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9 Substitutes for Curry Powder

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Are you on the hunt for an amazing substitute for curry powder to help save you from a culinary disaster? Look no further!

A bowl of curry powder with text title "Substitute for Curry Powder".

This seasoning is a staple in many homes around the world thanks to the complex and wonderful flavor it gives to dishes. Whether you’re making soups, sauces, stews, or curries, a dash of this spice can immediately bring your recipe to a new level. 

Knowing the best substitute for curry powder you can grab is crucial. And if you have no idea yet what alternatives to look for, our list will help lead the way.

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What Is Curry Powder?

Simply put, curry powder, also referred to as Indian-style curry spice, is a mixture of various pungent and earthy herbs and spices typically found in India. This blend can help you create a dish called curry, commonly associated with Indian food. 

However, this seasoning isn’t often used in traditional Indian cuisine. Curry powder was made for British cooks to use in their efforts to recreate the very rich and flavorful Indian dishes that British soldiers came to love while they were stationed in the country.  Thus, it’s often seen as a less intense, less sweet Western interpretation of India’s spice Garam Masala. 

Since then, it’s become a favorite in the West and even a staple in many of their people’s spice cabinets. 

It’s also known for its potential health benefits such as controlling blood sugar, supporting digestion, and improving heart health.

What are the Common Ingredients in Curry Powder?

Interestingly enough, the ingredients in traditional curry powders may vary depending on their brands, region, and flavor. However, they all share the quality of being able to give depth, warmth, and wonderful aroma to the dish they’re added to. 

Curry powder in a wooden bowl with spoon on a wooden table.

Typically, curry powder is a blend of the following:

  • Turmeric Powder
  • Cumin
  • Black Pepper
  • Ginger

You may also find the following ingredients in other blends:

  • Cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Coriander
  • Fenugreek
  • Allspice
  • Celery
  • Chili
  • Black Cardamom
  • Nutmeg
  • Garlic
  • Caraway

Curry powder can come in mild to very hot versions, depending on how much pepper and chili are involved.  

With so many spices that can be mixed to make curry powder, no wonder they can produce a lot of variations — with each blend giving varying tastes and flavors.

Where can You use Curry Powder?

Curry powder is a great addition to many dishes. Use this spice blend in making:

  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Stir Fries
  • Salads (this Bombay Salad is particularly scrumptious)
  • Various chicken recipes (such as this easy Air Fryer Curry Chicken)
  • Various seafood recipes (like Seafood Curry)
  • Rice dishes

You can even substitute curry powder for turmeric in various curry dishes.

Why Would You Need Replacements for Curry Powder?

While curry powder is quite easy to find and is an amazing ingredient in dishes, there are still reasons why you’d want to make that swap.


It can’t be helped; sometimes, you think you still have some curry powder, but realize you don’t have any at home, just when you’re about to make your dish. So, instead of pausing your cooking at a critical moment to dash off to the store, use alternatives and go on about your day without a hitch.


It might be rare, but some people may experience an allergic reaction due to eating food with curry powder in it. So, if you have a family member or guests with a curry allergy, these substitutes will come in handy.


While many people love spicy foods, some cannot tolerate too much of it. If your curry powder packs too much heat, then you might be better off using non-spicy alternatives to replace curry powder instead of buying a whole new brand. 

9 Easy Substitutes for Curry Powder

Check out these reliable swaps for curry powder.

Garam Masala

This Indian spice blend will work as a great alternative, considering it’s what curry powder is based on. It will give your curry its signature Indian flavor. 

Garam Masala substitute for curry powder in a bowl next to a spoon.

Just remember that Garam Masala is typically dark brown and does not contain turmeric. So, don’t be surprised by your dish’s color change if you use it as a substitute. However, if you’re after the distinct golden hue, feel free to add some turmeric to the dish. 

You can use about the same amount of Garam Masala in dishes that call for curry powder. However, if you’re mixing in turmeric, then add 1 teaspoon of turmeric per 1 tablespoon of Garam Masala. 

Chaat Masala

This spice blend is used in a lot of East Asian dishes. Like curry powder, it contains cumin and coriander, so it can be used as an alternative when you’re in a bind.

Chaat Masala in a white bowl on a brown table, perfect substitute for curry powder.

