11 Best Nutmeg Substitutes You Can Try!

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Whether baking a cake or making a winter drink like eggnog, you need nutmeg. But did you realize you don’t have any with you? Don’t worry; a good nutmeg substitute can greatly help you in such situations.


Nutmeg has a sweet aromatic flavor, which, just in a pinch, enhances the full flavor of the dish. All you need is just a pinch, not just your dish, but your whole room will smell like nutmeg! You can either get it in complete form or in ground form. 

But what could bring the sweet aromatic flavor of nutmeg. Confused?

Well, ground maze, cinnamon, garam masala, pumpkin pie spice, ground cloves, ginger, and cardamom are some of the best nutmeg substitutes.

Nutmeg and mace actually come from the same plant, in fact, from the same seed. But they greatly differ in their taste and uses. Maze has a spicier taste than that nutmeg and contributes a different flavor to the dishes. 

There is one more thing I need to tell you about nutmeg; nutmeg is just a nut in its name, but it is actually a seed. Thus if you are allergic to nuts, you can use nutmeg without a second thought.

Interesting right? Well, now that we have a small idea about nutmeg, it is time to move forward with the rest of the article. We now know what nutmeg is, but what about its taste? If you are thinking, what does nutmeg taste like? I have the answer.

11 Best Nutmeg Substitutes

Now that we have a brief idea about nutmeg let’s move to the crux of this article: nutmeg substitutes. If you don’t have nutmeg at home, I hope you have some nutmeg substitutes in your pantry!

1. Ground Mace 

Ground maze

As you may know, mace and nutmeg come from the same plant. In fact, mace is the outer covering of the nutmeg seed. They are spicy and aromatic, just like nutmeg, and if you have them, you can use them as a nutmeg substitute.

Ground mace, just like nutmeg, is extremely aromatic. It renders a spicy, aromatic flavor to the dish. While using mace as a nutmeg substitute, follow the 1:1 ratio. 

2. Cinnamon


Cinnamon is so much like nutmeg. This spice can be used well in both spicy and savory dishes. It has a sweet and spicy taste and a similar flavor profile to nutmeg. Thus we could say that cinnamon works well as a nutmeg substitute. 

Apart from the sweet and spicy taste, cinnamon has a very warm taste to it. This taste of cinnamon is so strong that it can be slightly overpowering sometimes. Thus while using cinnamon as a nutmeg substitute, use it very carefully. 

Whether you add it to a spicy or savory dish, use it in a pinch. While substituting cinnamon for nutmeg, use ¼ of the needed amount. If you need more taste, you can add more!

3. Garam Masala 

Garam Masala

Garam masala is a spice mix and contains a lot of spices. Needless to say, nutmeg is one of the main components of garam masala. Thus if you only want a spicy flavor in your dish, garam masala is a great option as a nutmeg substitute.

Garam masala is a common spice mix used in Asian cuisines. If you can’t find it in regular shops, you will definitely get it in Asian supermarkets. Along with nutmeg, garam masala also contains cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and many more spices.

One downside of garam masala is that it cannot be used for sweet dishes. But if you are making a spicy dish and you need a nutmeg replacement, garam masala can be your go-to option!

4. Pumpkin Pie Spice 

Pumpkin pie spice

If you are looking for an apt nutmeg substitute for your sweet dishes, don’t think twice before getting your hands on pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice is a perfect blend of all warm spices and works well as a nutmeg substitute.

Pumpkin pie spice, like garam masala, is a mix of spices like nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. Most of us must have bought it during the holiday season. However, it lasts more than a year. 

Thus when you run out of nutmeg, look into your pantry for the pumpkin spice you bought last season. While using pumpkin pie spice as a nutmeg substitute, follow the 1:1 ratio.

5. Apple Pie Spice 

Apple pie spice

Apple pie spice is another less popular spice mix that can be used as a nutmeg substitute. It has an extremely aromatic flavor and works well in sweet dishes. Thus, if you are looking for a nutmeg substitute, apple pie spice is good. 

Apple pie spice is less famous when compared to pumpkin pie spice. Apple pie spice has a strong cinnamon taste with a touch of cardamom. The nutmeg flavor in the apple pie spice is very feeble.

Thus, while using apple pie spice as a nutmeg substitute, start using half the amount of nutmeg powder the recipe calls for. You can always add extra if needed!

6. Allspice 


Allspice may sound like a lot of spices, but it is just a single spice. It is so named because it tastes like so many other spices. Due to this characteristic of allspice, we could easily use all spices as a nutmeg substitute. 

Allspice is one such spice that shares a very close flavor profile with nutmeg. It is slightly sweet with citrus notes and has an overall warm fragrance. Thus while using allspice as a nutmeg substitute, you can follow the 1:1 ratio. 

