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Substitute For Fenugreek


Only a few fenugreek seeds are needed to perk up your meals. But what do you do when you are out of fenugreek and already bustling around your kitchen?

You’ll need to know a good substitute for fenugreek to help you make your dishes taste authentic. But first, find out more about fenugreek and how it tastes to see which fenugreek substitute will work best for you!

small labeled glass jar with fenugreek seeds and measuring spoon filled with seeds

When it comes to whipping up Indian cuisine in your kitchen, fenugreek is a popular ingredient. You’ll find fenugreek in leaves which can be used in sauces, soups, and bread. In powdered form, it can enhance curries, be used as a meat rub, and make chutneys more flavorful. Fenugreek seeds do wonders for slow-cooked dishes to enhance the flavor. You can even infuse it into tea!

What is Fenugreek?

They call it ‘Greek hay’ as it hails from the Mediterranean and Asia. You’ll find it in seeds and leaves though fenugreek may also be ground ahead. It’s best to get the seeds, toast them lightly and then grind them yourself, so they don’t lose their flavors in storage.

If you consume fenugreek raw, it has a bitter taste. Cooking it elicits a sweet flavor with touches of nuttiness that are often likened to maple syrup. As such, it’s a really delightful spice that you’ll come to find that makes your meals taste even better.

Fenugreek is a nutritious herb that has fiber, magnesium, and iron. Your meals will undoubtedly be tastier with fenugreek. But if you can’t find it and need it for a recipe, these ten fenugreek substitutes that follow below will help save the day!

10 Fenugreek Substitutes to Save You in Your Kitchen

When your supermarket doesn’t carry fenugreek or it’s out of stock, or you’ve found that you need to replenish it on your spice rack while you’re already cooking, look for these other fenugreek substitutes to use instead!

Yellow mustard seeds

Perhaps the best fenugreek substitute out there for you will be yellow mustard seeds. They do the best job as a fenugreek seeds substitute because they are so similar to fenugreek. With the same mild, bitter, and earthy taste, likely, you won’t notice much of a difference when you fill the void left behind by fenugreek with yellow mustard seeds.

How to use mustard seeds as a fenugreek substitute:

You can use these seeds in place of fenugreek seeds to add that earthy component. These are ideal in soups or savory main dishes. You’ll want to heat the seeds a little before you add them, so they get the right flavor. Simply swap the same amount as the original recipe calls for. You can also use mustard seeds in place of fenugreek leaves.

Mustard

No mustard seeds? No problem! You can just pull out your jar of mustard to make a quick fenugreek substitute. Since mustard is bitter in flavor, it works for this purpose and can blend seamlessly into your recipes.

How to use mustard to substitute fenugreek:

Mustard makes things even easier, though if you have a honey Dijon mustard, that’s the best fit because it adds in that slight maple-syrup-like sweetness like fenugreek itself. Just add a teaspoon and taste it to see if that balances the flavors out.

Garam masala

Perhaps another commonly used ingredient in Indian cookery may be of service when you’re all out of fenugreek…garam masala. Sometimes called masala powder, it is made from a blend of healthy spices and seasonings that can match the flavor of fenugreek while adding more nutrition to what you make.

How to use garam masala in place of fenugreek:

While masala powder is a great option to replace your fenugreek, it is much stronger. As such, you don’t want to replace it measure for the measure or it will overwhelm your dish. Start with half of what the recipe calls for and taste it first, adjusting to your palate.

Curry powder

Another ingredient you’ll often find in Indian cuisine is curry powder. That’s convenient as a fenugreek substitute as well. And it’s very easy to find if you don’t have any left in your spice rack. Curry powder has a blend of both sweet and savory spices which lends a distinctive flavor to the foods you make.

However, as it is so identifying in flavor, you may find this may not be your best fenugreek substitute for every dish. It helps to cook the curry powder in oil first so the flavors soften up a bit. Even still, it depends on what you’re making if you can use curry powder for fenugreek.

Curry powder has a blend of various ingredients that include ginger, cinnamon, coriander, mustard seed, fenugreek seed, turmeric, and black pepper. These earthy flavors bring out the depth of your dishes and can be used to replace fenugreek in your meals.

