Here's What No One Tells You About Cumin Substitute
(Last Updated On: August 3, 2019)

Top 6 Cumin Replacements in 2019

Here's What No One Tells You About Cumin Substitute

What is Cumin?

Cumin is a spice produced from a plant’s dried seed named as Cuminum cyminum. Its origin is South Asia. It belongs to the parsley family. Cumin seeds are used in most of the dishes of African, Asian as well as the Latin American region. They are easily available in the market both in seeds as well as grounded form. If you don’t find cumin seeds in the market or you ran short of cumin in your pantry then you can go for cumin substitutes. There are various options you can opt as a cumin substitute. Such as

#SubstituteTotal CaloriesFat Percentage
1.Caraway Seeds21.6/ 1Tbsp37%
2.Fennel Seeds19.8/ 1Tbsp36%
3.Coriander Seeds14.9/ 1Tbsp50%
4.Chili Powder23.6/ 1Tbsp45%
5.Anise Seeds21.9/ 1Tbsp39%
6. Curry Powder20.3/ 1Tbsp36%

1. Caraway Seeds

Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds have similar shape and color as of cumin seeds. Both the seeds belong to the parsley family also. With regard to taste, caraway seeds are bitter than cumin seeds. However, caraway seeds can be the finest cumin substitute in many dishes.

2. Fennel Seeds

Cumin and fennel seeds are not similar in flavor for sure. In fact, fennel seeds give somewhat sweeter taste than cumin. Nevertheless, using fennel seeds as a cumin substitute can work well for many dishes particularly in Italian sausages, meatballs, and dips etc. It can also be used in the grounded form in different foods.

Fennel Seeds

3. Coriander Seeds

These seeds and cumin are different in taste and shape. Coriander seeds impart a slightly sweet taste whereas cumin seeds are known to have nutty and a slightly bitter taste. However, it can act as a decent cumin substitute in many dishes particularly belonging to Indian cuisines. These seeds have a particular aroma and a specific flavor which makes the food appealing and delicious. It is mostly added to soups, gravies, and meat for enhancing the flavor.

Coriander Seeds

4. Chili Powder

Chili Powder

No doubt, chili powder is extremely different in color and flavor than cumin seeds powder. In fact, manufacturers use different spices to make chili powder with the inclusion of cumin. Hence, it can be used as a cumin substitute when you run short of cumin.

5. Anise Seeds

Anise Seeds

Anise seeds can also be used as a cumin substitute. They are rich in nutrients just like cumin, however, have a totally different taste. Sprinkling minute amount of anise seeds can enhance the flavor and aroma of your dishes very well.

6. Curry Powder:

Curry Powder

Usually, curry powder is inclusive of cinnamon, coriander, ginger, turmeric, and fenugreek seed, mustard as well as black pepper. A blend of these exquisite ingredients provides an earthy flavor to the dish in which they added.

Also read: What is Demerara Sugar? [Explained]

Uses of Cumin

Cumin seed can do wonders for your health in many different ways.

  • Aids in the digestion:

It is also regarded as a traditional medicinal herb as it can cure infections as well as help in the digestion. It aids in increased bile release from the liver, which is used for the digestion of fat and some other useful nutrients. In this way, it speeds up the digestion of fat.

  • Abundant in Iron:

Cumin seed contains ample amount of iron, hence, is an excellent source of iron. Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin as well as for immune system. Moreover, females need an adequate amount of iron as they lose it every month because of menstruation.

  • Anti-carcinogenic effects:

These seeds may act as an anti-carcinogenic element, thus, aiding in cancer prevention. it is so because these seeds contain Vitamin A and C. Both these vitamins are known to act as anti-carcinogenic agents. in addition, Vitamin A is found to treat many different types of cancer also.

  • Helps in Diabetes:

Several studies found that cumin is helpful for people with diabetes as it lower the blood glucose level. Adding one teaspoon of cumin in your daily diet can be beneficial for lowering your blood glucose levels. you can add it into your dishes while cooking or can use it as a seasoning also. Hence, it can be used as an anti-diabetic agent.

  •   Helps in Weight loss:

Several studies showed that cumin seed can help in weight loss. Soaking one teaspoon of cumin seeds overnight in water and drinking it in the morning before breakfast is recommended. You can also add one tsp of cumin to boiling water for getting a similar effect. Drinking this water thrice a day is advisable for weight loss.

  •   Anti-aging Properties:

This spice also contains vitamin E in it which is beneficial for skin.  Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and strengthens the skin’s capillary walls in the. Furthermore, it increases elasticity and moisture by working as a natural anti-aging nutrient. Vitamin E also lessens inflammation in the body.

Cumin Substitute In Recipes:

You can use cumin substitutes in many recipes to have a similar effect or to enhance the flavor of the food.  Here are some of the dishes in which you can use cumin substitutes without any doubt.

