10 Best Annatto seed powder substitutes & How to use

Annatto powder is made by grinding the seeds of the annatto tree. The powder has a slightly nutty flavor and imparts a yellow-orange color to food. 

It is commonly used as a natural food coloring in cheese, butter, rice, soups, and sauces. Annatto powder can also make a natural food dye for fabric or cosmetics. 

But replicating the annatto seed’s flavor is quite hard. So try my try-n-tested annatto seeds substitutes like turmeric, beetroot, or saffron may provide you with the same pleasure. so, stay tuned to see the blog.

What are Annatto Seeds? 

Annatto seeds come from the achiote tree, which is native to tropical regions of the Americas. The seeds are employed as a spice and coloring agent in many cuisines. 

Annatto has a slightly sweet-nutty and peppery flavor with nutmeg to cinnamon-like- undertones. When used as a food coloring, annatto oil imparts a yellow or orange color. Annatto seeds are available whole or ground.

They can be used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces or color rice, cornbread, and other dishes. It is often used to color cheeses, butter, and other dairy products and also can be used to tint oils and vinegar.

Best Annatto Seed powder Substitutes

1. Beet Root Powder, a natural substitute for Annatto Seed

Beet Root Powder is obtained from beet and is a natural food coloring in cakes, frostings, and other confections. It comes out reddish tone. So, beetroot powder is a great substitute for annatto seeds. 

Try sprinkling it on roasted vegetables or mixing it into dips and sauces. Beetroot powder is a great way to add color and nutrition to your diet without artificial ingredients.

beet root powder is a good substitute for annatto seed

Beet Root Powder is low in calories and fat and is a good choice for those on a weight loss or maintenance program. Beet Root Powder is also gluten-free and is suitable for those with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities.

2. A Pinch of Turmeric- Suitable Replacement for Annatto seed Powder

You can substitute turmeric for annatto seeds powder in any recipe. Remember that the two spices have different flavor profiles, so your dish may taste slightly different than intended. 

Additionally, turmeric is much more potent than annatto powder, so you’ll want to use less of it to avoid overwhelming your dish. Simply start with a smaller amount of turmeric and add more to taste until you’re happy with the flavor.

3. Hibiscus powder

Hibiscus powder is a great way to add color and flavor to your favorite foods. Try it in smoothies, juices, teas, or as a natural food colorant in your cooking. You’ll love the beautiful pink or red hue it gives your food. 

When substituting hibiscus powder for annatto seeds, use the same amount of hibiscus powder as you would annatto seeds.

Hibiscus powder can be found in most health food stores, or you can make your homemade hibiscus powder. It is an easy and simple process. 

You just need to dry the hibiscus flowers and grind them into a fine powder. Store the hibiscus powder in a cool, dry place. It will last for several months.

Read More- Best substitutes for Sun Dried Tomatoes

4. Safflower, most preferred Annatto seed alternative

Safflower comes under yellow, red, and orange petals and will be a great alternative to annatto powder. Safflower is a plant that is aboriginal to Asia and Africa. 

The safflower plant is used for various purposes, including as a source of food and medicine. The flowers of the safflower plant are used to make a yellow dye called saffron.  

Safflower oil is also used in cooking and cosmetics. The petals of safflower are used to make herbal tea.

Although Safflower is always 1st preference substitute for saffron, that’s why it is called “bastard saffron. You can buy it from amazon.

5. Add Paprika Instead of Annatto Powder

As annatto seeds hint at paprika flavor, you can substitute Paprika for annatto seeds powder in cooking. It won’t overwhelm your dish. The two powders have a similar flavor profile, with paprika slightly milder than annatto. 

When substituting paprika for annatto, use a 1:1 ratio. For example, if a recipe requires one teaspoon of annatto powder, use one teaspoon of paprika powder instead.

6. Saffron, Costlier Annatto Seed Substitute

I think saffron is one of my favorite alternatives to annatto seed powder. Although saffron is always costly and hard to find, simply one or two strands are enough to bring the hue you want.

It adds a beautiful flavor and color to the dish. If you want a more subtle flavor, you can add just a pinch of saffron to your dish. Saffron is great to add to both sweet and savory dishes. 

I love adding it to my rice when I make Indian food or Persian dishes. Saffron is also amazing in desserts. It pairs well with almonds, so I like to make an almond cake or cookies with saffron. It’s also great in rice pudding.

If you want to try using saffron, start with just a small amount and add more to the taste. It has a strong flavor, so you don’t want to overdo it. But a little bit of saffron can elevate your dish.

7. Nutmeg can also be used instead of annatto

Nutmeg powder can be used in sweet and savory recipes, so it is a versatile ingredient to keep on hand. 

Using nutmeg powder instead of annatto seeds powder in cooking can give dishes a mildly sweet and earthy flavor. As annatto seeds have nutmeg smells, it does not change the savor of the dish.

Nutmeg add flavor to baked goods, so it can be a good substitute for annatto seeds powder in recipes like cakes, cookies, and quick bread

When substituting nutmeg powder for annatto seeds powder, use one teaspoon of nutmeg powder for every tablespoon of annatto seeds powder called for in the recipe.

