We’ve all been there, midway through preparing a recipe, only to discover that a key herb or spice is missing from our pantry. Don’t fret! In this article, we’ll cover a list of herb and spice substitutes that can save the day and still allow you to create flavorsome masterpieces in the kitchen.
Cooking with herbs and spices is a delightful way to add depth and complexity to your dishes. We also cover some pastes, condiments, seasonings and flavor substitutes as well.
You also might be interested in – A List of Herbs and Spices for Cooking
Herbs And Spices Substitutions
Keep in mind that while these spice substitutes can help in a pinch, they may not fully replicate the original spice’s unique flavor and aroma.
The best results will come from using the specified spices whenever possible, as each one brings its distinctive character to dishes.
Having a well-stocked spice cabinet is every cook’s dream, but sometimes we need to get creative when certain herbs and spices are unavailable.
Allspice is a warm and aromatic spice, often used in sweet and savory dishes. When you find yourself without allspice, a suitable alternative is a simple blend of equal parts cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Angelica has a sweet and herbal taste, often used in desserts and liqueurs. When angelica is not on hand, celery leaves or juniper berries can offer a somewhat comparable flavor.
In place of anise, fennel seeds or star anise can add a licorice-like flavor to your dishes.
Substitute asafoetida with garlic powder or onion powder for a similar allium flavor in your recipes.
5. Bay Leaf
For recipes calling for bay leaves, thyme or oregano can impart the same subtle herbal flavor.
Substitute basil with fresh or dried oregano or thyme.
For more information visit – Basil Substitutes: A Handy Guide
If you can’t find bergamot, orange or lemon zest can offer a similar citrusy brightness.
8. Black Cumin
Substitute: cumin seeds: While not the same as black cumin, regular cumin seeds can still provide a warm and earthy flavor to your recipes.
Another option is caraway seeds: These seeds have a slightly nutty and anise-like taste, which can work as an alternative to black cumin.
9. Black Mustard
Black mustard seeds have a pungent and spicy taste, often used in Indian cooking. When black mustard is unavailable, brown mustard seeds or a pinch of cayenne pepper can be used as an alternative.
10. Black Pepper
Black pepper is a kitchen staple, adding sharpness and heat to dishes. In the absence of black pepper, white pepper or a dash of red pepper flakes can bring a similar spiciness.
If borage is not available, cucumber slices or a sprinkle of dill can provide a similar refreshing essence.
12. Brown Mustard
Brown mustard seeds have a stronger flavor than their yellow counterparts. If you don’t have brown mustard, yellow mustard seeds can be used as a suitable replacement.
See also – Whole Grain Mustard Substitute
If burnet is unavailable, cucumber slices can offer a fresh and mild taste as a substitute.
14. Cajun Seasoning
Use Creole or Chili In the absence of Cajun seasoning, Creole seasoning or chili powder can infuse your dishes with bold and savory flavors.
When caraway is not available, fennel seeds can provide a similar licorice flavor.
In the absence of cardamom, a blend of cinnamon and nutmeg can provide a comparable taste.
Cassia is a close relative of cinnamon and has a similar warm and sweet taste. When cassia is not at your disposal, ground cinnamon can be used as a substitute.
If you don’t have catnip on hand, substitute with mint leaves for a refreshing flavor.
19. Cayenne Pepper
Fiery Flavor When cayenne pepper is missing, crushed red pepper or hot chili powder can be used to dial up the heat in your culinary creations.
20. Celery Seed
In the absence of celery seeds, celery salt or fennel seeds can bring a comparable herbal note.
For more information, click on – Celery Salt Substitute
When chervil is unavailable, a blend of tarragon and parsley can provide a similar herbaceous flavor to your dishes.
If chicory is not available, endive or radicchio can offer a similar bitter touch.
23. Chili Pepper
If you run out of this spicy delight, cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes can provide a comparable kick to your dishes.
Chives can be substituted with green onions. (Scallions.) Finely chopped green onions can add a mild onion flavor and a splash of color to your dishes.
As well as chopped leeks can be used as a substitute for chives and offer a slightly milder onion taste.
Cicely, also known as sweet chervil, has a subtle anise flavor and is used in some traditional dishes. When cicely is not at hand, tarragon or fennel fronds can offer a similar taste.
Use fresh parsley or a dash of cumin as a replacement for cilantro.
If cinnamon is not on hand, a combination of nutmeg and allspice can offer a similar spiciness.
An aromatic warmth spice, substitute cloves with allspice or nutmeg to infuse your dishes with the same inviting warmth.
