Can I use turmeric instead of curry powder?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “Can I use turmeric instead of curry powder?” We will also discuss how turmeric differs from curry powder and what are the other substitutes for curry powder.

Can I use turmeric instead of curry powder?

Yes, you can use turmeric instead of curry powder if you don’t have curry powder. Turmeric can be an excellent replacement for curry powder if you’re only looking to replicate the color as it is the key ingredient in curry powder, but in terms of the aroma and flavors, there will be a huge difference. So, if you want a similar aroma and flavor, you can use garam masala instead.

What is curry powder?

Curry powder is the mixture of different spices commonly used in your recipes including turmeric, cumin, chili powder, ginger, coriander, and pepper. 

The number of spices used may vary according to your preference. The more spices you use, the more flavorful your curry powder will be.

Curry leaves are not the same as curry powder. One might think that curry powder is made by blending the dried curry leaves but this is purely a misconception. You may also add the dried curry leaves to this mixture though.

How does curry powder differ from turmeric?

The main difference between curry powder and turmeric is that curry powder is a spice blend of different ingredients but turmeric is an individual spice on its own. 

Although curry powder and turmeric may look precisely the same and one may mistake it for another, Curry powder and turmeric are two very different ingredients used in cooking different cuisines all over the world.

While they can be used as a replacement for each other due to their similarities, each one has its own individuality and benefits. Turmeric is known to have many health benefits but I’m not so sure we can say the same for curry powder.

Curry powder does consist of different nutritive spices but it has no comparison to turmeric in that regard. Turmeric has many medicinal uses as well which the curry powder may not have.

What is the origin of curry powder?

There have been many theories that curry powder originated from India, but, on the contrary, curry powder was created by the British to replicate the essence of Indian cuisines. 

Curry powder is very similar to the most commonly used ingredient in traditional Indian cuisines called garam masala which might be the reason for this popular belief. 

What are the other suitable substitutes for curry powder?

No curry powder? No problem. These are some of the easy substitutes you can use in place of curry powder:

Garam Masala

Garam Masala is a traditional Indian spice that is a blend of different spices like coriander seeds, cumin, cardamom, black peppercorns, nutmeg, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, etc. 

It was originally used in India and other southeast Asian countries like Nepal, Srilanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan for cooking varieties of dishes but today it’s a name that is familiar to all of us throughout the world.

Allspice and cumin

Allspice has a pleasantly warm and fragrant aroma. It combines well with almost every spice. You can combine 4 parts of ground cumin with 1 part of allspice, for an easy replica of curry powder.

Chaat masala

Chaat masala is another popular Indian spice mix that you can substitute for curry powder. It gives a rather tangy flavor compared to curry powder but can bring you the desired flavors if used precisely. 

Curry paste

If you don’t have curry powder, curry paste also works just as well.

Ground cumin

You can use ground cumin as an alternative to curry powder. Even if you don’t have curry powder in your kitchen, you will always have ground cumin which is a staple spice in everyone’s kitchen. 

While cumin is present in curry powder, you will still lack the combination of other spices so the flavor will not be the same.

Sambar powder

Sambar powder is another popular spice used in Indian cuisines. It is very popular, especially in south Indian dishes. Sambar powder can make an excellent replacement for curry powder as it consists of most of the ingredients used in curry powder.

Tandoori Masala

Tandoori masala is made from a blend of different spices like ground coriander, ground cumin, garlic powder, ground ginger, ground cloves, ground mace, ground fenugreek, ground cinnamon, black pepper, ground cardamom, and ground nutmeg. 

For use as a substitute for curry masala, you should use only a pinch as it has a very powerful aroma and flavors.

For some amazing curry powder recipes, follow the link here.

Other FAQs about Turmeric that you may be interested in.

What do you put turmeric in when cooking?

What’s a good substitution for turmeric?

Can I mix turmeric with cumin?

What is healthier turmeric or cumin?


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “Can I use turmeric instead of curry powder?” We have also discussed how turmeric differs from curry powder and what are the other substitutes for curry powder.