16 Best Curry Powder Substitutes You Can Try!

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Making an Indian dish and suddenly realizing you are out of curry powder? Assuming you are here, you need a curry powder alternative that delivers the same versatile spice blend. So, let’s get into that. 

Curry powder

Curry powder is known for its bright hue and savory-sweet flavor. Its foundations date back to the Indus Valley Civilization. 

The main ingredients in curry powder are ginger, garlic, fennel, mace, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, and turmeric.

It has a unique flavor due to the combination of both savory and sweet spices. As we know, curry powder is a blend of spices used in soups, sauces, and stews sprinkled on vegetables and used to season meats.

Some of the best curry powder substitutes are garam masala, sambar powder, chaat masala, chai masala, and curry paste.

Apart from its extraordinary flavors, it is excellent for health. It contains 22 vitamins and minerals, including calcium, copper, folic acid, iron, and vitamins A, B, and C. It may aid digestion and control blood sugar.

For a comprehensive list of curry powder substitutes, read the information below.

16 Best Curry Powder Substitutes

1. Garam Masala

Garam masala is one of the closest curry powder substitutes. It has a deep brown or gray-brown color, a bitter flavor, and a potent aroma. 

Garam masala has cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, and cardamom.

However, it’s used at the end of the cooking to give a final touch to the dish. You can use garam masala powder to enhance the flavors of dishes, soups, and stews.

Even though it has a more robust flavor than curry powder, you can use the same amount of this instead.

2. Ground Cumin

You can use ground cumin as a curry powder substitute as it has intense, spicy, warm, and earthy flavors. It can add nutty warmth, pepperiness, and smokiness with a faintly musty aroma.

As its name suggests, it is made from cumin and has a mild yellow tone. Add some black pepper and chili flakes to get a close substitute for curry powder.

You can use 1:1 substitution as a curry powder substitute.

Pro Tip: Roast the cumin seeds before pulverizing them to enhance the flavors.

3. Ground Coriander

Ground coriander is a good curry powder substitute you can try. It is made from coriander seeds and exhibits warm, earthy, nutty, sweet, and citrusy flavors.

For dishes where the spice should have a strong flavor, ground coriander works best. For example, it can work best in chunky sauces, sizzled in soups, stews, or dals, or in pickles.

One pro of using ground coriander as a substitute for curry powder is that it is easily available and customized according to your tastes.

Use ground coriander in an equal ratio as an alternative to curry powder.

4. Chai Masala

Chai masala is the surprising substitute in this list. Chai masala can work as an alternative to curry powder due to its complex and aromatic flavor that is both sweet and spicy.

It is a blend of whole spices, fennel seeds, and ginger powder with health benefits as it aids digestion and boosts immunity.

In an emergency, substitute it for curry powder; otherwise, the flavor will ruin because it contains sugars. Use in a 1:1 ratio to substitute curry powder.

5. Chaat Masala

Chaat masala is an ingredient that can give a tangy twist to your dishes. It is used in chaat and made from the spices like amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, coriander, dried ginger, salt, black pepper, asafoetida, and chili powder.

Chaat masala’s complex taste is its main highlight. It is a blend of tart, spicy, salty, tangy, and sour with a hint of sweetness. You can mix it with flatbreads, yogurt, and sandwiches.

Chaat masala is way stronger than curry powder; you can use it in small batches first and check the taste while adding it so the perfect flavors can overwhelm your food. 

Use chaat masala in an equal ratio as an alternative to curry powder.

6. Sambar Powder

If you have ever had South Indian food, you will know what sambar is. 

Sambar is a spicy, tangy curry made with yellow lentils, vegetables, and sambar powder and can be had with rice, dosa, and idli.

Sambar powder known as sambar podi. It is a spice blend containing cayenne pepper, ground coriander seeds, fenugreek, ground ginger, black mustard seeds, garlic powder, and clove powder.

It complements intense flavors like red meat and fish.

As a substitute for curry powder, use half the amount the recipe calls for in curry powder.

7. Curry Roux

Curry roux is a Japanese curry powder mainly made from butter and water and then added to spices like turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, pepper, chili, and orange peel to add depths of savory and sweet flavor.

Due to its slightly sweet and savory flavor, it is a key ingredient in making curry dishes in Japanese homes and restaurants. 

The dish will taste better if you add or grind some curry roux into the final product. Use curry roux in an equal ratio as an alternative to curry powder.

8. Tandoori Masala

Tandoori masala can rub on meat, chicken, or cottage cheese and enhance its flavors. It has coriander, cumin, garlic powder, ginger, cloves, mace, fenugreek, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, and nutmeg.

It is reddish-orange and has a more potent flavor than curry powder because of the spices used.

Use ½ the amount of Tandoori Masala in place of curry powder. You can use a pinch and add more if you feel the flavor is not strong enough.

9. Chinese Five Spice

Chinese Five spice is made from star anise, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks. It is interesting to note that it is based on the five elements of fire, water, wood, earth, and metal.

In contrast to curry powder, it is more sour and bitter while still having some umami flavors. Chinese five spices can bring a full-bodied flavor to a recipe.

