Best Substitutes For Curry Powder: Guide To Delicious Alternatives

As a chef, I have experimented with many different spice blends in my cooking. While curry powder is a great all-purpose seasoning, it’s not always easy to find in some grocery stores.

That’s why it’s essential to have some great substitutes on hand. Personally, I love using garam masala as a substitute because it has such a complex and fragrant flavor. However, if I want to add some heat to a dish, I’ll often reach for chili powder instead.

Experimenting with different spices and flavors is one of the best parts of cooking, and I encourage everyone to try out different combinations until they find something they love.

Read on to learn some of the best substitutes for curry powder, so you can get creative in the kitchen and impress your friends and family.

What Is Curry Powder?

Curry powder at a market.
Curry powder at a market.

Curry powder is a versatile spice blend widely used in various cuisines, including Indian, Thai, and Caribbean. It typically consists of a mixture of ground spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and chili powder.

The exact composition can vary, and different regions may have their own unique variations.

With its vibrant yellow color and distinctive flavor profile, curry powder adds depth and complexity to dishes. It provides a balance of earthy, aromatic, and slightly spicy notes.

Curry powder is often used as a base seasoning in curry dishes, soups, stews, and marinades, infusing them with its characteristic taste.

Curry powder’s origins can be traced back to the Indian subcontinent, where it has been an integral part of traditional cooking for centuries.

Over time, it has gained popularity and adapted to different culinary traditions around the world, resulting in a wide range of curry powder variations.

Best Curry Powder Substitutes

Garam Masala

Garam Masala is a fantastic substitute for curry powder. It is made up of several spices, including cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, and peppercorn.

Much like curry powder, the exact blend of spices can vary depending on where you get it from, but it tends to be warm, fragrant, and slightly sweet.

Garam masala is commonly used in Indian cuisine and can be found in many stores that sell international and specialty foods.

Chili Powder

Chili powder can also be used as a substitute for curry powder. It usually includes spices such as chili pepper, cumin, and garlic, and has a slightly smoky and earthy flavor profile.

Chili powder is readily available in most grocery stores, and it’s a great way to add a bit of heat to your dishes.

Turmeric, Coriander, and Cumin

If you have turmeric, coriander, and cumin in your spice cabinet, you’re in luck! This combination of spices is often used in curry powder, and you can use them in the same ratio to achieve a similar flavor profile.

Turmeric provides vibrant yellow colors, coriander is slightly sweet, and cumin has a warm, earthy flavor.

Curry Paste

If you’re looking for a flavor that’s similar to curry powder but more concentrated, then curry paste might be for you.

Curry paste is made up of a blend of spices, chili peppers, and herbs, and it tends to be quite potent. You only need to use a small amount of curry paste to add a lot of flavor to your dishes.

Curry paste is often used in Thai and Indian cuisine and is readily available in most grocery stores.

Chaat Masala

Chaat Masala is a spice blend that’s commonly used in Indian cuisine. It includes spices such as cumin, coriander, and amchoor (dried mango powder), and has a tangy, tart flavor profile.

While it’s not quite the same as curry powder, chaat masala can be used as a substitute in certain dishes where you want to add a bit of zing.

Make Your Own Spice Blend

If you have a well-stocked spice cabinet, you can always try making your own spice blend as a substitute for curry powder.

Experiment with spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger until you find a flavor that you love.

Not only is this a fun and creative cooking project, but it also allows you to customize the blend to your specific tastes.


What Is Curry Powder Made of?

The exact ingredients in curry powder can vary depending on where you get it from, but it is usually made up of a blend of spices, including cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder. Some varieties may also include spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.

Can I Use Curry Powder As A Substitute For Garam Masala?

While there is some overlap in the spices used, curry powder and garam masala are not identical. Garam masala tends to have a more complex flavor profile with a blend of sweet, savory, and warm spices.

Can I Substitute Curry Powder For Chili Powder?

Curry powder and chili powder do share some common ingredients, but they are not identical. Chili powder tends to be spicier and has a more earthy flavor profile, while curry powder is milder and more complex.


So there you have it – some of the best substitutes for curry powder! Whether you’re making Indian, Thai, or any other type of cuisine, these spices will help you add depth and flavor to your dishes. Happy cooking!

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.