Cumin Substitute – 7 Best Herbs You Need To Know About

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

However, there are a lot of people who want to look for another option in their recipes. Why do 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 earthy and spicy flavor, which is created by the oil the seeds contain.

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


All About Cumin

Culinary Applications

Cumin seeds are commonly used as condiment due to its musty, spicy taste and distinctive scent.

Cumin is a traditional spice in other regions of the world, especially South Asia, Africa, and Latin America nations.

Other Uses

An unpopular application of cumin 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 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 makes cumin an essential condiment, it is also the reason why 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 in replace with cumin due to their inborn allergies. People who are cumin-sensitive need to choose alternatives to cumin wisely as there are only a handful of suitable options.

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

The Best Cumin Substitute

Cumin substitute chipotle powder


Caraway is a wonderful choice for replacing cumin. Coming from the same family – Apiaceae (or Parsley) – caraway and cumin have features in common regarding to appearance and flavor. 

Caraway seeds are recommend for possessing a nearly identical spice to cumin’s.

Caraway is also a top cumin substitute for its abundant healthy substances such as vitamin A and B, fiber, and minerals.

For its mentioned qualities, caraway is an important component in desserts, liquors and other food and drinks. 

In 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 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 substitution for cumin. It is the combination of chili peppers and others such as cumin, powdered garlic and onion powder.

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 on most grocery stores.

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


As another option coming from the Apiaceae family, coriander also has a large amount of nutrients such as dietary fiber, calcium, iron and manganese.

This flavor mostly represents cumin’s earthy and bitter, although it cannot be as hot as cumin is.

In India, coriander can be roasted to be used as snack. It also plays key role in making rasam and sambhar, two famous dishes in southern India.

In Europe and Africa, coriander is a popular component of various dishes 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.

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

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 others to make Adobo – raw food being immersed in a sauce that consist of different spices.


This  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 others to produce sausages.

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 a 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 cumin.

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 curry powder may vary, cumin is always the main ingredient.

Other commonly seen spices in curry powder includes 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, curry powder is an ideal cumin substitute.

Garam Masala

what can i use instead of cumin

The last option for cumin substitute is another mix of spices. Coming from India, this mixture is made of many common condiment in this nation.

While the components can be different due to regional factor, the typical recipe for Gram Masala includes cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and black pepper.

The Gram Masala is a traditional spice in Indian cuisine. It serves as a component creating flavor for numerous dishes.

Some of the conventional meals using Gram Masala are Rogan Josh, Murgh Kari (a type of chicken curry) and Pulao.

The main benefit of choosing this compound over cumin is that it consist of multiple flavors such as musty, sweet and spicy.

The powder also share the same color with cumin. Therefore, replacing cumin with this mix will not create a notable change in the food’s appearance.


Although cumin lies among some of the most common spices in the planet, there are many reasons that makes people replace this condiment.

If you have any allergy, or simply distaste for it, just take some time searching and you can easily find an appropriate cumin substitute.

Regardless of what you choose to substitute for cumin, 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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