Best Substitute For Cumin Seeds & Powder

substitute for cumin

Aromatic, earthy, and versatile spice, cumin is an essential ingredient in any cook’s pantry. Whether it is hummus, curry, or a pot of chili, cumin is a part of them all. So when you realize that you are out of cumin in your pantry, the panic is real. Do not worry; we have listed the seven best substitute for cumin in this post. All these replacement sices for cumin are have been hiding in your spice rank for so long; it’s time to put them to good use.

What Is Cumin?

Cumin is a spice extracted from dried cumin plant seeds. The cumin plant is a member of the parsley family and native to Southwestern Asia and the Middle East, making this spice widely popular in these regions.

Cumin is available in powdered as well as whole seeds form and can be found at any grocery store. It is yellowish-brown in color and tastes smoky, nutty, earthy, and bittersweet. Cumin pairs well with earthy spices like coriander, cinnamon, and chilies. It is popularly included spice in any store-bought spice blends like curry powder, chili powder, and garam masala. 

If you have run out of cumin in your kitchen, try these seven substitute ingredients for cumin seeds and powder.

 Substitute for Cumin Seeds and Powder

Whole coriander or ground coriander.

Coriander is a seed extracted from the cilantro plant, which is also a member of the pair and has a similar lemony, right and earthy flavor; however, coriander is a bit milder in terms of heat and smokiness. To use it as a replacement for cumin, use about half the amount for coriander. 

Caraway seeds

Caraway seeds and cumin seeds look identical. Also, the taste of both these parsley family spices is very similar but not as strong as cumin. You can use caraway seeds to substitute for cumin in your recipe.

Fennel seeds

Another popular replacement for cumin seed is fennel. It can be used as a substitute for cumin in desperate needs. However, fennel seeds tend to have more licorice flavor so remember the overall flavor profile of your dish before using it because it is not something you can use in any dish. Fennel is not as earthy and smoky as cumin, so instead, you can opt out for the other mentioned substitute.

Garam masala

This is a popularly used blend of South African and Indian spice, and the exact blend varies from brand to brand, but cumin is a part of them all. When using garam masala to substitute for cumin, start with half the amount you would for cumin and then adjust as needed.

Curry powder

Curry powder like garam masala contains cumin, so it can make a good substitute for cumin powder. Although it also contains a mix of other spices and flavors as well, so consider what dish you are making in order to use it. Curry powder is a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian dishes. Remember that it will give a bright yellow color to your dish because it contains turmeric. 

Chili powder

Chili powder also contains cumin along with oregano and garlic powder sometimes. Remember that it will add heat and spice to your dish, so use a small amount of chili to replace the cumin.


Paprika, like cumin, has an earthy and smoky flavor. However, it does not have citrusy, so use it in small amounts and then adjust as per need. Similar to curry powder, it adds color to food when used in large quantities but is red instead of yellow.

A Final Note 

While the above-listed substitute for cumin seeds and powder will not give the dish’s exact flavor profile, caraway and coriander come to the closest; chili and curry powder contains cumin but can add spice and color to your dish.