What Does Nutmeg Taste Like? A Detailed Answer

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Nutmeg is a spice that’s said to have magical powers. It was used as an amulet to evade diseases and demons in the olden days. But these are the things of the past! Nutmeg continues to perform its magic in our dishes, and if you haven’t seen this ingredient, you might wonder, what does nutmeg taste like?


Nutmeg has a very warm taste to it. It is a little spicy with a refreshing aroma. The first taste that hits our tongue will be spiciness, followed by little bitterness and sweetness as an aftertaste. Nutmeg taste like no other spices.

Nutmeg has been a constant in my kitchen ever since I can remember. It is praised and adored for its flavor enhancement property and medicinal benefits. This little ball of spiciness is never going to let you down.

If you are someone new to this spice, you should read my article. This article will discuss nutmeg, its taste, health benefits, and much more. I love talking about my favorite spice, and I hope you’ll love nutmeg as much as I do by the end of this article. 

 What Is Nutmeg?

Nutmeg is a spice that we get from the plant called Myristica fragrans, popularly known as the nutmeg tree. Nutmeg is brown in color with a round to oval shape. This is the seed of nutmeg fruit and occurs inside the fruit.

Fresh nutmeg seed has a hard black outer covering to it. These black-shelled nutmegs are sun-dried for a month or more before processing the nutmeg. Once done drying, the nutmeg seed gets detached from the outer covering and is removed by breaking the outer cover.

They are then used as a whole or in ground form. In general, many people who are allergic to nuts stay away from nutmeg too. If you are one of them, you don’t have it because nutmeg is a seed, not a nut.

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What Does Nutmeg Taste Like?


Nutmeg is a very distinguished spice, I’ll say. Too much of it might spoil the taste of your food, and too little won’t affect the taste of the food. But the right amount of nutmeg can work wonders with your food.

If you are someone who has never tasted nutmeg before, you might think a moment before adding it to the dish. Nutmeg, as we have said, is very aromatic, but does that taste also very strong?

Nutmeg has a very warm taste to it. It is a little spicy and woody and has bitterness as its aftertaste. It is used as a whole as good ass in grounded form. Nutmeg has a punch to it.

The grounded form is a little less strong than the whole form. When it comes to using nutmeg, the fresher it is, the better its taste. Nutmeg is not just tasty; it is also extremely aromatic.

The flavor, and the aroma of nutmeg, play a huge part in enhancing the flair of the food. If you haven’t tried this wonderful ingredient yet, make sure to get some soon!

Is Nutmeg Sweet or Bitter?

Most sweet dishes have nutmeg as one of their ingredients. But nutmeg’s use is not limited to sweet dishes alone. Even savory dishes demand nutmeg as one of their main ingredients.

This makes us think about nutmeg and its taste. Nutmeg has a slightly sweet taste to it. This is minuscule as it creates a minty feeling in our mouth; thus, we fail to notice it often.

Moreover, the sweetness of nutmeg won’t be reflected in the dish to which we are adding it. Hence, if someone asks us whether nutmeg is sweet or bitter, we can almost say it’s on the sweet side.

But when we add nutmeg in huge amounts to food, the aftertaste will be bitter. More than bitterness, too much nutmeg can cause a burning sensation in our mouth.

Does Nutmeg Taste Like Cinnamon?


Cinnamon is something we all are familiar with. We use it in our tea, coffees, and whatnot! When trying something new, we like to imagine how it could taste, so does nutmeg taste like cinnamon?

Cinnamon is sweet with woody notes and a spicy aftertaste. Thus we could say that cinnamon doesn’t taste like nutmeg. Cinnamon also has a citrusy note to it. 

 Both nutmeg and cinnamon have a very woody taste to them. Even though they are distinct independently, they can be used interchangeably. If your recipe calls for nutmeg and you don’t have it, you can add an equal amount of cinnamon powder.

Moreover, both cinnamon and nutmeg have a different yet refreshing aroma, and this aroma gets very well reflected in the food it is added to. Both of them are also highly nutritious and have many health benefits.