7. Ground Cloves 


Cloves aren’t something new to us. Cloves have a flavor profile that is similar to nutmeg. Cloves have a warm and sweet taste with a hint of spiciness and citrusy notes.

This spicy element of cloves makes it a good nutmeg substitute.

Ground cloves can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Cloves blend very well with most ingredients that are used along with nutmeg. But cloves have a much stronger flavor profile than nutmeg.

Thus while using cloves as a nutmeg substitute, use half the amount of cloves as that of nutmeg! Also, so many recipes call for both nutmeg and cloves.

In that case, only use the given amount of cloves and don’t add any more. 

8. Ginger 


Ginger has a very warm and spicy taste to it. The spicy notes of ginger are similar to that of nutmeg. Thus if you don’t have nutmeg, you can easily use ginger as a nutmeg substitute for savory dishes.  

Ginger works exceptionally well as a nutmeg substitute for meat dishes. However, ginger is not a great option if you are cooking a sweet dish. While using ginger as a nutmeg substitute, you can follow the 1:1 ratio.

However, this does not apply to sweet dishes. Even in savory dishes, start using a 1:1 ratio; if it’s less, you can always add more according to your taste preference. 

9. Cardamom 


Cardamom has a very distinct taste to it. If you have never tasted spice, think of the chai latte from Starbucks. Cardamom has a very warm and rich flavor and works well as a nutmeg substitute.

 Cardamom is a nutmeg substitute in most dishes, especially sweet ones. Cardamom renders a slight flavor and strong aroma to your dish, which is very delicious.

If you are making eggnogs and need a nutmeg substitute, you need cardamom.

Ground cardamom has a strong flavor profile. Thus, using cardamom as a nutmeg substitute, use ¾ th of the needed amount. 

10. Cumin 

Cumin Seed

Cumin has a very strong flavor to it. It is slightly bitter and nutty and adds an earthy, spicy flavor. More than the taste, cumin has a very strong aroma to it. Thus cumin can be used as a nutmeg substitute.

Cumin has a very different flavor profile than that nutmeg. It has a rich, warm spicy taste with a hint of bitterness and sweetness.

Cumin works well as a nutmeg substitute in spicy and savory dishes. While using cumin as a nutmeg substitute, use half the amount of cumin as required.

11. Star Anise 

Star Anise

Star anise has a very licorice-like flavor. It is aromatic and has a sweet taste with a light citrus flavor. If you need a nutmeg substitute for sweet and savory dishes, then star anise is something you can try!

Star anise has a slightly stronger flavor profile than that nutmeg. Thus while using star anise as a nutmeg substitute, begin by using half the amount as required. You can always do more if required.

Short Recap Of Nutmeg Substitutes

After going through the list of nutmeg substitutes, I’m sure you must have chosen one for yourself. However, if you are still perplexed regarding what to choose from these, let me further break it down.

Best Easily Available Nutmeg Substitutes:

  1. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  2. Garam Masala

Most Suitable Nutmeg Substitutes:

  1. Allspice
  2. Ground Maze

Substitute Options To Consider Last:

  1. Cumin
  2. Ginger

How To Use Nutmeg Substitutes In A Recipe


11 Best Nutmeg Substitutes You Can Try!

Nutmeg has a sweet aromatic flavor, which, just in a pinch, enhances the full flavor of the dish. All you need is just a pinch, not just your dish, but your whole room will smell like nutmeg! If you are out of nutmeg, try some good nutmeg substitutes.
5 from 2 votes


  • Star Anise
  • Cumin
  • Cardamom
  • Ginger
  • Ground Cloves
  • Allspice
  • Apple Pie Spice
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Garam Masala
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground Mace
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Final Thoughts

Now that we have reached the end of the article, I hope you had a very fruitful reading. Nutmeg is an amazing spice with a very warm flavor.

It is slightly sweet and spicy with an undertone of earthiness. Thus finding an exact substitute can be a little complicated.

Given above are some of the best nutmeg substitutes. Most of them are easily available and have a similar flavor to nutmeg. Thus if you run out of nutmeg next time, try any of them given above.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I leave nutmeg out of a recipe?

Yes. If you cannot find nutmeg or a suitable substitute, leaving it would be the best.

Can I replace nutmeg with cinnamon?

Yes. Cinnamon is a good nutmeg substitute.

Is nutmeg important in baking?

Nutmeg is an ideal spice to add flavor and aroma to the baked cooked.

Does nutmeg taste like cinnamon?

Cinnamon has a sweet and spicy taste and a similar flavour profile to nutmeg.

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