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Don’t have nutmeg, or realized you’re all out while you’re cooking? Here’s the best nutmeg substitute in recipes.

Nutmeg substitute
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Making a recipe that calls for nutmeg and don’t have it? Nutmeg is a popular spice often used in autumn baking, but it’s also sometimes used in a savory cheesy pasta to add depth and nuance. It’s a spice made from the seed of the nutmeg tree. You’ll find it’s called for ground and dried, or whole and freshly grated. Nutmeg has a warm, aromatic flavor with undertones of clove. Have you run out of nutmeg? Here’s the best nutmeg substitute to use in a pinch.

The substitute depends on the recipe…you might not need one!

Are you making a recipe with nutmeg other spices, too? Often nutmeg is used in combination with spices like cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. If you’re making something like pumpkin bread, you can get away with simply increasing one of the other spices to account for the amount of nutmeg.

Best nutmeg substitute

1. Cardamom.

A good nutmeg substitute in terms of overall flavor? Cardamom! Cardamom has a floral flavor that’s similar to nutmeg. This is the best substitute when you’re using a small amount of nutmeg. One thing to keep in mind: cardamom has a very distinctive flavor: it’s an integral part of chai spices. Only use it in small quantities so that you don’t end up with the wrong vibe.

2. Allspice.

Another good nutmeg substitute? Allspice! This warm spice mimics the peppery notes of nutmeg. Ground allspice is a 1 for 1 substitute for ground nutmeg. For every ½ teaspoon nutmeg, use ½ teaspoon allspice.

3. Cloves.

Don’t have allspice? No problem. Another nutmeg substitute is ground cloves! Cloves are part of the tasting notes of nutmeg, so they’re a natural fit. Cloves are a little stronger with sweetener notes. For every ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, use ¼ teaspoon ground cloves.

4. Mace.

Fun fact: the spice mace also comes from the nutmeg tree! Mace is the outer coating of the nutmeg seed that’s ground as a culinary spice. It’s a little more pungent and spicy than nutmeg. Since it’s not a very common spice in recipes, you might not have it in your pantry. (It’s not in ours!) But if you happen to have it on hand, you can certainly use it as a substitute!

Can you substitute ground nutmeg for whole?

Yes! If your recipe calls for whole nutmeg, you may use ground nutmeg if you have it on hand. Use 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg for 1 whole nutmeg.

Whether it’s a good idea depends on the recipe! Most recipes with whole nutmeg really need them to pull off the dish. This Mulled Cider needs whole nutmeg to simmer because the drink would become grainy with ground.

Here are some recipes where you could use this nutmeg substitute:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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