9 Amazing Cumin Substitutes That Are Hidden In Your Pantry

Cumin has an incredibly unique flavor, so it can feel like a total deal breaker when you run out. I know that I’ve gone into flight mode, drove to the store, and bought myself a giant bottle of cumin to solve this problem before!

Still, that’s not the only solution. Little did you know that there are actually a few great options that can be used to replace cumin that you probably already have!

When looking for a cumin substitute, don’t look any farther than your kitchen. That’s right - the answer is in your pantry!


#1 Replace Any Cumin With Any Coriander

The most popular replacement for cumin is coriander, and there is a good reason for that!

Whether you need ground cumin or cumin seeds, coriander is a perfect substitute. After all, both caraway and cumin come from the same plant family! While their tastes are not identical, they are very similar and can be used as substitutes for each other without needing to do any extra work.

Here’s all you need to know to make a perfect cumin substitute out of cumin:

  • First, check how much ground cumin or cumin seed your recipe calls for.
  • Then, use half of the amount of ground coriander or coriander seed.
  • That’s it!

Coriander is a stronger spice than cumin in flavor, so you’ll want to start with half the amount. If you find that the dish could use more flavor, you can increase this amount in small increments until you achieve the perfect flavor.

What could be easier than using this near perfect substitute?

#2 Need Seeds? Reach For Caraway Seeds

If you’re looking for a seed other than coriander seed to use as a substitute for cumin seed, try using caraway seeds. Like coriander and cumin, cumin and caraway are both in the parsley plant family which helps their flavors carry some similarities.

They have a very similar appearance as well, which means that using caraway seeds as a substitute will not change the expected color of your dish like other substitutions may.

In this case, however, cumin seeds have a hotter and spicier taste in comparison to caraway seeds. Still, you should start by substituting your recipe with half the amount of caraway seeds and then increasing this amount to fit your desired flavor profile.

While they are not identical, cumin and caraway both boost some important factors like heart, hair, and digestive health:

#3 A Touch Of Chili Powder Does The Trick

Via Restlesschipotle.com

Chili powder is just...chili powder, right?

Wrong! Unlike bottles labeled “Cayenne Chili Pepper” which are 100% chili powder, conventional bottles of chili powder actually contain a mix of spices. This mix is a fantastic substitute for cumin!

A bottle of chili powder might be a mix of straight chili powder along with other spices such as oregano or even cumin! This is why chili powder makes such a great substitute for cumin...there is some cumin inside!

But be careful: there are also some specialty chili powders out there that might be heavy in garlic, lemon, or spice. Stick to a standard chili powder, and make sure it has some cumin in it.

To use as a substitute, start with half the amount called for and add more gradually to make sure you don’t make the dish too spicy.

#4 Tweak It With Taco Seasoning

Via Pioneerwoman.files.wordpress.com

Did you know there’s another pre-mixed seasoning in your pantry that has a lot of cumin in it? Yes! It’s taco seasoning, and it’s a great substitute for straight, ground cumin.

While you will have to check your taco seasoning for its exact composition, most taco seasoning is made of the following spices:

  • Chili pepper
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Onion

All you need to do to use taco seasoning in place of cumin is measure out the amount called for, and you’re good to go!

You should know this: Taco seasoning can be very spicy and very salty. Reduce the salt added to your dish to balance out the salt level and make sure to purchase a mild taco seasoning unless you want to add some serious kick to your food.

#5 Curry Powder Has Your Back

Via Foodal.com

Curry powder comes in many different forms, and many of those forms have cumin as a main ingredient! The key to a great cumin substitute is to use a mix that has cumin as one of the top ingredients.

To use some curry powder you have at home as a substitute for cumin, the first thing you will want to do is look at the ingredients list. It may include cumin, turmeric, garlic, mustard, salt, and some other spices. As long as there is cumin, you’re good to go!

Next, you’ll want to add half of the amount called for in the recipe. Because of the blend of flavors in curry powder, it may add too much spice if you don’t regulate how much you add.

Adding curry powder to your dish will bring sweet, earthy spice, but it may also turn your dish yellow if there is turmeric in it, so be careful!

#6 Sweet, Sweet Smoked Paprika

Anyone who has had paprika knows it’s distinctive flavor, but what you might not realize is that the smokiness of smoked paprika can be a great substitute for the smokiness that cumin has.

This is a great alternative for those who want to have less spice in the dish as well, as smoked paprika carries very little heat. Some people might even be intentionally leaving out cumin to get rid of the heat. If so, adding smoked paprika to retain some extra flavor is a great choice.

If you would prefer to substitute the smoke and the heat of cumin, then try this: 

  • Substitute 2 parts smoked paprika to 1 part straight chili powder.
  • The chili powder will add a touch of heat that will make up for the lack of cumin better than straight paprika.

#7 Go For Garam Masala

Another great substitution that is a mixed spice blend is garam masala. A lot of people mistake garam masala for chili powder because of the similarity in ingredients and uses, but they are actually two different spice blends:

Garam masala has a complex, sweet, and earthy flavor that rivals cumin’s own flavor, so it’s possible to use garam masala as an easy substitute for cumin! There’s a lot of cumin in garam masala, and it also includes coriander, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves among other spices.

As with the other spice blends mentioned, you should start with half the amount of garam masala when using it as a substitute for cumin.

#8 Chipotle Seasoning Can Save You

Via Premeditatedleftovers.com

For a smokey replacement that also has a touch of heat, chipotle seasoning might be a good substitute for cumin.

Every home that loves to make or enjoy Mexican cuisine should have chipotle seasoning at home! In fact, you could even make your own blend:

Chipotle seasoning usually has sweet chipotle, smoked paprika, thyme, oregano, cumin, and other spices blended to create it’s unique, earthy flavor. While the flavor will not be identical to that of cumin, this is a good substitute in southwestern dishes that will benefit from this flavor profile.

To substitute with chipotle seasoning, you should just add a small amount at first. Taste, add more and repeat. Every chipotle seasoning is a bit different, so this is the best way to get a flavor that is noticeable without being too overpowering.

#9 Spice It Up With Oregano And Coriander

Believe it or not, another option that can be used as a substitute for cumin is oregano! While oregano is usually associated with Italian or Mediterranean dishes when used straight, it’s actually present in dozens of spice mixes used in global cuisines.

If you have oregano in your home, you can use it as a substitute for cumin.

Try this: for every teaspoon of cumin, mix 1 teaspoon of oregano and 1 teaspoon of coriander. This blend of spices will make a nice flavor that replicates that of cumin without tasting out of place in your dish.

Did You Find Your Cumin Substitute?

Whether you decide to reach for the coriander or for some caraway seeds, you have hopefully discovered that cumin is easy to substitute!

One of the reasons it’s so easy to substitute is that it’s in so many other spice mixes that you don’t even realize that it’s already hiding in your kitchen. Check your cupboards, and I’m sure you’ll find the perfect solution. I always do!

If you have a favorite cumin substitute, be sure to share it with us in the comments and then share the article to let others know how to stop stressing about cumin!

Sophia Gardner

I'm Sophia, food blogger, dog lover, homemade cooking and travel passion. I really hope you enjoy my blog, i'll do my best to share great recipes, healthy living tips and just general 'food' thoughts!

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