Skip to Content

15 Best Cumin Substitute Options To Get Exact Taste Profile

Cumin is a fragrant spice that people have used as a health supplement since ancient times, and it comes in the category of superfoods.

It is a versatile aromatic spice that you can harvest from a Cyminum plant that is widely used in many cuisines worldwide.

Cumin is tiny oblong-shaped seeds. It comes in different colors like brown-yellow, white and black and has numerous health benefits. It can control blood sugar levels, improve iron deficiency, and aid digestion. 

Cumin is available in powder and whole form and is slightly bitter. The seeds intensify the flavor when roasted, adding a spicy touch to the recipes.

You can easily find cumin at a grocery store and spice up your dish using either the whole or the grounded form. If you are short of cumin and your recipe calls for cumin, there are other spices you can use to get a similar flavor.

We will see different spices that you can use to replace cumin.

What Is Cumin?

Cumin is a fragrant spice with a distinctive aroma that enhances the flavors in dishes. It is an essential spice in many cuisines worldwide.

Cumin is slightly smoky with earthly flavor and combines perfectly with other spices to give recipes a warm touch. 

Cumin combines well with coriander, cinnamon, caraway seeds, and chili powder, taking the recipes to the next level. It complements the flavors of garam masala and curry powder, whether you use it in powder form or as seeds.

You can use cumin in curries, sauces, soups, marinades, and all vegetable dishes. Add the cumin seeds, in the beginning, to allow it to release its flavors.

Now, we will see the best substitutes for cumin to get the same taste and flavors. The 15 Best Substitutes for cumin are:

Quick Table: Cumin Substitutes

SubstituteCalories (Per 100 gm)Protein (Per 100 gm)Fat (Per 100 gm)
Curry Powder32512.66g13.81g
Coriander Powder268.8810.66g17.47g
Chili Powder31412.26g16.76g
Taco Seasoning3224.5g0g
Garam Masala1035g3g
Caraway Seeds33319.77g14.59g
Fennel Seeds72.52.9g0.47
Fenugreek Seeds32323g6.41g
Anise Seeds33717.6g15.9g
Chipotle Seasoning145050g25g
Brown Mustard Seeds663.95g3.11g
Nigella Seeds48313g35g
Indian Five Spice Mix40033.5g31.5g
Star Anise33520g15g

These 15 substitutes for cumin are discussed here in detail.

1. Curry Powder

Curry powder is a blend of many flavorful spices, including cumin, making it an excellent substitute for cumin. The combination of different spices adds to the dish’s flavor and gets a nice yellowish texture.

To match the taste, you would need just half a teaspoon of curry powder for each teaspoon of cumin powder. 

Curry powder is commonly used in Southeast Asian recipes to enhance the flavors in curries and meats. So when you are short of cumin powder, you can use curry powder.

Remember that curry powder also contains black pepper, ginger powder, fenugreek, cinnamon, and coriander so consider this when using other spices when preparing your dish.

Since curry powder is a blend of many beneficial spices, each can fight infections and diseases. Curry powder has antimicrobial properties and is known to aid bone health and reduce liver toxicity.

How To Substitute

Use half a teaspoon of curry powder to substitute one teaspoon of cumin powder.

2. Coriander Powder

Coriander is the seed of the cilantro herb with an earthy and lemony flavor similar to cumin. Coriander is milder in the heat than cumin but makes an excellent substitute for cumin.

Use half as much cumin powder to replace cumin and get the same warmth. 

Coriander powder packs sweetness and a hint of citrusy goodness into the recipe. Cumin is bitter and spicy, whereas it packs more freshness and sweetness.

So adding a tinge of chili powder or cayenne to coriander powder will match the tangy taste of cumin.

The aroma of coriander seeds is different, and they also differ in shape as well as taste. Coriander makes your dishes appealing and delicious.

It is a widespread spice in Indian cuisines used in gravy dishes, vegetables, and meat to thicken the gravy and enhance flavors.

Coriander seeds are rich in vitamins A and C and antioxidants, providing many health benefits.

How To Substitute

Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to half a teaspoon of ground coriander to substitute one teaspoon of cumin powder. If substituting cumin seeds, use about three fourth teaspoons of ground coriander to substitute one teaspoon of cumin seeds.

3. Chili Powder

Although chili powder is quite different from cumin seed powder, some chili powder-making recipes include other spices, including cumin, oregano, and garlic powder.