Cloves are in Chinese five spice. For more information, click on – Chinese Five Spice Substitute: Cooking Alternatives
Coriander seeds have a citrusy and slightly sweet taste. If coriander is not present, ground cumin or caraway seeds can add a complementary flavor to your dishes.
If costmary is not available, mint leaves can be used to add a comparable freshness to your culinary creations.
If cumin is not at your disposal, ground coriander or caraway seeds can offer a similar aromatic profile.
If you don’t have ready-made curry powder, you can create a substitute by combining ground cumin, turmeric and coriander. Allspice and cumin can also be a substitute in a pinch.
If dill is not on hand, a blend of fennel fronds and tarragon can offer a comparable taste.
If you haven’t got fennel, anise seeds or star anise can offer a similar taste.
In its absence, mustard seeds or fennel seeds can be used to add complexity to your recipes.
If filé is not on hand, okra can be used as a thickening agent, and a combination of thyme, basil, and bay leaf can contribute to the overall flavor.
37. Five Spice Powder
Create a makeshift five-spice blend with ground cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns for a harmonious taste experience.
Garlic is a staple in numerous recipes, but it is considered more of a vegetable, then an herb or spice.
But if you happen to run short on fresh garlic, garlic powder or granulated garlic can come to the rescue without compromising on taste.
39. Garlic Powder
Easy Swaps. In recipes calling for garlic powder, granulated garlic or freshly minced garlic can effortlessly take its place.
Garlic Salt can also be another substitute.
Ginger adds zing and vibrancy to various cuisines In case you run out of fresh ginger, powdered ginger can step in and provide a similar flavor profile.
41. Grains of Paradise
In the absence of this rare spice, black pepper mixed with a pinch of cardamom can create a comparable taste.
42. Holy Basil
When you don’t have holy basil, a blend of basil and bay leaf can provide a close flavor match.
In the absence of horehound, a combination of mint leaves and chamomile can offer a similar bitter-sweet note.
A substitute for horseradish is wasabi. Known for its strong, pungent flavor, wasabi can be used as a substitute for horseradish. Look for real wasabi or wasabi paste, as some commercial options may be made from horseradish.
Another option is mustard. Prepared mustard, especially the spicy varieties, can provide a similar kick to your dishes.
If hyssop is not in your pantry, substitute with a mix of mint and thyme for a comparable flavor.
46. Juniper Berries
Herbal replacements in lieu of juniper berries, rosemary or bay leaves can bring an herbal touch to your culinary creations.
In the absence of culinary lavender, rosemary or thyme can impart a delicate floral essence to your dishes.
48. Lemon Balm
If lemon balm is not present, a combination of lemon zest and mint leaves can provide a comparable citrusy taste.
49. Lemon Grass
When you need a substitute, try using lemon zest or lemon balm leaves for that zesty tang.
50. Lemon Verbena
When lemon verbena is unavailable, lemon zest or lemon thyme can serve as a suitable substitute.
If you don’t have licorice, star anise or fennel seeds can bring a similar sweet, anise-like flavor to your recipes.
When you need an alternative, celery leaves or parsley can work well.
If you’re out of mace, a pinch of nutmeg can provide a comparable taste to your recipes.
A Milder Oregano In lieu of marjoram, oregano or thyme can replace it with a slightly milder essence in your recipes.
In the absence of mint, spearmint or basil can lend a cool and refreshing touch to your culinary creations.
56. Mustard Seeds
Seed Swaps Replace mustard seeds with dry mustard or black mustard seeds to achieve a similar zesty essence in your dishes.
When nutmeg is unavailable, a dash of allspice or cinnamon can replicate its distinctive taste.
58. Onion Powder
When onion powder is missing, fresh minced onions or granulated onion offer equally rich flavor to your dishes.
In case you run out of oregano, marjoram or thyme can be excellent alternatives.
If paprika is not in your pantry, a combination of cayenne pepper and tomato paste can mimic its vibrant taste.
When parsley is unavailable, cilantro or chervil can provide a similar herbal touch.
Peppermint provides a refreshing and cooling flavor to both sweet and savory recipes. When peppermint is unavailable, spearmint can be used as a suitable substitute.
63. Poppy Seed
Poppy seeds are often used to add texture and a nutty taste to various dishes. If poppy seeds are not accessible, sesame seeds can serve as a substitute, providing a similar crunchy texture.
