Best Nutmeg Substitute + 10 More Great Alternatives

Last Updated on November 21, 2022 by Toya

Check out the best nutmeg substitute plus 10 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
  • Ground mace 
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground allspice
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Apple pie spice
  • Garam masala
  • Ground ginger
  • Pumpkin pie spice blend extract
  • Mace blades
  • Cinnamon sticks

Substituting whole nutmeg for ground nutmeg

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.

Other more common ways to substitute for ground nutmeg 

Nutmeg extract

Many people don’t talk about nutmeg extract and it is not the most popular product on the market, but if you can get your hands on it, nutmeg extract will make an excellent substitute for ground nutmeg. 

You can use it to make teas, 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! You can find some nutmeg extract on Amazon.

Ground mace

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 but 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.

Ground allspice

allspice

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, but, it 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.

Ground cinnamon

ground cinnamon

If you can’t find nutmeg, but you can get some cinnamon, this spice with work just as well. 

Their flavors are somewhat different, with ground cinnamon being more pungent. However, cinnamon can easily add a nice warmth to many of the same recipes that call for nutmeg.

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. 

Ground cloves

ground cloves

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 the about best cloves substitutes here!)

Ground ginger

ground ginger

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 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

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. 

Also, 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.

Garam masala

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 Extract 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 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

Mace blade

mace blades

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. 

Cinnamon sticks

cinnamon sticks

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, soups, stews, and other recipes that make it easy to fish out the whole sticks once the meal is cooked.

 

Recipes that use nutmeg

Slow cooker hot chocolate

hot chocolate

 

Zucchini lasagna

lasagna with zucchini noodles

 

Avocado smoothie

avocado smoothie

 

Low carb apple pie

apple pie recipe

 

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.

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