Food Hacks: Best Substitute for Turmeric

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What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a flowering plant (Curcuma longa) native to the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. The roots (known as rhizomes) of Turmeric are commonly used as a medicinal herb and culinary spice. Powdered turmeric spice is simply dried turmeric roots ground up into a fine powder. But slices of fresh turmeric are also used in soups, stews, sweets, and even drinks across Asia and now in high-end juice bars in SF, LA, NYC, and London.

Turmeric is best known for its inflammation-fighting properties, bright golden-yellow coloring, and deep, earthy-mild-peppery flavor. Turmeric is loaded with nutrients and phytochemicals like curcumin that are thought to have health benefits in traditional medicine like ayurveda.

Turmeric is a staple you need on hand for cooking, but if you run out, we’ve got you covered. Read on for the best substitute for turmeric, for its flavor, color, and nutritional benefits. Turmeric is a go-to spice for a whole host of dishes; including curry, chicken, quinoa, and even smoothies. So, where should you turn when you’re fresh out?

Top Substitute for Turmeric Powder: Curry Powder

Many of us have a bottle of curry powder in the kitchen cabinet. And most curry powders are built on a base of turmeric powder so it will deliver the earthy flavor profile that you desire from turmeric. However, you'll get a more complex flavor profile with curry powder than basic turmeric powder, due to the addition of other curry spices like cumin, coriander, cloves, ginger, and/or cardamom. But you also get the same gorgeous color profile from a yellow curry as you get from turmeric. If only have a Madras Hot Curry and the recipe doesn't call for spicy heat, then try using half the amount of curry spice than you would straight turmeric.

Best Substitute for Turmeric Flavor & Coloring: Saffron

Saffron is a great replacement for vibrant yellow coloring and adds tons of earthy-grassy hay-flavor depth, but with a sweeter undertone. Saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices so it’s not often suggested as a direct replacement (turmeric is a very low-cost ingredient). So, keep this in mind when substituting. But when you need to add earthy flavor to your dish and you don’t have turmeric but do have saffron, add a pinch of saffron threads and bathe your recipe in luxury.

Blend Your Own Substitute for Turmeric: Ginger / Cumin Mix

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family, but these two root herbs have different flavor profiles, especially when using the fresh roots. You can use dried powdered ginger as a substitute in a pinch (pun intended!). But you won’t quite match the earthy flavor of turmeric. In fact, ginger and turmeric are often ingredients in the same recipes to complement each other. However, add in a little ground cumin, a nutty-earthy spice, with ginger to bring out some earthiness. Try adding 2 parts dried ginger to 1 part cumin as a substitute for Turmeric (for 1 tbsp turmeric, substitute 2 tsp ginger + 1 tsp cumin).

Best Spice Blend to replace Turmeric Powder: Piquant Post Turmeric Gold spice

Piquant Post Turmeric Gold blendPiquant Post Turmeric Gold blend packetBuy Turmeric Gold: $3

The chefs at Piquant Post are never satisfied with status quo - they strive to turn a good spice into something special. So, they've created the Turmeric Gold spice blend to provide the bright color and subtle earthy notes of turmeric, complemented by the warming spices nutmeg and cinnamon, rounded by the alluring aromatic duo of garlic and onion, and finished with a sweet-peppery note from fenugreek and cardamom. Substitute Turmeric Gold spice blend for turmeric in any recipe where you a big boost of flavor while still getting your earthy turmeric fix.

Contains: turmeric, garlic, onion, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and fenugreek.

So, next time you find yourself out of turmeric spice, don’t worry! You can still save your dish using any of the above as substitutes.

Recipes where we use Turmeric

Try them with any of our favorite recipes below using turmeric powder or better yet, Piquant Post Turmeric Gold blend!

Balinese Pan-Seared Fish

Balinese Pan Seared Fish

Turmeric Prawns with Coconut Turmeric Rice

Turmeric Prawns with Coconut Turmeric Rice recipe

Coconut Turmeric Cauliflower

Coconut Turmeric Cauliflower recipe

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