for turmeric!

Safflower on a Wooden Table

12. Safflower

Packing almost double the amount of antioxidants than turmeric, safflower brings a host of benefits. 

This cheerful spice can reduce cardiovascular problems, prevent autoimmune disorders, control blood sugar levels, and boost your immune system.

A Bowl of Yellow Mustard Seeds on a 
Wooden Table

13. Yellow Mustard Seeds

Yellow mustard seeds are a great alternative to turmeric if you’re looking to give your meals a little more oomph. 

Not only are they extremely flavorful, but they also have their own set of medicinal benefits and can be used to naturally balance out many digestive issues. 

Plus, with a vibrant yellow hue, they’re easy to incorporate into dishes without changing the appearance much.

13 Substitutes for Turmeric (Best Alternatives for Cooking)

If you don’t have the right spice on hand, try these substitutes for turmeric. From curry powder to cumin to ginger, all of these alternatives work well in cooking.


  • Turmeric Paste

  • Annatto Seeds

  • Curry Powder

  • Dry Mustard

  • Galangal Powder

  • Garam Masala

  • Ground Cumin

  • Ground Ginger

  • Mace + Smoked Paprika

  • Paprika

  • Saffron

  • Safflower

  • Yellow Mustard Seeds


  • Select your favorite turmeric substitute.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep a delicious recipe in 30 minutes or less!
Substitutes For Turmeric Powder

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
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 :)

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