What can I substitute for turmeric powder?

In this short article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for turmeric powder?” with an in-depth analysis of the possible substitutes for turmeric powder along with their benefits and shortcomings. 

What can I substitute for turmeric powder?

If you are not having turmeric powder in your kitchen, no need to worry. Here we have discussed some substitutes which you can use as a replacement for turmeric powder. These include saffron, annatto seeds, madras curry powder, yellow mustard seeds, ginger powder, mace and smoked paprika and cumin seeds.

Turmeric powder

Turmeric gives an exciting colour with a tempting aroma to our dishes which is matchless. Adding turmeric to our dishes gives a unique flavour. Especially in dishes like soup, curry, rice, marinades, and beverages. In addition to flavour, colour, and taste it has some health benefits too. 

Substitutes of turmeric powder

Following are the substitutes for turmeric powder:


If you are adding turmeric powder to get an exciting yellowish-orange colour for your dish, then the saffron is the best substitute to use. It does not change the taste of your meal, but it adds spice to your meal. It should be used in small quantities so that other ingredients of the dish do not get affected. 

You should prevent it from direct light, moisture, and oxygen. One drawback that one could be affected by using saffron is that it is more costly than turmeric powder.

Annatto seeds:

These annatto seeds are obtained from achiote trees and if you need to add a yellowish colour to your dish and you don’t have turmeric powder you can use annatto seeds.

It can be best used for rice, casserole, and marinades.

The flavour of annatto seed is peppery, sweet, and nutty, which is sort of totally different from turmeric. However, if you don’t mind messing with the first recipe, then this can be a good option.

Madras curry powder:

Madras curry powder can also be used as a substitute for turmeric powder. Madras includes turmeric in its ingredients along with chilli as the main ingredient so that your dish can get more spice, also, it would give a more red tone rather than yellowish-orange.

If you don’t have anything as a replacement for turmeric powder, you can go with madras curry powder for sure.

If you are using madras curry powder, use less of it because it has a strong flavour. 

Yellow mustard seeds:

If you are using turmeric powder to give your food yellowish colour, then it’s the best substitute you could use. 

Another reason for replacing yellow mustard seeds with turmeric powder is, it is rich in such ingredients that are effective in controlling your cholesterol level. It minimizes bad cholesterol levels and enhances good cholesterol levels in our bodies. So, it helps in lowering the risk of heart diseases. 

Bones get strong when we add mustard seeds to our diet because they are highly rich in minerals.

Ginger powder:

Ginger powder can be used as a substitute for turmeric powder because they have some benefits. Ginger’s flavour is quite spicy, sweet, and pungent. It may cause taste issues but most of the time it can be a good substitute for turmeric powder.

Ginger helps in treating chronic indigestion. It contains gingerol that has impactful medicinal characteristics. It is also helpful for osteoarthritis. Moreover, taking ginger daily could lower the risk of having various heart diseases.

Mace and smoked paprika:

Mace and smoked paprika can be used as a substitute for turmeric powder. It gives spice and reddish colour to our food. Using mace and smoked paprika can give you so many health benefits. It consists of capsaicin in its ingredients that are beneficial for health. It contains antioxidant characteristics that help minimize the risk of cancer and various heart diseases.

Moreover, paprika helps in stimulating and making us energetic because its ingredients help in treating depression, tiredness, and lethargy.

Cumin seeds:

Cumin seeds can also be used as a substitute for turmeric powder. It has a very pleasant and fresh smell like earth. Mostly this substitute is used by Indians to add flavour and unique taste to their dishes. Adding cumin seeds with galangal makes our food yummy.

In addition to adding flavour to our dishes, cumin seeds have health benefits as well. Consuming cumin seeds help in controlling blood sugar, lowering cholesterol level. Also, it helps in weight loss. But if we consume an excess amount of cumin seeds it can cause liver or kidney problems due to the presence of oil in them which is highly volatile.


In this short article, we have answered the question, “What can I substitute for turmeric powder?” with an in-depth analysis of the possible substitutes for turmeric powder along with their benefits and shortcomings. 



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.