Common Spice Substitutes – What to Use Instead

Here’s a handy reference chart for common spice substitutes.

Spice Substitutes Chart


Also Read – How to Make Your Own Homemade Seasoning Blends, Pie Spice Blends, Homemade Popcorn Seasoning

Printable Version – Spice Substitutes – pdf file

How To Substitute Spices

The chart is pretty self explanatory about what spices to use in place of the one you may be missing, but here are a few more pointers.

  1. Flavour Will Be Different – The substitute will NOT taste exactly like the original spice. But it will be complementary with similar intensity or warmth as the original. Enjoy a slightly different flavour – who knows you might like it better!
  2. Start with Half the Amount – It’s really hard to remove spices once they’re in a dish, so go slow when using substitutes. A good rule of thumb is to add half the amount to your recipe, mix in and taste. Then, let your taste buds guide how much more of the substitute to add.
  3. Using Fresh or Dried Herbs – Usually it works well to substitute a dry herb with the same type of fresh herb or vice versa. For example if a recipe calls for fresh thyme, but all you have is dried thyme you can switch no problem. The typical ratio is 3 tsp fresh herbs for every 1 tsp dried herb. However, there are some recipes like Tabbouleh salad, Bruschetta or Pico de Gallo where the recipe really is best with fresh herbs. You’d be better off swapping one fresh herb for another,  e.g. swap fresh cilantro for fresh parsley in salsa rather than using dried cilantro.

Make Your Own Spice Blends

Here are links to some of my favourite spice blends that I make regularly.

Apple Pie Spice – delicious with endless apple recipes

Pumpkin Pie Spice – warm, intense spices perfect for squash and pumpkin recipes

Onion Soup Mix – No MSGgreat for dips and soup

Lemon Herb Seasoning – great for veggies, chicken and fish

Italian Herb Seasoning – great for veggies, soups, sauces and pasta

Creole Seasoning – great for meats, soups, stews and sauces

Taco Seasoning a classic to replace those yellow packages

Popcorn Seasoning Recipes – not just for popcorn!

Chili Lime Seasoning – great for chicken, fajitas, tortillas, taco salad, popcorn, etc.

Chili Cheese Mix – great for steamed veggies, pasta, scrambled eggs, garlic toast or popcorn

BBQ Seasoning – great for chicken, barbecued meat, beer can chicken, pulled pork, ribs, etc.

Do you like making your own spice blends? What’s your favourite? Let me know! Tag @getgettys on Instagram or post a comment here.

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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