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Turmeric Alternatives: 6 Substitutes for Turmeric in Recipes

Fresh Turmeric Root

Turmeric has a unique flavor that is tough to replicate, and most cooks would probably agree that there is no perfect substitute for turmeric in the spice world. So, if a recipe calls for turmeric powder, the best thing you can do is buy some turmeric powder or a knob of fresh turmeric root (also frozen turmeric root works). That said, there are a couple of spices that can be used as substitutes for turmeric in some dishes. If a recipe uses turmeric for its yellow color rather than its flavor, saffron or annatto may be good alternatives. If you have a recipe for a curry that calls for turmeric, curry powder may work as substitute. Or, if you are looking to replicate the health benefits of turmeric in a dish, ginger might work well.

Read on to learn more about the above-mentioned turmeric substitutes and a couple of other ones.

1. Saffron

Saffron, a spice that is harvested from the stamens of the saffron crocus, gives dishes a yellow color similar to that of turmeric. However, while saffron may be a good substitute for turmeric in terms of color, it is not a good alternative to turmeric in terms of taste. It is also important to keep in mind that with saffron, a little goes a long way, so you should use it much more sparingly than turmeric.

2. Annatto

Derived from the seeds of the achiote trees, this spice provides a flavor that can be described as both sweet and slightly peppery, so it is not exactly a good substitute for turmeric powder in terms of flavor. However, it often works as an alternative to turmeric in cooking if the original recipe uses turmeric for its yellow color.

3. Curry Powder

Curry powder is a spice blend that contains a number of spices, one of which is turmeric. However, just because curry powder contains turmeric does not mean curry powder always works as a substitute for turmeric powder. While it may be a good substitute for turmeric in curries, its flavor is too strong for many other recipes that call for turmeric.

4. Ginger

In some recipes, you can use fresh ginger as an alternative to fresh turmeric root and dried ginger as a substitute for turmeric powder. This is particularly the case if a recipe uses turmeric for its health benefits rather than its flavor or color. Both ginger and turmeric are members of the Zingiberaceae family of plants, and both are known for their powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

5. Cumin

Cumin may be a good substitute for turmeric powder when the recipe calls for a bitter, earthy taste. It is important to keep in mind, however, that cumin is a highly aromatic spice and that the flavor of cumin is still quite different from that of turmeric. Plus, cumin cannot be used to give a dish a nice yellow color.

6. Fresh/Dried Turmeric

In some recipes, such as homemade curry paste, you can often successfully substitute turmeric powder for fresh turmeric root, and vice versa. If you want to try this trick, substitute one 1/2-inch piece of fresh turmeric for every teaspoon of ground turmeric.

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