Fenugreek is a commonly used spice in many Indian dishes; it is also used in many curry powder blends. Fenugreek is used in dry rubs for meat as well as in certain tea blends.
This and many other uses make fenugreek an indispensable spice to have, especially if you like to cook Indian dishes.
However, fenugreek is not the easiest spice to find; that’s why you may need a fenugreek substitute, especially if you do not live near an Indian grocery store.
Some of the best substitutes for fenugreek are maple syrup, mustard seeds, curry powder, fennel seeds, celery leaves, leafy green, etc.
Thankfully, these are effective and easy-to-find fenugreek alternatives that you may already have in your kitchen right now.
Best Fenugreek Substitutes
Whether you don’t have fenugreek or simply looking for an alternative, here are a few other ingredients that can be used in place of fenugreek while cooking.
Some of these ingredients, specifically the first two, can be combined as another fenugreek substitution.
1. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is one of the best substitutes for fenugreek. In fact, fenugreek is sometimes included in imitation maple syrup products, as the two flavors are very similar in taste, having a sweet with bitter undertones with similar consistency.
If you love pancakes, chances are you already have maple syrup in your pantry. Adding a small amount of maple syrup to your dish will act as an excellent fenugreek replacement.
Maple syrup also has a similar thickness to fenugreek, so it’s bound to the right consistency to the dish as fenugreek would.
Simply add a small pinch of maple syrup towards the end of the cooking time, and do not overcook the syrup to prevent it from losing its flavor. Maple syrup can also be used as a fenugreek substitute for its seeds and leaves.
Although maple syrup can be used alone as a fenugreek substitute, combining yellow mustard and a small amount of maple syrup also serves as a perfect fenugreek substitute combination.
2. Mustard Seeds
Mustard seeds can be used as a fenugreek substitute; mustard seeds are totally different from the “mustard,” yellow condiment that is added on hot dogs or hamburgers to give it flavor.
However, there are several different mustard flavors and mustard forms; in fact, there are three types of mustard seeds.
Yellow mustard seeds can be used as a fenugreek seeds substitute and mustard greens as fenugreek leaves substitute. You can also substitute mustard powder for fenugreek powder.
Yellow mustard seeds are more preferred simply because of the taste quality and how similar they taste like fenugreek. Yellow mustard seeds have a similar mild bitter taste with some earthy or nut flavors, just like fenugreek.
When added to soups and sauces that call for fenugreek, yellow mustard seeds turn out equally perfect.
To achieve the same fenugreek taste, the mustard seeds should be heated at a low temperature. Then add the same amount of mustard seeds as the recipe calls form of fenugreek seeds.
Mustard seeds are the second closest to the flavors of fenugreek, but you can add a teaspoon of honey-dijon mustard if you don’t have any yellow mustard seeds available.
3. Curry Powder/Masala
Finding curry powder is way easier than finding fenugreek. And most curry powders contain fenugreek powder, making them a great substitute.
Masala, or garam masala, is also a commonly used spice blend in Indian dishes, although it’s sometimes spicier than curry.
Masala contains various aromatic spices like cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom, which are not contained in curry powder. Masala also has a taste profile and thickening agent, which makes it a suitable fenugreek alternative.
Curry was created in Britain and is similarly tasting to masala; however, curry powder is preferred as a substitute as its milder tasting and sometimes contains fenugreek as an ingredient.
Whichever powder you choose, curry or masala, ensure to add them at the beginning of the cooking time to have enough time to cook and release their flavor, taste, and aroma into the dish.
4. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are an excellent substitute for fenugreek, but they can overwhelm the flavors of a dish, so add only a tiny amount of the seeds when using them as a substitute for fenugreek.
Fennel is a flowering plant in the carrot family, and its seeds are commonly used in Indian, middle eastern, Chinese, and European dishes. Fennel bulbs and fennel seeds have smell similarly to licorice or maple.
Dried fennel seeds or chopped fennel bulbs can be used as an alternative to fenugreek. Both fennel seeds and bulbs are sweet tasting like fenugreek seeds and do a great job mimicking the nutty and sweet flavors found in fenugreek.
However, it is recommended to only use a small amount of fennel seeds when using it as a fenugreek substitute. The fennel seed can overwhelm the dish if added in much quantity.
5. Celery Leaves
Celery leaves may not be a spice, but they make an excellent fenugreek alternative. You can find celery leaves in supermarkets, grocery stores, and farmers’ markets.
So, if you can’t find fenugreek or don’t have any handy, you can simply grab some celery leaves and start cooking.
Celery leaves have a mildly bitter and nutty flavor that is similar to fenugreek. However, celery leaves are not sweet-tasting, so that you may miss that fenugreek maple flavor. You can add some sugar to the sauce to sweeten it and help it taste more like fenugreek.
Before cooking celery leaves, you need to first pluck, rinse, and chop the leaves till they look like fenugreek leaves. If you can find regular celery, you can use Chinese celery if available; celery seeds can be used only as a last resort.
6. Alfalfa Sprouts
Alfalfa sprouts can also be used as a replacement for fenugreek. Alfalfa has a similar taste to celery leaves, so it can be used in place of celery leaves.
So, if you don’t have fenugreek or celery leaves, then use alfalfa. It’s just two doors down from the original taste you are trying to achieve.
Alfalfa has a mildly sweet and similar nutty flavor that isn’t too far off from the original taste you get with fenugreek.
If you’re making a casserole that calls for fenugreek, you can use cooked kale as a substitute if you don’t have fenugreek.
However, you will need to cook the kale for a while to reduce the leaves’ bitterness, and you may need to add some sugar or sweetener to add sweetness to the dish.
Chop your washed kale leaves, cook them, and then add the cooked kale to the dish at the beginning of the cooking time.
Kale is a commonly used leafy vegetable and is part of the cabbage family. Kale leaves can either be curly or smooth and are available in green and purple variations. Kale has lots of nutritional and health benefits, so adding them to your diet is very beneficial.
Spinach is also a leafy green with lots of nutritional value. Spinach has a similar aroma and texture to fenugreek, but it may slightly change the dish’s flavor, so it should be used as a last resort.
Another leafy vegetable that can be used as a fenugreek substitute is collard greens, as it has a similar texture and aroma to fenugreek.
Conclusion | Best Substitutes for Fenugreek
There are lots of different fenugreek substitutes that can be used in place of fenugreek to achieve the same mildly sweet and nutty flavor that the not-so-readily available spice gives.
A combination of some of the substitutes like maple syrup and mustard seeds can also serve as a fantastic fenugreek substitute.