Although it is quite different from the typical flavors of curry powder, it can be a fantastic flavor exchange. You can use it as a place for curry powder by putting in half the amount. 

10. Ras El Hanout

Ras El Hanout, a spice mix from North Africa, translates to “a choice mix of spices” and is one of the best substitutes for curry powder. 

Its main ingredients are cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric.

Ras El Hanout contains woody, zesty, and bitter, but it’s also sweet because of the nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.

Compared to curry powder, it’s not spicy and can be used to make a marinade or spice rub for meats. You can use Ras El Hanout in a pinch, then add according to your taste. 

11. Allspice

Allspice is a versatile seasoning made from the dried berries of a plant known as Jamaica pepper, myrtle pepper, or pimento. It has ingredients like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper. 

As I said, it is a versatile seasoning that can you can add to desserts, side dishes, main courses, and even beverages, including mulled wine and hot cider.

It functions as a curry powder substitute due to its mildly bitter, earthy, and fruity flavors. In a pinch, you could substitute some allspice for the curry powder. 

12. Curry Paste

A curry plate is the best replacement if you are looking for a substitute for curry powder. It is a diluted version of curry powder that needs to be diluted before it can be in a recipe.

It has a potent and rich flavor and is made from vegetable oil, ginger and garlic paste, lime, and red chilis. It works best in curry sauces, soups, and stews. 

Add water to the curry powder substitute to make it, and then use it in a 1:1 ratio.

DIY Curry Powder Substitutes

You can make your curry powder at home using a combination of some spices if you don’t have any or it is difficult to arrange them.

13. Turmeric + Cumin

Turmeric and cumin is one of the key ingredients of curry powder and works as a substitute for curry powder.

Turmeric gives a yellowish color to your curry and has an earthy, pleasantly bitter flavor that magnifies the flavors of other spices. Cumin adds nutty warmth, pepperiness, and smokiness with a faintly musty aroma to your dishes.

You can use ½ teaspoon turmeric and ½ teaspoon cumin to make them as a substitute for curry powder.

Pro Tip: You can incorporate it into dishes that call for a yellow curry.

14. Cumin + Allspice

If you don’t have turmeric, you can use allspice with cumin as a substitute for curry powder.  

As we discussed before, all spices taste slightly bitter, earthy, and fruity, and if combined with cumin’s pepperiness and smokiness, it works well. 

Due to its flavor profile, it is best to use in chicken dishes, soups, and sauces. You can mix equal amounts of both cumin and allspice.

15. Chili Powder + Cumin

If you want your dishes to have a more spicy flavor, add chili powder with cumin.

Mix equal parts cumin and chili powder for curry powder substitute.

16. Turmeric + Coriander + Allspice

If you don’t have cumin, you can use coriander with turmeric and all spices as a substitute for curry powder.

Coriander has a citrus and curry, light and sweet flavor. Combined with turmeric and allspice, it adds warmth, creates harmony, adds color, and can bring out the dish’s astringent flavors. 

For curry powder substitute, mix ½ teaspoon of coriander powder, + ½ teaspoon of turmeric, + ¼ teaspoon of allspice.

Short Recap Of Curry Powder Substitutes

That was a long substitute list, right? I hope you have found the idle Curry Powder substitute. Are you still undecided about which of these substitutes you should choose? 

To make choosing your option easier for you, I’ve divided it into three categories. Take a peek around.

Best Curry Powder Substitutes In Terms Of Flavor and Texture-

  • Garam Masala
  • Sambar Masala
  • Curry Paste

Best Curry Powder Substitutes That Are Easily Available-

  • Curry Paste
  • Ground Cumin
  • Ground Coriander

Best Curry Powder Substitutes Should Be Least Considered-

  • Ras El Hanout
  • Chai Masala

How To Use Curry Powder Substitutes In A Recipe

16 Best Curry Powder Substitutes You Can Try!

Some of the best curry powder substitutes are garam masala, sambar powder, chaat masala, chai masala, and curry paste.
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  • Garam Masala
  • Ground Cumin
  • Ground Coriander
  • Chai Masala
  • Chaat Masala
  • Sambar Powder
  • Curry Roux
  • Tandoori Masala
  • Chinese 5 Spice
  • Ras El Hanout
  • Curry Paste
  • Cumin + Turmeric
  • Cumin + Allspice
  • Chili Powder + Cumin
  • Turmeric + Coriander + Allspice


  • 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!


Now that we have come to the end of the article, I hope you have to find the curry powder substitute.

 All of the alternatives listed in this section work well and enhance the flavor of your food. Till then, we will meet at the next one. 

Happy Cooking

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is garam masala the same as curry powder?

Both garam masala and curry powder are blends of ground seasonings. Curry powder contains turmeric, while garam masala does not. Curry powder is often yellow-orange versus garam masala’s reddish-brown hue.

2. What can I substitute for curry powder?

You can use garam masala, sambar powder, chaat masala, and curry paste as curry powder substitutes.

3. Can cumin substitute for curry powder?

Yes, you can substitute cumin as a curry powder substitute.

4. Can I use cayenne instead of curry powder?

No, the cayenne powder is not a suitable alternative to curry powder.

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