Curry Powder Substitute: Top Picks

When you think of curry powder, you automatically think of Indian cuisine. But add curry power to almost any dish, and get ready to experience a mouthwatering blend of spices. But if you don’t have it in the pantry, many curry powder substitute options exist.

The use of curry powder dates back to the 1700s. It was initially made to replicate the fantastic core Indian curry flavors. Over time, it has become a staple in several cuisines and recipes because it adds warm, spicy notes.

Curry powder is so versatile that it’s possible to finish a pack quickly. And if you’ve run out of curry powder, many excellent, delectable substitutes may exceed your expectations.

What Is Curry Powder? 

These days the blend of spices with complex flavors we know as curry powder is common worldwide. Cumin. Turmeric, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper are at the heart of this spice mix. And together, they create savory notes with a rich aroma and a warm taste. 

Because of the blend of aromatic and flavorful spices, it’s used in several traditional dishes. But it’s most often used in dishes such as butter chicken, shrimp fried pilau rice, and potato samosas. However, it’s also often incorporated into stews, soups, pasta bakes, and so much more.

Curry powder is not just a wonderful addition to your dish but also nutrient-packed. It’s high in anti-inflammatory properties, among other health benefits.

Curry Powder Substitute

Because curry powder contains a variety of spices, it might not be easy to replace. This is where having a few curry powder alternatives up your sleeve comes in handy. Here are some of the most incredible curry powder substitutes for your recipe. 

1. Garam Masala

Garam masala is another blend of warm spices, just like curry powder. And it includes cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices.  

However, garam masala does not include turmeric, so your dish won’t have as much of a musky, earthy flavor. But the flavors of garam masala still work wonderfully well in curries, stews, and more.

Start with a ¼ teaspoon of garam masala to replace a teaspoon of curry powder. Then adjust the quantity as needed.

2. Ground Cumin

Odds are you have cumin in your pantry. Ground cumin is the best curry powder substitute because it combines warm and spicy flavors.

However, it lacks the tanginess that makes curry powder distinct. Still, you can use ground cumin for tomato-based dishes and stews to add a flavorful punch. It’s also high in nutrients such as manganese and iron.

Add ½ teaspoon of ground cumin for every one teaspoon of curry powder. Adjust until your dish tastes perfect. 

3. Curry Paste

Most people confuse curry paste with curry powder. However, they are a bit different. Curry paste is a mixture of spices formed into a paste consistency. But it makes an excellent curry powder substitute. 

Different types of curry paste include Thai, Jamaican, and Madras. And they are typically bright red to orange, depending on the type of curry paste. But it typically provides a rich, hearty aroma with an intense and tangy flavor. 

You can add it to your curries, stews, and soups for a richer flavor. Curry powder can be replaced by curry paste at a ratio of 1:1. 

4. Chaat Masala 

Chaat masala is a blend of crushed asafetida, cumin, coriander, and other spices. It was popularized in Indian cuisines thanks to its spicy taste. Along with rich spices, it also contains mango powder to give it a sweet and tart flavor. 

It’s great for adding a few savory notes to stews and curries. And chaat masala might not be a good alternative if you have a low tolerance to hot spices.

Start with a small amount because chaat masala tends to have more of a kick than curry powder. We recommend ½ teaspoon of chaat masala to replace one teaspoon of curry powder. 

5. Sambar Powder

Sambar powder is typically made of the same spices as curry powder. However, the spices are found in different quantities, delivering a more aromatic and intense flavor.

Similar to curry powder, sambar powder is also packed with nutrients such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. And it has tangy, savory, and gently spicy notes thanks to the chili, cumin, coriander, and more. 

Using this substitute will elevate your recipes. You can begin with a 1:1 ratio to replace curry powder.

6. Tandoori Masala

Popularized in Pakistani dishes, tandoori masala is a delicious blend of spices, including fenugreek seeds, nutmeg, garlic, and more. It has a rich flavor similar to curry powder, making it a fantastic replacement. 

If you are not a fan of chili, you might find it a little unappealing. You can add tandoori masala to your dry rub or marinade. But note that it may alter the color of your dish to a reddish hue. This is unlike the yellow tone synonymous with curry powder. 

When you substitute tandoori masala for curry powder, start with ½ teaspoon for each teaspoon of curry powder.

7. Allspice

Allspice comes from dried berries that resemble peppercorns. But the flavors mimic cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and other spices present in curry powder. Therefore, it closely matches the taste of curry powder.

Adding rich, aromatic notes, allspice works well in both sweet and savory dishes such as stews and baked goods. Allspice is fragrant and spicy, making it a good alternative if you prefer milder flavors in your dish.

Whether seasoning grilled chicken or making a sweet dessert, you can use it to replace curry powder in equal parts.


You may not always be able to find an exact curry powder alternative. But you can replicate some of the flavors in your dishes. So, if you want to replace curry powder with a flavorful spice, give a curry powder substitute above a shot.