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The Best Ground Turmeric

The popularity of this ancient spice has recently skyrocketed. For the most vibrant color and best flavor, which turmeric is best?


Published May 1, 2018. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 19: Spring Dinner for Company

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What You Need To Know

Turmeric is one of the latest so-called superfoods to take America by storm. We've always used it in Indian-inspired curries, rice, and vegetables, but now this vibrant orange root is showing up in all sorts of foods and drinks. Coffee shops are serving turmeric teas and lattes. Supermarkets are selling bottled turmeric juice blends and turmeric-flavored energy bars. It's not all health food, either. Kraft recently subbed out the artificial dyes in its boxed macaroni and cheese for a natural mix including turmeric. Internet searches for turmeric increased by 56 percent in 2016 alone, according to a Google study of digital food trends. This uptick in popularity has been fueled in large part by curcumin, a compound in turmeric that has gotten a lot of attention for its antioxidant properties, although no scientific studies have proven that eating it confers any health benefits.

Most of the world's turmeric is grown in India, where it's been cultivated for centuries. The portion of the plant that's aboveground is green and leafy. The edible part is the underground stem, or rhizome. It's small and knobby, with dark orange flesh and a thin brown peel. It looks similar to ginger, another rhizome in the same family of plants. It's possible to find the fresh stuff in some supermarkets, but it's not as widely available as ground turmeric.

Do all ground turmerics offer the same vibrant golden color? And do they taste different? To find out, we purchased five ground turmeric products, priced from $2.10 to $3.46 per ounce. We sampled them in two blind tastings: in warm milk (a neutral application inspired by turmeric lattes) and in our Turmeric Chicken Salad.

Tasting Turmeric

We often combine turmeric with strong spices such as cinnamon, cumin, ginger, and coriander, and we use it as much for its striking golden color as we do for its flavor. When we focused solely on the flavor of turmeric in our tastings, we were surprised by how much it stood out. In both applications, the turmeric added a distinctly earthy and slightly sweet flavor. We also realized how much of the pleasant woodsy depth we associate with Indian-inspired curries is due to turmeric.

Many products had a warm, “zippy” quality that reminded us of ginger. Some had a “piney” flavor and contributed a gentle “cooling” sensation. Others were “vegetal” and “grassy.” Although we liked samples that were “herbal but mild,” we preferred products that were more potent. Our favorites tasted deeply “earthy” and “woodsy” and smelled lightly “floral.” There's good news: You can't go wrong with any of the turmerics we tested. In fact, we fully recommend all of them.

Does Processing Matter...

Everything We Tested

*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.

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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing.

Kate Shannon

Kate is a deputy editor for ATK Reviews. She's a culinary school graduate and former line cook and cheesemonger.