If you talk about a universal spice, cumin is the name that would come out of the mouths of spice gurus. You can find it in North American, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Mediterranean and Asian dishes. Indeed, those who love international cuisine—and who doesn’t—probably have their taste buds conditioned to the earthy, nutty and a touch of a citrus flavor of cumin. But not all food lovers are fond of cumin primarily because of its bitter taste.
If you have cooked on family gatherings, you know how hard it is to cook with cumin only to find your loved ones passing on your dishes because of the bitter taste. But don’t fret, there are a lot of cumin substitute that will give you its distinct flavor sans the bitter taste.
13 Cumin Substitute That Will Make You A Spice Guru
Passable Cumin Substitute
Let me tell you right from the get-go that there is no better substitute for cumin except cumin itself and ruling cumin out in a recipe that requires it is just a plain no-no. It adds to your spice guru badge if you can find spices that will round out the flavors of cumin and regain what you’ve lost without it. Here are some similar but weaker spices with flavor and aroma that you can use to replace cumin in most recipes.
Chipotle seasoning has some cumin in it and it just stands to reason that you can use it as its alternative. But since this is not a familiar spice, you have to use your better judgment when using it as a substitute because you can’t find a hard and fast formula for it. The idea is to add this in little portions and taste the dish as you go and know when to stop.
2. Anise seed
It has been used in many bread and pastries in place of cumin but you have to bear in mind that it has a stronger flavor. The best thing to do is to use half the amount of cumin when using caraways in a recipe that requires the former.
4. Smoked Paprika
The only thing that you will miss in this substitute is the heat. But then again, with a hint of wizardry, you can mix one part smoked paprika with two parts chili powder to achieve the flavor of one part cumin.
6. Chilli powder
Bear in mind however that the amount of cumin in chili powder can vary from package to package so adjust the amount considering what you want to achieve. Avoid using pure chili powder because this doesn’t have any cumin at all.
7. Garam Marsala
9. Curry Powder
This spice combination will give you a spicy, sweet and earthy flavor in addition to the yellow discoloration because of the presence of turmeric in the mix. All these should be taken into consideration when you use it as a substitute for cumin.
10. Taco Seasoning Mix
The taco seasoning mix contains almost all of the cumin substitute that we listed here including cumin itself. It has pepper, chili powder, paprika, oregano, red pepper flakes, and onion powder and that’s why it made it on our list. Due to its salt content, you have to reduce the amount of salt that you put in your recipe.
11. Fennel Seeds
12. Black Cumin
It takes some black art of a real spice guru to find the real substitute for cumin. Due to the distinct flavor and taste of the spices mentioned above, you can’t really expect to find the exact same substitute for cumin. But if you follow the replacement method provided above, you can cook recipes that would taste like they have cumin in it.
So, which of these 13 spices do you find suitable for your next cumin-based recipe? If you’ve found the best substitute for cumin, please share your experience by dropping a comment below.