The best ways to cook with turmeric

Turmeric may just be the reigning superstar of all the superfoods. Recent scientific studies have started backing up what practitioners of ayurveda, the Indian practice of mind-body medicine, have claimed for centuries. Turmeric acts in the body as a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and brain booster, as well as a nutritional fighter against cancer and arthritis. In fact, Authority Nutrition says that “turmeric may be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence.” The key to unlocking turmeric’s magical benefits, however, relies in consuming it in a way that makes its compounds bioavailable to the body. On its own, turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, is not easily absorbed by the body, but becomes much more accessible when combined with fats and piperine, the active compound in black pepper. So what’s the solution to getting all the healthy perks turmeric has to offer? By cooking with it, of course! So grab your favorite bottled curry powder blend (or make your own) and ground or raw turmeric, and let’s see the infinite ways we can add turmeric into our everyday cooking.

Add it to eggs

Unlike a curry powder spice blend, which can provide a powerful punch of heat and flavor to a dish, turmeric on its own has a surprisingly subtle flavor. So subtle, in fact, that it blends seamlessly with egg dishes. At Monamifood, freshly grated turmeric and black pepper are added to a scramble made with green scallions and parsley. At 101 Cookbooks, Heidi pickles hard-boiled eggs in a bath of apple cider vinegar, sugar, and turmeric, giving the eggs a near-neon yellow hue that really pops on the plate. Turmeric can even lend a hand to the Easter Bunny when he’s looking for an all-natural solution to dyeing Easter eggs, as seen here at Mommypotamous.

Make a turmeric meat rub

With its golden hue and subtle yet savory taste, turmeric makes a welcome addition to many recipes calling for a spice rub blend for meats. At The Gracious Pantry, Tiffany creates an Indian-style rub for a whole chicken that she cooks in her slow cooker using plenty of ground turmeric, along with coriander, garlic, onion, cumin, cloves, and black pepper. At Prep Dish, a blend of turmeric, oregano, paprika, and cumin is used to coat cubes of grass-fed sirloin beef which is skewered with zucchini and cherry tomatoes for healthy and fantastic beef kebabs.

Make golden milk

Golden milk is an elixir that is highly valued in the practice of ayurveda, the Indian system of mind-body health. When it comes to diet, ayurveda stresses the importance of eating a balance of colorful, nourishing foods, as well as strengthening the digestive energy known as agni, or fire. Golden milk is the perfect complement to this principle, and is most often recommended as a soothing, nighttime drink. Dr. Andrew Weil makes his golden milk with unsweetened coconut milk, freshly grated ginger, freshly grated turmeric, and black peppercorns to enhance the healthy benefits of the turmeric. At Svastha Ayurveda, Danielle adds the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and saffron, then sweetens the golden milk with raw honey.

Make a turmeric tea

When people refer to turmeric tea, they may be referring to a couple of different things. Turmeric tea could be golden milk, or it could be a brew of turmeric and water. (This would technically be a tisane, not a tea, as it doesn’t contain the Camelia sinensis plant.) Making a turmeric tisane is an excellent way to give yourself a medicinally concentrated shot of this powerful spice. For the simplest path, place a sliced knob of fresh turmeric in a mug and cover with hot water. You can drop a few peppercorns in to enhance your body’s absorption of curcumin. At Sun Temple Food, Germaine simmers fresh turmeric with fresh ginger, lemon juice, honey, and water to make a large batch of turmeric tisane to last the week.

Add it to grains

Turmeric makes a great addition to your favorite grains, lending them a boost of health in addition to that unmistakable yellow color. Deborah at the Harvest Kitchen adds turmeric to her lemony quinoa with turmeric, which is flavored further with curry and cumin, along with mix-ins of fresh cilantro, toasted almonds, and raisins. Julia of The Roasted Root makes a ginger and turmeric aromatic rice with fresh ginger, garlic, dried cranberries, and pine nuts. Even everyone’s favorite grain, corn, can get the turmeric treatment like this turmeric-dusted popcorn with parsley oil at Vegetarian Times.

Add it to soups

A healthy spoonful of ground turmeric would make a welcome addition to nearly any of your favorite veggie-based soups. If you seek a little more turmeric guidance, the blogosphere is brimming with nourishing recipes for soups and stews that highlight turmeric and its many body-friendly benefits. Shannon at the Glowing Fridge packs her soup with leafy greens, purple cabbage, cinnamon, cayenne, lemon, ginger, and freshly grated turmeric. Laney at Life Is But a Dish swears that her healing turmeric lentil and farro soup saved her life when she was first home with her newborn baby girl. The wholesome soup is made with red lentils, kale, and farro, seasoned with cumin and turmeric, then topped with freshly prepared garlic breadcrumbs.

