Sugar, spice, and everything nice! If there is one underrated spice it has to be nutmeg. I add it to everything I can and it adds a great warm note to savory dishes and sweet baked goods. An important component in pumpkin pie spice (alongside allspice, cinnamon, and ground cloves), nutmeg is usually found either whole or ground, but because it is not used as much as more common spices, it is pretty easy to forget to stock up at the grocery store when you run out. Thankfully there are 8 different substitutes for nutmeg that will work in a pinch.
What is Nutmeg?
Have you ever wondered why mace and nutmeg taste so similar? It's because they are both from the same myristica fragrans tree! Native to Indonesia, the nutmeg tree produces nutmeg fruit which is filled with a whole nutmeg seed. The fruit is picked then dried for six to eight weeks, where the fruit dries and leaves the seed and hard outer aril. The whole seed is either ground to make ground nutmeg, or left whole while the outer shell is ground to make ground mace. About 90% of all nutmeg production comes from Indonesia and is popular in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines, ranging from savory to sweet dishes.
Nutmeg has a warm, woody, slightly sweet flavor. It can be hard to put your finger on its exact taste, since it seems to have a combination of different elements, but it's undeniable that this spice is a tasty addition to many dishes. If you're looking to add a spicy nuttiness to a baked good or wintry drink, nutmeg is the spice to use. However, sometimes we run out of even the most useful ingredients. If you find yourself out of nutmeg with no time or energy to run to the store, these 8 substitutes will give your dish a similar sweet, nutty taste to that of nutmeg.
8 Substitutes for Nutmeg You Probably Have in Your Cupboard
The best substitute for nutmeg has to be mace. The flavor profile is very similar since they derive from the same plant. The only caveat is that mace isn't a widely used spice in American cuisine, so it might be easier to go to the grocery store and grab some nutmeg.
Described as a spice with the flavor of nutmeg, pepper, juniper berries, and cinnamon, allspice is a great nutmeg substitute to use. Use a 1:1 ratio for whatever the recipe calls for.
It's pretty hard to find a kitchen that doesn't have cinnamon in its spice cupboard. While it is a good substitute, use half the amount of ground cinnamon for the amount of nutmeg in your recipe.
Pumpkin Pie Spice
A spice blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ground ginger, subbing in pumpkin spice can be a great option. Use an equal amount of pumpkin spice for nutmeg.
Spicy and sharp, ginger should be used as a substitute for nutmeg in savory dishes.
A popular spice mix in Indian cuisine, garam marsala usually contains spices such as nutmeg, mace, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper. Use an equal amount in place of nutmeg in your recipes.
Apple Pie Spice
Slightly different than pumpkin pie spice, this mix includes cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and ginger. Your best bet would be to use half the amount for nutmeg.
Known for its peppery flavor, cloves are usually paired with nutmeg in most recipes. For a teaspoon of nutmeg use 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves.
If this article inspires you to try these recipes out, this list of 23 recipes at Australia's Best Recipes is the place to start! Featuring pumpkin soup, cheesecake, lasagna, roast chicken, and many more, you can experience the wide range of uses that nutmeg has. If you're out of this versatile spice, just use one of these 8 replacements for an equally tasty meal.
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This post was originally published on January 20, 2021.