Food Hacks: Best Substitute for Turmeric

best substitute for turmeric alternative ideas
Prachi Palwe via Unsplash

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a native plant to Southeast Asia, it is commonly used as a medicinal herb and culinary spice. It’s best known for its inflammation-fighting properties, bright golden-yellow coloring, and deep earthy-mild-peppery flavor. Turmeric is a staple you need on hand, 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?

Best Substitutes for Turmeric

Curry Powder

This spice blend is the best substitute for turmeric because it adds similar rich, earthy flavor and spice. Many curry powder blends have turmeric in it already, making curry powder a great substitute if you have it on hand to lend the desired flavor profile. However curry powder often has more spicy kick including heat. So, test before hand and use sparingly if you have a recipe with a delicate flavor profile!


Turmeric is of the ginger family, so fresh ginger is a good replacement for the famous herb. You get tons of flavor, but you won’t quite match the earthy flavor of turmeric. In fact, ginger and turmeric are often ingredients in the same recipes. Ginger is also a great match to add anti-inflammatory properties and a lovely spice. If you like heat with your flavor, you might want to add a pinch or more of chili powder like cayenne pepper.


This spice is a great replacement for vibrant yellow coloring and adds tons of earthy-grassy hay-flavor depth, but with a significantly 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.

Smoked Paprika

This rich smoky-earthy spice is a decent way to substitute for turmeric when you don’t have the other substitutes we mention above. Adding a pinch of mace to the blend rounds out the flavor profile with an earthy-muskiness and adds an orange hue to make your dish pop!

Use any of these ways to substitute for turmeric if you don’t have the real thing. Feel free try them out in our favorite turmeric recipes below!

Recipe Ideas Using Turmeric

ways to substitute for turmeric
  1. Turmeric Breakfast Bowl
  2. Curried Corn and Coconut Rice
  3. Potato Turmeric Focaccia
  4. Balinese Pan Seared Fish

Tired Of Cooking The Same Boring Meals?

No Time To Search For Tasty, Healthy Recipes? Let Our Chefs Send You Inspiration From Around The Globe.

Each month, our chefs send you a selection of handcrafted spice blends and curated recipes from a specific region or country. Recipes have shopping lists and step-by-step cooking instructions using our spice blends. Each month is like taking a culinary tour of a new place!