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11 Perfect Substitutes For Annatto Powder To Add In Your Dishes

If you enjoy Filipino, Latin American, or Caribbean foods, you probably understand how instrumental annatto powder can be when used to flavor or color foods. Annatto is made from the seeds of the achiote tree, which is most commonly grown in hot, tropical climates.

The flavor of annatto is described to have a similar earthly taste to that of nutmeg – however, in annatto, this is slightly more subtle. 

annatto powder

Understandably, it can sometimes be difficult to get your hands on annatto powder – even though it can be the most important ingredient in a number of dishes!

If you’re in a similar position and you don’t know what to use as a substitute, you’re reading the right article – as we are about to give you a rundown of the best substitutes that you can use in place of anatto powder in order to ensure that your dishes taste as close to the real thing as they can! 

What Are The Best Alternatives To Use In Place Of Annatto Powder?

Whilst there are many substitutes that can be used in place of annatto powder, including turmeric powder, saffron powder, and paprika, it is important to remember that using one of these alone will not act as an adequate replacement for annatto powder in a dish – however, you can utilize the properties of these ingredients to get it as close as you can to your desired product.

Annatto is known for its properties of a colorant, introducing radiant hues of bright orange, yellow, and red to dishes, as well as it is known for its unique, sweet, peppery, and slightly nutty taste.

Many countries use annatto in their dishes as a colorant, whilst also, simultaneously improving or enhancing the flavor of their food. You can use this powder in a range of sauces and meals, including soups, rice dishes, and stews!

As a result of its vibrant colors, annatto is often used as a colorant in cosmetic items, such as lipsticks. This means that it is important for us to mention alternatives you can use if you intend to use them in a similar way. 

Quick Table: Annatto Powder Substitutes

SubstitutesCalories (Per 100 Grams)
Safflower Powder517
Beet Powder43
Saffron Powder310
Hibiscus Powder0.9
Red Pepper Powder318
Turmeric Powder354
Hemp Seeds Powder160
Ginger Powder80
Ground Cumin375

Each of the substitutes below can successfully replicate or act in the place of annatto powder, making it so that you don’t have to rethink your plans for tonight’s dinner as a result of not being able to find annatto powder in your cupboard. 



Who doesn’t like paprika? This mild chili powder is made from chilis that are grown, then dried, and made into a powder, ready for use. Paprika can give foods a similar red-orange color to the one that annatto powder provides.

This spice can range in its flavor and heat, depending on which chilis are used within the recipe, meaning that certain types of paprika are sweet, whereas others bring more heat. As a result, some paprika is spicier than others and can vary in color. 

Paprika is a close to perfect substitute for annatto powder, due to the peppery flavor that they both share. Whilst paprika can be used to complement a wide variety of dishes, it works particularly well in dishes including roast chicken or black bean chili.

It can also be used as a substitute for annatto oil in certain sauces. Paprika can have a range of flavors, however, all of these go well with dishes such as this. 

To use this in chili, add some black beans, onions, avocado oil, cilantro, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, two teaspoons of paprika, and a little salt. 

Paprika contains important nutrients, like vitamin E and beta carotene, meaning that it can help to keep your eyes healthy. 

How To Substitute

Paprika is a great substitute for annatto. It is a widely used ingredient that can be substituted for annatto in many recipes both for cooking and baking. The difference between paprika and annatto is that paprika contains no carotenoids, while annatto does.


This substitute is created from the Myristicaceae, an evergreen tree that is grown in both the West Indies and Indonesia. Nutmegs flavor bears a similarity to annattos flavor, and they both have slightly similar colors.

This makes nutmeg a brilliant substitute for annatto – just make sure that you add it in small quantities so that you can ensure that you don’t add too much at once!

Nutmeg is one of the best seasonal spices, and instantly adds an extra level of flavor when added to a cold-weather soup, such as butternut squash. Nutmeg contributes a woody flavor to your food.

It’s important to remember that you do not need to use a huge amount of nutmeg – in fact, a pinch of nutmeg is often more than enough, and you should add in very small quantities in order to avoid accidentally overpowering your dish. 

How To Substitute

There are many recipes where annatto can be replaced with nutmeg! Nutmeg is most commonly found in powder form, but can also be found in a paste. It is a great substitute for annatto as the nutmeg spice is often used in a range of cuisines, including Asian and Indian cooking.

