7 Cumin Substitutes You Should Try Now

Known as one of the most popular spices across the world, cumin comes from a tiny flowering herbaceous plant from the family of Umbelliferae or Apiaceae, which includes hemlock, fennel, and parsley as well. It is highly valued in various cuisines. North Africans, Mexicans, and Indians love this spice as it adds unique, delectable taste and color to their favorite dishes

Cumin Seeds

You can mostly buy cumin in the form of powder, which is ground down a description of the dried seeds. Also, you can purchase whole cumin seeds, featuring a bit spicier flavor and a pungent smell. Though the whole seeds are not commonplace or essential, they prove to be good at adding into specific meals which necessitate you to make a garnish or spice flavor. 

What Is It Used For?

Cumin is commonly used in Indian, Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisines, and others. It can be used when grinding and in the whole form of seed. Often, this spice is added to barbeque sauce, marinades, chili, and baked beans. 

You can also found cumin in curry powder, adobos, baharat, achiote blends, garam masala and other spice blends. The brownish-yellow color is the most popular variety, though it is sometimes available in white, black and green. 

What Makes Cumin Good for Our Health?

Of course, the health benefits the spice offers make it a must-have ingredient to your dishes. 

Apart from adding to food, this favorite spice was also highly recognized for its traditional therapeutic uses. For instance, the seeds are used to produce a drink that helps in alleviating indigestion and flatulence.

Other benefits include its ability to improve immunity, help in digestion, as well as treat skin conditions, sleeping disorder, respiratory disorders, boils, cancer, bronchitis, diabetes, asthma, anemia, and insomnia.

Watch this video to learn more about the benefits cumin could provide:

What Does Cumin Taste Like?

Curious enough to know what cumin is supposed to taste like? 

Popularly, cumin has a powerful smell and taste. You will find that it has a bit of pungent, bittersweet and hot flavor on its own. But generally, this particular spice has sort of a woody, earthy, nutty flavor with reasonably bitter undertones and piercing, warm smell with hints of lemon. However, you won't taste the cumin much if you've added it to many other ingredients. 

There are three types of seed available, all which vary in flavor, shading and oil content. You can choose from Middle Eastern, Indian, or Iranian cumin and you will get a different taste profile. 

But, what if the smell or taste of cumin doesn't appeal to you, or your recipe badly needs cumin but you don't have any at hand? The good news is that there are other spices hidden in your pantry that you can use as a replacement to cumin. 

7 Cumin Substitutes That Will Save Your Table

Out of cumin? Worry not! Here are 7 cumin substitutes that will make you a spice wizard. 

1. Chipotle


If you want a smoky cumin substitute with a touch of heat, chipotle is highly recommended in your kitchen. Though it is not commonly found in most home kitchens, it has been making rounds in grocery stores. If you love cooking Mexican foods, then this spice is definitely worth a try.

Just add some amount of chipotle to the meal and see how the food transforms in an instant. 

Health benefits:

  • Promotes weight loss
  • Helps in digestion
  • Relieves cardiovascular diseases
  • Prevents diabetes
  • Boosts energy, immunity and metabolism
  • Prevents cancer

2. Caraway Seeds

Similar to cumin, caraway seeds are also part of the parsley family. It is one of the chief spices in a traditional cuisine of Europe, with a light citrus taste and earthy flavor. Cumin and caraway have the same appearance and color; hence, using it as a substitute will not entirely change the average color of your favorite dish.

Caraway seeds are not somewhat as spicy as cumin, so it is better to increase the amount until you achieve the flavor profile you like. 

Health benefits:

  • Rich in dietary fiber, 38 grams of fiber
  • Has health-benefiting flavonoid antioxidants and essential oils

3. Coriander

Another family member of parsley, coriander comes in whole and ground form.

The ground coriander boasts a lemony and earthy flavor, though it lacks in heat. If you want the heat back, try adding a bit of chili powder to your recipe. Coriander seeds, on the other hand, emit a great aroma and taste in a particular dish, as well as blends well with the Indian and Mediterranean cuisines.

When cooking, you need to use one teaspoon of it for each 3/4 teaspoon of cumin that your recipe needs. 

Health benefits:

  • Promotes digestion 
  • Offers protection against urinary tract infection
  • Improves immunity 
  • Relieves common cold, asthma, and bronchitis

4. Chili Powder

Chili powder is a spice mix that consists of ground chili together with an array of other spices, making it a great cumin replacement. It gives a distinctive taste, minus the bitterness of cumin. Be careful, however, when using chili powder as a substitute for cumin because too much can make your dish very spicy. After all, you don't want to disappoint your guests. 

Health benefits:

  • Boost metabolism
  • Heals minor injuries and infections
  • Assists with insulin regulation
  • Strengthen immune system
  • Helps aid the digestive system
  • Improve cognitive functioning
  • Helps maintain the blood pressure

5. Garam Marsala

Another excellent cumin substitute, garam Marsala is an Indian spice that includes a healthy dose of black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and coriander. It boasts a sophisticated, earthy and sweet flavor. Since it has a similar color to cumin, rest assured that the appearance of your meals won't significantly change. 

Its composition dramatically varies regionally, with numerous recipes across the land of India according to individual and local taste. To ensure you won't overpower the flavor of your dish, use only half of garam Marsala. 

Health benefits:

  • Wards off constipation
  • Improves digestive system by increasing the metabolism and body temperature 

6. Taco Seasoning Mix

High gourmet cooking may not consider making use of taco seasoning mix, but the mixture of spices contained within can produce a seamlessly balanced kick of heat and spice. Whether you run out of cumin and looking for something to make an enjoyable and sophisticated taste for your dish to impress picky guests, substitute taco seasoning mix to cumin and you'll surely love the outcome. 

Health benefits:

  • Improves immune functions and digestive problems

7. Paprika

Commonly found in Mexican and Asian cuisines, paprika is a potent spice that is popularly known due to its smoky, distinctive taste. Although the flavor profile is not exactly similar to that of cumin, it won't let you miss the real thing of cumin. 

Paprika only holds very little heat, which is a good cumin substitute especially for those who want to have less spice in their recipe. 

Health benefits:

  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Prevents hair loss
  • Treats skin problems (e.g., spider veins)
  • Provides energy
  • Promotes sound sleep

Since paprika is very powerful, the initial recommended amount is 25 to 50%, and you can go up there. 

Why Should We Use Cumin Substitute?

Even when cooking, unexpected events happen (especially when you're in a rush). Quite sure, many of you had felt like a total deal breaker when you run out of cumin. This is why cumin substitutes are here to save your day. 

Those who do not prefer either the aroma or flavor profile of cumin may also find these substitutes helpful and delicious. These 7 cumin substitutes are not only smelled and tasted great but come with some health benefits as well.

Like and share. Have you used any of these cumin substitutes? Share your experience with us!

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