9 Best Cumin Substitutes

Cumin is one of the most popular spices in the world. It’s used in cuisines around the globe and can be found in everything from tacos, curry, and hummus to chili powder.

It’s also known as “Jeera” or “Zeera,” depending on where you are from. If you love Indian food, then cumin is probably already a staple in your pantry.

But if you don’t have any on hand or are looking for something new to try out, there are plenty of other great cumin substitutes you can try.

In this article, I’ve compiled a list of the best substitutes for cumin so you can still enjoy all the flavors without having to run out and buy more right away.

What is Cumin?

Cumin is a popular spice that is used in many different cuisines. It is made from the dried seeds of a plant in the parsley family and has a slightly smoky, earthy flavor.

It is often used in dishes with beans, lentils, and rice, as well as meat dishes and curries.

When used in Indian cooking, it is often found in curry powder or masala chai. It also appears in Mexican dishes like tacos, fajitas, and chili.

It can be combined with other spices, such as coriander and black pepper, to create custom-blend seasonings that you can try out!

9 Best Cumin Substitutes

1. Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds have a slightly fruity and tangy flavor that makes them a milder substitute for cumin.

These seeds are often used in Eastern European cuisines, such as rye bread, sauerkraut, and potato salad.

They also show up in Middle Eastern dishes from time to time! You can use caraway seeds in place of cumin in any recipe,  but they are especially tasty in chili or creamy pasta dishes.

2. Coriander

Ground Coriander

Coriander is a cousin of cumin and has a similar flavor. It is made from the seeds of the coriander plant and is often used in Indian, Mexican, and Thai cuisine. It also has a citrusy flavor and can be found fresh or dried.

Coriander is the key ingredient in making curry powder. It can be used as a substitute for cumin both whole and ground.

The seeds work best in dry dishes like curries and stews, whereas coriander powder is better suited to wet dishes like soups or sauces.

3. Fennel Seeds

Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are similar to cumin in their earthy taste and can be used as a substitute for cumin.

They have a slightly sweeter and more aniseed-like flavor than cumin, with hints of licorice and citrus.

They are often used in Italian, Indian, and Chinese cooking. Fennel seeds can be substituted for cumin in any recipe, but they work especially well in dishes with tomato sauce or in curries.

You can use them whole or grind them up in spice mixes like curry powder or garam masala. Fennel seeds are also a great addition to pork or fish dishes.

4. Garam Masala

Garam masala is a blend of spices that is often used in Indian cooking. It contains cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, and cinnamon.

This mix can be changed up depending on what you have available or your personal preferences. You can also make your own garam masala spice mix by combining some of these spices as needed!

Garam masala tastes wonderful with meats, especially chicken and lamb. It is a delicious addition to meatballs, soups, stews, and chilis.

It can also be used to make an Indian rice dish called biryani, which is great if you are looking for a new way to enjoy cumin!

5. Curry Powder

Curry powder is another blend of spices that contains cumin and sometimes other spices as well, such as coriander and turmeric.

It comes in a variety of flavors, from mild to spicy.

Curry powder can be used in a wide range of cuisines and is popular in Southeast Asian, Indian, North African, West African, and Caribbean cooking.

It has many uses. Add it to marinades or spice rubs for meat dishes like chicken or steak for an extra kick. You can also use it in soups, stews, or curries.

6. Taco Seasoning

Taco seasoning is another spice mix that contains cumin as one of its main ingredients.

It is made up of chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, sugar, spices, and cornstarch to help the powders stick.

You can add taco seasoning to all types of dishes, from beef or chicken tacos to baked potatoes or nachos.

You simply need to use a few teaspoons of the mix per pound of meat.

7. Paprika

Paprika Substitutes

Paprika is a spice made from dried sweet red peppers and comes in many variations, such as Spanish, Hungarian, and smoked.

It has a mild flavor that is earthy and slightly sweet. Paprika is used in a huge range of cuisines from Latin America to Eastern Europe to the Middle East.

It can be used in place of cumin when cooking dishes with red meat or chili powder, although it will have a slightly different flavor.

8. Chili Powder

Chili powder is a spicy blend of spices that is used in Mexican, Latin American, and Tex-Mex cooking.

It consists of ingredients such as chili flakes, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and black pepper.

Chili powder can be used in a wide range of dishes from meats to stews to soups and sauces. Be sure to add it towards the end of cooking so that the flavor doesn’t dissipate!

It also has a smoky flavor from the chili peppers it’s made from. You can use it just like you would taco seasoning or spice rubs on meat before grilling or roasting.

Chili powder is also the base for many popular Mexican dishes like chili con carne and can be used as a spicy addition to stews, soups, and rice dishes.

9. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder is made from ground chipotles, which are smoked jalapenos.

It has a smoky and spicy flavor that works well in Mexican dishes like chili or salsa as well as soups and stews.

You can use it just like you would regular chili powder! It’s a great way to add a rich and smoky flavor to vegetable dishes like roasted Brussels sprouts or oven-fried potatoes.

What Does Cumin Taste Like?

Cumin has a unique earthy and musky flavor. It is very powerful, so you will only need to use it in small amounts when cooking!

It is widely used in chili powder, curry powder, Mexican dishes like salsas or quesadillas, Indian curries, Middle Eastern dishes, and Latin American dishes like chorizo and black beans.

Cumin is also used to flavor meats, such as pork and poultry, and can be added to spice powders or rubs for grilling and roasting.

Finally, it’s a key ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes like hummus! It is even sometimes ground up with nuts and used as a condiment.

Can I Substitute Ground Cumin for Cumin Seeds?

You can substitute ground cumin for whole cumin seeds, although it will change the flavor of whatever you are cooking.

Ground cumin is made up of richer flavors like nuttiness and smokiness that work well in recipes with spices like chili powder or chipotle powder. It’s also more affordable than seeds, which is another plus!

Whole cumin seeds have a stronger and more pungent flavor that works well with Indian recipes like curries or lentils. They also add an earthy note to Mexican dishes like tacos or salads.

So if you’re using cumin in a Latin American recipe where the flavors are dominated by chili powder, it’s fine to use ground cumin.

But if you’re using it in an Indian dish where the flavors are more subtle, you’ll want to use whole cumin seeds.

How Can I Store Cumin?

Cumin can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

If it starts to lose its color, it will still have a similar flavor but you’ll want to use it quickly.

Ground cumin will maintain its best quality for 2 years if stored properly while whole cumin seeds can be stored for up to 4 years.

Once spices are ground, their flavors start to fade after 6 months; therefore, grinding your own is one of the best ways to ensure the freshest flavor.

Are Cumin and Coriander the Same?

Cumin and coriander are not the same.

Coriander is a seed that is ground up and used in both Indian and Mexican cuisine. It has a sweet, citrusy flavor that pairs well with cumin.

Cumin is a spice that is made from the dried fruit of a plant called Cuminum cyminum. It has a warm, earthy, and slightly peppery flavor that is popular in Indian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Final Words

So there you have it. Some great substitutes for cumin when you’re cooking. Be sure to try out different combinations and see what you like the best!

Hope you enjoyed this article on cumin substitutes.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

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