Last Updated on March 28, 2023 by Toya
Check out the best nutmeg substitute plus 14 other amazing ways to substitute for nutmeg in a pinch with spices in your kitchen!
Nutmeg is a warm spice seed with a sweet, woody, and slightly nutty flavor from the family Myristicaceae.
It is popularly used to spice up baking, seasonal beverages, sauces, and even vegetables.
If you’re making a recipe that calls for nutmeg, the best option is always to use nutmeg, especially if it is a prominent ingredient in the recipe.
However, you may not always have that option. So, while no other spice can truly replace nutmeg, there are some spices that can come close and I’ll share them all with you below.
What are the best substitutes for nutmeg?
The best nutmeg substitutes are:
- Nutmeg extract
- Nutmeg oil
- Ground mace
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground allspice
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Apple pie spice
- British mixed spice blend
- Garam masala
- Ground ginger
- Pumpkin pie spice blend extract
- Mace blades
- Cinnamon sticks
Substituting whole nutmeg for ground nutmeg
If you don’t have ground nutmeg, but have access to the whole nutmeg seed, then you’re in luck! While less common, they can usually be found in food markets and they’re always good to have on hand.
In fact, whole nutmeg seeds can become the best ground nutmeg substitute if you just grate it with a cheese grater! The seeds aren’t quite as hard as they look so grating a nutmeg seed is quite easy.
The best part about whole spices like nutmeg seeds is that they’re usually more potent and will infuse more flavor into a dish than their store-bought ground counterparts.
I use both store-bought ground nutmeg and grated nutmeg made from the seeds when I cook. I usually use a little less of the grated nutmeg seeds since it’s stronger.
Other more common ways to substitute for ground nutmeg
Many people don’t talk about nutmeg extract and it is not the most popular product on the market. However, if you can get your hands on it, or you have it in your kitchen, nutmeg extract will make an excellent substitute for ground nutmeg.
You can use it to make teas, coffees, lattes, baked goods, sauces, and any other recipe where a little nutmeg flavor is needed. Nutmeg extract will easily infuse that warm, spicy flavor of nutmeg into any recipe!
Apexflavors.com , a brand that sells nutmeg extract for baking and other food applications, recommends starting at a level of 0.5% by weight of the dry ingredients.
You can find some nutmeg extract on Amazon.
Nutmeg oil is another great substitute. It works well in baked treats, and also in liquid applications like teas, coffees, lattes, etc. Olivenation.com recommends a substitute ratio of 4 to 1 when you want to substitute a flavor oil with an extract.
When using flavor oils, I generally use one drop since flavor oils tend to be very concentrated.
Mace spice, often called mace arils or mace blades are the dried, lacy outer coatings that encase the nutmeg seeds. These dried outer coatings are made into ground mace, which is a warm spice that has a similar flavor to nutmeg. Albeit more subtle, with hints of black pepper and pine.
Ground mace can be used as a substitute for ground nutmeg in baked goods like cakes, pies, muffins, fruit cakes, beverages, and more.
Substitute the nutmeg called for in your recipe with an equal amount of ground mace or a 1:1 ratio. And, if you don’t like mace, check out these other mace spice substitutes.
I’ve shared the best ways to replace allspice here if you want more information. And, if you can get your hands on ground allspice, then you can use it to replace ground nutmeg in some recipes. Ground allspice is a spice made from a dried berry native to Jamaica. This spice has a flavor that can be described as a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper.
It is often used in some of the same recipes that call for nutmeg. Therefore, if you have some, you can easily swap it for nutmeg in a pinch. It works great for recipes like stews, dry rubs, baked goods like pies, cakes, muffins, bread, and even vegetables.
Substitute the nutmeg called for in your recipe with an equal amount of allspice or a 1:1 ratio.
If you can’t find nutmeg, but you can get some cinnamon, this spice will work just as well.
Start by using a quantity of half of the nutmeg called for in the recipe, then adjust to your taste.
That is if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of nutmeg and you want to substitute with cinnamon instead, start with ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon, then adjust later.
Another rich warm spice that can be used as an alternative to nutmeg is ground cloves.