Safflower Powder


You can use ground safflower seed to color your food with a slight red-orange hue. This alternative is primarily for color, as it only really alters the color of your dish. 

If you’d like to use safflower powder as a substitute, use the same amount you would annatto powder in order to get some impressive results. 

How To Substitute

Safflower is a healthy source of vitamin B, but it is difficult to digest. Annatto is a bright orange spice that has a unique taste. In this article, you will learn how to replace safflower powder with annatto.

Beet Powder

Vibrant beet powder is, unsurprisingly, made from beetroot. After it is grown, the beetroot is dried and then made into a powder.

This powder can then be used in a variety of ways, including cosmetics, food, and drinks, such as smoothies, and crafts – and, thanks to its ruby-pink color, as a substitute for annatto powder! 

Beet powder can instantly improve any smoothie, adding color, flavor, and healthy goodness, as beetroot powder has essential nutrients such as fiber, manganese, iron, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B9.

Beet powder goes well with coconut water, pineapple, raspberries, and any additional ingredients that you may choose to add in order to make a delicious smoothy, perfect to relax with after a long, hard workout. 

How To Substitute

Beet powder is a perfect substitution as it is a popular food additive that provides a deep, earthy color to food. However, it is expensive and some people may have allergies to it. Instead of using annatto, you can use beet powder to give your food a similar color and flavor.

RELATED: 10 Of The Best Alternatives To Chinese Five-Spice To Use In Your Cooking!

Saffron Powder


Saffron can successfully be used to add a hint of color and a delicious flavor to your dishes, in place of annatto powder. 

Whilst saffron might be one of the more expensive alternatives on this list, if you happen to have it in your cupboard, you can one hundred percent use this as a substitute for annatto powder.

This is because there are similarities between the flavors of the two different spices, as saffron has a deep, earthy taste, 

How To Substitute

Saffron spice can be a great substitute to annatton. It has a unique, distinct flavor. However, there are ways to replace it with another spice that gives a similar flavor.

Hibiscus Powder

Hibiscus powder can be made from the Malvaceae plant. This plant is often found in tropical areas, as this is where it grows the best, and it can be added to food, cosmetics, and dyes. 

Hibiscus powder can be used as an alternative to annatto powder if you would usually use annatto powder as a colorant. Hibiscus powder has a red color that can be used in conjunction with another substitute in order to create a more satisfying alternative to annatto powder, or on its own in order to make use of its red colorant properties.

It should be noted that hibiscus does not quite share the same color as annatto powder, and instead has a burgundy hue that stands in contrast with annatto’s more orangey color. 

To use hibiscus as a substitute within your recipe, you can create a vinaigrette or an oil. Both of these can be used on salads – and they’re also quite easy to make!

All you need to do is add one tablespoon of hibiscus powder to your oil or vinegar in order to make the relevant salad dressing. You can also infuse teas with hibiscus powder! 

Hibiscus has many health uses, as it can be used as an antioxidant, as well as an aid in lowering blood pressure. It also has antibacterial properties. 

How To Substitute

if you don’t want to add annatto to your recipes, hibiscus powder is a great option to use. It comes as a perfect substitute with a red tint that makes the food significantly unique in taste. The natural colorant helps give similar taste with same amount of addition in substitution.

Red Pepper Powder

Red pepper powder

Powder made from dried and crushed red bell powders can work as a great substitute of annatto powder in your recipe.

It is important to note that different types of pepper will have different qualities – including variations in spice and flavor. You should experiment with different types of pepper, as well as amounts, adding tiny pinches and building to get your desired flavor. 

How To Substitute

For the more pronounced red color, red pepper powder can be used in place of Annatto. It is a good idea to taste your pepper powder before adding (to give it a similar taste). The pepper powder is not too spicy and its taste depends on the powder you are using.

RELATED: The Best Alternatives To Annatto Powder For Flavor, Color, and Spice

Turmeric Powder 

Turmeric powder is made from the Curcuma longa plant, native to the countries India and China, and largely produced in India.

