11 Best Garam Masala Substitutes

Garam masala is an Indian spice mixture used in South Asian cuisine. It combines black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, mace, bay leaves, cumin, and coriander seeds.

Garam masala is among the most popular and widely used spices in many Indian dishes. It has a unique aroma and taste, enhancing any dish’s flavors. 

In this guide, we will discuss the 11 Best Garam Masala Substitutes, which are easy to find and make. Keep reading to learn more about the alternatives to Gram Masala.

Best Garam Masala Substitutes

11 Best Garam Masala Substitutes

You’re in luck if you’re looking for a garam masala substitute. A variety of spices can be used to create a similar flavor profile. Here are 11 of the best replacements for garam masala.

1. Curry Powder

Curry powder is a spice blend used in cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. It contains turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and red pepper. It originated in India and has become famous around the world. Curry powder is used in South Asian cuisine to make curry dishes.

In India, curry powders vary significantly by region and family. Most contain coriander, turmeric, and cumin seeds or powder; other ingredients may include ginger or chili peppers.

2. Chaat Masala

Chaat masala is a blend of spices used to make chaat, a popular Indian street food. It can be made at home or purchased ready-made from stores. There are many variations of chaat masala, and it varies between regions in India.

Chaat masala ingredients include dried ginger, black salt, asafoetida (Hing), amchur (mango powder), Kala Namak (black salt), cumin seeds (jeera), black peppercorns (Kali Mirch), fennel seeds (Saunf) and black mustard seeds (rai). It also includes coriander, green chili, mint leaves, and sugar for sweet varieties. The ingredients used in chaat masala vary depending on the region and personal taste preferences. 

You can use it as a substitute for garam masala. You can make your own chaat masala at home by combining all of the above ingredients into a spice mix or powder form using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Alternatively, you can buy ready-made chaat masala from grocery stores and online retailers such as Amazon and eBay.

3. Chicken Tikka Masala

In India, Chicken Tikka Masala is a popular dish. It’s made with chicken tikka pieces (boneless chicken cooked in a tandoor oven), tomatoes, onions, and spices. It’s served with rice and naan bread on the side.

It’s a good substitute for garam masala. This recipe adds garam masala to enhance the flavor of your masala sauce. The result is a more complex and sophisticated taste than you would get without it!

4. Sambhar Masala

Sambhar is a trendy dish among all the South Indians. It can be made with different vegetables and lentils like moong dal or Toor dal. It can also be made with meat like mutton or chicken.

Sambhar Masala is a blend of spices used in South Indian cuisine. It can be a good substitute for garam masala. It’s typically used to flavor soups and stews and can be found in many spice racks. If you have sambhar masala, you won’t need to buy garam masala until your family runs out again!

5. Cinnamon, Fenugreek, and Cloves

To make your own version of this traditional Indian seasoning, add two tablespoons of each: cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and cardamom. You can also substitute nutmeg for mace if you don’t have any on hand. Next up? 

Add three tablespoons of cumin seeds or coriander seeds (whichever you prefer) to the mix—they’ll bring some extra flavor to this easy alternative that’s worth making at home!

6. Allspice and Cumin

Although allspice and cumin are two different spices, they’re used similarly to garam masala. To make this substitute, combine 1 teaspoon ground allspice with 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin. Use it in place of garam masala seasoning in curries or side dishes that you want to give an earthy flavor.

Compared to traditional garam masala, the allspice-cumin blend has a lower heat level. It isn’t as intense—but it still packs enough punch for anyone looking for something spicy without any bells or whistles.

7. Chinese Five-Spice Powder

Chinese five-spice powder comprises a blend of star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and fennel seeds. It’s widely used in Chinese cuisine as well as Indian.

It’s an excellent substitute for garam masala because it contains all the spices typically found in the Indian dish: cardamom pods (or seeds), coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and cinnamon sticks. You can find it at most Asian markets or online with Amazon Prime shipping!

8. Cumin, Coriander, and Cardamom

Cumin, coriander, and cardamom are a great combination. This combination can replace garam masala in any curry or biryani recipe. It’s also a great spice blend to have on hand if you like making your own spice blends at home.

9. Mustard Seeds, Curry Leaves, and Coconut

Curry leaves and mustard seeds are used in Indian cuisine. This blend of spices adds a spicy flavor to dishes and is used in many curries, including chicken and lamb curries. Coconut adds a citrusy flavor to dishes but doesn’t have any heat, unlike garam masala.

10. Pumpkin Pie Spice 

Pumpkin pie spice combines cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. The herbs are roasted, ground together, and used in pumpkin pies, bread, cakes, and cookies. The mix can also be used in savory dishes.

11. Ras el Hanout

Ras el Hanout is a North African spice blend that can be used in place of garam masala. It’s often associated with Morocco, but its origins are actually in Yemen, where it was invented by the Berbers.

It’s commonly used to make tagines, slow-cooked dishes that combine meat or vegetables with hearty spices. Ras el Hanout is also frequently used in couscous and other Mediterranean dishes, as well as some Indian curries and stews (though it’s important to note that this isn’t an exact substitute for garam masala).

Best Garam Masala Substitutes – FAQs

How Do You Mimic Garam Masala?

Garam masala is a mixture of spices that is used in Indian cooking. It includes cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg, and mace. Garam masala can be bought in the form of powder or whole pieces. 

The whole pieces are more expensive, but you will get a better flavor and aroma when you grind them than buying the ready-made powder version at your local grocery store or Indian grocery store.

Can I Use Cumin Instead of Garam Masala?

Cumin is an excellent substitute for garam masala if you’re feeling adventurous. Cumin has a strong, overpowering flavor, but it’s still delicious in dishes where you want to add a bit of heat.

What Is Garam Masala Made Of?

Garam masala is a mixture of spices used to flavor food. The main herbs in this spice blend are black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, and mace. Garam masala can be used with meat, fish, or vegetables in Indian cooking.

Does Garam Masala Have Turmeric?

Yes, garam masala does contain turmeric. Turmeric is a crucial ingredient in garam masala.


Now that we’ve covered some of the best Garam Masala substitutes and alternatives, I hope you feel more confident about cooking your favorite Indian dishes without it! While there are many good options to try, Garam Masala is still my favorite spice blend.

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