Substitutions for Turmeric

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If you’re looking for suitable substitutions for turmeric root or ground turmeric in your cooking and baking recipes, then you came to the right place! Let’s take a closer look at this unique, vibrant orange-yellow spice.

a wooden spoon filled with vibrant ground turmeric powder
Vibrant Ground Turmeric Powder

Cooking amazing food requires amazing and flavorful herbs and spices. Sometimes we find ourselves out of something we need and in need of a substitution. Turmeric is a common spice that often needs an alternative in home kitchens because of how few common recipes use it. If you do not have turmeric on hand from your regular cooking there are a few great substitution options.

turmeric root and ground turmeric

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a flowering plant in the ginger family. Its rhizomes are used to make the spice we know as turmeric. Many people are surprised the first time turmeric comes up in a recipe. This ingredient is not very common but can be a great beneficial ingredient to keep on hand and work into your meals as often as possible. Turmeric can add a hint of spice, a deep aroma, and yellow color to your recipe.

a wooden bowl filled with ground turmeric powder

Substitutions for Turmeric

Curry Powder

a bowl of curry powder as a turmeric substitute
Curry Powder

Curry powder is made with a mix of spices. These spices include a lot of chili and a good dose of turmeric. This is a great way to help add the undertones of turmeric to your dishes when you do not have it on hand. Because of the large amount of chili in curry powder you will find that this will leave your recipe spicier than the original recipe, so start with half and add until you get the desired effect.

Ground Black Pepper

a pepper grinder filled with black peppercorns ground as a turmeric alternative
Ground Black Pepper

While ground pepper is lacking in the flavor, aroma, and color that turmeric has to offer, it does add a hint of spice and goes well with turmeric due to the way the flavors blend (you can easily add turmeric to your pepper shaker!). In recipes that use only a small amount of turmeric, and do not use it for the aroma and color, you can use a bit of black pepper to replace the bite of turmeric.

Yellow Mustard Seed

a silve spoon filled with yellow mustard seeds as a turmeric substitute
Yellow Mustard Seeds

Adding crushed yellow mustard seed in place of turmeric is a great way to get a burst of flavor along with the deep yellow color you expect from turmeric. For this, you will reduce the amount you are using to avoid overdoing it and leading to altering the flavor of the dish in an unpleasant way. Start by substituting 1/2 the amount of turmeric.

Paprika and Mace

Paprika is a popular substitute for turmeric in recipes. This spice can help add flavor to a dish while adding a deep color addition as well. For the best flavor replacement for turmeric, you need to add mace. This peppery spice combined with smoked paprika makes a great flavor enhancing combination as a substitute for turmeric.


ginger root, ginger leaves and ginger powder as a substitute for turmeric root and ground turmeric
Ground Ginger and Ginger Root

Ginger and turmeric are part of the same family and are even grown the same way. Ginger has a spicy sweet flavor while turmeric has a spicy earth flavor. Ginger makes a great substitution for turmeric in a 1 to 1 ratio, but you want to be mindful that this does not have the same bright color so your dishes may look a bit different.


cumin seeds and ground cumin as a turmeric alternative
Cumin Seeds and Ground Cumin

Cumin and turmeric have a similar flavor and can be swapped in a 1 to 1 ratio. When using cumin as as substitution for turmeric you will notice that the yellow color will be missing so you should expect your dish to look different. But, it will still be flavorful!

Turmeric Recipes You Might Enjoy

Golden Turmeric Tahini Sauce

Spicy Golden Milk

Golden Sauerkraut

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