Rosemary has a fragrant and pine-like flavor, commonly used in Mediterranean cooking. When rosemary is unavailable, thyme or savory can provide a similar herbal essence.
Rue has a bitter and pungent flavor and is sparingly used in certain cuisines. If you lack rue, a combination of bitter greens such as arugula or watercress can impart a similar tang.
Saffron’s unique aroma and vibrant color are prized in many cuisines. When saffron is unavailable, turmeric can provide a similar yellow hue, but remember that the flavor will be different.
Sage brings a robust and earthy flavor to dishes, especially in Mediterranean cuisine. In the absence of sage, marjoram or rosemary can step in and impart a delightful herbal essence.
While salt isn’t an herb or spice, but considered a condiment or seasoning, salt is a popular ingredient in cooking.
For those looking for a change, there are alternatives like sea salt, kosher salt, or low-sodium soy sauce can be substitutes.
Savory has a peppery and slightly minty flavor, often used in bean dishes and stuffing. In the absence of savory, a mix of thyme and marjoram can offer a comparable taste.
70. Sesame Seed
Sesame seeds are popular for their nutty taste and crunchy texture. In the absence of sesame seeds, chopped almonds or sunflower seeds can offer a similar crunch to your dishes.
Sorrel adds a tart and lemony taste to dishes and is often used in soups and sauces. In the absence of sorrel, a mix of lemon juice and spinach leaves can replicate the tangy flavor.
72. Star Anise
Another substitute for star anise in cooking is Chinese Five Spice Powder. This blend typically contains star anise, along with other spices like cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds.
Anise seeds will also work as a substation. While not exactly the same as star anise, anise seeds have a similar licorice-like flavor.
Spearmint has a milder and sweeter flavor compared to peppermint. If you don’t have spearmint, peppermint or a dash of basil can provide a similar fresh taste.
Stevia leaves are used as a natural sweetener, especially for those looking to reduce sugar intake. If stevia leaves are unavailable, a touch of maple syrup or honey can add sweetness to your recipes.
Sumac has a tangy and lemony taste, often used in Middle Eastern dishes. If sumac is not present, a blend of lemon zest and white vinegar can provide a similar tangy flavor.
For more options, click on – Sumac Spice Substitute
76. Szechuan Pepper
Szechuan pepper has a citrusy and numbing effect, commonly used in Chinese cuisine. In the absence of Szechuan pepper, a mix of black pepper and coriander can offer a similar taste.
Tamari is a type of soy sauce that is milder and richer in flavor than the regular soy sauce. If tamari is not on hand, you can use regular soy sauce, but adjust the quantity to taste.
This paste adds a sweet and tangy flavor to various dishes, especially in Asian and Latin American cuisines. When tamarind paste is unavailable, a mix of lime juice and brown sugar can create a comparable taste.
Tarragon has a distinctive anise-like flavor and is commonly used in French cuisine. When tarragon is not available, a blend of fennel fronds and basil can offer a comparable taste.
Thyme’s aromatic and slightly minty taste is a wonderful addition to many dishes. When thyme is unavailable, consider using oregano or savory as a substitute.
Turmeric adds a warm and earthy flavor, commonly used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine. In the absence of turmeric, a pinch of curry powder or ground ginger can bring a similar taste.
Vanilla extract can elevate desserts and baked goods to another level. In the absence of vanilla, almond extract or a scraped vanilla bean can bring a delightful sweetness.
Wasabi is a pungent and spicy condiment commonly served with sushi. In the absence of fresh wasabi, a blend of horseradish and mustard can mimic its fiery kick.
Watercress has a peppery and tangy taste, often used in salads and sandwiches. If watercress is not on hand, arugula or baby spinach leaves can provide a similar flavor.
85. White Mustard
White mustard seeds add a mild pungency to various dishes. If you don’t have white mustard, yellow mustard seeds can be used as a suitable replacement.
Wintergreen has a minty flavor and is often used in mints and candies. If wintergreen is unavailable, a mix of spearmint and peppermint can offer a comparable taste.
A Fragrant Blend. Should za’atar be missing from your spice collection, create your own blend using thyme, oregano, sumac, and sesame seeds to achieve a Middle Eastern flavor fusion.
With this extensive list of herb and spice substitutes, you can confidently navigate the kitchen and experiment with a wide range of flavors.
Whether you’re trying out new recipes or adapting old favorites, these alternatives ensure that you won’t be held back by missing ingredients.
So, embrace the versatility of flavors, seasonings, herbs and spices, and let your culinary creativity soar.
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