Top 10 Annatto Powder Substitutes

Annatto Powder

Annatto powder can be an important ingredient in different recipes as it adds an intense flavor to almost any type of food.

Annatto comes from the annatto fruits of the achiote tree. It adds color and spice to your food. It is a staple in Filipino, Latin American, and Caribbean cuisines but what to do if you are missing this essential ingredient in your recipe?

If you don’t have annatto powder, you can use turmeric or hibiscus powder. However, there are other great substitutes you can use as well so let’s dive into the best options you have if you need to replace this ingredient.

Annatto Powder Substitutes

Use the following annatto powder substitutes in the same way and adjust the ratio according to your preferences You can even combine more substitutes if you like the flavor they give to your dishes.

1. Hibiscus powder

If you don’t have annatto powder, you can use hibiscus powder just as well. The red tint of this powder makes it a perfect substitute for annatto powder and it will not alter the taste of your food significantly.

Hibiscus powder is used as a natural colorant in cosmetics or different dyes. You can use this powder in the same quantity as annatto powder in cooking. It has a green earthly flavor that is more neutral than noticeable so your food will taste just as you like it.

2. Turmeric


Turmeric is a classic substitute for annatto powder. It is also a very common ingredient in Indian cuisine. It is going to give your foods an earthly flavor and an orange color that you will love which makes turmeric best as a substitute for annatto powder.

You can use turmeric in the same quantity as you would use annatto powder. It goes great in rice, stir-fries, stews, and soups. However, you can also add it to your salads as well for a bit of extra color. The best part? Turmeric comes with a series of health benefits.

3. Beet powder


Beet powder might not come to mind firsthand when you think of annatto powder substitutes but it will definitely surprise you in a good way. The taste of beet powder is sweeter than the earthly taste of annatto but it will complement your dishes nicely.

In terms of color, beet powder has a pinkish shade. So, your food will look a little different if you use this ingredient. You can maintain the same ratio if you like the taste of beet powder and you are not bothered by its vibrant color.

4. Paprika

Smoked Paprika

Paprika will also color your food in a reddish shade just like annatto powder does. You can use it in salads, stews, soups, or various baked dishes. Paprika can be found in a spicy version or a regular version.

If you use the unspicy type of paprika, you can keep the same quantity as if you would utilize annatto powder. However, if you use spicy paprika, you want to taste your food as you add this seasoning because you don’t want to end up with a dish that is too spicy.

5. Nutmeg


Nutmeg can also be a great annatto powder substitute as long as you find it in your local store because it might be harder to find. This powder has a brownish color with tints of green so your dish will look different if you use this annatto substitute but it will be equally tasty.

You might like the flavor of nutmeg more than the one of annatto powder as it is richer. You can use nutmeg in all types of recipes and even keep the same quantity.

6. Saffron powder


This powder can successfully replace annatto powder. However, keep in mind that it is pricier than other alternatives. Saffron has a reddish or orange color and it will give your food the same aspect annatto powder does.

Its flavor is grassy and earthly which again, is similar to the annatto powder so you can use it in the same quantity. Saffron will go great in all cooked dishes and you can use it in salads as well for a tint of extra color.

7. Red pepper powder

Red pepper powder

Red bell pepper powder can substitute annatto powder even if it has a more pronounced red color. In general, red bell powder is not spicy but it depends on the type of pepper used to obtain it.

Some pepper strains might have a smoky or spicy taste that will alter the flavor of your food. To make sure you get the flavor you want it is a good idea to taste your pepper powder before you start using it.

8. Safflower powder

Safflower seed powder will add your food a red-orange tint without altering its flavor. You will barely be able to taste this seasoning in your dishes but you will notice it for sure. The shade of orange might be lighter if you use this powder but it will look great in your stews or soups.

In terms of ratio, feel free to use just as much safflower powder as you would use annatto powder and your final result will be very inviting for your guests.

9. Ginger powder

Ground Ginger

Ginger powder has the yellowish tint that you might want to give your food but it also has a strong ginger flavor. It is a good annatto powder substitute but might not be the first option due to its strong taste.

However, if you like the taste of ginger, feel free to use it as much as you like. This powder works great in cold dishes such as salads, dressings, and sauces. You can also use it in Asian stews and soups. The amount of ginger you add should be completely up to your personal taste and how much you like this seasoning.

10. Hemp seeds powder

Hemp seeds are known for their many health benefits. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and other important nutrients. They are also a significant seasoning for vegans and vegetarians thanks to their nutrients and tasty flavor.

Hemp seeds have a stronger earthly flavor compared to annatto powder so you might use less. A good ratio is half a tablespoon of hemp seed powder for every tablespoon of annatto powder. Use this substitute in salads, stews, soups, or different dressings.


Is annatto the same as paprika?

Annatto powder is not the same as paprika. But both powders can be used interchangeably. Annatto powder comes from the annatto seeds which are the seeds of achiote fruits from the tree with the same name.

At the same time, paprika is a powder made of mild or spicy red peppers. The types of peppers used in paprika can differ as well. Since the main ingredient of these two seasonings is different, they will also have different tastes.

What is the flavor of annatto?

If you never tasted annatto powder get ready to enjoy a mild peppery flavor mixed with an earthly taste. Annatto can also taste similar to nutmeg but it is not as strong.

Chances are that you will not notice its flavor as you mix it with other ingredients. Thanks to its neutral taste, this powder will work great with almost all cooked dishes and it makes for an interesting topping for many salads as well.


Annatto powder is a common ingredient in different recipes from all types of cuisines. However, because it is so easy to replace it, you can still enjoy a certain dish even if you cannot find it. Use one of the substitutes above and you will get a jimmy and aesthetic result regardless of the lack of annatto powder in your kitchen.

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