7 Best Cumin Substitutes You Can Try!

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Are you planning to cook a dish that calls for cumin? We all love the uniquely warm and earthy flavor cumin brings to our recipe. But sometimes we will run out of it. What should we do in such situations? Think no more; find a good cumin substitute and continue cooking.


Cumin is a versatile ingredient and can be added to several dishes. It can be used in its whole form as well as ground form. It blends very well with other ingredients and yet makes it taste distinct in almost all dishes.

If you are a fan of Indian and Latin American dishes, cumin must be a staple in your pantry. However, sometimes we will run out of cumin seeds. Realizing we don’t have an ingredient at the end moment is quite frustrating.

What should we do in such a situation? Look for good cumin substitutes. Ground coriander, chili powder, caraway seeds, and chili powder are some cumin substitutes. The best thing about these substitutes is that they are easy to find, and we will probably have them in our pantry.

In this article, let’s explore all about cumin substitutes. However, before going into substitute, let’s meet the main ingredient – cumin. Most of us must have had it at least once. But if you are new to this ingredient, you may want to know more about it before finding it a substitute.

Quick Peek: Cumin


The following section is dedicated wholly to cumin. In this section, let’s learn about its uses, nutritional values, and much more!

What Is Cumin?

Cumin is a spice that is widely used all across the world. It comes from the dried seed of the cumin plant, which belongs to the parsley family. It is commonly cultivated in Asia and the Middle East and thus is a common ingredient for most of its dishes.

Cumin is a little seed and has a yellowish tint to them. It is available as a whole as well as in ground form. It comes in three colors, black, white, and amber. Out of all these, amber is the most widely used variant.

It is my favorite spice among many for its warm taste. However, sometimes it could be hard to find in common grocery stores. Therefore, today we are going to discuss some of the best cumin substitutes you should try while you are out of cumin seeds.

Describing Cumin: Flavor and Texture

Cumin has a very strong flavor to it. It is slightly bitter and nutty and adds an earthy, spicy flavor to the dish. More than the taste, cumin has a very strong aroma to it. It is very refreshing and enhances the whole aroma of the dish.

Cumin has a seed-like grainy texture to it. Many people often compare cumin seeds to caraway seeds. It is widely used in Indian cuisines and also in Mexican dishes like Tacos. These little seeds are a powerpack combination of flavor and aroma!

However, cumin has a very intense flavor and when it comes to adding it to any dish, make sure to add it sparingly! You may have noticed that most recipes that call for cumin need only a bit of it. We all love cumin, but too much cumin can easily ruin any of your dishes.

Uses Of Cumin

 The best way to use cumin is to add flavor to your recipe. It can be used either in cooking or can be used as the last step to bring a robust burst of flavor to your favorite recipes like tacos or salad bowls.

Not just in flavor, cumin brings in a lot of aromas to your dish. Cumin is the perfect way to elevate the flavor profile of your dish in both smell and flavor. Cumin can be added to almost all savory dishes and is often combined with other spices like chilies and oregano.

Cumin On The Health Radar| Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Helps with digestion: Cumin is said to be extremely beneficial for gut health. It aids in digestion and helps in the better absorption of nutrients. It also helps with treating certain digestive ailments like diarrhea.

Helps to lower cholesterol: Many studies have shown that cumin helps control the body’s cholesterol level.

Helps to relieve stress: In a recent study, it is found that cumin is extremely beneficial for tackling stress issues. Smelling and chewing cumin seeds could effectively lower stress and tension and help calm down your body.

Why Should We Substitute Cumin?

While reading this article, you must rethink finding a substitute for cumin seeds. Cumin seeds are amazing. Just a teaspoon of it can elevate the whole flavor of your dish to a new level. But there are some situations where you’ll need a cumin substitute.

First and foremost is that you could be allergic to cumin seeds. Regardless of your love for this spicy ingredient, you cannot add it to any of your dishes. If you are in such a hard situation, go for a good cumin substitute.

As we have already said, we only need a little bit of cumin for all our recipes. Thus sometimes, when we buy it, we need to remember to use it and leave it unused until it loses its smell and taste. In such a situation, a good cumin substitute comes handy!

Many people cannot stand either the smell or the taste of cumin seeds. Cumin seed taste is so vibrant that anybody can recognize it even if we add a little bit of it. Thus if you are one of them, you may need to use a cumin substitute.

Lastly, why go to a grocery store and waste your time and money when you could easily find a cumin substitute from your pantry? I hope I have given you enough reasons to use a cumin substitute. Now without wasting much time, let’s move into our article.

7 Best Cumin Substitutes

Now that you have a fair understanding of cumin let’s meet some of its best substitutes. In this article, we are covering 5 cumin substitutes.

