The BEST Substitute for Cumin (7+ Swap In Ideas)

There are several good substitutes for cumin, depending on your dish and what qualities of cumin you want to replace. Whether you’re making chili, hummus or another dish that calls for cumin, I’ve got some great swap in ideas.

What to Substitute for Cumin

Ground Coriander

This spice comes from the same plant as cilantro and shares a similar citrusy, earthy flavor with cumin, though it’s milder. Use half the amount of coriander as you would cumin.

Caraway Seeds

These look similar to cumin and offer a milder, earthier flavor with a hint of licorice. Start with half the amount of caraway seeds as cumin and adjust to taste.

Fennel Seeds

These have a sweet, licorice-like flavor with some warmth. They work best in dishes where other licorice-heavy ingredients are present, like sausage. Use half the amount of fennel seeds as cumin.

Cumin seeds on spoon.

Chili Powder

Many chili powder blends already contain cumin, so depending on the recipe, it can be a good substitute. Use half the amount of chili powder as cumin, as it tends to be stronger. Be careful as it will also add color and spiciness to your dish.

Curry Powder

Similar to chili powder, some curry powders contain cumin. It’s best for curries and Indian-inspired dishes, as it has a complex flavor profile beyond just cumin. Use half the amount of curry powder as cumin.

Smoked Paprika

This can add a smoky depth similar to cumin, but it lacks the earthy and citrusy notes. Use a small amount to start and adjust to taste.

Garam Masala

This Indian spice blend contains cumin along with several other spices. It’s best used in Indian-inspired dishes and can be substituted in equal amounts for cumin.

Cumin in bowl with spoon.

Taco Seasoning

Taco seasoning typically contains cumin as one of its main ingredients, along with other warm spices like chili powder, paprika, garlic, and onion. This blend offers a similar earthy, savory, and slightly spicy flavor profile to cumin.

Tips

  • When using a substitute, it’s best to start with less than the recipe calls for and add more to taste. This will help you avoid overpowering your dish.
  • Consider the other spices in your recipe when choosing a substitute. For example, if your recipe already has coriander, using more coriander as a substitute might be too much.
  • Remember that no substitute will exactly replicate the citrusy/smoky flavor of cumin, so be prepared for a slightly different taste profile.

Related Recipes

Here are some recipes that use cumin:

Collage of cumin substitutes with text overlay.

The BEST Cumin Substitute

There are several good substitutes for cumin, depending on your dish and what qualities of cumin you want to replace. Whether you're making chili, hummus or another dish that calls for cumin, I've got some great swap in ideas.
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

Option 1: Coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Option 2: Caraway Seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds

Instructions

  • Swap 1 teaspoon of cumin with 1/2 teaspoon of either ground coriander or 1/2 teaspoon of ground caraway seeds.
  • Enjoy in your favorite recipe.
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