10 Best Garam Masala Substitutes

Garam Masala

Spices are part of our culinary process. They offer a nice aroma and provide a unique taste to our meals. Garam Masala is a combination of spices into one which makes it very unique in its taste and aroma. The blends are popular in Indian cuisine and their special dishes.

You can also make one at home by mixing spices and use them to make a meal. Actually, garam masala has a complex mild taste with traces of sweetness from the cinnamon and spiciness from the peppercorns. Also, there are earthy tones for the cumin and a nice fragrant and aroma from the cardamom.

Once used in your meal, it will give you a warm spicy taste that will make your dish even tastier. However, if there is no garam masala in your reach, is there something else that can be used?

Let’s get into the details and tips on how to use these substitutes.

Substitutes for Garam Masala

On our list you’ll find the best replacement for garam masala and also we have made a separate list with a combination of spices that will also serve you well. Just scroll down and find out more about each of the spices and how to use them. 

1. Curry powder

Curry powder

The first thing that comes to mind when you are out of garam masala is to use curry powder. You might not get the same effect as if you have used garam masala.

However, you will get a nice delicious meal. Curry is a common spice in Indian cuisine so it will fit perfectly in some Indian meals. Use curry powder for most of your recipes but adapt by your own taste. 

2. Allspice and cumin


A blend of two spices can come close to the taste of garam masala. There are many variations, one of which is the combination of cumin and allspice mixed together to add to your recipe to make a nice meal.

Use part cumin and ¼ allspice to create the proper substitute when cooking. It’s easy and will save you from a trip to the store to find garam masala.

This combo will provide a nice flavor and you can use it in all of the recipes that require garam masala. Since allspice is a combination of more spiced together and cumin has a nice aroma and sweet flavor, which means that your dish will be all flavored and so delicious.

3. Chaat masala

Another alternative that comes from Indian cuisine is the chaat masala. If you don’t have garam masala, then this is the option that you need to choose.

It is a blend of spices that’s a bit different from garam masala. The species used in chaat masala give out a mixture of salty and sweet so make sure not to overuse when substituting.

Use equal amounts of chaat masala when replacing garam masala. But everything depends on your dish, some recipes may require less depending on the ingredients that are used. Use chaat masala in vegetarian stews or some other spicy sauces. 

4. Sambhar Masala

Sambhar Masala

Use this aromatic and flavorful sambhar masala to replace garam masala in most recipes. This type of masala is common in the South Indian style of cooking and it’s another blend of spices all together.

There are coriander seeds, cumin, mustard seed, dry red chilies, cinnamon, dry coconut, and other spices mixed together.

You can always make the combination at home and store it in a jar for further use. Substitute equal amounts or add more or less on how you like your meal to taste and smell. 

5. Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

A very popular Indian dish is the Chicken masala that can be used in cooking for garam masala. It is a sauce that contains tomato, chicken, and cream and it contains traditional Indian spices.

In its structure, it does have garam masala which makes it a suitable replacement. The flavors are described as heavenly with a sweet and earthy trace which makes it very delicious. 

6. Indian Butter Chicken

Another type of sauce that will combine with your other ingredients instead of garam masala is the Indian butter chicken.

It is made from spices, yogurt, fresh ginger, lemon juice, and chicken. It is similar to tikka masala but has a less complex taste. Use it in your recipes to make a saporous meal. 

A mixture of Spices:

Garam masala is a blend of more spices mixed together. Meaning, you can mix species yourself to imitate the taste and substitute in most recipes. We also have a list of all of the mixtures that will help in your cooking process. 

7. Cumin, Coriander, and Cardamom

Even though these spices can be used on their own, a combination of cumin, coriander, and cardamom is another way to replace garam masala.

Use a teaspoon of cumin seeds with 2 teaspoons of coriander seeds and ½ teaspoon of green cardamom pods. Afterward, place them in a small pan on low heat.

Then, put them in a blender so they can turn into a powder. You can use it to make vegetable stews or if you are cooking meat like steak or lamb.

8. Cinnamon, Fenugreek, and Cloves

Use a mix of cinnamon, fenugreek, and cloves to substitute garam masala. Put them in a small pan on low heat and afterward in a blender so you can turn them into a fine powder.

The aromas of all the spices will blend and give a nice mixture. You can use it with vegetables, meat stews, chicken, or anything that garam masala is used for. 

9. Mustard seeds, Curry Leaves and Coconut

Last but not least we offer a combination of curry leaves, mustard seeds, and coconut. Use a teaspoon of shredded coconut, a teaspoon of mustard seeds, and add around 12 curry leaves.

All you have to do is put them in a pan on low heat and then turn them into a powder. You can easily use it with fish, sauces, salad dressing, or other recipes that call for garam masala. 

10. Mixture of Spices

Garam Masala spices

There are a few other combinations that may help you replace garam masala in your cooking. You can combine:

  • ½ part toasted cumin with black peppercorns
  • 3 parts coriander with cinnamon
  • ¼ part ground cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon

By toasting the spices before making the powder you’ll add more complexity and depth in the taste and make it even more delicious. 

Related Questions

Is Garam Masala the same as curry powder?

The common thing that garam masala and curry have is that they are both spices that are commonly used in cooking. They are both blends of spices but garam masala has a stronger taste than curry. Both can be used as a substitute for each other in cooking.

Is Garam Masala necessary?

Garam masala is a spice that is commonly used in cooking to add more flavor and aroma. It may not be considered necessary but it is good to use so you can make your dish tastier. 

Can I use tikka masala instead of garam masala?

Yes, you can. Even though tikka masala is a specific dish, it can be used instead of garam masala. You can add it as a combination with other ingredients as well as to the base of a tomato sauce.


Garam Masala

Homemade Garam Masala

Of course, we always offer the option for you to make your spices at home. All you’ll need are just spices and to blend them all together. From your spice cabinet, you’ll need:


  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cardamom


After you have gathered everything, mix all of these ingredients in a bowl. After you have blended all of the spices together store them in an airtight container and store them in a dry cool place. 

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