Substitute For Turmeric Powder (In Yellow Rice, Butter Chicken, Soups etc)

Have you just ran out of turmeric powder. If you are and you’re looking for a good substitute for turmeric powder, then you’re in luck. Here, I’ve listed 5 best substitutes for turmeric powder that actually work!

turmeric powder

What is turmeric powder?

Turmeric powder is a bright yellow powder made from the root of Curcuma longa and used as a culinary spice and traditional medicine. Turmeric is a flowering plant from the ginger family and it is native to Southeast Asia. 

What is the flavor of turmeric?

Turmeric powder has a mild, slightly bitter, peppery and earthy flavor with notes of ginger and capsicum.

Is turmeric the same as curry powder?

Most people think that curry and turmeric are the same. However, turmeric powder and curry powder are not the same. Turmeric is the bright yellow powder made from drying and grinding turmeric rhizomes or roots.

On the other hand, curry powder is a spice made from a mixture of spices such as turmeric, cumin, ginger, and black pepper. Curry powder gets it duller yellow color from the turmeric added to the mixture. 

Uses of turmeric powder

Turmeric powder can be used in many recipes including soups, stews, eggs, yellow rice, lentils etc.  It is also good added to smoothies, for making golden milk, turmeric tea, lattes and more. 

Below, I will list the best alternatives to turmeric powder in terms of the color and the flavor. Each alternative will indicate whether it best serves as a replacement for the purpose of color, flavor or both.

Best substitutes for turmeric powder

Fresh turmeric rhizome (for flavor and color)

turmeric roots

The best substitute for turmeric powder is fresh turmeric. It works in many recipes where powdered turmeric is needed including in lentils, rice and other grain dishes, soups, stews and more.

You can even grate turmeric roots to add to smoothies, golden milk, scrambled eggs, omelettes, chicken recipes, marinades for fish recipes, chicken recipes  and vegetables. 

A good ratio for powdered turmeric to fresh turmeric is 1-to-3. Meaning for every 1 teaspoon of powdered turmeric, used 3 teaspoons of fresh turmeric roots. 

Turmeric paste (flavor and color)

turmeric paste

Turmeric paste is another good turmeric substitute. Made with turmeric, cold-pressed coconut oil, fresh lime juice, sea salt and citric acid, turmeric paste is great for adding to most recipes that call for turmeric powder including golden milk, turmeric lattes, smoothies, dips, dressings, soups and curries. 

Turmeric powder is also a great substitute for turmeric in yellow rice! You can get turmeric paste on amazon here. 

Saffron (for color)


Saffron is a spice from the saffron crocus. Saffron are the threads, that have been plucked from the flower of the saffron crocus.

The flavor of saffron is different depending on who you ask. Some people say that saffron is mildly earthy, floral, but also semi-sweet. Others say it is bitter. It has also been described as having a taste that is musky and mushroomy.

This shows that saffron and turmeric powder do not share a similar flavor. However, saffron does contain a carotenoid pigment, which imparts that rich-golden yellow hue to dishes, similarly to turmeric powder. 

Therefore, for recipes that call for that yellow color, you can use saffron powder or saffron as a suitable replacement for turmeric powder.


Annatto powder (for color)

annatto powder

Annatto powder is an orange-red spice made from the seeds of the achiote tree that is often used because it imparts a yellow-red or orange-red color to many recipes. 

The flavor of annatto powder is nutty, sweet and slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg or peppermint.

Annatto powder does not have an identical flavor to turmeric, but, with its peppery and nutty flavor it can be used in certain recipes where turmeric is needed.

Plus, because it is great for imparting that yellow hue to dishes, so it makes a good substitute for turmeric in butter chicken, soups, stews, and even yellow rice. 


Ginger powder (for flavor)

ginger powder

Turmeric rhizomes (roots) is a plant from the ginger family, Zingiberacea. Therefore, in a pinch, you can use ginger powder as a substitute for turmeric powder. 

Ginger powder does  does not have the same flavor as turmeric, so don’t expect that, but, ginger powder should be able to add some peppery flavor to a dish that calls for turmeric powder such as certain soups, teas and even stews. 

Now that you have 5 easy replacements for turmeric in a pinch, you can continue with your cooking without any hiccups!

And if you don’t want to use any of these substitutes above, then you can simply make your own DIY turmeric powder.

How to make homemade turmeric powder

If you have turmeric roots on hand, you can use them to make your very own turmeric powder. To make, chop the washed and clean turmeric roots into small pieces.

Then, dry the turmeric roots in the oven, sun or dehydrator until it is crisp.

Add the dried turmeric to a blender or food processor and process until a powder forms. Strain the powder to remove all lumps and place in an air tight container. Use this homemade powdered turmeric as desired. 

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