Cardamom is hard to replace, but there are a few options if you don’t have this spice on hand! Here’s the best substitute for cardamom.

Cardamom substitute

Making a recipe that calls for cardamom and don’t have it? Cardamom is a spice made from seed pods with a distinctly floral flavor. You can buy cardamom whole or ground, and use it in savory or sweet dishes. You’ll find it in many major world cuisines, including Indian, Arabic and Middle Eastern.

Cardamom is so unique that if at all possible, go to the store and buy yourself some cardamom! It’s especially important if you’re making chai spices: it’s absolutely essential for a chai latte or chai cookies. But if you’re in the middle of a recipe with no time to shop, we get it. Here are the best cardamom substitutes.

Best cardamom substitute

These cardamom substitutes work in savory and sweet dishes alike. Again, we highly recommend purchasing cardamom if at all possible: it’s a truly unique spice that’s worth finding!

1. Cinnamon + allspice.

The best cardamom substitute? Mix equal parts cinnamon and allspice. So 1 teaspoon cardamom = ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon allspice. It doesn’t have the complexity or uniqueness of cardamom, but it will do the trick in a pinch. This one works because allspice has some of the floral nuance of cardamom.

2. Cinnamon + nutmeg.

Another good cardamom substitute? Cinnamon and nutmeg. Same ideas above: 1 teaspoon cardamom = ½ teaspoon cinnamon plus ½ teaspoon nutmeg. Nutmeg also has floral notes, which makes this a decent substitute.

3. Cinnamon + ginger.

Another cardamom substitute? Cinnamon and ginger. This one has less complexity but ginger brings in a bit of the spicy nuance of cardamom. 1 teaspoon cardamom = ½ teaspoon cinnamon plus ½ teaspoon ginger.

Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring cardamom:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. You saved my butt! I was deep into making Persian Rose Love Cakes that need cardamom when I discovered that I was OUT of that wonderful ingredient! Oh, No! Your tips really helped. I did manage to find a few cardamom pods in some Masala Chai loose tea. I picked them out, ground them, and then rounded out the rest with cinnamon & fresh nutmeg, as per your suggestion. It worked perfectly!
    Thank you. I’ll be back to learn more from you two.