How to use curry powder as a fenugreek substitute:

Curry powder can help you replace fenugreek in a variety of sauces, soups, and main dishes. When a dish calls for fenugreek powder, use curry powder at a half-teaspoon for every teaspoon of fenugreek you’re substituting.

Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds are very characteristic, but they could help you out when you need a fenugreek substitute. Ideally, if you’re making meat or a meat-based dish, fennel seeds will be a wise choice. They do have a stronger and sweeter taste though so bear this in mind when swapping into your recipe.

Because of that stronger taste, they may over-power what you’re making so prepare to watch how much you add.

How to use fennel seeds as a fenugreek substitute:

You can use fennel seeds to replace fenugreek. Grind them into a powder or use the seeds as-is. Either way, you will want to use half a teaspoon for every full teaspoon of fenugreek in your recipe. Using a small amount will ensure these sweet and savory seeds won’t overshadow the main notes of your meal.

Chinese celery

Chinese celery is a bit skinnier in appearance than regular celery but it has the same health benefits. If you can find Chinese celery, it is a little bitter and nutty especially compared to fenugreek which is why it may be your favorite fenugreek substitute.

But don’t worry if you can’t find it. Regular celery will work too.

How to use Chinese celery as a fenugreek substitute:

When it comes to using Chinese celery or even regular celery stalks to replace fenugreek, it’s a great choice. You’ll want to keep it equal to what the original recipe calls for or go a little less. This way, it won’t make your meal have a bitter taste. However, if you find the taste is more bitter than you were hoping, a little sugar can help balance out the flavors.

Celery leaves

Something that may be a bit easier to use than Chinese celery or regular celery is celery leaves. These mimic the leafy fenugreek leaves and are ideal if your recipe calls for fenugreek leaves specifically. Fenugreek leaves are bitter and so are celery leaves, making them an almost imperceivable swap.

How to use celery leaves instead of fenugreek leaves:

Since celery leaves are very similar to fenugreek leaves, you can substitute them in a 1:1 ratio. They’re great for all kinds of sauces, soups, and stews, or anytime your recipe calls for fenugreek leaves.

Maple syrup

This one may sound very surprising, but maple syrup is a great fenugreek substitute. They taste similar to each other and maple syrup will lend a little bitterness that is barely detectible. Also, the aromas they each have are similar too. However, since maple syrup is a sweetener, it might not be the best fit for some recipes you’ll make.

Maple syrup is a healthier way to sweeten and add flavors to foods.

How to use maple syrup as a fenugreek substitute:

Even though maple syrup is sweet, it can work for replacing fenugreek in certain recipes. When swapping in maple syrup for fenugreek, use equal amounts. If your recipe calls for fenugreek leaves, you can also use maple syrup effectively to swap it out.

Alfalfa

Alfalfa is mild and nutty with a hint of sweetness. As such, it may be just what you need to replace fenugreek leaves in a recipe. However, it may be harder to find than fenugreek itself. But if you’re at the supermarket and can’t find fenugreek and instead see alfalfa, go with it.

You’ll find gobs of other uses for it like salads and sandwiches in addition to replacing fenugreek in your recipes.

How to replace fenugreek with alfalfa:

You’ll want to replace the fenugreek in your recipe with alfalfa in equal amounts. Your dishes that call for fenugreek leaves will taste great using this replacement, plus it’s a handy produce staple to have on hand for other meals if you can find it.

Spinach

When all else fails and you can’t find anything to replace fenugreek in your recipes, spinach is a fine stand-in for this ingredient. It’s easy to find and you may already have it in your fridge. They do differ in taste but sweeteners can be added to balance it out.

How to replace fenugreek with spinach:

You can use the same amount of spinach as fenugreek in your recipes. It’s an easy swap, though depending on what you’re cooking, you will want to taste it and see if more sweetness is needed. If so, you can add sugar or even maple syrup to taste until these flavors come about with more balance.

A Final Word on Fenugreek Substitutes

These 10 fenugreek substitutes can help save the day when you’re cooking and realize there’s no fenugreek in your kitchen. However, look at the recipe you’re making to see which of these replacements will work the best. Not all will be a match for what you’re making but they can certainly help keep you from having to search high and low for fenugreek when time is of the essence!

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document easy real food recipes perfect for busy families. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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