Nutmeg Substitute: Top 9 Great Alternatives To Try!

You probably know nutmeg as one of the primary ingredients to hot chocolate and eggnog. (*)

Who doesn’t like a good hot beverage with a hint of spice and sweet, nutty taste?

But did you know that nutmeg is more than just a sweet spice in drinks?

You can use it in sweet and savory recipes, adding unique flavors to any dish.

On the off chance that you can’t find nutmeg in your supermarket or just ran out in the kitchen, we’ve got just the list for you!

Read on to find a suitable nutmeg substitute for sweet or savory dishes.

What’s a Good Nutmeg substitute?

image of Good Nutmeg substitute

You can purchase nutmeg in supermarkets, but you can use a different substitute if you don’t have any on hand.

Based on our research and experiments in savory and sweet dishes, here are the best nutmeg substitutes we recommend!

1. Pumpkin Pie Spice

We consider pumpkin pie spice the most versatile spice blend on the list, particularly in desserts. This spice blend contains spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves so that it can provide that nutmeg-like warmth to your sweet dishes.

We don’t recommend using the spice blend in savory dishes, though, as it doesn’t have much peppery, spicy flavor.

If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can always try apple pie spice. This would work in desserts successfully, too!

2. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a popular and effective substitute for nutmeg because of its ready availability. This common spice comes from the Connamomum’s inner bark, having the similar woody taste nutmeg does.

Cinnamon is very aromatic and with a distinct flavor, which is why it’s best only to use half the amount a recipe calls for. We recommend using powdered cinnamon for the nutmeg-like consistency in your recipes.

3. Mace

Mace is a common ingredient to replace nutmeg with as it won’t alter the recipe’s flavor too much. That’s because mace and nutmeg come from the same plant, the myristica fragrant tree.

It tastes similarly subtle, though less aromatic.

When replacing nutmeg with mace, you can use equal amounts. But if the flavor is too subtle that you can’t notice it, then we recommend adding an extra teaspoon of mace.

4. Allspice

Allspice is made of berries from the tropical Pimenta Dioica tree with a unique, peppery taste.

When purchasing genuine allspice, you’ll find that it’s made purely from berries. It would taste like a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.

However, you can also find other variations that include different mixtures of most spices, like garam masala.

Because of allspice’s distinct flavor and nutmeg-like aroma, you can use it in sweet or savory recipes in equal amounts.

5. Ground Cloves

If you’re looking for a replacement for ground nutmeg, then ground cloves are the way to go. You get similar spices, such as the pepper-like flavor and hint of sweet and earthy taste.

You can use ground cloves in sweet and savory dishes or drinks. However, don’t use an equal amount, only half of what the recipe calls for.

If your recipe already includes cloves, don’t use more and just use another substitute.

6. Chinese Five-Spice

Chinese five-spice powder has a combination of spices that vary from brand to brand. However, you can always count on star anise and cinnamon making appearances.

Compared to garam masala, the Chinese five-spice is more versatile because of the licorice-like taste. If you’re a fan of the peppery flavor in sweet and savory recipes, then we recommend trying this substitute.

7. Garam Masala

Garam masala is a suitable nutmeg replacement as it already includes a hint of nutmeg!

This spice contains spices like mace, cinnamon, and at times, bay leaves or cumin. If your recipe requires a small amount of nutmeg, then you can try using it to bring out the dish’s other flavors.

We recommend using garam masala more so on savory dishes because of its spices. Like similar spices mentioned, you can use an equal amount for recipes.

8. Ground Ginger

Ginger?! Yes, we know what you’re thinking – this ingredient isn’t as sweet as nutmeg and has such a strong flavor, so how can it replace it?

Ginger is more pungent and spicy, so it definitely doesn’t share the same flavors as nutmeg. However, it’s a good ingredient when replacing nutmeg in savory dishes rather than sweet ones.

For best results, use ground ginger and not whole ones, using an equal amount. That said, other people have said to use half the suggested amount first, mainly when using dry ginger.

9. Cardamom

Like ginger, cardamom will alter your dish’s flavor slightly. It’s also just as loud and bright as ginger with a less woody flavor than nutmeg. (*)

However, if you’re in a pinch and have a savory recipe that needs nutmeg, cardamom will work if you have none of the other spices mentioned above. Just add half the amount the recipe needs first and taste test as you go.

That said, we do appreciate how cardamom adds a bit of warmth and much more zing to dishes!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about using nutmeg and its substitutes? Continue reading for our informative frequently asked questions section:

1. Why do we need to know about nutmeg substitutes?

Besides running out of nutmeg, there are several other reasons why one may need to replace nutmeg.

For example, some people may not like the taste or have allergies to nutmeg’s compounds.

Fun fact: Despite being called “nut”-meg, nutmeg isn’t a tree nut and isn’t derived from nuts, so it isn’t a common allergen. While rare, some are allergic to nutmeg.

2. What sweet and savory dishes use nutmeg?

Nutmeg is an aromatic, warm, intense, and fragrant spice you can often find in baked goods or custards. You can also find nutmeg in stews, curries, or macaroni and cheese!

Here are some popular and delicious recipes that feature nutmeg:

  • Shortbread and cake
  • Puddings and pies
  • Hit chocolate or eggnog
  • Creamy sauces like bechamel, alfredo sauce
  • Souffle
  • Soups and stews
  • Lasagna
  • Meat seasonings
  • And a lot more!

3. What are the nutritional facts of nutmeg?

Just like other spices, we use nutmeg in small amounts. It also doesn’t contain high levels of nutrients. Here are the nutritional facts for one teaspoon of ground nutmeg (*):

  • 12 calories
  • 0.8g fat
  • 0.35mg sodium
  • 16 carbs
  • 0.46g fiber
  • 0.06g sugar
  • 0.13g protein

4. What nutmeg substitute do I use in apple pie?

Nutmeg is a staple ingredient in apple pie recipes. You can easily replace nutmeg for apple pie using allspice or apple pie spice, which will still give your pie the sweet and spice you want.

5. Can I remove nutmeg from recipes?

It’s possible to leave the nutmeg out of recipes, but it will significantly change the flavor of any dish, though it depends on what you’re making.

For example, if you’re making mac and cheese, you won’t miss out on a lot of the nutmeg flavor. But if you plan on making chai tea or pumpkin pie, the nutmeg is a deep and essential flavor that you can’t leave out!

If you really have no nutmeg and will make a recipe that requires its intense flavor, it’s best to use substitutes for nutmeg.

Wrapping It Up

We hope our comprehensive list of the different substitutes for nutmeg helped you learn more about cooking. Try any of these ingredients and see how they enhance your tasty recipes. Happy cooking!

image of substitutes for nutmeg seed

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