Cooking With Turmeric: Benefits, Recipes & Uses

Last Update: May 17, 2023

Though it’s sometimes confused with saffron thanks to its bright golden color, turmeric is actually a member of the ginger family and has a long medicinal and culinary history. But it wasn’t until recently that this ancient Ayurvedic remedy was globally recognized and celebrated for all its healthful properties (not to mention delicious flavor). Ready to experience the magic of turmeric? Here’s how to give your next meal a touch of gold.

History of Turmeric

While it may now be a trending superfood, turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and cooking, dating back nearly 4000 years. The turmeric root is native to Southeast Asia where it is a longtime spice staple in Indian cooking, a natural fabric dye, and even a necessary element in some religious ceremonies.

Turmeric Benefits

So what’s so great about this so-called superfood? Turmeric contains curcumin, which may have anti-inflammatory properties, and is often a favored wellness booster to help support brain health, ward off free radicals and support healthy joint function.

Fresh Turmeric vs. Ground Turmeric

Similar to ginger, fresh turmeric and ground turmeric offer slightly different flavor profiles and should be incorporated according to what makes the most sense for the recipe you’re preparing. The flesh of fresh turmeric rhizomes (or roots) has a peppery, slightly bitter flavor. It can be grated, sliced, or cubed and is best for infusing flavor into recipes that require a slightly brighter, livelier taste (think teas, broths, or marinades). Be sure to store fresh turmeric in the fridge.

Ground turmeric isn’t quite as pungent as it loses some of its essential oils in the grinding process. But like other warming spices, it can easily be incorporated into rice dishes, baked goods, stews, rubs, and more. A teaspoon of ground turmeric is the equivalent of one tablespoon of grated fresh turmeric.

How to Cook With Turmeric

Whether you enjoy it fresh or ground, there are a variety of ways to incorporate turmeric into your cooking throughout the week. Here are a few ideas:

  • Blend ground turmeric into smoothies
  • Add ground turmeric to rice dishes
  • Stir ground turmeric into mac and cheese
  • Incorporate freshly grated turmeric into marinades
  • Stir freshly grated turmeric into pumpkin desserts like pies and breads
  • Infuse fresh turmeric into teas or broths

10 Best Turmeric Recipes

These turmeric-tastic recipes are rooted in goodness.

Fermented Turmeric Wellness Shot

Kickstart your daily wellness routine with a powerful shot of fermented turmeric, ground ginger, apple cider vinegar, coconut water, black pepper, and honey.

Turmeric Tea

Turmeric is sometimes best enjoyed in the simplest of ways, which is why knowing how to brew a cup of tea turmeric tea will likely come in handy. This soothing infusion calls for medicinal ingredients like ginger, lemon, and honey.

Fermented Turmeric Iced Latte

Enjoy a refreshing beverage while supporting gut health with an iced latte made with almond milk, fermented turmeric, coconut nectar, and cinnamon.

Honey Turmeric Pumpkin Latte

This comforting sipper starts with a base of coconut oil and pumpkin puree, layers in warming spices like turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon, stirs in vanilla and raw honey, and is topped with decadent coconut whipped cream.

Turmeric Breakfast Rice Bowl

Spice up your rice with turmeric, tender kale, and a sunny-side-up egg for a hearty and deliciously unique dish.

Tropical Turmeric Smoothie Bowl

Get a superfood-powered taste of the islands thanks to turmeric, banana, mango, ginger, and coconut milk with hemp seeds and coconut oil.

Turmeric Mushroom Crepes

This Paleo-friendly recipe fills turmeric coconut wraps with sautéed shiitake mushrooms, creamy coconut milk, and a dash of rosemary for a savory, elegant dish.

Lemon Chicken and Olive Tagine

Slow-simmered to perfection, this Moroccan stew infuses bone-in chicken thighs with a blend of spices, including ground turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin, while lemon and green olives add an acidic punch.

Turmeric and Coconut Bone Broth

Fight off cold season with a steaming mug of bone broth infused with ground turmeric, coconut milk, black pepper, and ground ginger.

Vegan Kale Nachos

This plant-based take on the crowd-pleasing favorite tops baked kale chips with tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, sliced jalapeños, and turmeric-spiced “queso.”

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