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    Top 5 Achiote Paste Substitutes for All Recipes

    Spicy food is a comfort food for many people. The amazing achiote paste gives a spicy touch to the recipe. If unavailable, you can use some achiote paste substitutes to add the same spice to your food. 

    Achiote paste provides an amazing peppery taste, so you may be looking for a similar substitute. Harissa paste, sambal oelek, guajillo chili powder, tex mex paste, or homemade achiote paste are the best options that you can try.

    This blog will cover the best five achiote paste substitutes. Look through their flavor profile to find out which best suits your recipe. Let’s get started!

    What is Achiote Paste?

    Achiote paste, also known as Lombok, annatto, or bija paste, is a popular sauce used in Latin American cooking. It comes from the following ingredients: 

    • Annatto seeds
    • Pepper
    • Oregano
    • Coriander
    • Garlic
    • Cloves
    • Cumin

    The main ingredient, Annatto seeds, is called “achiote” in Mexico.

    Achiote is popular in Latin American, East Asian, and Caribbean cuisines. It creates a bright red color and a bit of yellowish color to dishes and can be used as a marinade, sauce, or rub on chicken, meat, etc. For instance, you can also use it for dairy free chicken marsala.

    This paste is mild, smoky, and spicy in flavor and best used in many recipes such as: 

    • Stews
    • Pasta
    • Tacos
    • Rice
    • Fish
    • Shrimps

    Best Achiote Paste Substitutes

    Most people’s first choice is the achiote paste but in case, if it is not available, is hard to find, or you want to change the taste of spice, then there are a few alternatives that will work well in your recipes. 

    Dig into the substitutes below to find the best replacement for your recipe. 

    1. Harissa Paste

    Harissa can be a good alternative in the absence of achiote paste. It is a popular North African chili paste in Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian recipes. 

    This paste is a mixture of different chilies like bell peppers, garlic, coriander, and caraway seeds. It is available at other Middle Eastern stores, or you can make your paste at home with the same ingredients.

    Harissa paste has a tangy and spicy flavor and is likely to be used in different cuisines like stews, soups, and meat, for example, you can make hellofresh firecracker meatballs or you even use it as a sandwich spread. 

    You can easily replace it with achiote paste to give your dish a hot and peppery taste.

    2. Sambal Oelek 

    Sambal Oelek is another good achiote paste alternative that delivers the same flavor to your recipe. It is an Indonesian chili paste made up of vinegar, red chilies, sugar, and salt.

    This spicy sauce is originally made in Indonesia and is also available in many Asian stores. You can order online from certain websites too.

    The taste is hot and smoky with a bit of saltiness, yet still, sambal oelek is the best replacement because it will add an equal amount of spice like achiote paste, but the only difference will be the taste of salt. 

    But if you plan to reduce salt intake, you may want to look for other options.   

    3. Guajillo Chili Powder

    Guajillo Chili is a famous Mexican powder made with grounded guajillo chilies. This powder can be a permissible replacement for achiote paste.

    Also, you can add other spices and use this substitute in chicken or fish marinades because, in marination, this powder works perfectly and gives a mouthwatering spicy taste. 

    Although it is not too spicy like other pastes, the flavor is a bit sweet and peppery, so it is recommended to those who prefer a less spicy taste in their food. 

    Tip: You can also make this powder at home from dried guajillo chilies and some other peppers in a mortar and pestle, or you can use a grinder.

    4. Tex Mex Paste

    Tex Mex paste is one of the delicious achiote paste substitutes because of the similarities in ingredients used in both pastes. 

    This paste is popular and known for Southwestern dishes, made from garlic, ancho chili peppers, garlic, and other spicy peppers. 

    You can use this paste to marinate meat or fill tacos. Moreover, this spicy sauce is often used in pizza, and the flavor is named “tex mex pizza” it makes every dish hot, spicy, and mouthwatering.

    If you do not have achiote paste available and are looking for a similar substitute that provides the same spice, then tex mex paste is the best choice!

    5. Homemade Achiote Paste

    If you are unsure of the other given substitutes, then we have something fun and exciting for you. Let’s make our homemade achiote paste!

    The making process of this paste might not be easy because it takes a lot of time, but if you want a genuine taste like achiote paste, you must try this.

    Homemade items are always flavorful and healthy enough to add to your recipes. You can even manage the spices according to your preference.

    Gather the required ingredients and spices, then grind them well. The process may take longer than you think, but it is worth the wait. 

    Once the paste is ready, you are good to go and enjoy an amazing homemade achiote paste. 

    This is the most satisfying experience to find an alternative at home. It levels up your cooking skills in so many amazing ways!


    Achiote pastes substitutes, as mentioned above, can be very helpful in fulfilling your spicy cravings. Harissa paste and tex mex paste are great options, whereas guajillo chili powder and sambal oelek can also deliver the same taste.

    Specifically, to meet the authentic flavor, homemade achiote paste should be your first choice. 

    Each of these substitutes comes in the same color, i.e., bright red, and is very flavorful to make your dish tangy, hot and spicy.

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