Nutmeg is made from the seed of the pungent evergreen tree Myristica fragrans. The spice pairs well with both sweet and savory dishes, as it adds a combination of sweet, nutty, and peppery flavors.
In this article, you’ll discover seven spices that can be swapped for nutmeg in a pinch, so don’t worry if you don’t have nutmeg. Mace, pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and ginger are great alternatives for recipes that call for nutmeg.
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Nutmeg is a pungent spice with a powerful and distinctive scent that is nutty and somewhat sweet. However, it may be quite spicy for people who are more sensitive to heat.
But what exactly is this spice? The actual nutmeg is the pit found within the nutmeg tree’s fruit. Once processed, it turns into the nutmeg powder we often see in the spice section.
It originates from the Myristica fragrans tree and can be purchased whole or ground. Whole nutmeg has a fresher, cleaner flavor, but it needs to be grated.
Nutmeg’s flavor has the ability to bridge the gap between sweet and savory recipes. It pairs nicely with meat, winter squash, and different soups and stews.
Moreover, nutmeg is a crucial component in pumpkin pie, creamy custards, cakes, and other sweet delicacies. Plus, it’s a staple ingredient in wintery beverages like mulled wine and eggnog.
Whichever way you decide to use it, don’t use too much of it since this pungent spice may quickly overshadow the taste of all other ingredients in your delicacy.
One teaspoon (2.2g) of nutmeg contains:
- 12 calories;
- 0.8g fat;
- 1g carbs;
- 0.46g fiber;
- 0.13g protein;
Nutmeg and mace are closely related. Mace also comes from the Myristica fragrans tree, and it’s actually the nutmeg seed’s outer coating.
Because of their similarity in taste, both of them are often used interchangeably and in equal ratios.
However, when using mace, add it gradually since it has a stronger and more intense taste than nutmeg. Its hue is also somewhat darker than nutmeg’s, although this won’t affect the color of the dish.
Additionally, mace is the more expensive of the two. Therefore, if you’re looking for a more affordable option, check out our other suggestions.
Pumpkin spice is a frequent ingredient in a variety of autumn dishes. Despite its name, its flavor is actually not pumpkin-like.
In fact, pumpkin pie spice is made of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cloves. And since nutmeg is a component of pumpkin pie spice, if you use it in place of the original spice, your dish will still have a nutmeg taste.
Pumpkin pie spice can easily substitute nutmeg in pies, cakes, cupcakes, and roasted veggies. All in all, it’s an excellent idea to have it on hand during the cool fall months.
Apple pie spice is widely used in apple-based recipes. This option is somewhat comparable to the pumpkin pie spice we mentioned earlier, but it has a stronger cinnamon taste.
Aside from cinnamon, apple pie spice contains nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and ginger. As a result, it has a sweet and nutty taste with a hint of citrus.
You may use apple pie spice in any recipe that calls for nutmeg. However, to avoid an overbearing cinnamon flavor, use apple pie spice in a 1:½ ratio. Then, you could add more according to your taste.
Cinnamon comes from the cinnamon tree’s bark, and — like nutmeg — it’s available either whole or ground. Plus, it’s a very popular spice, which means that chances are you already have it at home.
Cinnamon and nutmeg have slightly different tastes, though. Cinnamon is somewhat stronger, nuttier, and sweeter when compared to nutmeg.
Nevertheless, both have the same warming effect on a dish, and both of them are added to either sweet or savory recipes for a boost in flavor.
We recommend substituting cinnamon for half the recommended amount of nutmeg because you don’t want the flavor to overpower your dish. For a stronger flavor, you can always add more gradually.
When you run out of nutmeg, allspice is yet another fitting alternative. It’s rather popular, so you may already have some in your pantry. Despite its name, allspice isn’t a mixture of spices — it’s actually a dried berry of the West Indian and Central American Pimenta dioica tree.
Allspice has a rich flavor that is reminiscent of nutmeg, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves. As a result, allspice is enjoyed in both sweet and savory foods, just like nutmeg.
That being said, even though it’s similar in flavor, nutmeg is stronger. When substituting, you should use allspice in a higher ratio than nutmeg. To be safe, you can also swap them in equal amounts and then gradually add more allspice to get the desired taste.
Finally, allspice and nutmeg have comparable colors, which means that substituting one for the other won’t significantly alter the final look of the dish.
Cloves are a very popular holiday spice originating from Indonesia, more particularly from the Syzygium aromaticum tree. Similar to nutmeg, it infuses some of our favorite holiday dishes with warmth and a distinct aroma.
Cloves are available ground and whole. Whole cloves provide a richer flavor and scent, while ground ones blend better in most recipes.
The flavor of cloves is often described as very similar to nutmeg — sweet and peppery. In fact, many delicacies are made with both of these spices.
So, if your recipe asks for nutmeg, use half as many cloves. If the recipe calls for both nutmeg and ground cloves, consider a different replacement in addition to the cloves to avoid overpowering the dish with cloves.
If you don’t mind a bit of additional spice in your food, ground ginger works well as a substitute for nutmeg.
In practically all of the world’s main cuisines, ginger is used to add warmth and a peppery bite to recipes. It’s the root of the tropical plant Zingiber officinale, which is indigenous to Southeast Asia.
Ginger has a hotter bite than nutmeg, but it works heavenly well when substituted in dishes that allow for something spicier to kick in.
However, the major difference between the two is the sweetness. Since ginger doesn’t have a sweet flavor, it’s not recommended for desserts or other sweet goods.
Nutmeg is the type of spice that combines the best of both worlds. You can use it to enrich the taste of both sweet and savory dishes. Below we share some of the best nutmeg recipes.
This gorgeous pull-apart bread is filled with pumpkin and spinach and seasoned with nutmeg. Its shape is inspired by the iconic French baguette bread.
With the help of your kitchen scissors, cut the dough and carefully transfer each piece to the side to make a branch. But make sure to plan ahead since this bread will be done in two and a half hours. As a result, it isn’t something that you can make at the last minute!
Nutmeg is one of the tastiest spices to use while cooking chicken. Although the combo may seem strange, in this recipe, they both work heavenly well together.
The addition of nutmeg makes the chicken more flavorful and tender while also making it peppery, a little sweet, and slightly nutty. The ideal side dish with nutmeg chicken is fried rice, mashed potatoes, or roasted veggies.
Nutmeg cheesecake is the perfect ending to a delicious dinner. It has a creamy texture, a rich taste, and a dash of spice.
We like this recipe due to its straightforward and conventional cooking steps. Plus, you can add whatever topping you like! Choose between apricot, cherry, pomegranate glaze, or just graham crackers sprinkled on top.
Nothing brings us greater joy than curling up with a hot chocolate under a blanket. On a chilly day, nutmeg hot chocolate is the ideal way to stay warm. It’s also quite simple to make.
Simply put the ingredients in a pot, heat until everything melts, then whisk to ensure everything is combined. This hot chocolate is best enjoyed with a dollop of whipped cream or a garnish of marshmallows.
Even the most well-stocked spice cabinet could occasionally run out of nutmeg, but thanks to this guide, you are now well-equipped to handle the problem.
To find the best substitute for nutmeg, you should first take into account how you intend to use it. Then, select a suitable nutmeg replacement.
For example, bolder spices like ginger or allspice work better in savory meals. On the other hand, cinnamon is a lighter and sweeter option that works well in sweet baked goods.
Last but not least, if you aim for visual appeal, make sure you choose a spice with a similar brown color to nutmeg.