10 Best Substitutes For Cloves You Can Try

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Cloves are a popular spice that is used in several savory and sweet dishes. If you don’t have this staple ingredient, finding the best substitute for cloves becomes necessity. It’s safe to say that cloves are such a special spice that a little goes a long way. However, let’s read about some of the best substitutes for cloves in case you don’t have it at hand.


Ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, pumpkin pie spice, mace, white or black peppercorns, five-spice powder, star anise, and cardamom make the best substitutes for cloves. They all come close to cloves in terms of flavor and aroma. 

Cloves are aromatic flower buds which belong to an evergreen plant named Syzygium aromaticum. It is a warm spice that provides an intense aroma and taste to dishes. It is also one of the most valuable spices that have been used for a long time, not just for culinary purposes, but also as food preservatives and medicinal uses.

Let’s now explore what cloves are all about so that you get a better understanding of the alternatives you can choose from the list below.

Quick Peek: Cloves


The section tells you all about the incredible flavor, texture, culinary uses, and health benefits of cloves.

What Are Cloves?

Cloves are one of the few spices that come under the category of flowers. They are primarily the dried flowers of clove trees. Cloves are believed to have originated in the Islands of Indonesia named Moluccas. 

According to the legend, clove trees were planted in the Moluccas whenever a child was born in the family. It was believed that the fate of the tree was linked to the fate of the child.

Describing Cloves: Flavor and Texture

Cloves are dried unopened flower buds which can be used as ground or whole. They are strong and pungent in nature and possess a fiery combination of bitter-sweet notes. Cloves also have a noticeable amount of heat with astringent flavor.

In appearance, cloves are dried woody flowers that are dark reddish-brown in color. They measure about 1 cm in length and resemble small nails. 

Uses of Cloves

Cloves are a powerful spice. While they are one of the most used spices in the culinary world, their properties even make them one of the most useful spices in medicine. Whole and ground cloves are used to infuse flavor in a wide variety of dishes which include both sweet and savory. 

It is also an important part of home remedies. Do you recollect your grandmothers taking the help of this humble spice to fight dental problems? Read on to know more about how cloves are a spice that is an answer to many of your health problems.

Cloves On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Cloves have many medicinal properties. It is a great spice that boosts our health. Cloves help in preventing body cell damage, contain anti-inflammatory properties that help fight infections, and also play an integral role in controlling diabetes and cardiac issues. Just chewing or having clove-infused water can keep digestive issues at bay, and it also helps in treating nausea and diarrhea.

In addition, clove oil is used to treat tooth decayed tooth problems and as a pain reliever for toothaches. They are rich in vital vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Manganese is an essential mineral present in cloves. It helps in the proper functioning of the brain and makes bones strong.

Why Should We Use Substitutes For Cloves?

Although cloves boast of many health benefits, they also come with their share of side effects when consumed in excess.

Cloves contain a chemical called eugenol, which tends to slow down the process of blood clotting. So consuming clove oil in more than prescribed quantities can lead to bleeding disorders. 

Another side effect of consuming cloves is that while they are effective for diabetic patients, it tends to bring down high sugar levels. So, if consumed in large quantities, it can interfere with insulin levels and excessively bring the sugar level down. 

Lastly, you would require substitutes for cloves if you don’t have them at hand while cooking. Now that you have an overview of this humble spice let’s get to know the best substitutes for cloves.

Other Food Substitutes You Can Try

10 Best Substitutes For Cloves

This section will help you find out alternatives for cloves, their uses, and their flavor profile.

1. Ground Cloves

Ground cloves

Ground cloves make the best substitutes for whole cloves. It can be used in any recipe that asks for cloves. However, one thing to keep in mind while using ground cloves is to use them in lesser quantities as it releases a stronger flavor than whole cloves.

You can substitute one teaspoon or two pieces of whole cloves for ¾ teaspoon of ground cloves. The positive side of using ground cloves as a substitute is that it will take less time to infuse its flavor into dishes. Additionally, you can sprinkle it over any dish. However, it will also release a dark color in your recipes.

You can use ground cloves in place of whole cloves in dishes like stew, curries, and soups. Ground cloves can also be made at home in a grinder or with the help of a mortar and pestle. Or you can purchase it from supermarkets.

2. Nutmeg


Nutmeg is another spice that makes for one of the best substitutes for cloves as it comes with the same flavor profile. It has a nutty, warm flavor, having sweet notes, and provides a distinctive fragrance.

Nutmeg is mostly used in its ground form. It can be purchased as a whole and be grated directly into dishes to provide fresh flavors while cooking. It can be used in dishes like soups, sauces, pies, vegetables, puddings, cakes, beverages, baked goods, and even meats. You can also sprinkle it over dishes.

3. Mace

Mace is the outer covering of the nutmeg; thus, it makes for a substitute for cloves. Although it is milder in taste, mace can be used as an alternative for cloves in combination with other spices. You can use mace in the same proportion as nutmeg.

4. Cinnamon


Cinnamon has a unique flavor and it makes a great alternative for cloves. Although it would not impart a strong spicy flavor as cloves do, it has a sweet, floral, and woody flavor with slightly citrus notes. 

