11 Great Substitutes For Cumin You Absolutely Need

If looking for the best substitute for cumin which you might need as you cook a recipe calling for its flavor, the list of great options will be provided in this post.

Are you familiar with cumin? Have you tried using it into one of your recipes? But what if you run out of cumin’s supply? If such case happens then you should be familiar with what you could use as an alternative. Good to know that there are numbers of options that could serve as the best substitute for cumin. You only need to choose the one that perfectly goes after the flavor that the cumin provides.


What Is Cumin?

what is cumin

Let us first learn more about cumin. Based on its history, Spain settlers planted cumin in the America’s in 1600. And this is one part of this world wherein cumin has reigned. Indeed, this spice is a lot more diverse compared to the settling of the colonies in America. Rather, this aromatic and bold flavored spice has a history that dated way back to ancient Egypt. And it has been considered as a popular ingredient in today’s Mediterranean.

Cumin is a spice that is made from the dried seed of the plant named Cuminum Cyminum which is a member of the parsley family. It used in Mexican, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines in most cases. Cumin could also be used as a whole seed or a ground one. But the ground cumin is a lot preferable particularly as an addition to chili marinades, barbecue sauce, and baked beans.

Indeed, there are many uses of cumin along with the fact that it offers numbers of great benefits as well. With that, many are fond of using the said spice and though it runs out of supply best alternatives are considered.

11 Great Substitutes For Cumin

great substitutes for cumin

I am also an avid fan when it comes to using cumin to spice up my cooking. But once there is no cumin at all, I would grab some alternatives that I have on the spice corner of my kitchen. Some of the best options I have includes the following:


Caraway Seeds

caraway seeds

Known to be both from parsley family, cumin and caraway are the same in terms of taste and appearance.

Caraway seeds are being used in spicing up different European breads as well as pastries including liqueur. Its flavor could also be used in replicating the slightly and powerful bitter flavor of the cumin but only halve of the amount of these seeds should be used.


Ground Coriander

ground coriander

Also considered as another parsley family member, this one is also a great option as an alternative for cumin. But there is a need for you to be extra careful since it might change the flavor of certain recipes.

Ground coriander has a lemony and earthy flavor of cumin however it lacks the heat. So, better start with half amount of it then add a bit of chili powder as for adding the needed heat.


Chili Powder

chili powder

Being found in most spice aisles of grocery stores, chili powder is a spice mix which contains ground chili along with other more spices and that include cumin. This one offers a distinctive flavor but it doesn’t has the bitterness of the cumin. Indeed, chili powder is used as a good substitute for cumin in most recipes for chili providing the same benefits.

But oh, take note that different chili powders also contain different amounts of cumin that’s why adjusting the taste is definitely needed. If chili powder is used a lot, it might make the recipe too spicy. And there are also chili powder products out there that don’t have cumin so not a good alternative at all.


Garam Masala

garam masala

Including a healthy dose of cumin, this Indian spice mix is also a great substitute for the said spice. In most cases, this spice mix includes cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper leading to a complex flavor that is at once sweet, earthy, spicy and citrusy.

It has a color that is the same with the cumin and so it wouldn’t change the appearance of the recipe significantly.


Curry Powder

curry powder

This one is a great substitute for cumin once creating any kind of Indian dishes. The flavor that curry powder could provide might be a lot milder still there is a distinct aroma and smell.

Curry is also used in making curried rice as well as curried meat dishes that are very popular in the Middle East. But make sure not to use too much of curry powder as how you use cumin.


Taco Seasoning Mix

taco seasoning mix

With ingredients the same with the chili powder, aside from cumin, there is a presence of garlic powder, oregano, paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes in taco seasoning mix.

Take note as well that store-bought taco seasoning mixes would tend to have a fair amount of salt. It might be needed that you reduce the amount of salt needed for the recipe as for compensating for the extra that you would still need. And bear in mind that only begin with a half measure needed.




Compared to cumin, turmeric might not provide the needed heat but this could indeed help in flavoring the dish and bringing some liveliness to your recipe. This one is also a great choice for those that aren’t capable of handling the traditional flavor of the cumin and cannot do well with spicy and hot foods.

Turmeric offers a milder and gentler formula having a distinct flavor which could be blended easily along with a hot chili powder bringing an intense flavor however a more casual and milder taste.


Punjabi Style Seasoning Mix

punjabi style seasoning mix

Found in an ethnic store, Punjabi style seasoning mix is a mix of a variety of natural seasonings which mimic cumin having no strong or somewhat an abrasive aroma which most people dislike.

This is a mixture of nutmeg, black pepper, ginger, cardamom and some other herbal ingredients that mimics the taste of cumin. You might as well mix different natural herbs as for bringing a balance in place of the cultural ingredient making them work well. The same exact flavor couldn’t be achieved but it will still be tasty.




Since cumin is found in Chipotle seasonings, making this as an alternative is a nice choice. Though this might not be commonly found in most kitchens, still, if you love Mexican food then you will always consider this one. When substituting this for cumin, just add it little by little at the same time tasting the dish to know when you are to stop.




You think it’s absurd that you replace a spice which is often used in Mediterranean, Indian and Mexican dishes with a spice that is mostly used in Italian dishes. Am I right? Well, it could be true but oregano could be a best substitute for cumin once it is mixed with another spice like coriander.


Fennel Seeds

fennel seeds

Compared to cumin seeds, fennel seeds are a lot sweeter making them as a great choice once cooking fish dishes, making Italian sausages and meatballs and whipping up Italian sauces. If you will use this as an alternative to cumin, simply use the same amount that the recipe needs.

Cumin can be a simple spice to a more intricate and needed ingredient in a certain recipe. But for a moment that you have no cumin at all, you will also be surprised that the above-mentioned options could be a great substitute.

Others might not be able to handle the strong flavor of cumin so milder spices might be needed in place of it without having to sacrifice the original flavor. That’s why these substitutes are definitely needed.

Final Thoughts

It might be a bit tricky to replace cumin in different recipes. Knowing that each seasoning mix and spice do have their unique taste and flavor, the above-mentioned substitutes might not provide the exact and the same taste as of the cumin. So, from the list above, which one is the best substitute for cumin? I hope you could pick the right one perfect for your recipe!

If you have something to share about cumin substitutes then leave your thoughts below! Happy cooking everyone!

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Hi there! My name is Cindy Mari and cooking is definitely my passion. I love looking for interesting topics about cooking and share them with everyone. Aside from being passionate about cooking, I am also a foodie at heart.

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