Cumin Substitute – 7 Best Herbs You Need To Know About

Cumin is widely used in numerous dishes around the world. In many cuisines, cumin is undoubtedly the key to make them become excellent.

However, there are many people who want to look for another option in their recipes. Why do many people want to replace cumin? And what type of spice is the best cumin substitute? Let us find out more in this article.

Cumin is the seed of a plant called Cuminum cyminum, a flowering herb in the Parsley family (also known as Apiaceae). It is known as a condiment having an earthy and spicy flavor, which is created by the oil the seeds contain.

Apart from having a unique taste, cumin holds many nutritional values. It is a copious source of fiber, protein, vitamin B and minerals.

What Does Cumin Use For?

Culinary Applications

Cumin seeds are commonly used as condiments due to its musty, spicy taste and distinctive scent. Cumin is a traditional spice in many regions of the world, especially South Asia, Africa, and Latin American nations.

Other Uses

An unpopular application of cumin powder is medicine. Since old times, the Persians had used cumin seeds for the benefits it brought to the digest system.

It is now usually powdered and serves as medicine in different forms including liquid (decoction) and pills. In some Indian territories, cumin powder is also consumed as a type of drink called Jira.

Reasons For Alternating Cumin

While cumin is a distinctive spice, there are several reasons for replacing it in cooking recipes:

Firstly, although the strong spiciness and musty flavor make cumin an essential condiment, it is also the reason why many people dislike the seeds. There have been many complaints about cumin being excessively hot, making food become harder to eat.

Some people also have to use other spices for cumin substitutes due to their inborn allergies. People who are cumin-sensitive need to choose cumin substitute wisely as there are only a handful of suitable options.

Another reason for substituting cumin is its availability. In many cases, people cannot find cumin either in the kitchen or nearby grocery stores. The solution, therefore, is replacing it with similar spices in cooking.

The Best list of Cumin Substitute


Caraway is a wonderful choice for replacing cumin. Coming from the same family – Apiaceae (or Parsley) – caraway and cumin have many features in common regarding appearance and flavor. Caraway seeds are recommended for possessing a nearly identical spice to cumins.

caraway seeds cumin

Caraway is also the top of the list for its abundant healthy substances such as vitamins A and B, fiber, and minerals.

For its mentioned qualities, caraway is an important component in desserts, liquors and many other food and drinks. In the Middle East, caraway is the key ingredient in a type of caraway pudding called Meghli, a popular food consumed during Ramadan.

Tip: It is recommended that you supplement the caraway with anise seeds to add some licorice taste into the dish and to better represent cumin’s flavor.

Chili Powder

Chili powder can be an appropriate cumin substitute. It is the combination of chili peppers and other spices such as cumin, powdered garlic and onion powder.

cumin substitute in chili

The powder is an excellent choice as it resembles cumin’s flavor without having cumin’s bitterness. Another benefit of using chili powder is that it is easily accessible in most grocery stores.

For people having allergic troubles with cumin, however, this type is not a suitable substitute.

Ground Coriander

As another option coming from the Apiaceae family, coriander also has a large number of nutrients such as dietary fiber, calcium, iron and manganese. This flavor mostly represents cumin’s earthy and bitterness, although it cannot be as hot as cumin is.

is coriander the same as cumin

In India, ground coriander can be roasted to be used as a snack. It also plays a key role in making rasam and sambhar, two famous recipes in southern India. In Europe and Africa, coriander is a popular component of many recipes such as sausages and rye bread.


  • 1 teaspoon of coriander is equivalent to ¾ teaspoon of cumin.
  • Since coriander seeds tend to lose their taste quickly and, therefore, should be consumed as soon as possible


This is a type of chili grown and used primarily in Mexican-style dishes. As described in its name – “smoked chili” in Aztecan language (known as Nahuatl) – this condiment delivers a distinctive smoky and spicy flavor.

substitute chipotle powder

Although its flavor cannot completely resemble that of cumin, this blend will definitely bring a unique taste to your meal.

Chipotle is usually served in the form of powder. It is the key ingredient in various types of salad. It can also be used in conjunction with other spices to make Adobo – raw food being immersed in a sauce that consists of different blend.


It also called cayenne pepper, is a native Mexican fruit. It is used to make spice and color food such as rice or soup. It is also consumed in conjunction with meat many other spices to produce sausages.

Paprika seed

In terms of nutrition, paprika is abundant in calories and α-carotene as well as β-carotene – provitamin A substances. This nutritional feature makes the spice an excellent choice for people wanting to enhance their eyesight.

Although not having an exact flavor like that of cumin, paprika possesses an earthy, smoky taste and, hence, is still a good option to substitute for cumin.

Curry Powder

substitute curry powder

Another choice to use in the absence of cumin is curry powder which is a mixture of different spices. Though the components in it may vary, cumin is always the main ingredient. Other commonly seen spices in curry powder include coriander, mustard, ginger and black pepper.

Containing different, curry powder can offer the unique taste and aroma of cumin combined with distinctive features of other components. For this reason, this powder is an ideal cumin substitute.

Garam Masala

Coming from India, this mixture is made of many common condiments in this nation. While the components can be different due to regional factors, the typical recipe for Gram Masala includes cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and black pepper.

what can i use instead of garam masala

The Gram Masala is a traditional herb in Indian cuisine. It serves as a component creating flavor for numerous dishes. Some of the conventional meals using Gram Masala as a blend are Rogan Josh, Murgh Kari (a type of chicken curry) and Pulao.

The main benefit of choosing this compound over cumin is that it consists of multiple flavors such as musty, sweet and spicy. The powder also shares the same color as cumin. Therefore, replacing cumin with this mix will not create a notable change in the food’s appearance.

Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are a spice made from a plant called fennel – a member of the parsley family. You might be no stranger to fennel seeds. Because Fennel Seeds is pretty good for anyone with high blood pressure.

Fennel gives the eater a feeling sweeter than cumin because of strong anise seed. On the other hand, Fennel and cumin is a similar look and some nutrition.

Taco Seasoning

Taco Seasoning mix is the last option that we recommend to substitute for cumin in the list. Taco Seasoning almost the same as Chili Powder but it contains a high ratio of salt than others.

So please pay attention to this point if you or your buddies have some history of disease with high blood pressure or diabetes.


Although cumin lies among some of the most common spices on the planet, there are many reasons that make people replace this condiment. If you have any allergy, or simply distaste for this type, just take some time searching and you can easily find an appropriate substitute for cumin.

Regardless of what you choose for cumin substitute, remember to use it with only half as much cumin that the recipe requires; you can always alter the spice upwards if you like.

I hope the article has provided you with helpful information about cumin substitutes. If you find any opinion about the above list, please share it in the comment section. Thank you very much for reading.

Kevin Richard

Hi all! I’m Kevin. I spend plenty of time in the kitchen every day because I love cooking healthy and delicious foods for my family and friends. Cooking gives me a chance to be creative and fun. It’s also one of the most meaningful ways to express my love and take care of my little family.

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