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The 5 Best Substitutes for Curry Powder

Curry powder is a versatile spice used in many different dishes.

It’s made from various spices, including turmeric, cumin, and coriander.

Curry powder is typically used in Indian and Thai cuisine, but it can be added to any dish for extra flavor.

In addition to being a delicious spice, curry powder has many health benefits.

Curry powder can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Of course, it’s often used in curries, but it can also be added to soups, stews, rice dishes, and more.

You can even use it to make a simple seasoning for roasted vegetables.

The powder is a staple in Indian cuisine, but what do you do if you’re out or run out of it? Here are five different spices that can substitute curry powder in your recipes.

Each one has its unique flavor that will add depth to your dish.

So don’t worry, you won’t have to go without your favorite Indian dish because you’re running low on curry powder.

What is Curry Powder?

what is curry powder

Curry powder is a blend of spices typically used in Indian and South Asian cuisine.

While the exact ingredients can vary depending on the region, common spices include turmeric, coriander, cumin, and chili peppers.

Curry powder is usually added to dishes during the cooking process, although it can also be used to finish the season.

When used in Indian cuisine, curry powder often serves as the base for a curried dish, providing a complex mix of flavors that are further enhanced by adding other spices.

In contrast, South Asian cuisine often uses curry powder as a finishing seasoning, providing a flavor boost without overwhelming the dish.

Whether used as a base or a finishing seasoning, curry powder is an essential ingredient in many delicious dishes.

In terms of flavor, curry powder is often described as earthy, warm, and slightly sweet.

The same flavor profile will vary depending on the specific spices used in the blend.

Commonly used spices like turmeric and cumin provide an earthy flavor, while chili peppers add a touch of heat.

Coriander and other aromatic spices can contribute a subtle sweetness, rounding out the flavor of curry powder.

Overall, curry powder is a complex and versatile spice used in various dishes.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Curry Powder

A few good substitutes can be used for those who don’t have curry powder on hand.

While the flavor profile won’t be identical, these substitutes will provide a similar mix of flavors to complement many dishes.

1. Garam Masala

garam masala

For many people, curry is synonymous with garam masala.

The name “garam masala” literally means “hot spice mix,” The blend is often used to add heat and flavor to curry dishes.

This fragrant spice blend is used extensively in Indian cuisine, and it can be used to add flavor to both vegetarian and meat dishes.

Traditionally, garam masala is made by dry-roasting a mix of spices and then grinding them into a powder.

Depending on regional preferences, the specific spices used vary, but common ingredients include cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, and cumin.

While garam masala is often used as a finishing spice, it can also be added during the cooking process to infuse dishes with its warm and complex flavor.

Whether you use it as a rub for grilled meats or seasoning for vegetable curry, garam masala is a versatile spice in every home cook’s arsenal.

While garam masala is a great all-purpose curry powder substitute, it’s important to keep in mind that it is quite potent.

A little goes a long way, so start with less than you think you need and add more to taste.

2. Curry Paste

curry paste

Curry paste is a mixture of spices, herbs, and other ingredients typically used in Indian and Thai cuisine.

The ingredients are ground into a paste, which can then be used to flavor curry dishes.

There are many different types of curry paste, and the exact ingredients can vary depending on the region and the specific dish.

Common ingredients in curry paste include ginger, garlic, chili peppers, cumin, coriander, and turmeric.

Curry paste can make both vegetarian and meat curries, and it can be mild or fiery hot, depending on the number of chili peppers used.

Curry paste is readily available in most supermarkets, but it can also be made at home using a blender or food processor.

For those who want to avoid using processed foods or control the ingredients in their curry paste, making it at home is the best option.

However, store-bought curry paste can be a time saver when you are in a hurry.

When substituting curry paste for curry powder, use about half as much paste as you would powder.

3. Chaat Masala

chaat masala

Chaat Masala is a popular spice blend used in Indian cuisine.

The word “chaat” refers to various snacks and dishes, often served at street stalls or markets.

Chaat Masala typically contains a mix of spices such as curry powder, coriander, cumin, and chili powder.

The precise blend of spices can vary depending on the region or cook, but the overall flavor is typically savory and slightly spicy.

While Chaat Masala is commonly used to season snacks such as potato chips or fried chicken, it can also add flavor to the soup, curry, or rice dishes.

When substituting Chaat Masala for curry powder, it’s important to remember that the blend is typically more savory than sweet.

It may not be suitable for all recipes that call for curry powder.

In addition, the blend is usually quite spicy, so you may want to adjust the amount used depending on your personal preferences.

4. Ground Cumin

ground cumin

If you’re a fan of curry, then you’re probably familiar with ground cumin.

This dried, ground spice is a key ingredient in many curry recipes, imparting a warm, earthy flavor.

Ground cumin is also used in chili recipes and Middle Eastern and North African dishes.

While ground cumin is a common ingredient in many spice blends, it can also be used on its own.

Ground cumin is a good option if you’re out of curry powder and need a quick substitute.

Remember that it will give your dish a more pronounced cumin flavor, so you may want to use less than the recipe calls for.

You may also want to add other spices to round out the flavor, such as ginger, coriander, and chili powder.

5. Make Your Own Curry Powder

make your own curry powder

If you want to be adventurous, you can make your curry powder.

This is a great way to get the exact flavor you want, and it can be fun to experiment with different spices.

Many recipes are available online, so finding one you like should not be difficult.

When making your curry powder, you need to consider the flavors you want.

Do you want something spicy? Mild? Sweet? Once you have decided on the flavor profile, you can experiment with different spices.

A good place to start is with cumin, coriander, and turmeric.

These are the three essential spices in curry powder, so you will want to use them in generous amounts.

You can add other spices like ginger, cloves, fenugreek, and cardamom.

The amount of each spice you use is up to you, so feel free to experiment until you find a combination you like.


When it comes to substitutes for curry powder, there are a few options available.

One common substitute is garam masala, a blend of spices used in Indian cuisine.

Another option is to use a combination of ground coriander and cumin.

To create a homemade curry powder blend, you can add turmeric, ginger, and chili powder.

Whatever substitute you choose, be sure to adjust the amount used to suit your taste.

With a little trial and error, you’ll be sure to find a curry powder substitute that works for you.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Curry Powder

The 5 Best Substitutes for Curry Powder
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Garam Masala
  • Curry Paste
  • Chaat Masala
  • Ground Cumin
  • Make Your Own Curry Powder


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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