We’ve all been there, you’re cooking a recipe and you were certain you had all of the ingredients, but where’s the turmeric?
Don’t panic, we’ve got this covered. Depending on what you’re cooking, we have a variety of different substitutes for turmeric that you can try.
Don’t panic if you’re missing turmeric, we’ve got some great substitiute suggestions
Should you use cardamom cinnamon, curry powder, cumin, saffron, smoked paprika or ginger powder? So many spices and the list goes on!
We’re here to help you figure out the best substitute for turmeric.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a spice and part of the ginger family, it comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant which is cultivated in tropical climates such as India, China and Asia.
It’s made from the root of the plant and is commonly dried and made into a yellow color powder, although you can buy the raw root also.
What does it taste like?
Turmeric is earthy, it’s bitter with a real peppery flavor and its aroma, yellow color and flavor are almost mustard like.
While it’s difficult to get an exact turmeric substitute match, we can get you pretty close.
What can I use turmeric in?
Indian cooking uses a lot of different spices.
You’ll find that turmeric is used a lot in Indian dishes such as our delicious vegetable bhuna, cauliflower dhal, our essential curry base sauce and Indian curry spice mix, you only have to look at the vibrant colors of the Indian dishes to see turmeric in action.
It’s also used a lot in Thai and Malaysian cooking, take a look at our jackfruit rendang.
While most people have heard of ginger, not so many people have heard or used turmeric.
You could also sprinkle a little turmeric on your eggs, jazz up your fries and roasted vegetables, use it in salad dressings, marinades and soups, it really is a very useful spice to have.
But, this powdered spice is a fantastic spice to keep in your store cupboard.
Bright, colorful and one to keep in your store cupboard.
If you need a little color in your meal, then turmeric is the spice for you.
It’s a vivid bright yellow color, which, incidentally is how yellow mustard gets its wonderful yellow color!
Just be careful though, this beautiful spice will stain, make sure you don’t spill it as it will leave its mark.
What can I use as a substitute for turmeric?
If you’ve run out of turmeric then that’s not a problem, while you can’t fully substitute it, you can get pretty close.
Color substitutes when you’re out of turmeric
These will be pretty good substitutes for color but you’ll need to check your recipe to see how turmeric was being used.
This powerhouse of spice is a great color substitute for turmeric.
It’s the most expensive spice in the world but you can still pick it up at your local grocery store.
Why is saffron so expensive?
Why so expensive? Saffron comes from a flower, the crocus sativus, it blooms only once a year and for only a week and it’s then harvested by hand in the morning.
You only need a few strands to transform the color of your dish, it’s that powerful.
So what is saffron usually used for?
Because of its color and subtle fragrant flavor, it’s used in dishes like rice, paella and even tea.
Take a look at your recipe and if turmeric is being used for its color, then saffron is the ideal turmeric substitute.
Paprika is another spice that will add color, and if you mix smoked paprika with mace, this can work well.
Is paprika spicy or not?
It all depends on what chili peppers they have been made from, some can have virtually no heat and others can be very hot indeed.
Check the heat level on the packet or jar that you buy them in.
Smoked paprika powder also has a degree of muskiness which combines well with the spicy mace powder, you just need to make sure you combine it right to recreate turmeric.
Paprika also adds heat to a dish, so you want to make sure that you add a little at a time if you want to use it for a turmeric substitute for flavor.
You can also color substitute turmeric with safflower.
Flavor substitutes – what’s the next best thing to turmeric?
As it’s part of the same ginger family, ginger makes a great flavor substitute for turmeric.
Another root, ginger isn’t an exact match for the flavor but it’s not bad,
We’d recommend using ground ginger powder as a substitute for turmeric.
How do you peel ginger?
Ginger is very easy to peel once you know the trick!
It’s very easy to waste so much of the ginger root if you peel it with a knife but it you take a spoon and use it to scrape the ginger, then you’ll hardly waste a thing – try it!
But if you do find that you have fresh ginger at home, then make sure you either grate it or slice it up really thin so you don’t bite into a chunk of fresh ginger!
Mustard powder, ground dry mustard or mustard paste.
What is mustard powder?
Mustard powder is made from mustard seeds that have been ground.
Ground mustard powder is a solid turmeric substitute, it not only gives color to your dish but it can imitate turmeric which has almost a bitter mustard flavor to it.
Using ground mustard as a turmeric substitute for flavor could work well in our Mulligatawny soup.
Can I use curry powder as an alternative to turmeric?
We wouldn’t recommend curry powder as a first choice turmeric substitute when you’re cooking.
There’s a lot more flavor going on in curry powder than just turmeric and it usually has spices like fennel, cumin, chili powder and coriander, so the flavor and spice is a lot stronger.
Is garam masala the same as curry powder?
No, they are not.
They are blends of different spices and used for different things.
Garam masala is a much stronger spice blend and we don’t recommend it as a turmeric substitute.
If curry powder is your only choice then use it, but use it sparingly as a substitute for turmeric.
Not got it? Leave it out!
Sometimes there isn’t always a good turmeric substitute, and if you study the recipe and find out how the turmeric is being used, you may be able to simply leave it out.
Just make a note on your next shopping list to buy a jar for your cupboard so you never need to think about a turmeric substitute when you’re cooking again!
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