Top 6 Tasty Nutmeg Substitutes For Your Favorite Baking and Desserts

Nutmeg is a fan favorite in baking and making sweet dishes. This spice is especially popular in Indian cuisine and has become part of many recipes lately. Finding nutmeg is not usually a problem, but if it is, you should be aware of what to use to replace it.

What Is Nutmeg?

What is nutmeg? What is it used for?

Nutmeg comes from the evergreen Myristica fragrans tree, originally from Indonesia. The spice comes from the yellow edible fruit of the tree, specifically, the dark shiny pit known as nutmeg. This spice is wrinkly and dark brown, and it has a sweet, nutty, aromatic flavor. 

This spice is used in many desserts, including puddings, custard, cookies, cakes, and muffins. Sometimes, it is also added to savory dishes, such as soups, meat stews, and sauces. Because it has been known to have medical uses for many years, some prefer it in a tea to aid digestion and reduce inflammation.

What Can I Replace Nutmeg With?

When you can’t seem to find any anywhere, try these nutmeg replacements instead:

#1. Mace

Since this is another spice from the same tree, mace is a great choice to use in place of nutmeg. In reality, mace comes from the membrane that encloses nutmeg before it’s harvested, so it shares similar properties and flavor. It is commonly used in stews, curry dishes, and sweet desserts.

Finding mace may not be as easy as it seems though, but you can try the organic stores or the farmer’s market. To replace nutmeg, add the same amount of mace, and no one will be able to tell that nutmeg is missing.

#2. Ginger

This root has been used for centuries, both as a cooking ingredient or as a medical supplement. It also makes a great replacement for nutmeg. To use it, we recommend you go for the ground spice, which is powerful and packs more aroma and can be easily found in any grocery store. 

Ginger, however, has a different flavor from nutmeg. The flavor is a bit spicier, and the smell is strong, which is why it is used in teas, meat dishes, and sauces. To replace nutmeg, use the same amount of ginger, but consider that this spice may not be adequate for sweets.

#3. Garam Masala

This blend of spices is a common ingredient in Indian cuisine, just like nutmeg. It traditionally consists of a blend of peppercorn, cloves, cumin, bay leaf, cinnamon, mace, and you guessed it, nutmeg.

It has a bit more of a savory flavor and a distinct earthy color, so it should be reserved mostly for meat dishes, soups, and sauces, and may not be suitable in desserts. 

While it is not mainstream, you can buy garam masala in many specialty stores, organic markets, or farmer’s market. To substitute nutmeg, use it in the same amount as the recipe indicates.

Related: The Best Aromatic Garam Masala Substitutes For A Delicious Dish

#4. Pumpkin Pie Spice

This blend is always a fall season favorite, and it is made of nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cinnamon. Pumpkin pie spice is a bit sweeter than the rest of these spices, so consider this as well. Yet, you can still use it in any savory and sweet dish, as long as you measure accordingly. 

Finding pumpkin pie spice isn’t too hard. You can buy it many grocery stores, though it may be harder to find in the warm seasons. If you want it to replace nutmeg, consider using the same amount, but make sure pumpkin goes well with the rest of the ingredients in the dish. 

#5. Allspice

Another blend of spices in this list, allspice is a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Traditionally, it is used in Indian, Middle Eastern, and European dishes. You can buy allspice in any grocery store at any time, making it more accessible than other spices at times. 

To replace nutmeg, use the same amount in sweet dishes and sauces, but consider using half if used in light soups or other dishes, as it may have a strong aroma. 

#6. Ground Cloves

Cloves are sweet, spicy, and peppery, so they can be a good replacement for nutmeg. It is particularly better if you use ground cloves, especially because it works well in stews, sauces, soups, and beverages, though regular cloves work, too. 

You can find cloves in most grocery stores, but you can also try an organic market. Consider that cloves are very strong, so adding a bit goes a long way, and you may want to use only about ⅓ teaspoon for every 1 teaspoon of nutmeg.

Related: Top 6 Cloves Substitutes That Are Both Sweet and Savory

Other Options

When everything else fails and you can’t find any of these options, you can use cinnamon, cumin, fennel, or anise. All of these have different flavors, but when used in certain dishes, either together or separately, they can create a flavorful dish.


What does nutmeg taste like?

Nutmeg has a nutty, sweet, and somewhat peppery flavor. The aroma is warm, and it creates a spicy flavor when added to sauces or meat. Nutmeg is not as strong as other spices, so it goes well in many desserts and drinks.

Can you leave the nutmeg out of a recipe?

In most cases, you can leave out the nutmeg, unless it is the central ingredient of a dish, but it is usually part of the flavoring process. Instead, add some of these options to the dish for a similar flavor and final result.

Can you put nutmeg in tea?

Yes, some chai teas contain nutmeg, but if your tea doesn’t, it is safe to add. Nutmeg is believed to have anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, so you can use it in tea for flavor and medicinal purposes. Be sure to add only a dash, as more can overpower your tea.


Using nutmeg tends to be central in some recipes, but if you can’t find any or don’t want to use it, there are still some options for you. Try one of these 6 alternatives for similar and tasty results. You can either mix them or use them separately for a delicious final product.

nutmeg substitute

*Photo by lvssvl1/depositphotos

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