Chili powders without other ingredients have intense spiciness, so start with a smaller quantity and then adjust the taste to your liking. 

Chili powder is a good substitute for cumin and adds heat to the recipe and the goodness and tempting flavors of oregano, cayenne, and paprika. You can add half the quantity of chili powder to replace cumin.

Remember that too much spice can develop ulcers and cause other gastrointestinal problems. So consume chili powder or spicy foods in moderation.

Chili powder helps relieve dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms by increasing blood flow. Chili powder is also rich in iron and other minerals.

How To Substitute

Substitute one teaspoon of cumin powder with half a teaspoon of chili powder.

4. Taco Seasoning

Taco seasoning is a blend of spices similar to those added in chili powder. Besides cumin, it has paprika, garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, chili powder, and salt.

As cumin is one of the main ingredients in taco seasoning, it becomes an excellent option to substitute cumin.

So, you get a good substitute for cumin and other spices’ extra flavors, making your recipe hot and tasty. You require only half a teaspoon of taco seasoning to replace one teaspoon of cumin.

Remember that taco seasoning from the grocery store has a good amount of salt so you can adjust the quantity of salt your recipe would typically need.

You can start with a smaller amount and then tweak the dish as per your taste.

Taco seasoning is the main spice in Mexican cuisine that enhances flavors.

A high amount of cumin in taco seasoning makes it an excellent replacement for cumin and offers tempting flavors of other ingredients.

How To Substitute

Half a teaspoon of taco seasoning or less is sufficient to substitute one teaspoon of cumin powder.

5. Garam Masala

Garam masala is a spice blend that makes an excellent substitute for cumin in many dishes. This complex spice also contains cumin, a part of most Indian, South African, and Mauritius cuisines, making them hot and spicy.

This hot spice blends many traditional spices, so use only half quantity of garam masala to replace cumin. You can add garam masala at any cooking stage and still get the most flavors.

Garam masala has a mildly sweet aroma, like cumin. It gives a citrusy and earthy flavor to the recipe. The ingredients in garam masala may vary per the manufacturer so read the composition before adding it to recipes.

Add garam masala to your dish towards the end of the cooking process to get the best flavor. 

Garam has many health benefits. The hot ingredients in garam masala boost metabolism and provide antioxidants. It relieves nausea and improves gut health.

How To Substitute

Substitute one teaspoon of cumin powder with half a teaspoon of garam masala.

6. Caraway Seeds

Caraway and cumin seeds belong to the same parsley family and look almost identical. Caraway has the same taste as cumin seeds but is slightly less intense, so you can use half the quantity of caraway seeds to substitute cumin.

Caraway seeds are a good substitute for cumin as they are almost similar. Though cumin provides more intensity and hotness to the recipe, you can manage it by adjusting the amount of caraway.

Caraway seeds are mild with a slight tinge of licorice. Cumin leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste, and caraway has a lemony flavor.

Adding a pinch of paprika to half the quantity of caraway seeds will perfectly substitute one teaspoon of cumin in the recipe.

Caraway seeds are known to provide excellent healing properties. It helps manage intestinal inflammation.

It is also effective in relieving menstrual cramps, gastritis, and constipation. Caraway seeds aid digestion and improve overall health.

How To Substitute

Add a pinch of paprika to half a teaspoon of caraway seed to replace one teaspoon of cumin.

7. Paprika

Paprika is earthy and smoky, similar to cumin, but less citrusy and bright. Adding larger quantities to the recipe will add a red tint to the dish, like curry powder provides a yellowish tinge to the curries.

Paprika brings the smokiness in dishes as you get with cumin powder; you would need half the amount of paprika to substitute cumin powder.

To enhance the spicy flavor, you can add a tinge of chili powder. You may miss the earthy flavor and the citrusy whiff of cumin with paprika but giving a touch of lemon zest will fix it.

Paprika has slight sweet tones, and you may get a bit of bitter flavor when cooked. It is a suitable replacement for cumin powder and has many health benefits.

Paprika provides a good amount of vitamins A and E to improve eyesight. Paprika also helps lower blood sugar levels in the body and has anti-inflammatory properties.

How To Substitute

Half a teaspoon of paprika and chili powder is an excellent substitute for one teaspoon of cumin.