You can use a 1:1 substitution, but be mindful that Chaat Masala may give you a slightly sweeter, spicier dish. This is because it also has amchoor or dried mango powder. Just make adjustments to the amount as you go along.

Curry Paste

Curry Paste can be used instead of curry powder in curries and rice dishes. However, curry paste has a much spicier kick to it due to the addition of red chili peppers and other spices. It also has oil.

Curry paste in a white bowl on a wooden table.

To keep the heat down, use about ⅓ teaspoon of paste for one teaspoon of powder. Feel free to add more if you like your dish spicy. You can also dilute it in water before adding it to your dish.


The spice responsible for giving the seasoning its familiar warm yellow color and flavor may also be used as a substitute if you’ve run out of curry powder. It works as a spicy alternative.

A bowl of tumeric powder, a substitute for curry powder, on a wooden table.

As one of the main ingredients in curry powder blends, you can add turmeric to curries and spices as a sub. Just use an equal amount of turmeric as you would curry powder.  


On its own, allspice can make for a great alternative to curry powder. It tastes like a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Be sure to use it sparingly, as it could overpower your dish.

Allspice seed and powder on a wooden spoon and in a glass bowl on a wooden table.

You can use about ¼ teaspoon of allspice for every 1 teaspoon of curry powder.

Ground Cumin and Chili Powder

Ground Cumin is also a key ingredient in curry powder blends, giving the seasoning a smoky, zesty flavor. It may not be as complex as curry powder, but it can still lend a great Indian flavor to your dish. Also adding chili powder is a great way to ensure that your food will pack some heat.

A bowl of ground cumin and chili powder on a wooden table, used as a substitute for curry powder.

For every teaspoon of curry powder needed, use ½ teaspoon ground cumin and ½ teaspoon chili. 

Ground Coriander and Cumin

As a base in most Indian spice blends, ground coriander can give your dish dimension thanks to its zesty, slightly minty flavor. Blending it with cumin can definitely work as a last-minute curry powder substitute. 

A bowl of ground coriander and cumin on a wooden table, used as a substitute for curry powder.

For each tablespoon of curry powder, use 2 teaspoons of coriander mixed with 1 teaspoon of cumin. 

Cumin and All Spice

To add some warmth and a bit of sweetness reminiscent of the flavor of curry powder, you can substitute a mix of cumin and allspice to your dish. Together, they make a great alternative to curry powder in soups and sauces. 

A bowl of cumin and allspice on a wooden table, used as a substitute for curry powder.

For each teaspoon of curry powder needed in the dish, use about 1 ¼ teaspoon of the cumin and allspice blend. 

DIY Curry Powder

If you have most of the spices listed above, then you can also make your own curry powder from scratch and use that to power up your dish. 

To make your homemade curry powder recipe, start with the basic blend of cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, and chili. Mix the spices, adjust each amount, or add more ingredients according to your preferences. You can even omit any spice you don’t want. This way, you’ll have a homemade curry powder substitute that suits your taste perfectly.

How Do You Choose the Best Substitutes for Curry Powder?

For most dishes needing curry powder, like soups, sauces, and curries, any of the above options can be a substitute if you don’t have curry powder.

Turmeric, coriander, curry paste, Chaat masala, and cumin can work wonders in stir-fried foods. Garam Masala and curry paste, on the other hand, will go well with meat curries. A mix of spices can also work in various dishes in a pinch. 

The key is to taste the food you’re making and then make additions as necessary to get the same authentic Indian flavor that you’re craving from curry powder. 


How Do You Store Curry Powder?

Store your curry powder in a container with a tight-fitting lid, and put it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. This way, its flavor and potency will last.

How Long Does Curry Powder Last?

If properly stored, your curry powder should last anywhere from 3 to 4 years.

How Do You Know If Your Curry Powder Is Expired?

The signs that your curry powder has already gone bad include:
– Loss of fragrance and aroma
– The powder smells off or musty
– Dull or faded colors
– Clumping or moisture
– Bitter taste
If any of these happens, then you know it’s time to reach for curry powder alternatives.  

Find the Best Curry Powder Substitute for Your Recipes

No need to panic if you find yourself without curry powder. You can still create wonderful Indian and Thai Curry dishes, even Japanese curry, with all these terrific curry powder substitutes. Keep the spice alive!

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