5 Best Substitute for Turmeric – For Flavor & Color

by Daisy Dao

One of the highly unique spice that most of the recipes use is turmeric. It is so unique and hard to find that you might not even have it in your pantry at the moment. And because of its elusiveness or because of people not knowing about the benefits of turmeric, many opts for a substitute for turmeric.

Nevertheless, only a handful of spices out there can substitute the flavor profile that turmeric offers. And there are only a few of them available that have a similar color as turmeric. However, we are going to go through all of the alternative spices that can replace turmeric for making different types of dishes and curries.

5 Best Substitute for Turmeric – For Flavor & Color
5 Best Substitute for Turmeric – For Flavor & Color

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Before we go on talking about the substitutes for turmeric, let us give you an idea about turmeric. There are several benefits of turmeric, especially health benefits. This spice is mostly known for the healing properties or anti-inflammatory properties that it has. In fact, it has proven to be highly efficient in anti-inflammatory medicines.

No matter how hard you look for an alternative to turmeric, you will have a hard time trying to find something that matches the high amount of antioxidants that turmeric has. The curcumin that is extracted from the turmeric plant has proven to be highly effective as an herbal supplement in many scientific recent posts.

Alongside that, turmeric has proven worthy results in weight loss as well. Many even use fresh turmeric to make weight loss milkshakes. Also, concentrated turmeric powder is used in different types of medicines. It can prevent Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart diseases.

Best Turmeric Substitutes

Now that you have a proper idea about turmeric and the benefits of turmeric, let us move on to the topic that brought you here in the first place, which is turmeric substitutes.

Flavor Substitutes

You might be looking for a turmeric alternative for the flavor profile only. Well, it is possible to get the unique flavor of turmeric out of a substitute. And they are as follows:

Curry Powder

There is a high chance that you might think about India whenever you hear the word “powder curry.” Well, even though curries have turmeric powder, it did not originate in that region. British were the ones who are the pioneer of this powder curry.

Curry Powder
Curry Powder

They were amazed by the unique flavor that curries had in that region and wanted to replicate the flavor notes with a spice or a blend of spices. For that reason, they came up with a unique blend of ingredients and made it into a powder structure. And the substitutes that they have utilized did not only make them replicate the yellow color but also allowed them to get the same exact taste in the dishes.

That being said, because of how accessible curry powder is, it is considered to be the best substitute for turmeric.


Even though turmeric is nowhere near the ginger family in any way, it can be a great turmeric substitute. In fact, it is one of the key ingredients that many curry powder brands use to manufacture their curry powder. Other than the use of this ingredient for curry powder, ginger is considered to be the cousin of turmeric for the shape that this one has.


You might have even felt the need to use ginger for its aroma. Also, you need to use this ingredient to get certain flavors in recipes. However, this thing is not known for having the vibrant color that turmeric has. Nothing can beat the yellow color that the ground turmeric can bring.

Instead, ginger is a good substitute for turmeric for the marination capability that it has. You can use ginger powder to marinate vegetables, different dishes, to bring a distinct flavor to different recipes. Also, you can use ginger with different ingredients to make unique dishes.

Nevertheless, even though ginger can not bring the color of turmeric, it is a good option if you were looking for turmeric substitute options.


Among all of the turmeric substitute options, one of the spices that are probably on your shelf at this moment is cumin. It was first brought out by the European colonies. And they used cumin for the health benefits that it had to offer.


Besides the health benefits, cumin powder is widely used to bring out an exquisite flavor in a recipe. It is also used with different spices to add a unique taste to an item. The flavors that all of the spice mixed with cumin brings to a dish can truly amaze you. You can even use the powder form of it to add an Asian flavor to your rice dishes.

Apart from the taste that cumin can bring in a dish, the seeds along with mustard seeds can also be used in the vegetable and chicken broth. You can even use smoked paprika along with that. Also, you can mix it with mustard powder to get the flavor that turmeric can bring. Overall, this ingredient is a good substitute if you can not find any other turmeric substitute option.

Turmeric Substitute For Color

The orange color that you find in a platter when you use turmeric is not from fresh turmeric. Instead, the fresh turmeric is dried to a solid form to bring out that special color. That being said, you can use this dried form if you were looking for turmeric substitute options for color:


Among all of the turmeric substitute options, saffron is the first one that you would want to opt for if you are looking to give color to a certain recipe. Saffron is an ingredient that is well known for its gorgeous red color. You can also use the powder form of saffron to replace turmeric powder in a dish. But it will only act as a color agent, not as flavour agent.


Alongside that, this is one of the substitutes for turmeric that you can use to obtain health benefits as well. Also, you will be able to use saffron to bring out a unique red color in a platter. The red color that it can bring out is quite vibrant, which can add a unique twist to the dish that you are planning to make.

Annatto Seeds

Annatto seed is generally considered to be a cheaper alternative to saffron. So if you were looking forward to adding saffron to a recipe, you could switch it up with annatto seed.

Annatto Seeds
Annatto Seeds

They come from achiote trees, and this ingredient has the same color profile as saffron. However, this spice does not really have any special flavors to it. Nevertheless, you can use it as a substitute in your recipe if you are looking for saffron color in any dish.


What can I use as a substitute for turmeric?

For flavor, you can use ginger, mustard seed, cumin, and curry powder. And for color, you can use saffron and annatto seed.

Can I use curry powder instead of turmeric

Yes, you can use curry powder as a substitute for it for making a certain dish.

Can I substitute turmeric for cumin?

Even though the flavor profile of these two ingredients does not match completely, you can use one as a substitute for the other for at least a hint of turmeric in your recipe.

Can I use turmeric instead of paprika?

It is possible to substitute paprika with it. However, you will get a different taste in your dish.

Final Words

Now that you know about all of the ingredients that you can use as a substitute for turmeric. Hopefully, you will not have any trouble in completing any certain recipe. That being said, to conclude, we wish you good luck and hope that the ingredient that you choose as an alternative allows you to retain the taste and color of the dish.

About Daisy Dao

Daisy grew up on the beautiful Honolulu island where she often found herself spending most of her day enjoying the ocean scent in sea waves. As such, Daisy came to appreciate the art of cooking seafood. She has experimented with baking, roasting, broiling, poaching, grilling (and every other cooking technique you can think of); and with all kinds of spices too. Now she is ready to present her experience: the art of cooking healthy food without any pre-packaged ingredients; food product recommendations for people who need a bit more guidance on what goes into their bodies; how to maintain an active lifestyle without having to give up your favorite foods!

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