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If you’re making a recipe that calls for mace, and you have none, chances are you’re looking for the best mace substitute you can find. Here, you’ll find 7 tried and tested mace substitutes that you can add to any recipe.
When it comes to spices, the mace spice is not one of the most popular. In fact, mace is often overlooked by its sister spice nutmeg. Nonetheless, mace is great for adding to so many recipes and can make all the difference in a dish.
What is mace?
Mace is a spice native to Indonesia, that is derived from the crimson red outer casing around the nutmeg kernel called mace arils. Mace spice is made by drying these arils for 10 -14 days, at which time they will turn orangish or yellowish, or golden in color.
When added to food, mace adds a light, mild savory and sweet flavor to baked goods like old fashion donuts, pastries, soups, souffles, sauces, custards, puddings, haggis, pumpkin pie, vegetables, fish dishes, and it is also popularly used in chutney, biriyani, and curries in India.
Mace vs nutmeg
Mace has a flavor that can be considered a light, subtle nutmeg flavor with hints of cinnamon, pine and basil, and this is so because it has less flavor compounds than nutmeg. Nonetheless, both nutmeg and mace are used in a lot of the same dishes.
Mace is best added toward the end of the cooking process and comes in both the powdered from and whole, although it is more popular in powdered form.
If you cannot find mace anywhere, then you need to find some good mace alternatives that can work in a pinch. The best substitutes for mace I’ve found are mace blades, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice and ginger. Let’s discuss each in a little more detail below.
Note that no ingredient here will 100% replace the flavor of mace, but, in a pinch, they can, and do work as great stand ins.
Best mace substitutes
While powdered mace is more popular in cooking and mace blades are less popular, they are much more flavorful. If you want to enjoy the real flavor of the mace spice, having mace blades that you yourself grind into a powder is one of the best substitutes for store bought mace powder.
When mace is purchased in its powdered form, it loses a lot of its flavor. But, if they’re kept whole in blades and ground as they’re needed, they get to keep a lot of their flavor intact. In this case a 1:1 ratio can be used.
Whole mace blades can be added to certain recipes that call for mace powder at a 1:3 ratio. That is 1 teaspoon of mace powder will be replaced with 3 teaspoons of 1 tablespoons of mace blades.
As the more robust sister spice of mace, nutmeg is another great mace replacement in a pinch. Nutmeg is also more popular so its easier to find. Nutmeg is an easy replacement in almost all recipes that call for mace.
Nutmeg has more of the flavor compounds than mace, so for a good substitution ratio, use ½ a tablespoon of nutmeg to replace 1 tablespoon of mace, or substitute on a ½:1 ratio.
Cinnamon is a spice derived from the bark of an evergreen tree from the laurel family called Cinnamomum verum. This spice has a flavor that is sweet, spicy and woody with hints of citrus. Cinnamon works well in soups, stews, baked goods and pastries, apple and pumpkin pies, teas, coffees and many other recipes as a replacement for mace.
Cinnamon has a stronger flavor than mace, so use half the amount of cinnamon to replace mace. For example, use 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon to replace 1 tablespoon of mace.
Apple pie spice
Made with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and sometimes allspice, apple pie spice is another popular ingredient that can be used as an alternative for mace.
Keep in mind that apple pie spice contains spices that are all stronger than mace, and, apple spice spice is contains larger amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg so use a lesser amount of apple pie spice in any recipe that calls for mace.
Pumpkin pie spice
Pumpkin pie spice can also be used as a mace substitute. It is a mixture of spices including ground allspice, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and ground nutmeg.
Pumpkin pie spice is usually made with more cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, so make sure to keep this in mind when using as a stand in for mace. As such, use less pumpkin pie spice when using in place of mace.
Pumpkin pie spice is great for replacing mace in recipes like stews, added to vegetables, in soups, cookies, muffins, breads, puddings and more.
Allspice is spice made from the dried berries of an evergreen plant called Pimenta dioica. Allspice is another good substitute for mace in certain recipes.
Note that allspice has a flavor that is a mix between cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper, so keep that in mind when using allspice to replace mace.
Because mace is a milder spice, start with a lesser amount of allspice to replace the mace spice. So, for example use, 1/4 tablespoon of allspice in place of 1 tablespoon of mace. Then taste your dish and adjust the spice as needed.
Ground ginger is milder than fresh ginger and makes another good alternative for mace.
Most ground ginger has a flavor that is slightly sweet and spicy and can be used to substitute for mace in recipes like stews, marinades, sauces, desserts, drinks, salad dressings, soups and more.
Because ground ginger is mild, substitute this ingredient on a 1:1 ratio with mace spice.
Substitutes for mace in specific recipes
Substitute for mace in curry
Curry is an Indian recipe usually made with garam masala which contains nutmeg. If you have no mace and you’re about to make a curry recipe, you can replace the mace with garam masala, nutmeg, allspice or mace blades.
Substitute for mace in old fashioned donuts
If you have no mace on hand, and you’re looking to make some old fashioned donuts, you can substitute with nutmeg or ground ginger.