As a kind of spice, cumin is hotter in the taste and lighter in the color compared to caraway. Cumin seeds are available in three colors: black, white and amber, of which amber is available widely. Black cumin is different from the other variants in terms of flavor and does not work well as a substitute for the other two types. Cumin seeds are available either whole or as a ground spice. When a recipe requires cumin and you don’t have it, you will need cumin substitute that you can find here.

Three Cumin Substitutes

Cumin is also known as zeera/jeera and belongs to the Apiaceae plant family. It is originally from the east Mediterranean region to India. Cumin is an essential ingredient in curry powder recipe. It is widely used in recipes from varied cultures like Asia, Mexico, Middle East and Mediterranean.

It is difficult to get the same taste as cumin in any recipe; however, the following can be used as substitute for cumin:

  • Powdered coriander

  • Chili powder

  • Caraway seeds

You can use the cumin replacement with half of the amount mentioned in the recipe and then adjust till the desired taste is achieved.

More Spice and Herb Substitutes

It happens very often while cooking that we do not have a spice or herb mentioned in the recipe. We run around the kitchen, trying to figure out the best substitute or replacement for the spice which will work well in the recipe. Although it is important to know that replacing the spice will not give the extract flavor as per the recipe, it is still better than nothing, right?

Spice Substitutes

  • Allspice: Cinnamon, cassia, dash of cloves/nutmeg/mace

  • Aniseed: Few drops of anise extract, fennel seeds

  • Cardamom: Ginger

  • Cinnamon: Allspice or nutmeg, 1/4 of the amount

  • Cloves: Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice

  • Chili Powder: Hot pepper sauce along with oregano and cumin

  • Mace: Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice

  • Ginger: Cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, allspice

  • Nutmeg: Ginger, cinnamon, mace

  • Turmeric: Annato powder, or saffron (for color) and ground mustard powder in 1:1 ratio

  • Mustard (ground or dry): ¼ to ½ teaspoon of Wasabi powder, horseradish powder

  • Saffron: Annato powder (for color) or turmeric


Herb Substitutes

  • Basil: Thyme or oregano

  • Thyme: Basil,oregano, savory, marjoram

  • Chervil: Parsley or tarragon

  • Tarragon: Dash of fennel seeds or aniseed, chervil

  • Chives: Leek, scallions, onions

  • Savory: Marjoram, sage, thyme

  • Cilantro: Parsley

  • Sage: Savory, marjoram, rosemary or poultry seasoning

  • Italian Seasoning: A blend of basil, oregano, rosemary and red pepper flakes

  • Rosemary: Tarragon, savory, thyme

  • Marjoram: Basil, thyme, savory

  • Dried Chili Flakes: Dash of hot pepper or black pepper sauce

  • Mint: Rosemary, marjoram or basil

  • Poultry Seasoning: Mixture of sage with any of: thyme, savory, black pepper, marjoram and rosemary

  • Oregano: Basil, thyme

  • Parsley: Cilantro, chervil


Please Log In or add your name and email to post the comment.

  • Pat warsleySep.5 23:44
    Great info. Need a copy in my kitchen.
View All Comments /Add Comment