substitute for nutmeg

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Do you want to make a recipe that calls for nutmeg, but you’re out of that spice? Looking for a simple nutmeg substitute that will work in place of nutmeg? How about 7 great nutmeg substitutes? You’re guaranteed to have at least one of these on hand! 

nutmeg substitute

Nutmeg is a warm spice that is sweet, woody and slightly nutty. Therefore, the types of spices that can best replace nutmeg would need to have one or more of these same characteristics to work in place of nutmeg in certain recipes.

The most likely spices that can substitute nutmeg include mace spice, cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice, apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice and garam masala.

Note, none of these spices can fully replace the flavor of nutmeg, however, they all have similarities and the best part is that all of them are warm spices, like nutmeg. All of these spices are also used popularly in a powdered form which is another plus.

7 easy substitutes for nutmeg in a pinch

Mace spice

mace spice

Maybe you have no nutmeg, but you may have mace and it can replace nutmeg. 

Mace is a spice derived from the outer dried lacy coating which surrounds the nutmeg seed called mace arils or mace blades.

It has a flavor that is more tart, yet more subtle than that of nutmeg, with hints of cinnamon, black pepper and pine and can be described as a spice with warm heat.

Mace can easily replace nutmeg in recipes like cakes, sweet and savory pies, in dry rubs made of spices, savory sauces, curries, stews and even to dust drinks like cappuccinos or added into cocktails. 

Mace can be substituted for nutmeg on a 1:½  ratio. That is 1 tablespoon of mace can replace ½ tablespoon of nutmeg.



Allspice is a spice derived from the dried berries of an evergreen plant called Pimenta dioica. Unlike popular belief, allspice is not a blend of multiple spices (although is flavor can make someone think so). It is simply the spice that comes from one single seed native to Jamaica Guatemala, and Honduras. 

The flavor of allspice reminds one of a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and pepper.

In a pinch allspice can replace nutmeg in recipes like vegetables, stews, to season meat, and even to add to baked goods like pies and cakes.

Allspice can be substituted for nutmeg on a 1:1 ratio.



Cinnamon is another spice that can be used as a substitute for nutmeg. Cinnamon spice is obtained from the inner bark of evergreen aromatic trees from the Cinnamomum genus.

Cinnamon is pungent and has a flavor that is sweet and woody with notes of citrus which is not unlike nutmeg.

Cinnamon can be used to replace nutmeg in recipes like breads, cookies, desserts, rice pudding, churros and more. 

Cinnamon can be substituted for nutmeg 1:2. So, for every 1 tablespoon of nutmeg needs, replace with 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon.


Ground cloves


Ground cloves are the powder derived from the dried, unopened flower buds from the clove tree. This powdered spice is another alternative for nutmeg in a pinch.

Ground cloves has a flavor that is subtly sweet, slightly bitter and has an intense aroma. It works well to replace nutmeg in recipes like desserts, eggnog and even some soups.

Ground cloves can be substituted for nutmeg on a 1:2 ratio. Meaning, that if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of nutmeg, use half the amount, or 1/2 a tablespoon of ground cloves in its place. 

Apple pie spice

apple pie spice

Apple pie spice is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom that can be used as a substitute for nutmeg in recipes like muffins, teas, french toast and more.

Because this is a mixture of these 4 spices, its flavor is a combination of those spices and it can replace nutmeg in recipes such as coffees and other beverages, fruit pies and tarts, roasted vegetables, rice recipes, meats and even cakes. 

Apple pie spice contains more cinnamon than nutmeg, so adjust accordingly in your recipe. 

Pumpkin pie spice

pumpkin pie spice

Pumpkin pie spice is another spice mixture that can be used to substitute for nutmeg. Pumpkin pie spice is a mixture of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground allspice and ground cloves.

Like apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice usually contains more cinnamon than it does nutmeg, nonetheless, in a pinch it can work for recipes like pancakes, beverages, muffins and more.

For a spice like pumpkin pie spice, use a little at a time when using in place of nutmeg, to gauge how it’s affecting the recipe for the best result. 

Garam masala

garam masala spice

Another spice that you can use  as an alternative for nutmeg is garam masala. Garam masala can change based on the region it’s from or which chef is making it, but usually it is a combination of spices including cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg. 

It usually has more cumin and ground black pepper and less nutmeg, so use sparingly in recipes when using a a replacement for nutmeg. 

It works better to replace nutmeg is savory recipes like sauces, 

Now that you have these 7 nutmeg alternatives, here are also some ideas for replacing nutmeg in very specific recipes. 

Nutmeg substitute in donuts

If you’re making donuts and have no nutmeg on hand, you can use other warm spices like ginger, cinnamon or mace spice as substitutes. Note that the recipe is likely to taste different as the spices are different.

Nutmeg substitute in bolognese

Ground nutmeg is often used in authentic bolognese sauce. If you have ran out, consider replacing with some mace spice.

Nutmeg substitute in lasagna

A dash of nutmeg is often used in lasagna recipes to enhance the flavor. If you have no nutmeg on hand, consider using a dash of mace instead.  

Nutmeg substitute for carrot cake

Besides nutmeg, you can use warm spices like mace spice, cinnamon, ground ginger, all spice, or pumpkin pie spice in carrot cake recipes.

Nutmeg substitute in Alfredo sauce

Nutmeg is a secret ingredient in Alfredo sauce that gives a nice flavor boost that no one can place. If you’re looking for a substitute for nutmeg in Alfredo sauce, look no further than mace spice.

Nutmeg substitute for apple pie

The best nutmeg substitutes for apple pie are cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and mace.

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