Substitute for Nutmeg

9 Great Substitutes for Nutmeg

Jun 1, 2021 | Cooking Tips

What happens when you’re out of nutmeg or can’t seem to find where you last put it? Here’s a simple list of substitutes for nutmeg. Nutmeg is a special spice to have in your pantry. It comes in whole and ground form. We use it in many different dishes and it often creates a delicious balance in flavor.

Nutmeg was one of those largely sought-after spices during the Galleon Trade and after the Spice Islands were discovered. Spices then were a lot easier to transport compared to jewelry and, well, people. In the olden days, nutmeg was considered to be one of the most expensive spices that could only be found in the kitchens of the rich.

This spice grows from a fruit tree originally from Mallucas. This fruit tree would bear fruit and the seed of the fruit would be wrapped in mace then when dried off or peeled off, the nutmeg seed would be under the mace.

Nutmeg is a spicy herb that is used to add depth to plenty of dishes such as mashed potatoes, one of the more known beloved dishes. It is used to elevate the flavor of flat sauces like Bechamel. It is a warm and nutty spice that completes other special and popular sweets like Pumpkin Pie as well.

What happens though if you can’t find nutmeg?

Here’s a list of top substitutes for nutmeg.


1. Mace

We mentioned earlier that mace is the outer layer of the nutmeg seed. They’re two different spices but they share the characteristics of sweet, warm and spicy. It shares a lot more flavors together making it the best substitute for nutmeg.

Garam Masala

2. Garam Masala

Garam Masala is typically used in Indian cuisine. It is made up of mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves making it a great substitute for nutmeg. It’ll definitely add more flavor than what we require of nutmeg but the idea is there.


3. Allspice

Allspice isn’t a mixture of a lot of spices but it is a berry called allspice. Allspice berries just like juniper berries are used as spices rather than fruits. Allspice shares the same tasting notes as nutmeg, which is warm and spicy: very close to cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.


4. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a warm spice that we love in most things. It is added to drinks, desserts and savory food to add that layer of spice and warmth, which is very close to nutmeg. These two are often together in a blend of spices so it naturally makes sense to use cinnamon as a replacement for nutmeg.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

5. Pumpkin Pie Spice

We love good pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice originated even before thanksgiving. People would gather these spices to dry them before winter and they kept produce and meats preserved. Pumpkin spice was then associated with fall and it includes cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and allspice. Pumpkin spice is a good substitute for nutmeg most especially in sweeter food.


6. Ginger

Ginger is a warm root spice that has many medicinal purposes just like nutmeg. This could be a good substitute for nutmeg if you wish to warm up your dish. Use ground nutmeg to capture the flavor of nutmeg that you’re looking for.


7. Cloves

Did you know that cloves are actually flowers? They’re dried up flowers that have the same warmth and spice as nutmeg and it’s usually blended in with nutmeg in spice groups like garam masala and pumpkin spice. It’s a good alternative to nutmeg but it’s a little bit more pungent so you might want to dial it down a little.

Apple Pie Spice

8. Apple Pie Spice

Apple pie spice is a combination of warm spices. Being that nutmeg is a warm spice, it’s good to use it as a simple replacement for nutmeg in desserts, should you need it. Apple spice is made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom.


9. Cardamom

Cardamom is the main ingredient of chai tea – a classic Indian tea favorite, known worldwide. This tea warms up the body and gets you ready to eat or even settles your stomach after a meal. Cardamom is warm and spicy just like nutmeg. It’s a little bit more on the floral side but it’s a good substitute for nutmeg.


Hey there! I'm Isabel. I love cooking, dogs, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good flavorful food, to share with family and friends.



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