Berbere can be among your favorite spice blends as it is loaded with flavor and punch. But what can you do if you don’t have it for a dish you wish to make? Worry not, as we have got you covered with some of the best Berbere spice substitutes with you.

This blend is zesty, spicy, and loaded with flavor. Thus, not all the common spice mixes could not be able to replace its intricate flavor profile. However, we picked the eight best Berbere spice substitutes, and they include:

  1. Baharat
  2. Ras el Hanout
  3. Garam Masala
  4. Tandoori Masala
  5. Tsire Powder
  6. Curry Powder
  7. Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
  8. Homemade Berbere Spice Mix

So, without further ado, let’s take the leap and see how these alternatives would help you save a few dishes!

Berbere Spice Substitutes: The Ultimate List Explained

Tackling the ideal replacements for this spice blend was actually a tough job for us! In fact, this mix has complex taste elements thanks to its many ingredients. The spices it usually includes are:

  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Cloves
  • Allspice
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Nutmeg
  • Turmeric
  • Red chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Fenugreek
  • Cardamom
  • Ginger

Accordingly, the 08 Berbere spice substitutes listed below will give the closest flavor even though they will not give the exact taste.

01- Baharat

Baharat can obviously be a decent first choice when you want a closer flavor resemblance. Most Baharat recipes share a set of common ingredients with Berbere, such as:

  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Turmeric

The spiciness of Baharat is usually covered with paprika or chili peppers and could contain some additional ingredients like sumac and dried rose petals/buds. 

However, Baharat can be a little milder than our subject leader. So, if needed, mix some hot chili powder in places you wish to substitute. You can use this as a condiment and an ingredient in the same amount as the original product.

Baharat is a signature additive in many Middle Eastern dishes. If you need to know about the spices used in this flavorful spice blend, just tap here and refer to our feature here.

02- Ras el Hanout

You would hardly get the chance to employ Ras el Hanout as a condiment. But still, if you got this in your spice rack, it’ll clearly be a lifesaver! This spice mix includes many similar spices as in Berbere like:

  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Allspice
  • Dry ginger
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Chili peppers
  • Cardamom
  • Turmeric

In addition to these spices, it could also have some exotics such as ash berries, cubebs, orris root, etc. Hence, if those ingredients are included, it can seemingly have an intense flavor. 

However, you can still use it with many dishes that call out for our subject leader. Substituting the exact amount will not be an issue but watch out for flavor if you got an intenser Ras el Hanout version.

03- Garam Masala

This famous Indian spice blend could undoubtedly be a staple in many kitchens that often experiment with new recipes. Garam Masala got your back as it contains many similar ingredients you find in Berbere. They are:

  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Cloves
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom

Moreover, many Garam Masala recipes have Kashmiri red chili powder which gives its spiciness and color. But, sometimes, this spice blend could not be as spicy as Berbere even though it holds a depth of flavor.

Therefore, you can mix a bit of a hot chili powder you have at home in such instances. Feel free to use similar amounts when substituting. Nevertheless, Garam Masala will not be an excellent choice to be used in place of the original product as a condiment. So, keep it only for dishes that require cooking.

04- Tandoori Masala

Tandoori Masala can be one of the best Berbere spice substitutes when you want to use it as a dry rub for seafood or meat. This spice mix also shares a similar color and a lot of common spices with our subject leader, such as:

  • Coriander seeds
  • Fenugreek
  • Cumin seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Dry ginger
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardamom

Additionally, Tandoori Masala could contain black cardamoms and derives its spiciness from Kashmiri red chili powder like most Indian spice blends. However, this blend is also not a very good recommendation for a condiment substitute. 

But it will be great on many other recipes, especially meat-based dishes. If your recipe calls for one teaspoon of Berbere, you can replace it with one teaspoon of Tandoori Masala. Go ahead and throw a dash of hot chili powder that you have in your spice cabinet if extra spiciness is needed.

How do the spices in Tandoori Masala give its incredible flavor? If you need to discover the facts, click here for a detailed article.

05- Tsire Powder

Coming from African cuisine, Tsire powder is a popular additive used in kebabs. It has a nutty element, thanks to the peanut it typically includes. However, Tsire powder usually has some similar ingredients as in Berbere like:

  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Chili peppers
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves

Although it would not carry as much flavor as Berbere, it can still be good to go with many meat-based dishes, particularly as a dry rub for grilling and roasting. However, you should be cautious when employing this spice powder, as peanuts can have allergic reactions to some.

But, even if you are allergic to peanuts, some Tsire powders could contain sesame seeds. So, you can go for it!. Moreover, you can mix some hot chili powder and ground allspice for an extra punch of spiciness and flavor. 

