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The Best Nutmeg Substitutes

Ingredient Swaps
Freshly-ground nutmeg in a wooden spoon next to whole nutmegs

Nutmeg is a popular spice, used in a variety of sweet and savoury recipes. It’s available in whole cloves or ground, and is made from the seeds of the evergreen tree, Myristica Fragrans.

This tree is native to the Moluccas in Indonesia, also known as the Spice Islands.

What is nutmeg used for in baking?

Due to its fragrant and powerful flavour, nutmeg is a great addition in lots of baking recipes, like custard, apple pie and pumpkin pie. It can also be used in savoury recipes like lasagne, sauces and stews, as well as to flavour drinks like eggnog and lattes.

Which flavours are in nutmeg?

Nutmeg has a complex flavour profile and is often mistaken for containing a mix of ingredients and spices.

It is available in ground form or as whole spice. The whole spice is stronger and fresher, due to the oil in the seed. However, ground nutmeg is also flavoursome and is a more convenient and inexpensive option.

Are nutmeg and mace the same?

Nutmeg and mace are often confused with one another, as they derive from the same seed, but they’re different spices. Nutmeg is the inner part of the seed, whereas mace is the outer layer that covers the seed.

Nutmeg alternatives


Replacement ratio: Replace 100g of nutmeg with 100g of mace

Mace is the best replacement for nutmeg - they both come from the same seed, so they taste similar. You can easily substitute nutmeg for mace using equal amounts and you’ll barely notice the difference in your recipe.


Replacement ratio: Replace 100g of nutmeg with 50g of ground cinnamon

Cinnamon is a popular spice used in lots of sweet and savoury dishes. It’s naturally sweet and available in ground or stick form. Both cinnamon and nutmeg have a strong flavour profile, so we’d recommend using just half the amount of cinnamon you’d use if you were using nutmeg, then you can add more if needed.


Replacement ratio: Replace 100g of nutmeg with 100g of ground ginger

You can use ground ginger to replace ground nutmeg, however, it isn’t as sweet as nutmeg. It has more of a zing, but will still work well as a replacement in most recipes.

Ground ginger tends to work better as an alternative in savoury recipes, but it will still work well in desserts that require strong ginger flavours, like gingerbread dough.


Replacement ratio: Replace 100g of nutmeg with 100g of ground allspice

Allspice is made from the dried berries of the Pimenta Dioica tree. Although made from just one ingredient, this spice resembles the combined flavours of cinnamon, cloves, and you guessed it, nutmeg.

This makes it a great alternative to nutmeg, due to its similar flavour. Our guide to the best allspice substitutes is a great read if you’re curious about spice alternatives.


Replacement ratio: Replace 100g of nutmeg with 50g of cloves

Cloves have a similar flavour profile to nutmeg. They’re both sweet, with a slightly peppery taste. You can use whole or ground cloves to replace nutmeg, however, ground cloves are easier to mix with other ingredients.

Cloves have quite an intense flavour, so we’d recommend using only half the usual amount.

Garam masala

Replacement ratio: Replace 100g of nutmeg with 100g of garam masala

Garam masala is a mixture of spices used in Indian cuisine. It contains nutmeg, and most of the other ingredients in this spice have a flavour profile similar to nutmeg. These are typically mace, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper and cardamom.

However, garam masala may also contain turmeric, cumin, saffron, star anise, fenugreek and other regional spices. Some of the above flavours may not work so well in sweeter dishes, so be sure to check the ingredients of your garam masala before using it.