8. Fennel Seeds

Like caraway and cumin, fennel seeds are also a member of the parsley family. Cumin seeds and fennel seeds have the same look but not the taste.

Fennel seeds have a flavor similar to anise and licorice but don’t provide the same smoky, earthy flavor as cumin.

You can replace ground cumin with ground fennel and cumin seeds with fennel seeds as per the requirement in your recipes.

When you cannot find cumin in your kitchen, you can use fennel seeds to replace cumin; they will add a licorice flavor to your recipe that cumin doesn’t.

Fennel lacks the earthy or smoky flavor of cumin so consider using another substitute listed here if you want to achieve that typical cumin flavor. 

Fennel seeds have a sweeter aftertaste, but cumin tastes slightly bitter. However, Fennel seeds are widespread in Italian sausages, dips, and meatballs.

Fennel seeds have positive outcomes in people with high blood pressure and alleviate respiratory problems. Fennel seeds purify the blood.

How To Substitute

Replace one teaspoon of cumin seeds with half a teaspoon of fennel powder. You can replace cumin seeds with fennel seeds and cumin powder with fennel powder.

9. Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek has a rich, sweet, and nutty undertone. Fenugreek is a fragrant and aromatic seed that makes an excellent option to substitute cumin seeds.

The tangy vibe of fenugreek is reminiscent of mustard seed, and the addition of a slight heat makes them an immediate replacement for cumin with some heat.

You can add a tinge of cayenne or paprika to match the taste and flavor of cumin seeds and make a suitable replacement. 

Fenugreek is an excellent spice used in many Indian and Middle-Eastern cuisines. Due to the bitter undertone half, a teaspoon will be enough to substitute one teaspoon of cumin powder.

Sprinkle it with paprika and cayenne on salads, vegetables, and roasted meats to get the tempting flavor.

You can use this extremely aromatic spice in whole or powdered form to add fragrance to your spicy curries, roasted meats, and vegetables.

Fenugreek aids digestion and lowers cholesterol levels. You can also use this for hair and scalp care.

How To Substitute

A half measure of fenugreek seeds per cumin seed makes a good alternative. A pinch of curry powder or chili powder will provide the heat to the recipe you get with cumin.

10. Anise Seeds

The shape and taste of anise seeds are entirely different from cumin seeds. It is an excellent substitute for cumin when preparing Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Anise adds a lot of flavors and goes perfectly with those dishes. The ground form of an anise works even better.

However, Mexican cuisine doesn’t adapt too well to anise as those recipes require fewer flavors but more heat. 

Although the flavors of cumin and anise are entirely different, they enhance the flavors just like cumin. You can add the whole anise to your soups and stews.

It gives an excellent sweet-peppery taste in broths. You can use anise in whole or ground form per the recipe’s requirement. You can easily discard the whole anise before serving the meal.

Anise is rich in antioxidants that help to improve heart health. It has proven antibacterial and antifungal properties, thus allowing you to fight infections.

How To Substitute

Use half a teaspoon of ground star anise to replace one teaspoon of ground cumin. Three to four whole star anises can substitute one teaspoon of cumin seeds.

11. Chipotle Seasoning

Chipotle seasoning combines many flavorful spices, including oregano, chipotle, thyme, and cumin. The blend of these hot spices provides a unique earthy flavor that may not be identical to cumin but make an ideal substitute.

Chipotle seasoning is ubiquitous in South Western cuisines and adds heat to the recipe.

When replacing cumin, you can add a small amount of chipotle seasoning to the dish, and after tasting, you can add it to get the desired taste. Do not add much to overpower the flavor of the dish.

As curry powder perfectly substitutes cumin powder in Indian recipes, chipotle seasoning replaces cumin powder in Mexican dishes.

It provides the heat and the smokiness to the Mexican recipes that cumin does. Chipotle seasoning also benefits from the blends of other spices like thyme, oregano, and smoked paprika

Chipotle helps control blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of heart disease as it is rich in antioxidants.

How To Substitute

Substitute one teaspoon of cumin powder with half a teaspoon of chipotle powder.

12. Brown Mustard Seed

There are hundreds of mustard plant varieties, but black, brown, and yellow are the most commonly used mustard seed varieties.

The tiny little seeds give a flavorful punch to the recipe, and you can use them in many ways to prepare your recipes.

