Nutmeg is a popular spice used around the world.
It’s made from the seeds of the evergreen tree Myristica fragrans, which is indigenous to the Moluccas of Indonesia ⁠— also known as the Spice Islands (
Nutmeg’s popularity stems from its many uses in cooking. Its nutty and sweet flavor lends well to savory and sweet dishes alike, including casseroles, soups, eggnog, lattes, and pies.
If you’re running low on this spice or don’t enjoy the flavor, you may wonder which other spices you can use in its place.
This article provides 8 great substitutes for nutmeg.
Mace is the best option if you’re looking for a replacement for nutmeg, as both spices come from the Myristica fragrans tree.
You can replace nutmeg for mace at a 1:1 ratio.
Mace is the outer covering of the nutmeg seed and has a flavor similar to that of nutmeg. You can easily swap in mace using equal amounts.
2. Garam masala
Garam masala is a popular spice blend used in Indian and other South Asian cuisines.
Although its ingredients vary based on the geographical region, the mix usually contains nutmeg, mace, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper. It may also contain cumin, turmeric, saffron, fenugreek, star anise, or other regional spices (2).
As most of the spices used in garam masala are similar in flavor to nutmeg, this blend is an excellent alternative.
This spice can also be swapped in at a 1:1 ratio.
Garam masala is a popular Indian spice that includes nutmeg and other similar spices. In your recipe, replace nutmeg with equal parts garam masala.
Allspice comes from the berries of the evergreen tree Pimenta dioica. It’s also known as pimento or the Jamaican pepper (3).
Its flavor is often described as a combination of nutmeg, pepper, juniper berries, and cinnamon. However, authentic allspice is made from the berries alone and not a blend of other spices.
Allspice is commonly found in kitchen pantries, making it a convenient alternative to nutmeg.
You can replace nutmeg with an equal amount of allspice in your recipes.
Allspice is made of ground berries from the Pimenta dioica tree. Its flavor is similar to that of nutmeg and can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio.
Cinnamon is one of the best-known spices and found in most kitchens.
It comes from the inner bark of trees belonging to the Cinnamomum genus. Most cinnamon comes in powdered form, which is ideal when using it to replace nutmeg (4).
Furthermore, it’s affordable and found in almost all grocery stores.
Cinnamon has a strong flavor, and you often only need small amounts. Due to its pungency, try using half the amount of nutmeg called for in your recipe.
Cinnamon is a popular spice that most people have on hand. While it can easily replace nutmeg in most recipes, start by using only half the recommended amount of nutmeg called for due to its strong flavor.
5. Pumpkin pie spice
Pumpkin pie spice isn’t reserved for pies only.
Despite its name, it doesn’t taste like pumpkin. This spice blend is commonly made using nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. It may also contain cloves.
Since it contains nutmeg and other similar spices, you can easily replace nutmeg with pumpkin pie spice in equal quantities in most recipes.
Pumpkin pie spice is a spice blend made with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. It has a similar taste to that of nutmeg and can be swapped in at a 1:1 ratio.
6. Apple pie spice
Apple pie spice is commonly used in apple-based desserts.
It contains mostly cinnamon and small amounts of nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and ginger. As such, it takes on a strong cinnamon flavor.
You can use apple pie spice in most recipes that call for nutmeg. However, be sure to use half the amount of apple spice to avoid an overpowering cinnamon taste.
Apple pie spice is a cinnamon-based spice blend that also contains small amounts of nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and ginger. Measure half the suggested amount of nutmeg when using apple pie spice to avoid too much cinnamon.
It has a spicier and less sweet flavor than nutmeg and is often used in savory dishes. Many people use dried and ground ginger instead of fresh, whole ginger.
If you’re looking to replace nutmeg in savory dishes, ginger is a great alternative that serves well in meat and vegetable-based dishes. However, it may not be suitable for sweeter dishes like desserts.
Use an equal amount of ginger in recipes that call for nutmeg.
Ginger is a spice that can easily replace nutmeg in savory dishes. However, it may not work well in desserts due to its strong, spicy flavor. It can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio.
Its flavor is commonly described as sweet with a pepper-like taste similar to that of nutmeg. In fact, many recipes ask for both nutmeg and ground cloves.
While you can buy whole cloves, it’s easier to purchase ground cloves, as this blends better in most recipes.
If your recipe calls for nutmeg only, use half the recommended amount when replacing it with ground cloves. However, if the recipe calls for both nutmeg and ground cloves, you may want to use another spice to prevent the cloves from overpowering your dish.
Ground cloves have a sweet and peppery flavor similar to that of nutmeg. Use half the recommended amount when replacing nutmeg with ground cloves.
The bottom line
Nutmeg is a popular spice used in both sweet and savory dishes.
However, if you don’t have any on hand or want to spice things up, there are many good substitutes.
Most spices can be used at a 1:1 ratio, but it’s best to add less at first and more as needed to prevent the replacement spice from overpowering your dish.