Turmeric is extremely important in Southeast Asian cooking, especially curries, and many curries gain their characteristic yellow colors as a result of using turmeric powder. As a result, turmeric also works well as a substitute for annatto’s color, although turmeric has more of a yellow quality. 

When added to rice, turmeric can provide an instant change in color and flavor. You should make sure not to use too much turmeric, so add around half a teaspoon to the water of your rice when you first begin cooking it. Lentils also go well with turmeric – just add turmeric to your olive oil, before mixing with your lentils and legumes. 

How To Substitute

Since turmeric powder has a yellow color rather than an orange-red color, it may not be the best substitute for annatto. It has a mild flavor that can be used in Mexican dishes as well as in sauces and stews.

Hemp Seeds Powder

Hemp Seed Powder

Hemp seeds are an extremely healthy and versatile ingredient. They are a good source of protein, iron, and zinc, all essential for good health. They also have a high amount of fiber, which can help you feel full longer.

Heap seeds are ancient, versatile, and healthy seeds. They are rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. They are also a source of fiber. They are a great source of nutrition and can be used in many different ways.

Hemp Seeds Powder is a powdered blend of hemp seeds, which can be used in many ways. It can be used as a vegan substitute for butter in recipes or as a healthy and delicious snack.

The powder can be added to smoothies, baked goods, or soups for an extra nutritional boost. The powder is gluten-free and vegan-friendly.

How To Substitute

Hemp seed powder is an excellent alternative to annatto powder, a natural food coloring used in many cuisines. The annatto color comes from the annatto plant’s seeds, which are dried and ground into a fine powder. The powder is typically sprinkled on top of food, but some people use it as a dyed for yarn.

Ginger Powder

Ginger is a common spice with a hot and spicy flavor. Its healing properties are known to fight nausea and morning sickness, while its antioxidant properties may help to reduce inflammation.

It is also said to boost circulation and alleviate muscle aches and pains.

Ginger powder is a ground ginger root commonly used as a cooking spice. It is also often used in various beverages, such as ginger ale and tea.

Ginger powder is a finely ground powder made from the root of ginger. It is often used as a cooking ingredient in dishes such as curry, pilaf, and risotto.

How To Substitute

Ginger powder is an excellent substitute for annatto powder. It has a mild flavor and is easy to mix with other spices. It can be used in various dishes and is perfect in marinades and sauces.

Ground Cumin

Ground Cumin

The ground cumin is a mild, earthy spice with a slightly nutty flavor. It is used in a wide variety of recipes including dips, stews, soups, and more.

The taste of this spice is full and complex. It has a distinctive, earthy flavor with a bit of a bite. Ground cumin has a strong aroma and its strong flavor is great for meats, vegetables, and grains.

It is also a key ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes.

It is most commonly used in cooking curries and can also be used to make many different dishes, including tandoori chicken.

The small, dark brown seeds are one of the most common spices in the world. The seed can be used to make a variety of dishes, including dal, hummus, and curry.

How To Substitute

If you have cumin seeds, you can grind them and use the powder in place of annatto powder. It may take a few tries to get the consistency right, but the recipe is the same.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Find Or Buy Annatto Powder?

You can buy annatto powder by going online to a spice retailer or a shop that sells health foods. This gives you the option to choose a blend of annatto, alongside different seasonings, helping you to just add your preferred seasoning to each dish without having to measure and mix it together every time. 

What Is A Good Substitute For Annatto Powder?

An alternative for annatto powder is turmeric. Turmeric is a common spice that is used in curries, and can be bought in powder form, or as a paste. Turmeric has a number of health benefits, including being a natural source of antioxidants, as well as being a potent anti-inflammatory.

What Is The Taste Of Annatto?

Annatto is a spice that has a rich and slightly bitter taste. It is commonly used in Latin American cooking. It can be used in a wide variety of dishes, including sauces, marinades, and braises.

The Best Alternatives To Annatto Powder For Flavor, Color, and Spice

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A guide to the closest substitutes we can find for annatto powder, helping you to bring the most to your dishes!


  • Paprika

  • Nutmeg

  • Safflower Powder

  • Beet Powder

  • Saffron Powder

  • Hibiscus Powder

  • Red Pepper Powder

  • Turmeric Powder

  • Hemp Seeds Powder

  • Ginger Powder

  • Ground Cumin


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio
Jess Smith