substitute for ground cloves

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Looking for a substitute for ground cloves? How about 9 ground cloves substitutes? Here, you will find all the spices that you’re able to use to replace ground cloves in a pinch. The best part? Most of these are spices you already have on hand, so no need to make a run to the store!

substitute for ground cloves

What are ground cloves?

Ground cloves are the immature flower buds of the Syzygium aromaticum or clove tree, that are picked while very young, dried, and then pulverized to form a fine powder.

Cloves are a spice that is native to Muluka Island in Indonesia and are shaped like reddish-brown tiny nails. When ground, cloves produce a reddish brown powder that can be used in drinks, teas, desserts, pumpkin pie, savory recipes like meats, sauces, and rice dishes, and as a staple in many Christmas dishes and drinks.

Ground cloves are very aromatic and have an intense flavor that is sweet and slightly bitter, with a warm and spicy flare.

No other spice can totally replace this flavor, nonetheless, there are quite a few spices that come close to the flavor of ground cloves and can work in a pinch.

The best substitutes for ground cloves are whole cloves, allspice, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, and Chinese five spice powder. Let’s discuss each in more detail.

Substitutes for ground cloves

Whole cloves 

Whole cloves 

One of the best substitutes for ground cloves is whole cloves and here’s why. Ground cloves tend to lose their flavor and aroma quite easily as the essential oils vaporize quickly once they have been ground.

So, if you want to enjoy the real flavor of cloves in a dish, opt for the whole cloves and grind them yourself as needed. Or use them whole if the tiny little buds won’t affect the recipe.

Ground cloves have less flavor and aroma than whole cloves, so substitute on a 1:3 ratio if using whole. Meaning use 1 teaspoon of whole cloves to replace 3 teaspoons of ground cloves.

Nonetheless, if you plan on pulverizing the whole cloves yourself, substitute on a 1:1 ratio. Meaning, you use 1 teaspoon of pulverized cloves to replace 1 teaspoon of store-bought ground cloves.


ground allspice

The next best substitute for ground cloves is allspice.

Allspice is a spice that is essentially the dried berries of the Pimenta dioica, which is a member of the myrtle family. Ground Allspice is one of the best substitutes for ground cloves due to the similarities in their flavors.

Ground allspice evokes a flavor that reminds you of a combination of these three spices; nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. So it adds a similar warmth to your dishes.

Use allspice to replace ground cloves in recipes like pumpkin pie, soups, stews, meat dishes, and more.

Substitute on a 1:1 ratio. Meaning, for every 1 teaspoon of ground cloves needed, use 1 teaspoon of ground allspice to replace it.



Another possible substitute for ground cloves is mace. This spice comes from the outer casing of the nutmeg kernel and is essentially a milder version of nutmeg with notes of basil, pine, and cinnamon.

It is not the first spice one would grab to replace ground cloves, but in a pinch, it can work in both sweet and savory recipes like pumpkin pie, sauces, soups, vegetables and even pastries due to its warm, sweet flavor.

You can substitute mace for ground cloves on a 1:1 ratio.



Nutmeg is another spice that is easily substituted for ground cloves.

Nutmeg has a flavor that is warm, woody, sweet, and nutty and can be used to replace ground cloves in recipes like pies, beverages, and baked goods like muffins, cakes, soups, and more.

Use nutmeg to replace ground cloves on a 1:1 ratio.


ground cinnamon

Another great spice that can be used as an alternative to ground cloves is cinnamon. 

Cinnamon can be used to replace ground cloves in recipes like cookies, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, apple pie, bread, rolls, and even in soups.

Note, that cinnamon has a flavor that is warm, slightly sweet, woody, and citrusy, so when using it as a replacement for ground cloves, consider using it together with some nutmeg as these two spices mixed together will match the flavor of ground cloves more closely. 

Use 1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon to replace 1 teaspoon of ground cloves.

Pumpkin pie spice

Pumpkin pie spice

Pumpkin pie spice is made of 5 spices including nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and sometimes allspice.

Pumpkin pie spice has more nutmeg and cinnamon than it does cloves. However because this spice mix does include ground cloves and it does include other spices like cinnamon and nutmeg which are good substitute spices for ground cloves anyway, it can be used in a pinch to replace ground cloves.

Apple pie spice

Like pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice is another good replacement for ground cloves. Unlike pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice does not include any cloves and is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and sometimes allspice. 

While this spice blend does not include cloves, it does include most of the spices that can be used in place of cloves like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice, so it can work as a substitute in a pinch.

Chinese five-spice powder

Chinese five spice powder

Chinese 5 spice powder is another spice mix that includes ground cloves, which makes it a good alternative to using in place of cloves. This spice mix is made from spices like peppercorns, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and ground fennel seeds.

Use this spice mix to replace ground cloves in savory dishes like meat rubs. Because this spice mix has both cloves and cinnamon, you can expect to get hints of clove flavor throughout your dish even though that flavor will be altered somewhat.

Substitutes for ground cloves in specific recipes

Substitute for ground cloves in pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie is usually made with spices like ground cloves, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. So, in the absence of ground cloves, use ground nutmeg, ground allspice, ground cinnamon or ground mace as good substitutes in a pumpkin pie recipe.
Now that you know of these 9 substitutes for ground cloves, you never have to fret when making recipes That call for cloves, but you have none. The best part is that many of these spices are already in your spice cabinet! 

More spice substitutes

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