When substituting nutmeg powder for annatto seeds powder in baking recipes, use one-third less nutmeg powder than the recipe calls for annatto seeds powder.

8. Red bell pepper powder

Substituted with red bell pepper powder for Annatto seed powder provides a similar flavor and color to your dishes. 

Red bell pepper powder can be more palatable for some if you’re looking for a more intense flavor. 

red bell pepper powder is widely used as a alternative for annatto seed

Yet, it’s up to you to decide which ingredient you prefer in your cooking. So, don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the perfect flavor combination for your taste buds.

You can find an online store or make red bell pepper powder at home by the process mentioned below- 


One red bell pepper

A food processor or blender


1. Your oven should be preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cut the bell pepper half and remove the stem, seeds, and ribs.

3. Cut the pepper halves on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes.

4. Remove the peppers from the oven and let them cool slightly.

5. Peel the skin off the peppers and place them in a food processor or blender.

6. Pulse until the peppers are finely ground.

7. Store the pepper powder in an airtight container and use it as needed. Enjoy!

You can add this powder to any dish to give it a nice boost of flavor. Try it on eggs, in soups or stews, on roasted vegetables, or even sprinkled on popcorn. Have fun and experiment to see what you like best!.

9. Orange flesh sweet potato powder is an excellent natural food color

Orange flesh sweet potato powder is great natural food color to add to your dish.


1. It can be used in beverages and instant food as a coloring agent.

2. It can be used in cake, pudding, ice cream, and other desserts as a coloring agent.

3. It can be used as a coloring agent in seasoning, such as sauce, jam, canned fruit, etc..

4. It can be used as a coloring agent in daily necessities, such as toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc..

5. It also can be added to animal feed to get better color.

6. Other fields that require orange color.

Make Your alternative for annatto seeds

Annatto seeds are a typical ingredient in Latin American cuisine. They have a slightly nutty flavor and can be used to add color to dishes. Annatto seeds can be located in the spice section of most supermarkets.

To make annatto powder, grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor until they are a fine powder. You can then use the powder to add color and flavor to any dish you like.

Store this powder in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place. It will keep for several months.

or make achiote paste

To make achiote paste, the seeds are first roasted and then ground into a powder. The powder is then combined with water, vinegar, and spices to form a paste.

 Achiote paste can be used to season meats, fish, or poultry. It can even add color and flavor to stews, soups, and sauces.

Annatto seeds substitute for kutsinta

Kutsinta or Puto cuchinta is a Philippines Rice cake Dessert. The name kutsinta comes from the Tagalog word “kutsinita,” which means “sticky.”

It is popular as a snack and breakfast, often served with coffee or tea. It is a sticky rice cake typically made from glutinous rice flour, brown sugar, and baking soda. 

Annatto is usually steamed and served with a dipping sauce from grated coconut mixed with brown sugar. kutsinta can also be fried, making it chewy and slightly crispy on the outside.

Kutsinta can be found in most Filipino bakeries and is typically made fresh daily. 

To substitute annatto seeds for Puto cuchinta, use:

  • ·   Beetroot powder
  • ·   Yam
  • ·   Orange flesh sweet potato
  • ·   Nutmeg

Annatto powder substitute for kare kare

Kare Kare is Philipino’s main delectable course made of Oxtail, peanut sauce, and vegetables. Annatto also adds color to the dish and enhances the flavor. To alternate Annatto powder use

  • · Pinch of turmeric
  • · Nutmeg
  • · Saffron
  • · Safflower 
  • · paprika

FAQs on annatto seed substitute 

Q1. Annatto seeds, where to buy? 

The best place to buy annatto seeds is online, from a trusted seller such as Amazon. You can also uncover them at some health food stores, but the selection may be limited. 
Look for seeds that are a deep red color and have a firm texture. Avoid any that are brown or have a soft, mushy texture

Q2. Can I use paprika instead of annatto? 

yes. In most recipes, you can substitute paprika for annatto. However, the flavor will be slightly different. Annatto has a more earthy flavor, while paprika is sweeter and smokier. 
If you are making a dish that relies heavily on the flavor of the annatto, it is best to stick with that ingredient. Otherwise, feel free to experiment with different spices to find the perfect flavor for your dish.

Q3. Is Annatto and Atsuete the same?

Annatto and Atsuete are both natural food coloring agents derived from the seeds of the achiote tree. The difference is that annatto is usually sold in powder form, while Atsuete is typically sold as a paste. 
Both products can add color to food, but Annatto is more commonly used in the United States, while Atsuete is more popular in the Philippines.

Q4. Is annatto the same as paprika?

Annatto and paprika are two different spices. Annatto is prepared from the seeds of the achiote tree and has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Paprika is prepared from ground red peppers and has a sweet, smoky flavor. 
While they both have red color, annatto will give food a yellow or orange tint, while paprika will not.

Q5. What spice is similar to annatto?

Nutmeg. This is because annatto has the scent of nutmeg, although it has a paprika hint. But other spice is almost similar to annatto include- saffron and turmeric, for the perfect color

Leave a Comment