Turmeric Substitute

by Caroline Sciberras
0 comment 5 minutes read

Each spice has a unique taste. That’s why, whenever possible, it’s best to use the spice recommended in the recipe to achieve a similar result. However, if you don’t have turmeric on hand, other spices can be substituted to reproduce similar flavors. So find out what is a turmeric substitute? And how to choose the substitute ingredient that will be closest to your initial dish to avoid distorting it?

Teaspoons with Spices

TOPICS COVERED

1CURRY
2SAFFRON
3SWEET PAPRIKA
4GINGER
5MUSTARD POWDER
6RAS EL HANOUT
7CUMIN
8ANNATO

WHAT IS TURMERIC?

Turmeric , a spice originally from the Indies, has been known since ancient times above all for its anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and antioxidant properties , but it is also used in cooking especially in Indian cuisine. Turmeric has a very delicate flavor that enriches many dishes with taste and gives them color.

There are many uses of Turmeric in the kitchen , one of the simplest is to use in drinks, add it to soups, combined with vegetables it makes the dish delicious; it is also an excellent condiment for risotto, it perfectly replaces saffron, its delicate flavor goes particularly well with basmati rice; used to flavor stuffed vegetables, it will give an extra touch to your stuffing.

8 BEST SUBSTITUTES FOR TURMERIC

1. CURRY


Many people don’t realize that curry powder is a compound of numerous herbs and spices, including turmeric. In fact, turmeric is generally the main ingredient to give curry this beautiful yellow tint. As a result, if you’re missing turmeric as a base ingredient in a recipe, curry powder can provide not only the color and spice to a dish, but some of the same health benefits as well.

Curry powder also contains cumin and chili powder and is therefore higher in capsaicin, but lower in curcumin, manganese and iron, some of turmeric powder’s most valuable components.

Curry can also very well replace turmeric although its flavors will be more aromatic and more powerful . In this case, it is recommended to put half the intended amount of turmeric, then adjust later.

Curry is ideal for replacing turmeric if you cook typical Indian dishes (Bir Curry, Dahl, Aloo Bombay, Tikka Massala, Pakoras etc) as these two spices are among the most used in Indian cuisine and the dish will therefore not be denatured at all. If you plan to cook turmeric chicken, kefir, juice, soup or rice, curry will also do the job very well.

Also note that since curry is a blend of different spices, I suggest to use mild curry so that the result is not very spicy.

2. SAFFRON


Despite being the most expensive spice in the world, some people still reach for saffron if they want to replace turmeric in some recipes. The great similarity between saffron and turmeric is the color the spice will provide to any given dish, while the active ingredients and health effects are markedly different.

The taste of saffron is unique even if it has some notes similar to those of turmeric. Its fragrant, pleasant and slightly sweet scent reminiscent of turmeric . On the other hand, it has slightly bitter and pungent flavors with metallic notes on the finish that stand out from those of turmeric. However, note that they are not very pronounced and remain relatively soft on the palate. That’s why saffron can still be used to replace it.

Since its flavor is more complex and powerful than turmeric, it is recommended to add half, then adjust according to your taste. If you intend to prepare rice, a juice, an infusion, poultry, shellfish or white fish with turmeric, saffron can very well replace turmeric, obviously noting that the final taste will not be identical.

3. SWEET PAPRIKA


Sweet paprika belongs to the pepper family. Contrary to what one might think, it’s not pungent, and its flavors are quite warm, smooth, and slightly sweet . They are therefore similar to those of turmeric. That’s why sweet paprika is an ideal substitute for turmeric . It is however slightly spicier and more bitter than turmeric.

Additionally, its red-orange color can pleasantly replace the yellow-orange color of turmeric. Use roughly the same measure of turmeric in your dishes. Paprika can be placed in soup, mashed potatoes, or grilled vegetables originally intended to be cooked with turmeric.

4. GINGER


This popular spice is often used as a substitute for turmeric because it belongs to the same family, Zingiberaceae, and has a number of overlapping properties, such as potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. That said, ginger is typically used in root form, while turmeric is typically found in a powder. Additionally, their health benefits differ greatly, with ginger being better for gastrointestinal and inflammatory conditions and turmeric excellent for cancer prevention, weight loss, and boosting heart health.

5. MUSTARD POWDER


This is another substitute for turmeric, which can partially mimic turmeric’s mild flavor, and also duplicate the yellowish color that makes this spice so recognizable. If you’re cooking a curry or other traditional dish, the mustard powder will add a distinctive flavor to your dish.

6. RAS EL HANOUT


Ras el-hanout can also replace turmeric . However, note that it will be more aromatic , because it is a blend of several spices. The mixture will therefore impart slightly pungent and acidic notes that turmeric does not have. However, they remain subtle and finally its slightly sweet notes are reminiscent of turmeric. 

This spice is particularly used in North African cuisine where it is used to flavor tagine, couscous, shakshouka and vegetable dishes.  It goes easily in dishes with sauce, dishes based on rice, vegetables, white fish and shellfish, but also in desserts. If you want to prepare a turmeric soup with sweet vegetables such as carrots, turnips, squash or fennel, Ras el-hanout is the ideal spice to replace turmeric.

Since its taste can be surprising, it’s best to have a light hand on dosing, then adjust afterward.

7. CUMIN


This spice has a much stronger flavor than turmeric and can be overwhelming for a dish when used in the same concentrations. However, they are both used in a wide variety of curry dishes and can be used to substitute for each other, although it will change the desired flavour.

8. ANNATO


Annatto carries the same bright coloring as turmeric, as well as some of the health effects and active ingredients. It likewise has a mild flavor and is often used as a substitute for color.


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