5 Easy Substitutes for Cloves in Your Recipes

With its warm and distinct flavor, clove is a popular spice used in both sweet and savory dishes. However, there may be times when you find yourself without cloves in your pantry. Fear not! In this article, we’ll delve into the world of clove substitutes and discover alternative spices that can beautifully enhance the flavors of your favorite recipes.

1. Nutmeg

Nutmeg, with its nutty and sweet profile, can be a fantastic substitute for cloves. Ground nutmeg can be used alone or in combination with other spices, such as cinnamon or allspice, to recreate the essence of cloves. Remember that nutmeg is strong, so a little goes a long way.

2. Allspice

Whether ground or whole, allspice offers a slightly sweet and warm flavor with subtle peppery notes. It can be used as a suitable substitute for cloves in several recipes. Experiment with allspice to achieve a similar flavor and aroma to cloves.

3. Cardamom

Cardamom is a versatile spice known for its citrus and herbal notes. Available in both whole and ground form, it pairs well with other spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Combining cardamom with these spices can create a delightful substitute for cloves in both sweet and savory dishes.

4. Cinnamon

A popular spice in its own right, cinnamon is often a wonderful complement to cloves. While not as sweet as cloves on their own, cinnamon can be combined with other spices such as nutmeg to create a flavor profile reminiscent of cloves. Consider using cinnamon as a substitute to add warmth and depth to your recipes.

5. Pumpkin Pie Spice

For those looking for a convenient option, pumpkin pie spice can be an excellent alternative to cloves. Typically a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and sometimes allspice, it captures the essence of cloves and offers a versatile flavor profile. Don’t limit its use to pumpkin pie; this spice blend can enhance a variety of dishes, including both sweet and savory creations.

Keep in mind that substitution ratios may vary based on personal preference and the specific recipe you’re working with. While these substitutes can provide similar flavors to cloves, they may not fully replicate the unique characteristics of cloves. Nonetheless, they offer delicious alternatives for those times when cloves are not available.

The bottom line

A well-stocked spice rack is a culinary asset, but sometimes we find ourselves without a particular spice like cloves. Fortunately, there are several fantastic substitutes that can elevate your recipes and infuse them with delightful flavors. Whether you choose nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice, each substitute brings its own unique twist to the dish. Embrace the versatility of these spice substitutes and let your creativity flow in the kitchen. Happy cooking!


What can I substitute for cloves?

If you don’t have cloves on hand, there are several spices that can serve as suitable substitutes, each adding its own distinct flavor profile to your dishes. Here are a few excellent alternatives to consider:

  1. Nutmeg: With its nutty and sweet flavor, nutmeg can be used as a substitute for cloves. It is best to use it in combination with other warm spices to achieve a similar flavor profile.
  2. Allspice: Available ground or whole, allspice offers a slightly sweet and warm flavor with a hint of pepperiness. It can be used as a direct replacement for cloves in many recipes.
  3. Cardamom: Known for its citrusy and herbal notes, cardamom can be used as a substitute for cloves. Ground cardamom works well when combined with cinnamon and nutmeg to replicate the flavor profile of cloves.
  4. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a popular spice that blends well with cloves. While not as sweet on its own, combining cinnamon with other warm spices like nutmeg can help create a similar flavor profile to cloves.
  5. Pumpkin Pie Spice: If you have pumpkin pie spice in your pantry, it can be a convenient substitute for cloves. This blend typically contains cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and sometimes allspice, providing a well-rounded flavor reminiscent of cloves.

What can I use if I don’t have cloves?

If you don’t have cloves, you can use alternatives such as nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice to add similar flavors to your dishes.

Can you substitute nutmeg for cloves?

Nutmeg, which is the closest substitute for cloves, can be also be added in equal parts. So, if the recipe calls for a teaspoon of cloves, use a teaspoon of nutmeg in its place.

Can I use star anise instead of cloves?

You can use an equal amount of ground cloves to replace the required star anise amount in your recipes. However, you shouldn’t use it for dishes where star anise is the main spice as whether you like it or not, the spice flavor is not concisely similar to star anise flavor.

How do I make ground cloves at home?

How to Grind Cloves

  1. Bring a cast iron or other non-coated pan to medium high heat.
  2. Place whole cloves into pan and toss for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  3. Immediately remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Move cloves to a spice mill, coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle.
  5. Grind until cloves are a fine power.

When a recipe calls for cloves What does it mean?

The word “clove” comes from the French word “clou” which means “nail,” since the shape of a clove resembles that of a small nail or tack. When a recipe calls for whole or ground cloves, and you don’t have any on hand, just grab one of these simple substitutes. They’ll give you the flavor you’re after.

Is cloves and cinnamon the same thing?

While clove has a nice hot and pungent flavor, cinnamon has mildly sweet tones. Together they make a combination that spells blockbuster. The spices also happen to be a treasure trove of antioxidants.