Cumin Substitute & Alternatives For Your Recipes

For those of us who enjoy a meal with a little spice, chili powder, taco seasoning, may not be enough to substitute the flavor of cumin.

By MJ Faublas
Cumin Substitute & Alternatives For Your Recipes

Why Isn't It the Same?

If you live in a busy city such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, or New York; then you are accustomed to eating food with a little spice. Cities such as Chicago are known for their soul food, while Los Angeles and Miami introduce our palettes to the spice of Spanish dishes; while New Yorkers might partake in Indian meals that leave a wondrous smile on their faces. No matter where you are in the country or what your favorite meal is, most times you will find cumin as a part of the recipe. Do you find that when you try to attempt the meal at home, but without cumin, the meal is just not the same? It's as if it lost its pizzazz. You might find yourself wondering where to find cumin or what to substitute cumin with. Most times if you just try chili powder or taco seasoning, you will find that the meal is either over spicy or a bit salty, these substitutes might not be enough or even overused. Finding the right substitute for cumin can prove to be a difficult task, but fear not, we've accumulated a wonderful list of cumin substitutes that will enhance your meals. These cumin substitutes will make your home the go-to when visitors want to experience meals from around the world.

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Cumin and It's Purpose

Cuming is a spice that used around the world including different countries in Africa, India, Malaysia, the Middle East and Mexico. Cumin comes from the flowering plant Cuminum in the family of Apiaceae (the parsley family) and it is the seeds of the plant that is used when dried and crushed in meals. But not to be used only for the palettes delight, cumin also has medicinal purposes around the world as well. 
The use of cumin dates back to the second millennium BC int he region of the Eastern Mediterranean. Ancient Greeks also used the spice and the use of cumin continued throughout Morocco until it was brought to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese settlers.
In Mexico, cumin is an ingredient in chili powder and taco seasoning. Cumin is most used in stews and soups, including gravies such as curry and chili. In Persia, cumin is most noted for its ability to help in digestion. While in India, cumin is used in popular drinks made by boiling the cumin seeds. 
Cumin is a healthy addition to any meal as it provides a high amount of the Daily Value for fat, protein, and dietary fiber, along with nutrients such as B vitamins, Vitamin E, and minerals as iron, magnesium, and manganese.

4 Substitutes for Cumin

Regardless if it's your favorite dish you're trying to duplicate, or if you're trying to impress a date or dinner guest; the addition of cumin in any meals adds that kick that will leave the mouths of your guest watering. However, if you do not have cumin in your spice collection, finding a replacement could prove to be difficult. If you add more of one substitute or less of another substitute, you may find a differentiating flavor between the original meal and your substitute. Finding the right combination of spice substitutions to add to your meal can prove to be frustrating and might end the experience altogether. However, we are here to help and below you will find four spice replacements for your cumin recipes that will impress any guest at your dinner table.

Substitute One: Caraway Seeds

Closest to cumin due to it also being in the parsley family is substitute number one, the caraway seed. Caraway seeds have similar tastes to cumin as well as similar appearances. The only difference between the substitute caraway seeds and cumin is that cumin is a bit more spicy. Caraway seeds should be used in the same manner as the cumin would be used in your recipe (grounded or whole). This substitute can add that pizzazz back into your dish and your guest will never know that you substituted cumin for caraway seeds. Similar to cumin's health benefits, caraway seeds have 38 grams of dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, E, and B-Vitamins. Caraway seeds also have minerals such as thiamine, pyrimidine, riboflavin, and niacin, all of which are essential to a healthy life.

Substitute Two: Ground Coriander

Once again, we are staying in the parsley family in using this substitute of ground coriander as a replacement for cumin. Ground coriander has a lemony flavor similar to cumin, but once again just as the caraway seed, this substitute is less spicy. To add spice to your meal, ground coriander can be used with chili powder as a combination substitute. If your dish is simple, you might sprinkle your substitute of ground coriander along with taco seasoning, however, don't go overboard with the replacement and always, taste as you season.

Substitute Three: Chili Powder

Yes, you read that substitute title correctly, chili powder. Chili powder is as spicy as cumin and can be a great substitute for the spice. Chili powder is used in stews, curries, tacos, and many other meals. And if your kitchen is running low on cumin, chili powder can be a great substitute to add to your dish and delight your guests taste buds. But remember, with this substitute a little goes a long way, so use half of what the recipe requires in cumin.

Substitute Four: Curry Powder

Curry powder is a great substitute for cumin and you have the ability to use as much or as little as you like. Unlike cumin which requires a specific amount added to each ingredient, curry powder is a grander substitute because it allows you to elaborate on your dish to your specification.


Now that you have some fun spices to enhance your meals, the last thing left to do is enjoy with family and friends.