Are you looking for a cumin substitute? Have you ever been in the middle of preparing a recipe and suddenly realize that you are fresh out of an important ingredient? It happens to the best of us even during this shrimp recipe. That’s why knowing what and how to substitute is so essential. If you have run out of cumin, these are some excellent cumin substitutes.
Cumin Substitutes: 5 options that you probably have at home
- Chili powder
- Caraway seeds
- Ground coriander
- Taco seasoning
- Curry Powder
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What is cumin?
Cumin derives from the parsley family. Cumin is a seed that is harvested by hand annually. You can get it in seeds or ground up in a powder. Cumin is often used in Middle Eastern dishes and Mexican dishes.
What to know about substituting cumin
One of the concerns when substituting cumin is the color of the food and the heat level of the food. Cumin has a particular general color. While cumin does occasionally come in black, green, or even white, it is generally a greenish-brown color. The color can definitely affect the final presentation of your dish and that is worth considering, especially in curries.
What does cumin taste like?
Cumin has a bit of heat to it. It has quite a distinct flavor that is a mix between rich and earthy with a spicy taste. It has a hint of citrus to it as well. It is generally used in chili powder. I compare the taste similar to a mild version of cayenne and cinnamon mixed together.
The 4 Best Cumin Substitution Options
1. Chili powder as a cumin substitute
Ratio: 1/2 teaspoon chili powder to 1 teaspoon cumin
Chili powder is an excellent substitute for cumin because cumin is an ingredient of chili powder, and it also is similar in color. Another benefit of chili powder is that most of us have some in our pantry. When substituting with chili powder start with only half of the required amount. It is essential to keep in mind that it includes other seasonings such as garlic and onion powder. You can add more to taste but mix it well and allow it to sit briefly and mix before tasting.
2. Caraway Seeds
Ratio: 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds to 1 teaspoon cumin
Caraway seeds are from the parsley family as well. This family relationship means that they are very similar in flavor. If you have caraway seeds stowed away in your pantry, this is an excellent choice. You may want to grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle so you end up with a smooth powder.
3. Ground Coriander
Ratio: 1 1/4 teaspoon coriander to 1 teaspoon cumin
Coriander is another member of the parsley family. However, it isn't quite as strong in flavor as cumin. As a result, if you substitute with coriander, use about 25% more than the recipe suggests.
4. Taco Seasoning
Ratio: 1 teaspoon taco seasoning to 1 teaspoon cumin
While chili powder is our first choice for a cumin substitute, our second choice is taco seasoning. The primary reason is that we often have it on hand, and the flavor and color are similar. Be aware that a packet of processed taco seasoning has plenty of salt.
5. Curry Powder
Ratio: 1/3 teaspoon curry powder to 1 teaspoon cumin
Cumin is also a base for curry powder. Curry’s distinct flavor comes from a combination of cumin, turmeric, and bay leaf. Because it’s so strong flavored, try mixing curry with other options you might have in your pantry: half and half of curry and chili powder, for example; or 1:3 of curry powder, ground coriander, and taco seasoning.
With these substitutions, and options, it is essential to add small amounts at a time and then taste to suit. While cumin is a distinctive flavor, there are some tasty and viable options if you find that you are out of it. Always check your bottles and containers for salt, as you could end up doubling or tripling the salt when making spice substitutions. You never know – keep experimenting and you just may end up with an all-new recipe that you love!
More Cooking Substitution tips
We really want to make cooking easy for all of us non-chefs out there. We don't always have a perfectly stocked kitchen. That is why we are passionate about cooking substitution tips. Here are a few more than you can check out today!
Keep sharing your favorites and your attempts at making amazing meals! We’d love to hear from you!