5 Best Nutmeg Substitutes

When stored in a cool, dry, dark cupboard, oval brown nutmeg seeds keep their flavor for months or even years. Grate the seed on a specially designed nutmeg grater or a fine rasp-style grater for the finest aroma and flavor. The fruit is similar in appearance to an apricot. 

Nutmeg is the seed or ground spice of several species of the genus Myristica. The Myristica fragrans is a dark-leaved evergreen tree that produces two spices from its fruit: nutmeg from its seed, and mace, from the seed covering. It is also a commercial source of essential oil and nutmeg butter.

If you don’t have it, substitute 1 tsp ground or grated nutmeg with:

1. Mace

= 1 tsp ground mace

Mace is a great substitute made from the dried aril of the nutmeg seed. It’s often used to season meat and fish dishes, especially in Europe and South America.

The taste of mace is similar to nutmeg, but with a slightly more bitter flavor and less sweetness.

Mace has a higher content of phenolic compounds than nutmeg, which gives it its darker color and stronger flavor. It also contains anethole, which has an anise-like aroma and flavor.

Mace can be ground into a powder or pressed into flakes. The powder has a yellowish hue due to its high carotene content (which is why nutmeg is also sometimes called “brown mace”). The flakes are usually light brown or tan in color.

2. Allspice

= 1 tsp ground allspice

Allspice, also known as Jamaica pepper, is a spice that’s made from the dried berries of the pimenta tree. It has a sweet, spicy flavor and has been used in many cuisines around the world — especially those of India and Jamaica.

Allspice is often used to season meats, such as stews and roasts, though it can also be added to sauces or sprinkled on top of sweet desserts. It goes well with many different types of foods and can be beneficial for digestion.

Allspice has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. It was a common ingredient in medieval European cooking and has been used throughout history by people from all over the world. Today, it’s widely available in supermarkets all around the world.

3. Cinnamon

= 1 to 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum. The essential oil is used in perfumery and to flavour food. Cinnamomum cassia, also called Chinese cinnamon, has similar properties to true cinnamon and is often sold as cinnamon. Both types of cinnamon are used for cooking and baking, with cassia generally preferred for its stronger flavour.

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known to man and has been used for thousands of years. Cinnamon comes from the inner bark or wood of several trees belonging to the genus Cinnamomum, which includes Cinnamomum zeylanicum (True Cinnamon) and Cinnamomum verum (Cassia). The name “cinnamon” was derived from Greek kyminon (κυμινον), which means ‘sweet wood’, because early Greeks thought that it was an aromatic wood like pine or fir cedar.

The earliest historical records of cinnamon come from ancient Egypt circa 1500 BCE where it was used as part of their burial rituals. Ancient Egyptians also used it as a spice in foods they prepared in their kitchens. Try substituting cinnamon for nutmeg in your next recipe!

4. Apple Pie Spice

= 1 tsp apple pie spice (adds cinnamon and allspice flavors)

Apple Pie Spice is a blend of spices that are used to make apple pies. It contains cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and ginger.

The name Apple Pie Spice was coined by the spice company McCormick, but it has become widely known as such. The spices are often used in baking recipes for cakes and cookies. They can also be added to coffee, tea or milk for flavoring.

Apple Pie Spice is most commonly used in apple desserts such as pie and cake. It can also be used in sweet potatoes or other savory dishes.

Apple Pie Spice is made from equal parts cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice along with cloves and ginger mixed together into one blend. The exact amounts of each spice may vary based on personal preference and recipe needs.

5. Pumpkin Pie Spice

= 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (adds cinnamon, allspice, and ginger flavors)

Our final substitute for nutmeg is pumpkin pie spice is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. It’s used to make pumpkin pies and other pumpkin desserts.

Pumpkin pie spice tastes warm and spicy — it has hints of allspice and cloves, with a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon thrown in. It’s not too sweet or too intense; it’s just right.

You can use pumpkin pie spice to make any recipe that calls for it, including pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin muffins. You can also add it to pancakes or even sprinkle some into your morning coffee for a nice kick of flavor.

Nutmeg Substitute

History of the Nutmeg Tree

According to the Britannica website, historically, grated nutmeg was used as a sachet, and the Romans used it as incense. Around 1600 it became important as an expensive commercial spice in the Western world. Dutch schemes were subject to keeping prices high, and English and French counterplots obtained fertile seeds for transplantation. The nutmegs sold whole were dipped in lime to prevent their sprouting.

The tree, native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, is principally grown there and in the West Indies. The fleshy seed covering surrounding the nutmeg seed is the source of the spice mace. Nutmeg trees may reach about 65 feet and yield their first fruit after eight years. The nutmeg tree reaches its prime in 25 years but can bear fruit for 60 years or longer.

Health Benefits of Nutmeg

It has been reported through home remedy circles that nutmeg:

  • Relieves pain, soothes indigestion, strengthens cognitive function, detoxifies the body, boosts skin health, alleviates oral conditions, reduces insomnia, increases immune system function, and improves blood circulation.

Nutmeg Uses in Food

Nutmeg has a distinctively spicy fragrance with a warm, slightly sweet taste. It is used to flavor many kinds of baked goods, confections, puddings, potatoes, meats, sausages, sauces, vegetables, and such beverages as eggnog. Nutmeg is a classic autumn spice found in fall desserts and drinks.

Nutmeg is also an ingredient in different spice blends, such as pumpkin pie spice, the Moroccan spice ras el hanout, and the Ethiopian garam masala. Many coffee shops sprinkle nutmeg over various hot beverages like cappuccino and eggnog as a garnish.


Can I use nutmeg in my coffee or tea?

Adding a pinch of nutmeg to your coffee grounds can take a pot of coffee from bland to share-worthy. 

In tea, nutmeg is often used as a masala chai spice and a garnish to flavor eggnog and latte drinks.

What is the flavor of nutmeg?

Whole or ground, nutmeg has a nutty, warm, and slightly sweet taste. It’s similar to clove and tobacco and can even have light citrus notes.

About Rachelle

Hi, I'm Rachel! I love cooking and finding new recipes but was always missing one of the ingredients in my kitchen. I created Can I Substitute? for people like me who are one substitute away from a great meal. If you're looking for great ingredient substitutes you've come to the right place. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.