Cumin is a versatile spice you’d want to keep on your shelf. It’s nutty with hints of fresh citrus, and will easily take your dish to the next level. But what happens when you run out? You don’t have to panic, just take a deep breath and realize there are some great cumin substitutes.
Ground Cumin vs Cumin Seeds
Cumin comes in two different ways: seeds and ground. When it comes to the flavor of both, they really don’t differ.
However, because of the texture, it may work better to use one rather than the other in specific dishes.
What Does Cumin Taste Like?
This delectable spice is said to have an earthy taste that is both rich and hearty! Often described to have hints of citrus flavors, allowing cumin to add depth to any of your dishes. Note, it is best to use ground cumin in dishes where you want the flavor to pop and disperse evenly throughout.
Best Substitutes for Cumin
With cumin as one of the main spices used in taco seasoning, it easily makes it as a great substitute – especially in Mexican dishes. Taco seasoning is a blend of chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and yes, cumin. That means, not only can you replace cumin with this substitute, but a few other key spices too. Be sure to substitute at a 1:1 ratio..
Most curry powder blends have cumin mixed in – making curry powder a great substitute. Much like taco seasoning, this blend provides other flavors to your dishes as well. Plus, if you’re a fan of the color yellow, you’ll love how this turns your dish that color. Use a 1:1 ratio here too!
When it’s freshly picked, coriander is often known as cilantro. The best way to substitute this spice for cumin is using it in the seed or ground form rather than freshly picked. You’ll appreciate how coriander successfully delivers the same earthy and lemony notes that cumin does to dishes. At a 1:1 substitute ratio, this spice is perfect to use in all of your curry dishes.
Often mistaken as each other, caraway seeds are oblong and have a similar must-brown color as cumin does. While this option is a great replacement, it won’t provide the same spice and heat that cumin does. So if your dish needs a little kick, be sure to add in some chili powder or curry powder too.
Also a member of the parsley family, fennel seeds make a great alternative for cumin. Keep in mind that this spice has more of an anise, licorice flavor, meaning it will not provide the smoky, earthy flavor that cumin does. It is important to use ground fennel for ground cumin and fennel seeds for cumin seeds as recipes call.
Often referred to as a complex spice, garam masala can make a great substitute for cumin in certain dishes. While this spice contains cumin, it is most often used in cuisines in India, Mauritius and South Africa. The tip here is to use about half the amount of garam masala in replacement of cumin, and add later during the cooking process to get the most flavor.
Very similar to cumin, paprika brings the same smokiness to dishes that cumin does. Often noted for its bright red color, paprika will add a reddish tint to your dishes. To substitute, use about half the amount at first and add more depending on your taste.
With an intense spice and incredibly flavoring, chili powder is a great alternative to cumin. This is best used as a substitute in Southwestern dishes like tacos or chili. Be sure to start with only half the amount of chili powder to replace cumin, add more as you go – just don’t get carried away!
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How to Substitute Cumin
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- optional other cumin substitutes
- Use taco seasoning or other substitutes to replace cumin according to the recipe.
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