Cumin is a must-have spice when preparing most dishes and cuisines, making it a highly-cherished spice. However, sometimes you might run out of it while cooking, and knowing these substitutes can help you.

While preparing guacamole dips to Indian curry to aloo tarkari, or spiced chili, cumin is a must-include spice. Consequently, it has become a kitchen staple and one of the world’s highly-cherished spices. Still, you might run out of this delectable spice, especially when you are in the middle of your cooking, and asking the next neighbor for some isn’t something you want to do. That’s when these cumin replacements come in handy and help you prepare a high-quality meal. Therefore, treat this article as your primer, and use it to learn all the possible cumin substitutes.

a.      Ground coriander

If you were preparing an Indian, Latin, or Middle Eastern dish and run out of cumin, try ground coriander seeds, and you will reap the same results. The two grow from parsley plants and can be used interchangeably. Coriander is a great spice itself, whose fresh stems (cilantro) and ground seeds (coriander) are both useful in the kitchen. With coriander powder or cumin, your dish will still taste earthy and lemony, although the heat reduces for the case of ground coriander. All you need to do is get half the amount of coriander and add cayenne or chill to improve the powder’s mild taste, having the same results as what you would get with cumin.

b.      Chili powder

Chili powder also comes in handy when you run out of cumin, primarily because it is one of the core ingredients in cumin and will bring the heat typical of cumin. However, the ingredient has many other components and may usually include onion powder, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and ground cayenne; hence, the resulting flavor may slightly differ from what cumin would give you. Consequently, it may not be ideal for Indian curries, although it will match well with baked beans. The ground cayenne and paprika will also make the dish a bit reddish, which should not shock you.

c.       Curry powder

Curry powder is another kitchen staple that will come in handy when you run out of cumin. The spice, like the rest discussed in this article, will result in slightly different flavors. Manufacturers combine about twenty ground herbs to prepare curry powder, including garlic, cardamom, black pepper, fenugreek, coriander, ground ginger, and turmeric. Remember, turmeric has a characteristic yellow color, so adding curry powder to your cuisine may make the food yellow. Besides, the dish will have a deep aromatic taste and tone, ideal for many Southeast Asian dishes.

d.     Taco seasoning

If you have taco seasoning in the kitchen and run out of cumin, it would be your number one substitute since its flavor closely resembles cumin, although it brings with it slightly more heat. Like chili powder, taco seasoning has cumin, ginger powder, oregano, and garlic & onion powders. In addition, it has crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper, resulting in a unique set of flavors. While using taco seasoning, remember that the blends’ salt proportions differ, so you need to lower salt and other sodium condiments. Preferably, you can add taco seasoning first before salt and adjust the taste slowly as you feel the salt content to avoid ending up with an over-salted dish.

e.      Caraway seeds

Like coriander and cumin, caraway seeds grow from plants in the parsley family, which is why caraway seeds and cumin all have a brown mustard-like color and oblong shape. If you are preparing German cuisine, caraway seeds come in handy and result in the same flavor as cumin, although slightly mild. Caraway seeds and powder can be used interchangeably, but for best results, caraway seeds and powder should substitute cumin seeds and powder, respectively. The general rule of thumb is that half the amount of caraway should sufficiently replace cumin, after which you can adjust to desired taste.

f.        Garam masala

Garam masala is ideal for replacing cumin when preparing South African, Mauritius, and Indian cuisines and will result in a wonderful tone. Like curry powder, this complex herb has cumin as a primary ingredient, so it can replace cumin in the mentioned dishes. Many add the spice toward the end of cooking, resulting in a dish with a characteristic warm, citrusy flavor. For best results, add half the amount of the planned cumin proportion, and depending on the desired taste, keep adjusting, especially toward the end of cooking, until you have what you want.

g.      Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds are another spice belonging to the parsley family, just like coriander, curry powder, and cumin. Therefore, it can also replace cumin. However, the seeds will give your food an anise-like licorice taste, different from the warm, earthy, and smoky flavor typical of cumin. However, with the right pinch of fennel seeds, your dish will not taste out of place, and you will enjoy it the same way you would if you added cumin. You can use fennel seeds and powder for cumin seeds and powder, respectively. Many pulverize fennel seeds with a food processor or a coffee grinder to make them more compatible with the cuisine. For a start, add half the amount of cumin you would use and add small pinches until you get the desired taste. In addition, you can put a little paprika to have the desired smoky taste.

h.      Paprika

If you are looking for a spice to give your food a smoky feel typical of cumin, paprika would be the ideal substitute. However, remember that paprika will give your cuisine a unique reddish tone, so you should not be shocked at seeing it. Usually, half the size of cumin is enough, although you can add a few pinches of cayenne or pepper for some heat because paprika has mild heat.


When you are cooking an Indian, Latin, Asian, or any dish that needs cumin, running out of this spice may sound disastrous to you. However, with some handy substitutes in the kitchen, you can worry less. For instance, paprika, chili powder, coriander, caraway seeds, garam masala, and fennel seeds are a few of the healthy spices that will give you the same results as cumin, although with slight color and flavor differences. As a rule of thumb, add half the amount of cumin, and adjust to the desired taste.

Tatyana Dyachenko

For the past years, Tatyana has worked as a sex blogger and a relationship advisor. She has been featured in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue. Vice, Tatler, Vanity Fair, and many others. Since 2016, Tatyana has focused on sexology, attended various training courses, participated in international conferences and congresses. “I wish people would address sexual issues in a timely manner! Forget shyness, prejudice and feel free to see a sex doctor for help or advice!” Tanya enjoys pursuing her flare for creativity through modelling, graffiti art, astronomy, and technology.