Nutmeg Substitute: Best Alternatives for Nutmeg in Recipes

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As a home cook, you’ve probably had a moment when you need a particular spice for a recipe, but alas, it is missing from your spice rack. If you’re looking for a nutmeg substitute, you’re in the right place.

This post will delve into some of the best substitutes you can use when nutmeg is unavailable. Whether you’re making sweet dishes or savory recipes, we’ll explore a plethora of alternatives that will save your meal and satisfy your taste buds.

Garam Masala as a Nutmeg Substitute

One great substitute for nutmeg is garam masala. This popular spice blend is a common ingredient in Asian cuisines and offers a similar flavor profile to nutmeg. Garam masala has a complex flavor, with a hint of sweetness and a warming spice that mimics the sweet flavor of nutmeg. Use it in small amounts, as it has a strong flavor that can overpower your favorite recipes.

A small bowl of garam masala, a popular spice blend with a complex flavor, used as a substitute for nutmeg

Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

If you’re out of nutmeg during the holiday season, pumpkin pie spice might be your best bet. This spice blend, consisting of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves among the main ingredients, is a versatile spice that can serve as a nutmeg replacement. The blend of cinnamon and other warming spices provide a slightly different flavor but can successfully stand in the place of nutmeg in various recipes.

Pumpkin pie spice, a blend of warming spices, is a versatile nutmeg substitute

Ground Cloves as a Nutmeg Substitute

Ground cloves, a fragrant spice with a sweet and spicy flavor, is another excellent alternative to nutmeg. Cloves share the aromatic spice and sweet flavor characteristics of nutmeg, making it a good substitute. However, cloves have a very distinct flavor, so use them in small quantities to avoid overpowering your dish.

Ground cloves, a fragrant spice with a sweet and spicy flavor, is an excellent alternative to nutmeg

Star Anise

Star anise, a common spice in Asian cuisines, offers a unique flavor that can be used as a nutmeg substitute. With its licorice-like flavor and a hint of sweetness, it’s a suitable option, especially for savory dishes. However, star anise has a strong flavor, so use it sparingly for the best results.

Star anise, with its unique licorice-like flavor and hint of sweetness, as a nutmeg substitute

Allspice Berries

Allspice berries offer a similar taste to the combination of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Given this, it’s no surprise that allspice is a widely used spice as a nutmeg substitute. If you’re lacking in nutmeg, grinding some allspice berries may be your best nutmeg substitute.

Allspice berries, which offer a similar taste to the combination of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon

Have a look at our other ingredient substitution recommendations:

Sage 🌱 Orange Zest 🌱 Jalapenos 🌱 Mint 🌱 Cashews 🌱 Paprika 🌱 Mango

Ground Mace

Ground mace, the outer covering of the nutmeg seed, is probably the best substitute for nutmeg. It has a similar flavor profile, being a bit more pungent and peppery than nutmeg. Ground mace can be used in the same quantity as nutmeg in both sweet and savory recipes.

Ground mace, the outer covering of the nutmeg seed, as the best substitute for nutmeg

Cinnamon as a Nutmeg Substitute

A common spice found in most kitchens, cinnamon is a good substitute for nutmeg. Its sweet and aromatic flavor works well in many dishes that call for nutmeg. However, cinnamon has a stronger flavor, so start with a small amount and adjust to taste.

Cinnamon, a common spice with a sweet and aromatic flavor, used as a nutmeg substitute


Cardamom, another popular spice, can also be used as a nutmeg substitute. It has a distinctive taste, with a blend of spicy, citrusy, and minty notes. Although the flavors are not identical, cardamom’s complex flavor profile can mimic the flavor of nutmeg in a pinch.

Cardamom, a popular spice with a complex flavor profile, used as a substitute for nutmeg


Whether you’re out of nutmeg or simply looking to try new flavors, these substitutes won’t let you down. Nutmeg might be a versatile spice, but it’s not the only one that can bring warmth, sweetness, and complexity to your dishes. Remember to adjust the amount of substitute to your taste preferences, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices in your spice cabinet.

Bonus: You may be surprised to know that nutmeg can also be used as a substitute for cilantro in a pinch!

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