Maca is a Peruvian native tuber that has become extremely popular in the past few years. Maca powder is made of the plant’s roots after being dried and is added to several recipes to enhance their flavor and boost their nutritional value.
With an earthy, nutty flavor, maca powder is a key ingredient in several savory and sweet dishes. But it’s not always the easiest ingredient to find, and some people don’t like its taste.
We compiled this list to help you find the best maca powder substitutes that you can experiment with the next time you’re preparing a dish that calls for maca powder.
The best substitutes for maca powder
Maca powder pairs well with sweet flavors like cocoa and caramel. This is why it’s one of the best ingredients to use in porridges, cookies, pancakes, homemade granola, no-bake sweets, and smoothies.
The mild, nutty flavor complements other stronger sweet ingredients like honey and maple syrup. It can be used in a dough mix or sprinkled on top of your dessert when it’s finished to add a subtle nutty aroma without being too overpowering.
Maca powder also pairs well with fruity flavors and strong spices. Mixing it with cinnamon and ginger helps bring out their distinctive taste and aroma. You can also add it in smoothies and desserts that contain fruits like ripe bananas and berries.
At the same time, the subtle sweetness can enhance the taste of your soup, savory spread, or sauce because it gives the other flavors in your recipe the chance to infuse and deepen.
Maca tubers aren’t that easy to find outside the Andes region of South America, as they’re used as an herbal remedy to treat stress and improve sexual health. However, the powder is available in a supplement form that is packed with nutrients.
Some people might not be that fond of maca powder’s taste or suddenly run out of it. However, you can still go on with your recipe by adding a different ingredient that works as a maca powder substitute in sweet and savory dishes.
1. Yacon Powder
Yacon powder is slightly lighter in color than maca powder but has a sweet, nutty molasses-like taste with a fruity undertone. Just like maca powder, yacon powder is packed with nutrients, so it works if you’re trying to replace your maca powder with another healthy ingredient.
You can use yacon powder in your smoothies and desserts. The root isn’t that easy to find, but the powder is available as a supplement. It can also be incorporated into some savory dishes to add a subtle hint of sweetness.
2. Ground butterscotch
One of the best substitutes for maca powder is ground butterscotch. It has the same nutty caramel-like flavor that adds sweetness to your drinks and no-bake dishes.
Butterscotch is made of a mixture of browned butter, caramelized sugar, and molasses, and grinding this confectionery will add a crunch to your recipes. Mix ground butterscotch with your latte, or sprinkle it on top of your pancakes, yogurt, or oatmeal for an earthy sweetness.
Ground butterscotch can also be cooked, but it loses its crunchy texture as it melts. You can add butterscotch to your pancake mixture to give it a little kick.
3. Ground Chia Seeds
Ground Chia seeds are a maca powder substitute that you can use in multiple recipes. Chia seeds have a very subtle taste that blends well with other flavors and aromas in savory and sweet dishes.
It has a mild, nutty flavor, so it can be consumed raw or mixed with other ingredients. Instead of cooking with maca powder, you can use ground Chia seeds to thicken your stew or soup while adding a delicious flavor.
You can sprinkle Chia seeds on top of your salad or mix them with any recipe to enhance its nutrients. They also add a crunch to your homemade granola bar. Chia seeds can be eaten raw, soaked before adding them to a recipe, or roasted.
4. Almond Flour
Almond flour provides a different taste than maca powder, so it will be an excellent substitute if you’re not fond of its flavor. The flour is made of ground almonds and tastes nutty and slightly sweet with a hint of bitterness.
You can use almond flour in most baked dishes, whether they’re sweet or savory. Thanks to its fine texture, it can also be mixed with stews and smoothies.
Even in no-bake desserts, almond flour tastes nice because the almonds used to make it are not 100% raw as they’re roasted or heat-pasteurized.
5. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is another ingredient that you can use to replace maca powder in sweet and savory dishes. It adds a distinctive tropical, slightly sweet taste and blends well with other spices and stronger flavors like cinnamon and coffee.
It works in no-bake recipes because it’s made of dried and heat-pasteurized coconut meat. Coconut flour can be used in green smoothies, pancake batter, muffins, cookies, and as a coating in savory fried dishes.
Coconut flour is rather fluffy and not as smooth as maca powder, so if you use it to replace maca powder in sauces, it can make your recipe a little bit crumbly.
6. Instant Coffee
Instant coffee can replace maca powder in porridge or pudding. Just a tiny amount of instant coffee can add a new flavor to your sweet dishes, but too much can be overpowering.
The coffee flavor is very different from maca powder, so this option will work for you if you don’t like earthy, nutty flavors. For savory dishes, there are other options that work better.
7. Raw Cacao Powder
Raw cacao powder has a nutty, earthy flavor with some fruity notes and a slightly bitter aftertaste. It can replace maca powder in no-bake desserts or sprinkled on top of your oatmeal or granola when used in small amounts.
This is a maca powder alternative that works for those who don’t like its flavor. It also alters the taste a little because of its fruity aroma. Moreover, cacao powder is a good choice to add to your morning smoothie.
Spirulina has an interesting taste that some people describe as fresh lake water. It has an earthy, grassy flavor with some edge, so it can be an interesting addition to smoothies and nutritious recipes when mixed with other ingredients.
For most people, spirulina has an acquired taste that might not appeal to everyone. However, it can be mixed with your soup or stew to thicken it and add a unique flavor or sprinkled on top of your salad.
Even in baked recipes, spirulina can add a new flavor and texture. Mixing it with vibrant-tasting fruits like cherries, berries, and pineapples can be a great choice. However, some people might not be fond of its odor.
9. Matcha Powder
Matcha powder is made of the dried and ground leaves of matcha green tea. The powder has a vegetal, earthy, slightly bitter taste with some hints of sweetness and umami.
Despite having a different taste from maca powder, matcha powder is a great alternative to consider if you run out of maca powder because it’s so versatile.
It can be mixed with any spice to prepare your special spice mix, added to a smoothie, sprinkled on top of your salad, added into a baking dough mix, or incorporated into your soup, stew, or sauce.
Thanks to its subtle taste, matcha powder blends well with other flavors and aromas in your recipe. However, it adds a bright green color to your dough and other recipes. It might be an interesting way to encourage them to try a dish that they’re not that fond of.
How to choose a maca powder substitute
All the alternatives we talked about can be used as a maca powder substitution depending on the recipe you’re following. You also need to consider the distinctive flavor each alternative adds to your recipe.
There are several maca powder substitutes that provide a similar flavor and even texture. However, if you’re not fond of the taste of maca powder, you can definitely experiment with other alternatives that can make your recipes pop with deliciousness.
Yacon powder has a similar flavor and taste to maca powder and can be incorporated into several dishes. Chia seeds can also be used to replace maca powder, whether you sprinkle the seeds on top of your dishes or use ground chia seeds in your dishes and smoothies.
Crushed butterscotch surprisingly offers a taste that is similar to maca powder, but you need to be careful about the amount you add to your recipe. It’s a good option for preparing a tasty smoothie or enhancing the taste of your yogurt or oatmeal.
You can substitute maca powder with almond or coconut flour. Each one of them has a unique taste, but they provide a texture that resembles maca powder and can be used in drinks and different recipes.
Instant coffee and raw cacao powder can replace maca powder in no-bake recipes and desserts when added in small amounts. You can also add cacao powder to your drinks.
Spirulina is a good maca powder substitute because it provides amazing health benefits, despite offering a different flavor and taste.
If you’re not fond of maca powder’s taste, you can add matcha powder instead. It’s a versatile option that works in sweet and savory dishes, as well as smoothies. It also changes the color of your dish, so it will be an interesting addition to your cooking.