Add turmeric to nuts

Homemade spiced nuts easily beat any nut mix you can get at the grocery store, and the combination of fat-soluble turmeric with the healthy fats in nuts make the two a perfect match. Nadia at Nadia’s Healthy Kitchen adds turmeric powder to her spiced blend of almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds that get a touch of sweetness from coconut sugar. At 101 Cookbooks, Heidi roasts raw cashews in sesame oil and tosses them with turmeric, cayenne pepper, sesame seeds, and toasted nori seaweed. Even a homemade nut butter can be enhanced by the addition of turmeric. Indy at The Little Green Spoon blends ground turmeric into her gorgeous turmeric and honey almond butter.

Blend it into salad dressing

Forget the bottled stuff! Turmeric gives a pop of color and nutrition to a healthy, homemade salad dressing. For the simplest of blends, go for Tara Curran’s turmeric dressing at How You Glow, a blend of olive oil, lemon juice, turmeric, and apple cider vinegar. For a punch of savory umami flavor, try Bon Appetit‘s miso-turmeric dressing to enhance any Asian-style dish. If you’re looking for a spicier blast of flavor, try this plant-based, creamy curry dressing at The Fit Fork Feed. The dressing is spiced with turmeric, Dijon mustard, and curry powder, and deliciously dairy-free with the smart use of creamed raw cashews.

Use it to season root veggies

Looking for a satisfyingly flavorful meal to jazz up your meatless supper? Clean Eating offers a brilliant suggestion with their turmeric-roasted root vegetables and cilantro-yogurt sauce, served atop a bed of protein-packed green lentils. Mary at Barefeet in the Kitchen adds fragrant turmeric to her turmeric-roasted red potatoes with green beans. At Sprinkle of Green, Teffy wisely blends turmeric with baked sweet potatoes, white beans, and tahini for her “dreamy creamy” turmeric and sweet potato hummus.

Add it to greens

We all know that we could stand to get more of those nutritious, dark leafy greens into our daily diets. So why not give the nutrient quotient a real kick up a notch or two and prepare your greens with turmeric? Experience Life features a recipe for collard greens with tomatoes, ginger, and turmeric, that is spiced up even more with minced jalapeno and black mustard seeds. Top Chef alum Candice Kumai serves up turmeric and kale fried rice as a complete meal with its chunks of stir-fried tofu. Shelly at Grow and Create whips up a super simple saute of Swiss rainbow chard, turmeric, and onions, which she says is perfect when served with some scrambled organic eggs.

Juices and smoothies

Turmeric is a no-brainer for adding into your favorite raw juice recipes. At Authentic Self Wellness, Margaux juices fresh turmeric with apples, ginger, carrots, and lemon for a health-packed elixir. Sarah shares her pineapple and turmeric replenishing smoothie at Young and Raw, which she says is perfect post-workout. At Clean Cuisine, bloggers Ivy and Andy share anti-inflammatory recipes like their turmeric and orange smoothies, made with hemp seeds, banana, and cayenne pepper. The best part about these smoothies? They also make terrific popsicles!

Make your own mustard

Most American mustards get their bright yellow color from turmeric. So grab some to use in a recipe, or even better, make your own mustard at home. David Lebovitz makes his mustard with a blend of mustard seeds, vinegar, cayenne, maple syrup, and turmeric. At Serious Eats, a recipe for spicy brown mustard calls for brown mustard seeds with turmeric, vinegar, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. At Bon Appetit, the classic combo of turmeric and mustard is taken even further with a turmeric and mustard seed butter.

Pair it with avocado

Avocado and I have a very special relationship, and my latest obsession when enjoying it is to mash in a teaspoon of turmeric-rich curry powder along with a dash of apple cider vinegar. I’m not the only genius to figure out this amazing food marriage — at The Hearty Soul, avocado and turmeric are the stars of an avocado and black pepper egg salad. At The Chalk Board, steamed collard greens act as the tortilla in a wrap of avocado, portobello mushrooms, and turmeric-spiced hummus. Even desserts can be elevated by the pairing of turmeric and avocado, like the avocado turmeric fudge brownies at Paleo Hacks.

Explore some international recipes

There’s a whole wide world of turmeric-highlighted recipes out there, waiting for you to discover them. A base of Thai yellow curry paste is the star of this easy and tantalizing recipe for yellow chicken and potatoes from A Pinch of Yum. The dish I order in every Indian restaurant I visit, saag paneer, is a mouth-watering concoction of saucy spinach and Indian cheese. Aarti Sequeira makes hers with turmeric, ginger, and a homemade garam masala at Food Network. At the blog Turmeric & Saffron, we learn how to make a traditional Persian khoresh gheymeh, a stew-like dish of split peas, dried limes, chopped lamb or beef, and potatoes that is seasoned with turmeric, cinnamon, and rosewater. With all the recipes and cuisines out there that utilize turmeric, you probably haven’t even found your favorite yet.