What Flavor Is Nutmeg?

Nutmeg has a warm and woody flavor to it. Thus, adding nutmeg to a dish makes it more flavorful. The taste of nutmeg in the food won’t be very distinguished.

But if you miss adding nutmeg to your food, you’ll feel its absence. The flavor of nutmeg is very composed yet powerful. Hence if your cooking demands even a quarter spoon of nutmeg powder, make sure to add.

What Does Nutmeg Smell Like?


From the beginning of the article, we have been talking at length about the smell of nutmeg. Nutmeg is very underrated when it comes to its smell. Well, are you intrigued to know what it smells like?

Nutmeg has a very sweet and spicy smell to it. It reminds us of cloves with woody notes. The smell is very refreshing and positively adds to our food’s aroma.

What Spices Taste Similar To Nutmeg?


Nutmeg has a unique taste to it. But sometimes, we might run out of this ingredient. It is also hard to find in markets. Thus it is safe to know some of the spices that taste similar to that nutmeg.

  1. Garam Masala: Garam masala is a famous spice mix widely used in Asian cuisines. Its main ingredient is a mix of nutmeg, clover, cinnamon, and cumin.
  2. Allspice: Also known as Pimento or Jamaican pepper, allspice tastes similar to nutmeg and can be used interchangeably.
  3. Cinnamon: Cinnamon has a warm and woody taste similar to nutmeg. It is one of the commonly used and easily available alternatives to nutmeg.
  4. Ground Ginger: Ginger powder has a warm and spicy taste to it. It is more intense than nutmeg when it comes to taste. But ginger powder is the best option if you need a nutmeg substitute in savory dishes.

Does Nutmeg Taste Like Licorice?


No, nutmeg doesn’t taste like that licorice. The taste of licorice can be defined as a bitter-sweet one. It is also a little spicy in nature. Nutmeg has a hint of licorice taste in it but is very faint.

But we cannot state that nutmeg tastes like licorice. Thus, even if you hate licorice, nutmeg is something we can try to include in your spice cabinet.

What Does Nutmeg Taste Like In Coffee?

We all have a specific way of enjoying our coffees. But if you are someone who is free to experiment with your coffee, try adding some nutmeg to it. In this way, you could bring a beautiful taste twist to your otherwise regular coffee.

Some people might be a little doubtful about this combination. Well, let me remind you how well nutmeg pairs with eggnog! Adding little nuances to your coffee will do you no harm.

Nutmeg adds a spicy and warm taste to your coffee. It gives a tingling effect on the mouth and brightens the taste of the coffee. If you are a coffee lover, then nutmeg coffee is something you should never miss.

What Does Ground Nutmeg Taste Like?


Nutmeg is a whole seed that is present inside the fruit of the nutmeg tree. It is extremely hard and needs some process before using it. Hence the best way of using nutmeg will be in the grounded form.

Ground nutmeg has a warm and spicy taste to it. The aftertaste of ground nutmeg is a little sweet. When compared to that whole nutmeg, ground nutmeg isn’t very strong.

Ground nutmeg doesn’t have the pungent flavor as the whole form. Hence if you are new to cooking with this ingredient, it is safer to use ground nutmeg than whole nutmeg.

What Does Nutmeg Fruit Taste Like?

Nutmeg is the fruit of nutmeg fruit. Even though nutmeg fruit isn’t something as popular as the nutmeg seed, it is edible and very nutritious. But have you ever wondered what a nutmeg fruit tastes like?

Nutmeg fruit has a sour taste to it. It has a tart taste with a sweet undertone. Just like the seed, the fruit also creates a tingling effect on our tongue. But when the fruit is unripened, it tastes bitter.

They are yellow skin with a white inner side. Even though they aren’t used for commercial purposes, locally, they are used for making different dishes such as jams, pickles, etc.

What Does Bad Nutmeg Taste Like?


Nutmeg is in itself a dried herb. Therefore it often stays fresh for a really long time. However, like all other ingredients, nutmeg will also go bad. But how can we know whether it has gone bad or not?

