Turmeric is hard to replace, but there are a few options if you don’t have this spice on hand! Here’s the best turmeric substitute.

Turmeric substitute

Making a recipe that calls for turmeric and don’t have it? Turmeric is a root used in cooking: it’s part of the ginger family. It is most often used dried and ground into a yellow powder, which has an earthy, almost mustard-like flavor. Turmeric is also often used for color in recipes: in fact, turmeric is what gives yellow mustard its bright yellow color!

Turmeric can be hard to replace, so if at all possible, go to the store and buy some. But if you’re not able to run to the store: we get it! Here are some turmeric substitute ideas.

Best turmeric substitute

Note that how these options work depend on how the turmeric is used in the recipe.

1. Saffron (for color).

A good turmeric substitute for color? Saffron! Saffron may be the world’s most expensive spice, but it’s pretty easy to find at your local grocery. Does the recipe use turmeric for color, like in yellow rice or a tofu scramble? If so, you can use saffron. Saffron has a unique fragrant flavor, but it’s fairly subtle and not unlike turmeric. How much saffron to use? Saffron is usually measured in pinches. Use 1 large pinch saffron to stand in for every 1 teaspoon turmeric.

2. Ground ginger.

Another turmeric substitute? It’s not an exact flavor comp, but you could try using half the quantity of ground ginger to replace for the turmeric flavor. Since turmeric is a member of the ginger family, the flavor is related. This works well in cases where turmeric is used in something like Masoor Dal (Indian Red Lentils) or Moroccan Stew with Chickpeas.

3. Dry mustard.

Another option as a turmeric substitute? Dry mustard or mustard powder. Dry mustard mimics the mustard-like flavor of turmeric and also add a little color. It could work in soups like Golden Vegetable Soup or Cauliflower Soup with Moroccan Spices.

Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring turmeric:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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