Mustard seeds come from the flower, and you can also use the leaves of the mustard plant to prepare a delicious dish.

When preparing a recipe that contains curry, you can use brown mustard seeds to substitute cumin for a nice flavor. Fry them in the hot oil and allow them to crackle to ooze out the earthy flavor.

People prefer brown mustard seeds in most recipes. You can use mustard when preparing pickles and foot baths.

Brown mustard seeds are beneficial for gums and bones and are known to improve the digestive system.

How To Substitute

Use half a teaspoon of brown mustard seeds to replace a teaspoon of cumin seeds.

13. Nigella Seeds

These little black seeds are grown in the Nigella seed pod, which you can find in many countries worldwide. For example, it is known as black cumin in India, which is what it is often used for. 

It has a unique and somewhat bitter taste that is quite popular. It is also used to treat cancer, arthritis, and other conditions.

Nigella seeds, also known as black cumin, are a seed that is used to make an aromatic spice. They are a staple in many Middle Eastern dishes and have a dark, almost burnt taste.

How To Substitute

Nigella seeds can be substituted for cumin in almost any recipe. Still, it is recommended to use about half the amount of nigella seeds for the same amount of cumin.

14. Indian Five Spice Mix

Indian Five Spice Mix is a versatile blend of five spices: ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger, ground turmeric, and ground cardamom. 

The spices are combined to create an intense and earthy flavor that is perfect for adding to sauces, soups, curries, and stews.

It is an excellent addition to many Indian dishes, such as curry, rice, and lentils.

Indian Five Spice Mix is a blend of traditional spices, including cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, and cardamom. This mix is a favorite for traditional Indian dishes like chicken tikka masala and vegetable korma.

How To Substitute

Indian five spice mix is a mixture of ground cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel seeds, and cardamom that can be used to substitute cumin. It is typically used to flavor dishes such as curries, stews, and rice dishes.

15. Star Anise

Star anise is a spice commonly used in Asian cuisines and desserts. It has a peppery, anise-like flavor. 

It is typically flavored in liqueurs, rice and noodle dishes, baked goods, and puddings. Star Anise is a spice used in both savory and sweet dishes. 

It is also typically used as a flavoring agent, especially in sauces and desserts. It has a unique flavor, which is made up of licorice, cinnamon, and clove. 

It is typically used to enhance the flavor of other spices, such as cardamom, nutmeg, and ginger.

How To Substitute

One way to substitute cumin with Star Anise is to replace a teaspoon of cumin with 1/2 teaspoon of Star Anise.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Substitute Ground Cumin For Seeds?

To substitute ground cumin for seeds, you need to change the quantity of ground cumin. You should maintain a ratio of 1:2; half a teaspoon full of ground cumin equals one teaspoon full of whole cumin seeds.

How Does Cumin Taste?

Cumin is slightly bitter and has an earthy and spicy flavor. The ground seed provides uniform flavor throughout the recipe. The flavors of cumin intensify on toasting, and you can use it in powder form or as a seed. 

How To Store Cumin?

Cumin has a long shelf life. You should pack the ground cumin in airtight jars and store it in a cool and dry place, whereas the cumin seeds can stay in a cupboard for a year.

If frozen, they can stay keep their flavors for a longer time.

How To Grind Cumin Seeds?

It is easy to grind the cumin seeds and use the powder to prepare authentic recipes. The grounded cumin intensifies the flavors and gives a rustic punch to the dish.

Lightly roast the cumin in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes, and then allow cooling. Then use a grinder or a good quality mortar and pestle to grind the seeds till you get a fine powder.

15 Best Cumin Substitute Options To Get Exact Taste Profile

Prep time


Cooking time


Total time



Find the perfect taste and spice for your recipe from our guide to cumin substitutes for when you’re out of cumin.


  • Curry Powder

  • Coriander Powder

  • Chili Powder

  • Taco Seasoning

  • Garam Masala

  • Caraway Seeds

  • Paprika

  • Fennel Seeds

  • Fenugreek Seeds

  • Anise Seeds

  • Chipotle Seasoning

  • Brown Mustard Seeds

  • Nigella Seeds

  • Indian Five Spice Mix

  • Star Anise


  • Pick any substitute you prefer from the lists above.
  • Follow the recipe instructions for your preferred substitute and use the proper ratio required while cooking.

Recipe Video

Jess Smith