What Is Cardamom Substitute? (UPDATED)

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Is it your first time learning about cardamom? Don’t worry; you aren’t alone!

Even we were a bit flabbergasted at first because cardamom sounds like a funny name!

But don’t be fooled because this is such a complex and flavorful spice that simultaneously adds fruity, herbal, citrusy, nutty, and woody flavor notes.

However, we understand that cardamom isn’t the easiest to find, nor is it the cheapest spice in the supermarket. Fortunately, you can always use a cardamom substitute in a pinch.

Save your savory recipes and try any of these substitutes from our list below!

What Is Cardamom Substitute?

The cardamom pod is a versatile spice with a complex flavor that works in savory and sweet dishes alike.

The aromatic herb comes from a plant part of the ginger family, used for ages, and cultivated for its seeds.

The cardamom pod seeds are dark and enclosed in a green pod with a pungent aroma. When consumed in dishes, you can taste the citrus and herbal undertone, along with the floral, sweet, and spicy flavor. (*)

  • Fun fact: You can find cardamom used in Arabic, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisines.

Without further ado, here are the best substitutes for cardamom you need to try!

SubstituteFlavor ProfileCulinary UsesHealth Benefits
CinnamonWarm, earthy, spicy, and sweetBaked dishes (cakes, buns), stews, soupsContains antioxidants and reduces risk of diseases
Coriander SeedsCitrus, nutty, and spicyGrind into powder form for cooking purposes
ClovesAromatic, sweet, slightly bitterRice dishes, meat recipes, sauces
NutmegComplex, sweet, earthy, and fruitySweet and savory dishesEnhances flavor; use in moderation to avoid side effects

1. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is the best cardamom substitute on our list!

Cinnamon is an aromatic spice you can find in desserts meat dishes, among many other recipes worldwide. What’s excellent about cinnamon is that you most likely already have it at home.

Cinnamon has a complex flavor similar to cardamom, having the same warm, earthy, spicy, and sweet flavors.

You can use ground cinnamon in baked dishes like cakes or buns or cut cinnamon barks into small pieces for stews and soups.

Plus, cinnamon contains a lot of health benefits! (*)

It has antioxidants like polyphenols that help our bodies fight off infections while repairing tissue damage. It also reduces to risks of certain diseases.

2. Coriander Seeds

Coriander seeds come from the coriander plant, a purposeful ingredient in cooking.

The seeds have a mix of citrus, nutty, and spicy flavors, similar to cardamom. We recommend using the seeds when dried to grind them into powder form.

Instead of purchasing the powdered form, get the coriander seeds, toast them yourself, and grind them right before use. That way, you get the best and most unique flavor!

3. Cloves

Cloves are a flavorful spice from an aromatic plant cultivated for culinary value. The cloves’ dried flower buds are aromatic and spicy, harvested near maturity. Afterward, these cloves are dried then used to season dishes.

Expect an intense aroma and flavor from cloves, with a sweet and slightly bitter flavor. While it has an intense aroma, it still tastes warm and flavorful, making it one of the best substitutes for cardamom for sweet or savory dishes.

Use cloves to flavor rice dishes, meat recipes, or sauces.

4. Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a spice with many similarities to cardamom, having complex flavors to enhance dishes. It also contains a hint of sweetness, like cardamom!

Nutmeg also contains an earthy and fruity tone that you can also find in cardamom. Like other spices, you can use equal amounts of nutmeg when using it as a substitute.

This spice suits sweet and savory dishes, though we recommend grinding it yourself right before adding it to the dish. Also, avoid using too much nutmeg, as it may lead to side effects, such as hallucinations.

Other Substitutes For Cardamom To Try!

5. Allspice

Allspice is a dried, unripened berry from the Pimenta Dioica called the Myrtle or Jamaican. As the name suggests, allspice embodies flavors from spices like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Like cardamom, allspice contains a complex combination of flavors with a spicy note and fruity and citrus flavors. Some people may mistake allspice for cardamom in dishes!

The seeds of allspice are harvested while unripe, then left to dry. It’s then grounded to use in sweet or savory dishes like vegetables, desserts, chutneys, and soups.

  • Fun fact: Allspice also has numerous health benefits. It contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can treat different symptoms.

6. Ginger

The ginger spice comes from the root of its flowering plant, made to spice and flavor dishes in various cuisines. Expect a hot, spicy, and pungent flavor with just a hint of fruity tinge.

We recommend purchasing ginger roots to dry off. Afterward, grind the dried roots before adding them to your dish. It’s a great substitute in dishes like curry, sauces, flavored bread, pickles, or confectionaries.

Note that ginger tastes more pungent, so it’s best to use small quantities. So, if a recipe calls for one teaspoon of cardamom, go for half a teaspoon first.

7. Cumin

Cumin has similar characteristics as cardamom seeds do, coming from the seeds of the Cuminum Cyninum from the parsley family. This spice is used in many Mexican and Indian recipes, offering a delicious taste and health benefits!

It’s nutty and spicy, though with a less citrus flavor and more peppery taste compared to cardamom. Note that it has no sweet flavor that you would find in cardamom.

Because of that, cumin is best suited for savory dishes than sweet ones.

Like many of the spices mentioned here, Cumin seeds have antioxidants that help fight free radicals in our system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are helpful, frequently asked questions to learn more about cardamom and its substitutes!

1. What are the best cardamom substitutes for sweet and savory dishes?

We believe that the best substitutes for cardamom include:

  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Apple pie spice
  • Ginger
  • Allspice
  • Coriander seeds

Since cardamom has a unique flavor, we recommend combining two complex and potent flavors, particularly cloves and cinnamon.

For every teaspoon of cardamom needed, use half a teaspoon of cinnamon and cloves. Since cinnamon is powerful, you can change the ratio a bit, according to your liking.

Cinnamon and nutmeg also work well together, but you need to use a lesser amount. The same goes for using the following combinations as substitutes for cardamom:

  • Cumin and coriander
  • Cloves and nutmeg
  • Cinnamon and ginger

Cinnamon, allspice, ginger, coriander, and peppercorn also work as individual substitutes to cardamom.

2. What savory and sweet dishes use cardamom?

We can find cardamom pods infused in coffee in the Middle East.

This ingredient is also part of sweet and savory food like meats, legumes, grains, and fruits. You can add cardamom to soups, curries, broths, marinades, hamburgers, bread, and pilau.

We commonly find it in baked goods like cookies or pastries or as a delicious flavoring in beverages like alcohol, coffee, or tea.

Cardamom is also an excellent ingredient that compliments spices like allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger.

  • Fun fact: Ginger is a close relative to cardamom!

3. What’s the difference between whole and ground cardamom?

We use whole cardamom seeds as we would with cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg, or star anise. These are added to liquids like drinks, sauces, or soups to infuse dishes with more flavor before removing them to serve.

Ground cardamom has a more intense flavor, with a small amount going a long way. Whole spices are better to use as they stay pungent for longer, while ground cardamom loses its aroma and flavor quicker.

4. How do you use cardamom pods?

Ground cardamom would lose its flavor quickly, so we recommend purchasing cardamom pods to grind yourself. You will save money doing this as the pods are cheaper and last longer.

Simply grind cardamom by removing the seeds from the pods and grinding them in a coffee or spice grinder.

Six cardamom pods equal one teaspoon of ground cardamom.

Wrapping It Up

Did you get to find a good cardamom replacement from our list? Let us know in the comments section below; we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

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