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8 Best Nutmeg Substitutes (Easy Alternatives)

There are plenty of readily available nutmeg substitutes for baking and cooking.

So if you’ve run out, these nutmeg alternatives will work wonders.

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Ground Fresh Nutmeg in a Black Bowl

Some nutmeg substitutes are obvious.

For example, cinnamon and allspice have very similar notes, and they’re pretty much interchangeable (with a few exceptions, of course).

But other spices, like ginger and mace, also work well in place of nutmeg.

Though they taste different, they have a similar warmth, making them ideal for certain cakes and cookies.

So really, your choice of nutmeg substitutes will come down to what you’re making.

Best Nutmeg Substitutes

Nutmeg is sweet, spicy, and perfect for the holidays. In fact, most people think of it as a ‘Christmas’ spice.

However, it also tastes excellent in things not associated with the holiday season.

So, if you like to use nutmeg year-round, you’ll want to bookmark this list of nutmeg substitutes – just in case!

Some work well for sweet recipes, while others are better for savory dishes.  

Either way, this list will help you determine which substitute is right for your needs.

8 Great Substitutes for Nutmeg

Roll and Ground Cinnamon

1. Cinnamon 

Cinnamon is likely the most used substitute for nutmeg for one simple reason: it’s convenient!

It’s widely available, affordable, and most people have it on hand. Therefore, cinnamon’s an easy replacement if you reach for the nutmeg and find it empty. 

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It also has the same sweet, spiced flavor as nutmeg.

Though most people use it in sweet dishes, cinnamon is lovely in savory ones, too. (Add a dash of cinnamon to your chili, and you’ll never go back!)

Of all the items on this list, cinnamon is the best all-around substitute.

Just remember: cinnamon has a much bolder flavor than nutmeg. That means you’ll need only half as much cinnamon as nutmeg. 

So, if a recipe calls for one teaspoon of nutmeg, use half a teaspoon of cinnamon.

You can always add a little more later if necessary. But you can’t remove it once it’s there, so start slow.

Pumpkin Pie Spice in a Wooden Spoon

2. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Unlike cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice can’t replace nutmeg in savory dishes. (Well, it could, but you might not like the result.)

However, pumpkin pie spice is an excellent replacement for nutmeg if you’re baking.

It’s warm, rich, sweet, and spicy. Plus, it usually includes nutmeg anyway, along with cinnamon and some other spices.

Because the flavor levels are similar, you can use a one-to-one ratio. So if a recipe needs one teaspoon of nutmeg, use one teaspoon of pumpkin spice.

Ground Mace in a White Bowl

3. Ground Mace

Cinnamon may be the best replacement for nutmeg in terms of convenience. However, in terms of flavor, you can’t beat ground mace. 

Both spices come from the same tree and have incredibly similar flavors. And you can use it in sweet or savory dishes, so it’s a great all-rounder.

Keep in mind, though, that mace also has hints of pepper.

In small amounts, it’s not all that noticeable. But it may not work in sweet recipes that need a significant amount of nutmeg.

In high concentrations, the pepper flavor is quite strong and could leave an odd taste in your mouth.

Ground mace works for nutmeg on a one-to-one ratio like pumpkin spice. 

That means you’ll use one teaspoon of ground mace per teaspoon of nutmeg.

Allspice Laid on Brown Paper

4. Allspice 

Let me clear up one major misconception some people have about allspice: it’s not a mixture of all spices.

Instead, it comes from dried and ground allspice berries. As a result, its flavor is somewhere between nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. 

It works well in both sweet and savory recipes. However, I prefer to use it in savory dishes.

It still has the same natural sweetness as nutmeg but is milder. Even so, it’ll do in a pinch for sweet recipes.

Allspice is another exact ratio swap-out for nutmeg. If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of nutmeg, use a tablespoon of allspice instead

Garam Masala on a White Dish

5. Garam Masala

Garam masala may not be as well-known as other options on this list. However, it’s a staple in Indian and Asian cuisine. 

It contains some of the same ingredients as pumpkin pie spice, including nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and mace. 

It also has a distinctive pepper flavor, thanks to the peppercorns. Cumin and bay leaves are also common ingredients, meaning it’s ideal for savory meals.

In that case, substitute it at a one-to-one ratio (one teaspoon to one teaspoon).

Avoid using it for baked goods or sweet recipes, though. The pepper flavor is much too strong to taste good in those.

Whole and Powdered Ginger

6. Ginger

Ginger is another excellent alternative to nutmeg in savory dishes. However, be cautious if the recipe calls for more than a pinch of nutmeg.

Remember, ginger has a lot of heat. So, you may want to start slow and add more to taste.

And because of the spicy heat, it doesn’t work as well in sweet items. A little pinch along with nutmeg could give sweet treats a nice bite, though.

Most websites and chefs advise swapping it out at a one-to-one ratio. But I’d start with half a teaspoon of ginger per one teaspoon of nutmeg.

7. Cloves

I have a love-hate relationship with cloves. I love the flavor, but I sometimes hate cooking with them.

Cloves are just as potent and bold as garlic, only in a sweet way.

Add the right amount, and they’ll make your dish delicious. Add even a smidge too much, and they’ll overpower the whole recipe. 

In other words, be careful when adding cloves.

Their warm, sweet flavor is very similar to nutmeg. However, as with cinnamon, you’ll need only half of the required nutmeg amount.

That means half a teaspoon of cloves to one teaspoon of nutmeg.

Also, if the recipe already calls for cloves, don’t add more!! You never want to double down on cloves.

In that case, simply leave out the nutmeg or use a milder substitute like allspice.

Cardamom on a Wooden Shovel

8. Cardamom

Not everyone would agree that cardamom is a good substitute for nutmeg. Their flavors are pretty different, after all.

However, cardamom is rich and warm, just like nutmeg, so it should work if your recipe calls for only a pinch of nutmeg.

It adds the same comforting, belly-warming sensation as nutmeg. There’s just some added herbal notes with cardamom.

That said, don’t use it in a recipe that needs lots of nutmeg. The flavors are just too different for that.

Also, this one works best in sweet dishes. 

Use half the amount of nutmeg called for in the recipe (half a teaspoon of cardamom per one teaspoon of nutmeg).

Other Baking and Cooking Substitutes to Keep On Hand

Cream of Tartar Substitutes
Honey Substitutes
Molasses Substitutes
Baking Powder Substitutes
Baking Soda Substitutes

8 Best Nutmeg Substitutes (Easy Alternatives)

There are plenty of great, readily available nutmeg substitutes for baking and cooking. So if you’ve run out, these nutmeg alternatives will work wonders.


  • Cinnamon

  • Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • Ground Mace

  • Allspice

  • Garam Masala

  • Ginger

  • Cloves

  • Cardamom


  • Choose your favorite nutmeg substitute.
  • Use in all your favorite baking recipes (from cookies and cakes to bread and more!)
Nutmeg Substitutes

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Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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