Turmeric is a superfood that has anti-inflammatory properties along with a mellow flavor. But what happens if you don’t have turmeric on hand? This post shares the best turmeric substitutes.

Spoonful of turmeric powder with turmeric root.

Overview of Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice with an earthy, slightly bitter taste. It is frequently used in Indian and Asian cuisine and is one of the main ingredients in curry powder. Turmeric is also used as a natural food coloring agent due to its bright yellow color.

In addition to its culinary uses, turmeric has been used for centuries in traditional medicine practices. Turmeric is now being studied for its potential health benefits.

Turmeric is available fresh or ground into a powder. Fresh turmeric root should be peeled before use. It can then be grated, sliced, or minced as desired.

Ground turmeric powder can be added to recipes as needed. I love using fresh or grown turmeric in my Turmeric Wellness Shot!

When storing fresh turmeric root, it should be wrapped tightly and refrigerated for up to a week. Ground turmeric powder can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to six months.

Best Turmeric Substitutes

Turmeric is a key ingredient in many Indian dishes, giving them their characteristic golden color.

However, it can be difficult to find in supermarkets, and it can also be an expensive spice. As a result, many people are looking for a good substitute that can provide the same flavor without breaking the bank.

annatto seeds in a bowl.
Annatto seeds.

1. Annatto seeds

Annatto seeds are an excellent stand-in for turmeric, as they have a similar earthy flavor with hints of nutmeg and red-orange color.

To use annatto seeds as a turmeric substitute, grind them in a mortar and pestle until they’re a fine powder. You can then add the powder to whatever dish you’re cooking.

When substituting annatto seeds for turmeric, use about half as much, as the seeds are more potent than the powder.

To substitute one teaspoon of ground turmeric, use a 1/2 teaspoon of annatto seeds.

Bowl of ginger powder with raw ginger root.
Ginger root.

2. Ginger powder

If you’re looking for a turmeric substitute that will give your dishes a similar flavor profile, then ginger powder is a good alternative.

While it doesn’t have the same earthy taste as turmeric, it does have a slightly spicy and floral flavor that pairs well with other spices like cinnamon and cardamom.

If you’re using ginger powder as a turmeric substitute, keep in mind that it is more potent than turmeric, so you’ll need to use less of it.

To substitute one teaspoon of ground turmeric, use 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger powder.

Raw turmeric root on wooden surface.
Turmeric root.

3. Raw turmeric root

Raw turmeric root can be used as a substitute for turmeric. It is slightly sweeter than turmeric powder and has a more subtle flavor. It can be used in much the same way as turmeric but is best used fresh. It’s probably the best substitute for dried turmeric because it has the same unique flavor.

To substitute one teaspoon of ground turmeric, use 1/2 teaspoon of raw grated turmeric root.

Scoop of yellow mustard seeds on wooden surface.
Mustard seeds.

4. Yellow mustard seeds or mustard powder

If you’re out of turmeric or looking for a milder alternative, yellow mustard powder or mustard seeds can be used as substitutes in many dishes. The seeds can be ground into a powder and used as a spice.

Mustard powder is often used as a turmeric substitute because of its similar color. However, the mustard powder does not have the same flavor profile as turmeric. Nonetheless, it is a good turmeric substitute in a pinch.

To substitute one teaspoon of ground turmeric, use 1/3 teaspoon of yellow mustard seed or mustard powder.

Bowl of garam masala with dried spices on wooden surface.
Garam masala.

5. Garam masala

This spice blend is typically made with cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, and pepper, all of which are readily available in most supermarkets.

While it doesn’t have the same vibrant color as turmeric, it can still add depth of flavor to a dish. In addition, garam masala has a similar flavor profile to turmeric, making it a perfect substitute in curries and other dishes.

To substitute one teaspoon of ground turmeric, use 1/4 teaspoon garam masala.

Scoopful of cumin seeds over bowl of caraway.
Cumin seeds.

6. Cumin seeds

Cumin seeds are a great option. Like turmeric, cumin is a member of the ginger family and has a warm, earthy flavor.

Cumin is often used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

You can also grind the cumin seeds to make a powder that can be added to recipes. Look for cumin seeds in most grocery stores.

To substitute one teaspoon of ground turmeric, use one teaspoon of cumin seeds.

Bowl of chili powder with fresh chilis on wooden surface.
Chili powder.

7. Chili powder

Chili powder is a spice made from dried chilies and is commonly used in Mexican and Indian cuisine. It can also be used to add color and flavor to dishes and has a similar earthy flavor to turmeric. It can also be used as a turmeric substitute in many recipes.

However, chili powder is more pungent than turmeric and should be used sparingly as a substitute.

To substitute one teaspoon of ground turmeric, use 1/2teaspoon of chili powder.

Bowl of galangal powder on wooden surface.
Galangal powder.

8. Galangal powder

Galangal powder is made from the root of the plant, which is similar in appearance to ginger. It has a slightly spicy flavor and can be added to curries, stews, and soups.

Galangal powder is an excellent turmeric substitute for those who are looking for a flavor similar to ginger. This powder comes from the root of the plant, which is similar to ginger. When used in cooking, it gives dishes a slightly spicy, peppery flavor with hints of citrus and can be added to curries, stews, and soups.

To substitute one teaspoon of ground turmeric, use 1/4 teaspoon of galangal powder.


In conclusion, these are some of the best substitutes for turmeric. When substituting spices, it is important to consider the flavor profile of the dish as well as the color. Some spices, like chili powder and mustard powder, can be substituted in equal amounts, while others, like cumin and garam masala, should be used in lesser amounts.

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