Ground cloves have a subtle, sweet flavor with hints of bitterness and an intense smell. This makes a great sub for nutmeg because nutmeg is a woody, bittersweet spice with hints of cloves.
What’s more, these two spices are often used together, or in the same types of recipes to add warmth. Ground cloves are best used in recipes like eggnog, soups, baked goods, and certain sauces.
Substitute the nutmeg called for in your recipe with an equal amount of ground cloves or a 1:1 ratio. (Also read more about best cloves substitutes here!)
Ginger is another warm spice that you can use if you don’t have any nutmeg on hand.
Apple pie spice
If you can find apple pie spice, you can easily use it in the place of nutmeg in a recipe. Apple pie spice is a mix of ground spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom. This spice mix will add a deliciously warm flavor to beverages like coffees and teas, as well as baked goods like pies and even vegetables, meats, rice dishes and so much more!
There is more cinnamon in an apple pie spice mix, so start by using less than the nutmeg called for in your recipe, then adjust to your taste.
Pumpkin pie spice
Pumpkin pie spice can be used as a replacement for ground nutmeg too. It is a mix of ground spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
Pumpkin pie spice can work because it contains some nutmeg, but, also because it contains 4 other spices that make great nutmeg substitutes.
It is very popular so it is super easy to find. I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a jar of pumpkin pie spice sitting in your pantry or cabinet right now!
It works well as a sub for nutmeg in pancakes, french toast, cakes, pies, and more.
Mixed spice, British mixed spice, or English mixed spice
Mixed spice is the British equivalent of pumpkin pie spice and can be used as a nutmeg alternative in a pinch. Mixed spice is typically made with spices like ground cinnamon, ground coriander, ground caraway, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and ground cloves. Ground cinnamon is usually the dominant spice which means you can make it work as an alternative to nutmeg.
Mixed spice will add delicious cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander flavors to your baking, Christmas desserts, casseroles and so much more. If a recipe calls for nutmeg, feel free to use a 1 to 1 ratio.
Garam masala may seem like a very unusual substitute for nutmeg, but it can be used to add a warm flavor to savory recipes if you can’t find any nutmeg.
Garam masala is made with ingredients like cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, and nutmeg and usually has more black pepper and cumin in the mixture.
Start with less so you don’t overpower your recipe.
Pure pumpkin pie spice blend extract by Mccormick
If you need flavor, then Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend Extract is another worthy option. You can use it to make your favorite drinks, pumpkin pies, cakes, and other sweet recipes. I would not use it for savory recipes. But if you want to give it a try, you can get the pure pumpkin pie spice blend extract for a very low price on amazon.
Substitutes for whole nutmeg
If a recipe calls for whole nutmeg seeds, the best substitute is always ground nutmeg. According to McCormick, the best conversion for a whole nutmeg to ground nutmeg is as follows:
½ of a whole nutmeg = 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
If you can find mace blades, then they can serve as a good whole nutmeg substitute. It is less common so this particular spice may be harder to find.
Whole cinnamon sticks which are pretty easy to get are another great substitute for whole nutmeg. If using them whole, cinnamon sticks work best for beverages, rice dishes like rice pudding, soups, stews, and other recipes that make it easy to fish out the whole sticks once the meal is cooked.
These spices aren’t the best nutmeg alternatives
Avoid star anise as a nutmeg alternative if you can. While it is a great spice for baking, star anise has a licorice-like flavor which is unlike the warm, nutty flavor of nutmeg. Only use star anise if you don’t mind varying the flavor of your recipe.
Cardamom is a wonderful warm spice that works great in many baked treats. However, cardamom has a piney, menthol-like flavor compared to the warm, nutty flavor of nutmeg. So, unless you want to vary the flavor in your dish, skip out on the cardamom.
Recipes that use nutmeg
FAQs about substituting nutmeg
What is a good nutmeg substitute in donuts?
Some good substitutes for nutmeg in donuts are cinnamon, mace, and ginger.
What is a good nutmeg substitute in lasagna?
The best nutmeg substitute in lasagna is a dash of ground mace. If you don’t have mace, a dash of ground cloves or cinnamon will do as well.
What is a good nutmeg substitute in Alfredo sauce?
The best alternative for nutmeg in alfredo sauce is ground mace.