7 Best Substitutes for Nutmeg

What Should You Know About Nutmeg Substitutes?

As some of you might have known, nutmeg is a kind of evergreen tree living in tropical areas. It also plays a role as a fragrant spice in many dishes.

There are two main types of nutmeg, including the ground and whole. Often, chefs recommend that we use the whole kind cause it offers a longer life span and keeps a fresh and more incredible flavor.

Of course, suppose you want to have the ground version; using an excellent grater to grate the whole ones would help.

Sometimes I also purchase the ground nutmegs. In this case, I often notice their expiration before cooking.

The nutmeg is well-known for bringing an intense flavor to either savory or sweet dishes. Moreover, a nutty and warm taste in the nutmeg is expected to bring you a better experience.

Many dishes require nutmegs, such as gingerbread cookies, pumpkin pie, and other creamy words.

However, you can not find any nutmeg in your pantry in some situations anymore. That is when you need to find out its best substitutes and complete your meal in a minute.

Best Nutmeg Substitutes

Top 8 Best Substitutes for Nutmeg

According to many studies and experts, eight nutmeg substitutes include garam masala, cinnamon, apple pie spice, cloves, mace, allspice, pumpkin pie spice, and ginger.

1. Garam masala

Suppose you come from South Asian countries or India; you might get quite familiar with the Garam masala. It is a mixture of several South Asian spices, including mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, and cardamom.

Besides, in some regions, they also add saffron, cumin, turmeric, star anise, fenugreek, and others into the mixture.

Since those ingredients have a similar flavor to the nutmeg, you can use Garam masala as a perfect substitute. The using ratio should be 1:1 of the replacement.

2. Cinnamon

When you feel tired of finding nutmegs in your kitchen and still see nothing, using cinnamon instead would help.

Sometimes, it might not be the nutmegs have been lost, but it might be that those guys are not suitable for each other.

One is trying to find; one is many. But, the way you see it might be different from how those spices appear.

Seeking a substitute like cinnamon would help. Of course, you must fully understand the replacement before using it.

In this case, cinnamon originates from the inside bark of the Cinnamomum-genus trees. The similarity between cinnamon and nutmeg is the powdered form. Besides, the alternative is common and cheap enough to find in the most grocery store.

On the other hand, cinnamon might offer a more robust flavor than its counterpart. Hence, you reduce its amount to balance your recipe.

3. Apple Pie Spice

You can find apple pie spice in most desserts requiring apples.

It is a combination of many ingredients, namely cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom. Among them, cinnamon accounts for the most significant percentage.

For this reason, apple pie spice might lend a more intensely cinnamon flavor than others. That is to say; you should take a less amount of the replacement compared with the initial recipe.

4. Cloves

Cloves can be the next great substitute for nutmeg due to their similar taste. Both have a slightly sweet taste like peppers, combined with the same powdered texture.

Regarding cloves’ origination, it is native to Indonesia. It is gradually spreading worldwide for its benefits in cooking and medicine. Cloves belong to the Myrtaceae tree family.

Besides the powdered form, you can also buy the whole cloves then blend them based on your needs. That helps you preserve its taste longer than usual.

One tablespoon of cloves can replace well two tablespoons of nutmeg for their usage. Adding too much of the substitute might harm your dishes.

5. Mace

Both mace and nutmeg are parts of the nutmeg fruit, coming from a tropical evergreen tree called Myristica fragrant trees. Therefore, the mace is an indispensable name in this list of nutmeg substitutes.

For more details, mace is the lacy membrane surrounding the nutmeg seeds. People remove the membrane and dry it to produce the mace. That might be a little different from the nutmeg cause it is made from the source of the ripe nutmeg fruit.

However, mace still offers the same fragrance and lightly warm taste compared with its counterpart.

For this reason, you can replace the mace with a 1:1 ratio.

6. Allspice

The next option you can refer to is allspice, a popular ingredient in many savory or sweet dishes.

To make allspice, people pick down berries from an evergreen tree called Pimenta dioica and thoroughly ground them. In some regions, residents also call them Jamaican pepper or pimento.

With the authentic allspice, it only contains berries. However, allspice also has many versions, including pepper, cinnamon, juniper berries, nutmeg, and others.

Concerning the ratio, you can use the allspice with the same amount of nutmeg required in your recipe.

7. Pumpkin pie spice

Similar to the apple pie spice, the pumpkin pie spice is often used as a usual ingredient for pumpkin pie. However, they might not have the pumpkin flavor as some expect.

Instead, they are a mixture of different spices, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and sometimes cloves.

Concerning its usage, you can notice that pumpkin is usually seen in holiday or fall baked goods such as basil, rosemary, cayenne, and others. It can replace the nutmeg well with the exact quantities.

8. Ginger

Last but not least is ginger, a popular ingredient for savory dishes.

For more details, ginger originates from the Zingiberaceae family. When you talk about ginger as a cooking element, you often refer to ginger root. This part is incredibly beneficial to your health. Mainly, it helps you reduce stress and protect you from the damage of DNA.

Concerning its flavor, ginger is less sweet and spicier than nutmeg. That flavor does not change much in either the whole and fresh gingers or dried and ground ones.

Keep in mind that gingers are only suitable for vegetable-based and meat dishes. Their taste does not pair well with sweet food such as desserts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I remove the nutmeg from my recipe?

That is mainly based on the nutmeg’s role in your dishes. Suppose it is the leading and only ingredient of the food; entirely removing it might spread a harmful effect to your food. If you have no nutmeg left in your pantry, using a substitute would help.

On the other hand, since n nutmeg is only one of many spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and others, removing them is fine.

What is the role of nutmeg in baked food?

Nutmeg is used as a spice in baking many dishes, namely chocolate, muffins, gingerbread, fruit cakes, and others. People also take the nutmeg to finish the baked or unbaked cheesecake. Notably, it can match well with orange or orange-flower water.


To sum up, above is a list of the best nutmeg substitutes.

In short, I recommend the garam masala as the most suitable ingredient to replace the nutmeg. It contains a diversity of spices, but it also offers a similar flavor to its partner.

Moreover, cinnamon is worth considering as well. It is easy to find in many grocery stores. Plus, its same powder texture with the nutmeg plays a crucial role in completing your recipe.

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