1:1 substitution might not work well if you find Tsire’s nutty hind overwhelming. Thus, use it little by little until you build up the desired taste.

06- Curry Powder

We bet that curry powder is a staple in many kitchens of SpiceRally readers! In fact, this is a versatile and ubiquitous combination of spices in which turmeric is usually the base flavoring and colorant. 

However, the content of curry powder vividly varies from recipe to recipe. But many would share some common ingredients with Berbere, such as:

  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Fenugreek
  • Black pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Ginger
  • Red pepper

In addition to these spices, some recipes may also contain bay leaves and onion powder. It may not be as spicy as Berbere. So we suggest it would be best to mix some hot chili powder for a better flavor approximation.

This substitute will be great with many savory dishes that call for Berbere in the original recipe. Feel free to use it as a dry rub for meat, but it will not be so good as a condiment.

07- Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Jerk seasoning would be widely available in any store near you. And perhaps you already have it in your spice cabinet if you are frequently into grilling and roasting. This seasoning carries a profundity of flavor with traditional Caribbean flavors that can be a little more intense than Berbere.

However, both of these spice mixtures share similar spices, like:

  • Ground allspice
  • Hot peppers (cayenne pepper, hot pepper flakes)
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon,
  • Cumin

Hence, this Jamaican Jerk Seasoning can get along well with many meat-based dishes, such as a dry rub and even with vegetables.

In addition to these spices, Jerk Seasoning could also contain many extra ingredients like dried herbs, onion powder, garlic powder, etc.

You can use it in a similar amount when replacing it. But, if you think the Jerk Seasoning flavor is a bit too overpowering, the best thing would be to use it gradually until you develop the desired taste.

08- Homemade Berbere Spice Mix

If you aren’t satisfied with any of the options above, your next bet would be to put together your own homemade batch of Berbere. This will give you a very close taste resemblance to any Berbere spice mixtures you buy from the store. 

We have given a simple recipe below to help you with any dish that calls for Berbere as an ingredient or a condiment.

Homemade Berbere Spice Mix Recipe

You will only need some staples from your spice rack to make this blend! We are sure that you will never want to buy from the store once you savor the goodness of this homemade recipe.

Preparation time- 10 minutes | Cooking time- 10 minutes | Additional time- 10 minutes
No: of servings- 36 teaspoons | No: of calories per serving- 11 | Cuisine- Ethiopian

Spices Needed

  • Two teaspoons from each- cumin seeds, turmeric, and black peppercorns
  • Four teaspoons of coriander seeds
  • Six tablespoons of sweet paprika
  • Ten dried red chilies (membranes and seeds removed)
  • One teaspoon from each- ginger and fenugreek seeds
  • Seeds of four greeds cardamom pods
  • Half a teaspoon from each- nutmeg powder and ground cinnamon
  • Eight cloves
  • Four whole allspice berries

Other Ingredients

  • Two teaspoons of salt

Instructions For Preparation

  1. In a thick-bottomed skillet, add all the whole spices and the red chilies which are broken into small pieces.
  2. Dry-toast these spices for about 3 minutes until very aromatic. Shake the skillet regularly to prevent the ingredients from burning.
  3. Put them in a bowl and let them cool completely.
  4. Once cooled, put them into a spice grinder or a food processor and grind them to a fine powder.
  5. Then, add all the remaining ground spices and salt and give another good pulse until everything is well combined.
  6. Use immediately or store in an air-tight glass container until use.

Did you think that Berbere can only be used with Doro Wat? But actually, the content of this spice mix can do wonders with many other dishes too. Click here and read our comprehensive article on Berbere to learn everything you need to know. 

Is Baharat Similar To Berbere?

Baharat can be similar to Berbere as they share many common ingredients, but they are not the same. Moreover, they both can be used as an ingredient during the cooking process and as a condiment. 

Thanks to their similar flavor elements, Baharat can substitute Berbere and vice versa. However, Baharat can be milder than Berbere since it contains some additional strong spices and can be spicier than Baharat.

Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love

Giada De Laurentiis

Wrapping Up With Berbere Substitutes…

So, our sole intention throughout was to enlighten you with all the possible and best berbere spice substitutes that you can easily find from your kitchen or the store. In fact, the flavor of Berbere is pretty hard to replicate, so we had to do extensive research in building up the above list for you.

Baharat, Ras el Hanout, Garam Masala, Tandoori Masala, Tsire powder, curry powder, Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, and our homemade Berbere spice mix recipe are great alternatives with many dishes that call for the original product.

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