6 Excellent Substitutes for Cumin in Your Recipes


Cumin, a nutty and lemony spice, is widely used in various cuisines, adding depth to dishes like Indian curries, chili, and black bean soup. However, if you find yourself running out of this delightful spice midway through cooking, there are suitable replacements available. Here are 6 excellent substitutes for cumin.

Ground Coriander

Cumin and coriander belong to the same plant family and share similarities in flavor. Coriander is milder but offers a similar earthy and lemony taste. To substitute, use half the amount of coriander as cumin in your recipe. For added heat, consider adding a dash of chili powder or cayenne.

Caraway Seeds

 Caraway seeds resemble cumin in shape and color, as they are botanical cousins. Although milder, caraway is an excellent substitute for cumin. Use half the amount of caraway seeds as cumin seeds in your recipe, gradually adding more to adjust the taste.

 Chili Powder

 Some versions of chili powder include cumin as a primary ingredient. While it adds additional flavors like paprika, garlic powder, and oregano, chili powder can work well as a substitute for cumin. Use half the amount of chili powder as cumin in your recipe, considering the added flavors it brings.

Taco Seasoning

 Taco seasoning blends often contain cumin, along with garlic powder, onion powder, and other spices. This substitute provides a more complex flavor profile and a touch of heat. Since taco seasoning contains salt, adjust the amount of salt and other high-sodium ingredients accordingly.

Curry Powder

 Curry powder typically includes cumin, making it a suitable substitute. It also brings a range of warm and aromatic spices, such as ginger, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, and black pepper. Keep in mind that curry powder will give your dish a yellow color due to the presence of turmeric.

Garam Masala

 A complex spice blend commonly used in Indian, Mauritian, and South African cuisines, garam masala contains cumin and provides a warm and citrusy aroma. Start with half the amount of garam masala as cumin in your recipe, adjusting to taste. Add it towards the end of the cooking process for the best flavor.

Additional Notes

– Paprika, especially the hot varieties, can bring smokiness to a dish similar to cumin. However, it also adds a reddish color.
– Fennel seeds, with their anise-like flavor, can serve as an alternative to cumin. Use ground fennel for ground cumin and fennel seeds for cumin seeds. Start with half the amount of cumin and adjust to taste.


Remember, each substitute may bring its own unique flavors and characteristics to the dish. Start with smaller amounts and adjust gradually to achieve the desired taste. Enjoy experimenting with these substitutes when you run out of cumin, and rest assured that your dish will still be delicious!

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