Cinnamon has a remarkable scent that makes it one of the best ingredients to be added to several baked goods. You can use both whole or ground forms for your dishes. You can use equal amounts of cinnamon in place of cloves.

Are you thinking of recipes to replace cloves for cinnamon? Being a versatile spice, cinnamon works in a variety of dishes. You could use cinnamon in hot beverages like tea or coffee or could make baked goods like pancakes, muffins, cakes, bread, cookies, etc.

Cinnamon also makes for a great ingredient in soups, dressings, and stews.

5. Allspice


Allspice is a dried brown berry that imparts a similar flavor to cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It is highly fragrant and thus makes for a great substitute for cloves. 

One of the notable taste profiles of allspice is that it mimics the peppery and spicy notes of cloves. In terms of alternatives, allspice works best as a replacement in savory dishes for cloves. So, add them to dishes like meat, chicken, fish, lentils, barbeque marinades, and vegetables. Allspice and cloves can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio.

6. Pumpkin Pie Spice

pumpkin pie spice

Another closest and the best substitute for cloves is pumpkin pie spice, as it is made with a blend of warm cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. It works well in both sweet and savory dishes as it has a well-rounded flavor.

With its warm and fuzzy feeling, pumpkin spice can be used in hot beverages such as tea, coffee, and hot chocolate, or as the name suggests, it is used in the signature pumpkin pie dish. You can also use baked potatoes, Moroccan chicken, jerk chicken, beef, pasta, or eggs. 

 In baked goods, pumpkin pie spice can be used in bread, muffins, oatmeal, and pancakes. 

7. White Or Black Peppercorns

white or black peppercorns

White or black peppercorns come from the same plant as cloves. The difference between the two lies in the intensity of heat they provide. In comparison to black peppercorns, white peppercorns are spicier. So, you can use them as alternatives to cloves depending on the heat your recipe requires.

White or black peppercorns can be used in a variety of recipes such as eggs, fish, lamb, pork, chicken, sausages, steaks, cheese, salads, and all sorts of vegetables. Although, white peppercorns work best in delicate recipes and white foods. 

One thing to keep in mind while using white pepper is to use it at the end of cooking as they turn bitter if overheated. White peppers can be used in dips and sauces.

8. Five Spice Powder

five spice powder

As the name suggests, the five-spice powder is made of a blend of five spices which go well with almost all savory dishes. It is a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns. With cloves as one of the key ingredients, it automatically becomes the best substitute for cloves. 

With so many spices coming together in this mix, you can imagine the robust flavor it offers. Five-spice powder is an excellent spice that can be used as meat rubs. It also enhances the flavor of chicken, ribs, and roast duck. You would often spot the five-spice powder in Cantonese restaurants served with fried or roasted chicken and pork.

9. Star Anise

Star anise

A star-like shaped pod, star anise, is a spice that lends warmth to recipes with its sweet and licorice-like flavor. These qualities make star anise a great option for cloves. 

Star anise can be used in both sweet and savory recipes and makes for a great in slow-cooked foods such as soups, braises, and stews. This spice is used in Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine and boasts several health benefits.

As an alternative to cloves, you can use star anise in a proportion of 1:1.

10. Cardamom


Cardamom is a popular spice which has an appealing flavor and aroma. It is native to India and is used in both sweet and savory dishes. While both the spices are used together in many dishes, cardamom provides a complex flavor with herbal and citrusy notes as compared to cloves. Hence, to use it as a substitute for cloves, cardamon should be paired with other spices depending on the recipe to derive a similar flavor to clove.

Short Recap For Best Cloves Substitutes

With so many options to choose from, let me make it simpler for you.

Best Substitutes For Cloves In Terms of Flavor-

  1. Ground Cloves
  2. All Spice
  3. Five Spice Powder

Best Substitutes For Cloves In Terms of Texture-

  1. Black Peppercorns
  2. Star Anise
  3. Cinnamon

Substitute For Cloves You Can Consider Using Last –

Cardamom as a substitute for cloves works best when paired with other spices.

How To Substitute Cloves


Cloves Substitutes

Cloves are a popular spice that is used in several savory and sweet dishes. It’s safe to say that cloves are such a special spice that a little goes a long way.
5 from 1 vote


  • Ground Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Mace
  • Allspice
  • Star Anise
  • Cinnamon
  • Pumkin Pie Spice
  • White or Black Peppercorns
  • Five Spice Powder
  • Cardamom
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Final Word

That was all about cloves and their best substitutes. Although finding alternatives to cloves isn’t difficult, keep their flavors in mind while using them as a replacement in recipes. Try them out, and let me know which worked the best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can pumpkin pie spice be used as a substitute for cloves?

Yes, pumpkin pie spice can be used as a substitute for cloves. To derive the nearest matching flavor to cloves, you can combine them with nutmeg, cinnamon, or mace.

What would one tablespoon of whole clove be used in place of ground cloves?

You can use 3/4 teaspoon of ground cloves in place of one teaspoon of whole cloves.

What can I use instead of cloves in curry?

Allspice and five-spice powder can be used as an alternative to cloves in curries.

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