A bad nutmeg tastes like nothing! A spoilt nutmeg wouldn’t have any smell or taste and doesn’t add any flavor to the food. A bad nutmeg might taste bitter and create a burning sensation in our mouth.

Whole Nutmeg Vs. Ground Nutmeg | What’s The Difference

Whole nutmeg and ground nutmeg are two forms of two things. But are there any differences between these two? Yes! These changes are not very explicit. Hence, the table below discusses the difference between the two ingredients.

Whole NutmegGround Nutmeg
Comes as single pieces Available in grams
Strong flavored with pungent aromaLess strong in taste when compared to the whole nutmeg
Hard to findEasily Available
Can be used for yearsShould be used between six to nine months

Both whole and ground nutmeg is good. Even though the whole one is much preferred, you can use either depending on availability.

Nutmeg Vs. Mace | What’s The Difference


The whole of the fruit is very useful when it comes to nutmeg fruit. At the same time, its flesh has been used for pickles and jams. The seed has been ruling the spice section for years.

Before understanding the difference between nutmeg and mace, let’s understand mace. Mace is an outer covering that covers the nutmeg. It is bright red, thin, and spread all over the seed. 

Just like nutmeg, mace is dried and sold in ground or whole form. When compared to nutmeg, mace has a subtle taste. Its flavor is similar to nutmeg but has a little tart flavor.

Mace is very similar to nutmeg in flavor. Both nutmeg and mace can be used in food. However, when it comes to a maze, it is more of a medicinal ingredient than a culinary one.

How Do You Pick Fresh Nutmeg From The Market

Now that we talked about nutmeg, I hope I have persuaded you enough to buy some of it. Only the best quality nutmeg will give your food the apt taste. Hence it is very important to choose the best quality nutmeg available to us.

Below are some tips to keep in mind while picking up fresh nutmeg.

  1. If you are picking nutmeg powder, make sure they are freshly packed. Avoid taking packets that are nearing their expiry date.
  2. When picking up the whole nutmeg, pick it in your hand and try to experience its weight. Good quality nutmeg will have little weight to them. If it’s too light, that means it’s old and dry.
  3. Avoid taking nutmegs with any holes in them. Nutmeg has a very smooth surface. Any holes or cracks on the surface indicate that they have gone bad.
  4. Pick the one with a brown color. Nutmeg when gone bad will have a brown color to it.

How To Tell If Nutmeg Has Gone Bad


If you are someone who is not used to having nutmeg in your food, it might be a little hard for you to tell whether nutmeg is fresh or not. While fresh nutmeg powder enhances the taste of the food, bad nutmeg can easily destroy the whole taste of your food.

Let’s talk about the whole nutmeg before moving to its ground form. The whole nutmeg generally has a brown color to it. When you crack open the seed, you can find white lines within it.

However, when it goes bad, the seed becomes back in color. Sometimes the outer covering remains brown, but the inner side will turn black. Hence if you find a color change in your nutmeg seed, either throw it away, or you can cut out that particular portion and use the rest.

When it comes to nutmeg powder, the spoilt nutmeg powder will become tasteless. Also, you could find little insects or mold inside the powder. Thus always make sure to check the powder before using it. 

How To Store Nutmeg Properly For Best Taste?


Nutmegs are dried seeds; hence they are very easy to store. Nutmegs are a little pricey; hence, it is very important to take proper care of nutmeg so that we can use it for a longer period.

Nutmeg hates two things – moist air and water. If nutmeg is kept away from these two things, nutmeg will stay longer with you in its best form. Whether you have whole nutmeg or the ground version, always make sure to keep them away from moisture.

If you have ground nutmeg, you can keep it outside. If they are kept in an airtight container, ground nutmeg will stay fresh for a period of six to nine months. This is not the exact period; they can be used until they have flavor.

Whole nutmeg isn’t something that spoils easily. Hence, if you keep them properly, they could stay up for years in your cupboard. But with age, it might lose its taste and become harder. Hence it is best to use them within three to four years.