Cumin-Carrot Soup:

Cumin-Carrot Soup


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • Two garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • A pinch of black pepper (Freshly ground)
  • 2 ½ cups large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ tsp ground cumin OR ¼ tsp ground caraway
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice


  • Take a large saucepan and heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Saute the onion in it for 2 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and saute for one more minute.
  • Add the coriander, broth, carrots, caraway, pepper, and Boil it.
  • Lower the heat, keep a lid over and simmer until tenderness of the carrots achieved. It will take around 15 minutes.
  • Make a puree of the soup with an immersion blender or in a food processor until it becomes smooth.
  • Pour it again into the saucepan. Add the yogurt and lemon juice and mix it well.
  • Add seasonings as per your taste. Dish it out and enjoy the yummy soup.

Creamy Corn Soup

Creamy Corn Soup

Serves: 8


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 ½ lb. frozen corn, defrosted and drained
  • One large onion (diced)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 3 large garlic cloves (sliced)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin OR 1 tsp ground caraway
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • Seasonings (Salt and freshly ground black pepper)


  • Take a saucepan and heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.
  • Put frozen corn and onion and sauté. Stir it little by little until vegetables turn golden brown.
  • Lower the flame and add garlic, butter, and Cook it until the color of all vegetables turn caramel.
  • Add caraway and cayenne pepper. Sauté it until you feel the aroma.
  • Put broth in it; cook it on moderate to high heat until it bubbles. Lower the heat to low and bubble, half covered, until vegetables become softer.
  • Add coriander leaves. Puree it to about 1 minute by using a traditional or immersion blender.
  • Use a sieve to strain it.
  • Pour it back into the pan; add whole milk for making a soup-like mixture.
  • Add seasonings as per your desire. Heat completely, dish it out, garnish and serve warm.

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Italian Tomato Sauce:


Italian Tomato Sauce


  • ¼ cup pure olive oil
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 lbs. large tomatoes—peeled, seeded as well as chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin OR 2 tsp ground fennel
  • Salt to taste


  • Take a saucepan and heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.
  • Put the tomatoes, cayenne, and fennel and cook over medium flame until it becomes thick
  • Take a wooden spoon to mash the tomatoes against the pan’s side to around five minutes.
  • Add seasonings and serve warm with grilled chicken/beef and pasta.

All-Purpose Marinara Sauce

All-Purpose Marinara Sauce


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 28 oz. canned diced tomatoes
  • 28 oz. whole tomatoes (chopped)
  • 6 oz. canned tomato paste
  • 1 bulb garlic (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 cup pitted olives (chopped)
  • 1½ cup capers
  • cup fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1 4 oz. canned green chilies (diced)
  • tsp cumin OR ½ tsp ground caraway
  • 2 tbsp. horseradish (prepared)
  • 2 cups portobello caps of mushroom
  • 1 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (dried)
  • One tsp habanero hot sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano


  • Take a saucepan and heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Cook the garlic until it turns slightly brown.
  • Drain unnecessary oil. Add the whole and diced tomatoes, tomato paste, green chilies, sugar, capers, portobello mushroom caps, horseradish, parsley, green olives and habanero sauce.
  • Season with oregano, Italian seasoning, and
  • Keep a lid over it, and simmer it. Lower the heat and simmer to around 25 minutes.

Baked Eggs

Baked Eggs


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ medium onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin OR ¼ tsp. of anise seeds with ¼ tsp. of caraway seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large tomatoes (cubed)
  • Seasonings {Salt and Black pepper (freshly ground)}
  • 1 pinch saffron


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Toast anise and caraway seeds in a dry, standard to big-sized skillet. Pour the olive oil.
  • Add and cook the onions over moderate heat until soft.
  • Add the tomatoes and sprinkle in the caraway/anise seeds.
  • Stir it while cooking until the tomatoes softened.
  • Add seasonings.
  • Split the mixture of tomato into 2 standard ramekins.
  • Add an egg in each ramekin.
  • Sprinkle saffron threads over the eggs.
  • Bake them for around 20-25 minutes, until yolk and whites and are set
  • Take it out from the oven and add more seasonings if you want.
  • Cool for a few minutes prior to serving.

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  1. This Dr. Axe content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure factually accurate information. With strict editorial sourcing guidelines, we only link to academic research institutions, reputable media sites and, when research is available, medically peer-reviewed studies.

  2. In Egypt, cumin was used both in cooking and as part of the embalming process. In Greece it was a table spice, like black pepper. In Rome, it was In Greece it was a table spice, like black pepper. In Rome, it was frequently mentioned in Apicius as a luxury ingredient for the aristocracy, to be served with snails as well as peacocks and other fowl, or mixed into honey-vinegar sauces.


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