Turmeric, also known as Indian saffron, is a plant that belongs to the ginger family. Over the years, its rhizome is used as a spice in many Asian cuisines and medicine. The turmeric plant is cultivated in many parts of Southeast Asia. Mainly, turmeric is produced and exported from India.
As a culinary spice, turmeric has a more robust earthy, bitter and pungent flavor than ginger. Plus, it gives dishes a beautiful yellow to orange color. This spice is commonly added to recipes in powdered form. The powder is derived from grounded dried turmeric roots.
Turmeric powder is usually displayed in the international section of most grocery stores. Perfect for curries, mustards, rice, butter, cheeses, soups, baked goods, marinades, and drinks. Similar to many dried spices, its potency will last only up to six months.
Science revealed that turmeric contains medicinal compounds called curcumin. This active ingredient in turmeric possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and neurotrophic factors, all of which are beneficial to our health. Furthermore, curcumin is a substance that gives turmeric its yellow color.
Turmeric is a spice that’s beyond comparison to other spices because of its distinct flavor. If you can’t find turmeric powder in grocery stores, it becomes a challenge to find its alternative ingredient that can still give you almost the same taste, aroma, and color as it does in many dishes.
Remember. If your recipe can stand without the flavor and aroma of turmeric, you can simply skip it. Some dishes only require small amounts of this spice. Hence, it may not make a huge difference.
But don’t fret. In times you badly need the use of turmeric powder, there are a few conventional alternatives. Or maybe, you might want to avoid using turmeric powder because you either are allergic to it or just don’t like its taste.
Here, we will share a selection of turmeric powder substitutes that might work in your recipe. Bring out your creativity and make a tasty dish on a different level!
10 Best Substitutes for Turmeric Powder
1. Fresh turmeric root
You’ll never know you might actually find the real fresh turmeric root! Note that fresh turmeric is more aromatic, brighter in color, and less bitter in taste compared to the powdered form. You have to tone down the amount of fresh turmeric root that you are going to use for your recipe.
How to use the root? Just grate the fresh turmeric root before putting it in your stews, soups, rice, fruits, and vegetable blends, and scrambled or deviled eggs.
If you don’t want the grated fibrous root to disturb your dish’s texture, you can extract the juice from the grated root. Then, add it to your cooking.
2. Turmeric paste
Turmeric paste often refers to “golden paste” or turmeric powder paste. The paste is a mixture of ground turmeric, coconut oil or ghee, ground black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and water.
You can use turmeric paste if ever you are preparing smoothies, curries, or turmeric-infused milk. These can also be bought in a jar or tube over online purchases or at the grocery store.
Using this form of turmeric substitute, you need to increase the amount than what the recipe requires because the paste is not as potent as the raw and powdered form.
Besides that, you can make your own turmeric paste if you want your dish to combine different grounded spices.
3. Mustard powder
Mustard powder is reaped from finely ground mustard brown and white seeds, and saffron or turmeric. Use this ingredient if you are only after for its yellow color.
However, many culinarians don’t see this ingredient as a pleasant alternative for turmeric powder because of its off-putting odor and strong, pungent flavor.
4. Curry powder
Turmeric, ginger, and coriander are equal to curry powder. These are the main spices that make up the distinct flavor in curry dishes. Since curry powder has turmeric powder, you can try and use it as a substitute. Sometimes, people mistaken curry powder as turmeric powder since both almost look alike.
Curry powder may not be the best ingredient substitute for all turmeric dishes since it is combined with other kinds of spices. Expect that curry powder will make your dish taste differently stronger than turmeric powder.
Use curry powder as turmeric substitute to flavor your sauces, stews, soups, marinades, meat, and vegetable dishes. Other chefs would take to another level and use curry powder as a seasoning on hamburgers, potato salad, and scrambled eggs.
Take charge of your dish and determine and know when you use curry powder. See if it will make or break your dish.
Ginger and turmeric belong to the same family of rhizome-producing plants that offers similar benefits to health. Surely, ginger is one of the common ingredients that you’d store in your kitchen.
Ginger powder can take place for your missing turmeric powder. As a natural substitute for turmeric powder, ginger also has a spicy, sweet, and pungent flavor. Use ginger sparingly as it may sweeten the dish you’re cooking. Ginger can effectively give you the earthy and bitter taste that you’re looking for from turmeric powder.
When you’re making turmeric smoothie, ginger will work as well.
6. Cumin powder
Cumin is a past of the parsley family and a native to the Mediterranean region. In traditional medicine, cumin is used to promote proper digestion, prevent muscle spasms, and bloating.
Its seeds are commonly used as spices with an earthy, sweet and bitter flavor that is stronger than turmeric powder. Its powdered form is widely used in cooking curries, stews, and other dishes. Use only a small amount of this spice in replacement for turmeric.
Some people don’t like the taste and smell of turmeric powder. That’s why they sometimes prefer to use cumin powder instead.
Saffron is hailed as one of the expensive spices that serve as the best substitute for turmeric powder. At the same time, it offers almost the same health benefits.
In terms of taste and color, saffron is almost like turmeric powder that comes with a little floral-like aroma and sweet undertone.
However, the impractically high price of saffron makes some cooks back out from using it as a turmeric powder substitute. Saffron is expensive because it has to be harvested by hand for a short autumn season. As a labor-intensive crop, harvesters have to remove the three thread-like stigmas of each flower and dry it with many factors.
Try adding a little saffron to your slow-cooked vegetable dishes, rice, and soups.
8. Galangal powder
Galangal also belongs to the same plant family with ginger and turmeric. If you don’t like the taste of flavor characteristics of turmeric, try this spice alternative.
The powdered form of galangal root may not give color to your dish, but this spice possesses a strong pine-like flavor which gives a nice flavor to Indian curries. Just control the amount of galangal powder before adding to your dish.
9. Annatto seeds
Annatto seeds are harvested from the achiote trees. It carries the label of “the poor man’s saffron.”
Use annatto seeds to bring bright yellow-orange color to your casseroles, marinades, and rice dishes. Annato seeds have a sweet, nutty, and peppery taste, definitely different from turmeric powder.
10. Mace + Paprika powder
Paprika is a common seasoning in most kitchens of the West, especially in Hungary and Spain. This spice is a mixture of crimson-red dried sweet and hot peppers of the Capsicum annum family. Paprika powder serves as a seasoning ranging from mild and sweet to spicy or smoked. It is also to garnish and give color to many cuisines.
On the other hand, mace is the bright-red fleshy appendage of the nutmeg fruit. Mace tastes pungent and spicy.
The combination of pungent and spice mace, and the musk and a crimson tinge of paprika powder can serve as an alternative for turmeric powder in savory, meaty dishes, stews, sauces, and curries.
Bear in mind that nothing beats the vibrant color, and robust earthy, bitter and pungent flavor of turmeric.
If your recipe can stand without the need for turmeric, just simply skip it.
For whatever reasons that you have the need to replace turmeric powder, you will need to determine the best alternative that will go well with your dish. Explore the options we shared with you, and you might even discover more exciting flavors.
The best substitute ingredients closest to the flavor of turmeric powder are saffron and ginger.
In using fresh turmeric root as a substitute, minimize the amount of grated this root because it holds a more robust color and flavor than turmeric powder.
Also, note that turmeric paste is the lighter version of turmeric powder in terms of flavor and color. So, you have to increase the amount of turmeric paste to match the effect of turmeric powder.
Ginger and turmeric paste is a good turmeric powder alternative for blending fresh smoothies.
Use annatto seed or saffron if you want to mimic the color that turmeric can give for any dish.