1. Ground Coriander


Both cumin and coriander belong to the same parsley family. Coriander brings a lemony, earthy flavor to the recipe. Hence when in need, use ground coriander as a cumin substitute.

Coriander works well in almost all recipes as that cumin. However, ground coriander doesn’t bring heat to the dish. Therefore, if you need a punch of heat in your recipe, add a little chili powder to your dish.

2. Caraway Seeds

Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds look so similar to caraway seeds that if you place them side by side, it will be hard to tell the difference. Caraway seeds and cumin belong to the parsley family; hence, caraway is one of the ideal cumin seed substitutes.

Caraway has a bitter-sweet flavor with a hint of citrus. It can be used as a cumin seed substitute in almost all dishes. However, caraway seed is much milder than that cumin seed. Thus while using it as a cumin seed substitute, make sure to use a little extra!

3. Chili Powder

Chili Powder

Chili powder brings so much flavor to a recipe. Often most savory dishes call for cumin and chili powder together. Thus even if you do not have cumin, chili powder can be used as a cumin substitute.

Chili powder is often a mix of so many spices like paprika, garlic, and oregano powder. Then along with heat, chili powder will bring in so many flavors to the recipe. Thus if you are making some light cuisines, which don’t need so much spice burst, avoid using chili powder instead of cumin.

4. Taco Seasoning

Tacco Seasoning

Another cumin substitute is taco seasoning. It mixes cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and many other spices. It brings in the recipe’s cumin flavor and some heat.

However, taco seasoning comes with many spices and salt. Thus if you are planning to add taco seasoning as a cumin substitute, make sure to add it before all other ingredients. Do a quick taste test and then add other ingredients to it.

5. Curry Powder

Curry Powder

There are several different spices in curry powder. It includes a variety of spices, including pepper, cumin, and chili powder. As a result, curry powder is a decent alternative to ground cumin.

From one brand to another, curry powder’s ingredient list varies. So always use curry powder with cumin and chili powder as their primary constituents. Moreover, curry powder brings so much flavor to your dish.

Therefore, give your dishes a brief taste test before adding any further spices. Choose another cumin replacement if your recipe only calls for coriander and no other flavors.

6. Garam Masala

Garam Masala

Garam masala is a typical spice blend used in Indian Cuisine. It is a mix of various spices like cumin, coriander, and chill and can be used as a cumin substitute in savory dishes.

Like curry powder, garam masala gives your food a ton of flavor. Additionally, garam masala will taste and smell stronger than that cumin powder. Therefore, use garam masala sparingly when using it as a cumin substitute.

Additionally, using garam masala when creating any western foods is not advised. Along with the cumin flavor, it also adds the flavor of numerous other herbs. Never add more garam masala than necessary without first tasting it.

7. Paprika


Cumin seeds are known to bring a spicy, earthy, and smoky flavor to the recipe. Thus if you are looking for a cumin substitute that could bring in a similar flavor, your search ends with paprika powder.

Paprika powder brings a bright flavor to the recipe. It adds a smoky flavor along with a dash of crimson hue! If you are a lover of spicy food, then you are going to love paprika for that. However, paprika brings in so much heat to the food. Thus use half a teaspoon of paprika for one teaspoon of cumin seeds.

A Short Recap Of Cumin Substitutes

Here is a short recap of the best cumin substitutes.

Best Cumin Substitutes In Terms Of Flavor

Ground coriander is the best cumin substitute in terms of flavor.

Best Cumin Substitutes In Terms Of Texture

Caraway seed is the best cumin substitute in terms of texture.

Best Cumin Substitutes Should Be Least Considered

Curry powder and garam masala is the least considered cumin substitute.

How To Use Cumin Substitutes In Recipes


7 Best Cumin Substitutes You Can Try!

Cumin is a versatile ingredient and can be added to several dishes. It can be used in its whole form as well as ground form. It blends very well with other ingredients and yet makes it taste distinct in almost all dishes. If you are out of cumin, try our cumin substitutes.
5 from 1 vote


  • Ground Coriander
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Chili Powder
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Curry Powder
  • Garam Masala
  • Paprika


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


cumin is a versatile ingredient that can be added to various dishes. It is highly nutrient-rich and can be used in curries and fillings.

When choosing a substitute, find one with a flavor profile similar to cumin. Even though these are great cumin substitutes, there is no ideal match for cumin’s flavor.

 If you use any of these substitutes, let me know in the comments if everything worked out for the best. I’ll see you next time. Until then, happy eating!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you replace cumin with paprika?

Yes. Paprika can be used as a cumin substitute.

What spice can I use instead of cumin?

 Ground coriander, chili powder, caraway seeds, and chili powder are some of the best cumin substitutes.

Is cumin the same as pepper?

No, cumin and pepper are two different spices

What flavor is cumin like?

Cumin has a warm earthy flavor with a hint of citrusy taste.

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