How To Cook With Nutmeg

Most people prefer to use store-bought nutmeg powder. But you know what’s even better – the nutmeg seed of its own. They are a little hard to find in our markets; however, they are more flavorful than that nutmeg powder.

Nutmeg seeds have a strong flavor to them. It is warm and peppery and has little sweetness. It can be either freshly ground or grated in small portions before adding to the food.

In this way, you are not only getting the full use of its flavor but also its aroma. You can add nutmeg to any sweet or savory dish as an ingredient. While adding nutmeg powder, add a little more than the grated one as it will be less flavorful.

 Even though you add nutmeg as an ingredient, always make sure to splash some over the dish once it’s completely done. This way, your food will have a delicious nutmeg aroma.

What Should You Use Nutmeg With?


One can use nutmeg in multiple ways. Both Asian, as well as European cuisine, are perfect to pair with nutmegs. Once you get used to it, you can add it according to your preference.

  1. Taste Enhancer To Beverage:  Nutmeg can be added to milk, tea, or coffee to enhance flavor and create a scrumptious nutty aroma. If you are open to little experimentation, add some grated nutmeg to your cocktail and see how it works!
  2. Salad Seasoning: Nutmeg can be added as a salad seasoning along with pepper and salt. It gives a minty, spicy finish to your salad. However, always make sure to use nutmeg powder in a small amount as it has a strong flavor.
  3. Can Be Used In Baking: Nutmeg is an extremely good-smelling spice, and for the same reason, they are often used as an ingredient in baking. Cakes are good anyways, but who doesn’t want a delicious cake that smells amazing!?
  4. As An Ingredient In Eggnog: We all know eggnog doesn’t taste the same without the presence of some nutmeg powder.

Health Benefits Of Nutmeg

At the beginning of the article, you must have read the magical myths about nutmeg. Nutmeg was considered magical for its health benefits. Nutmeg is extremely healthy for us as it provides

  1. Dental Health: Nutmeg is said to have many anti-bacteria in it, which are proven fighters against bacteria that are harmful to our teeth. You must have seen some toothpaste claiming to have nutmeg in them.
  2. Aroma Therapy: Nutmeg smells amazing, and much ayurvedic medicine uses nutmeg for its health benefits and smell.
  3. Induce sleep: If you are someone having trouble in sleep, grate a quarter spoon of nutmeg into warm water or milk. Nutmeg has relaxing properties and helps you have a very deep sleep.
  4. Aids in digestion: Nutmeg is great to relieve you from any kind of indigestion issues. Whether you have bloating or any digestion issues, mix a quarter of nutmeg powder in honey and have it.

 Nutritional Content of Nutmeg


Now that we have seen some of the health benefits of nutmeg let’s see the nutritional content that is present in nutmeg. Nutmeg is an extremely healthy thing to include in our diet.

It is a great source of vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamin A, E, and C. Below is a table that gives a glimpse of the nutritional content of nutmeg.

Nutritional ContentAmount (per 1 teaspoon)
Calories12 kcal
Protein0 g
Fat0.5 g
Fiber0 g


Nutmeg has a very warm taste. It can be used in sweet or savory dishes and is extremely easy to use. If you can, always choose the whole nutmeg over the powdered one as it is more tasteful.

I hope you have enjoyed learning more about the nutmeg seed. If you happen to come across nutmeg in your market, make sure to have them in your shopping cart.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can old nutmeg make you sick?

Old nutmeg is harmless. However, if it has gone bad it can cause nausea and vomiting.

Does nutmeg taste sour?

No. Nutmeg has a warm, spicy, and sweet taste to it.

How long is nutmeg good after the expiration date?

Nutmeg can be used until it loses its flavor.

What does too much nutmeg taste like?

Too much nutmeg can make the dish taste bitter and creates a tingling effect in our mouth.

Why does nutmeg taste weird?

Nutmeg is not supposed to be eaten alone. Hence if you eat it as it is, it might taste weird.

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