Cardamom’s flavor is simultaneously spicy and floral while also offering citrus and herbal notes. To put it mildly, it is a potent and versatile spice that’s delicious in both savory and sweet dishes. Its versatility can be seen in the fact that it is used in many cuisines around the world. There are several reasons that you may need a substitute for cardamom pods such as being put off by the cost or because you are cooking for someone with an allergy. The good news is that you have options. The even better news: You most likely have many of the best cardamom substitutes right there on your spice rack.
Keeping ground cardamom at the ready is an easy (and efficient) way to have a backup for this potent spice. Sealable bags (like what's provided by Naturevibe Botanicals) means this can be tucked away in the back of the cupboard and used to fill up your spice jar as needed.
Table of Contents
- Your best bet: Ground cloves and cinnamon blended
- A second decent choice: Ground cinnamon and nutmeg blended
- In a pinch: Cinnamon or nutmeg
- Other alternatives
- Must-read related posts
Note that due to cardamom’s potent, complex flavor, omission in a dish where it’s called for is not an option. The stronger a spice’s flavors, the more noticeable its absence will be. Also, in this post, we focus on green cardamom, not black cardamom. Green cardamom pods are more common than black for most uses. See our list of black cardamom substitutes if you need an alternative to that spice.
Your best bet: Ground cloves and cinnamon blended
Because of how complex cardamom’s flavor is, your best option for a cardamom substitute is going to be a combination of two other potent and complex spices. The astringent intensity of cloves paired with the sweet woodiness of cinnamon can effectively mimic many of the flavor notes found in cardamom.
This cardamom substitute is recommended for use in meat and seafood dishes. In order to replace 1 teaspoon of cardamom, you will need to use half a teaspoon of each of these two spices.
A second decent choice: Ground cinnamon and nutmeg blended
Again, we have an alternative to cardamom with two strong and complex flavors. Much like the first alternative, this mix of cardamom and nutmeg is recommended for use in savory dishes such as those that feature rice and meat.
You will also be using half of a teaspoon of each spice to replace a single teaspoon of cardamom.
In a pinch: Cinnamon or nutmeg
Both cinnamon and nutmeg are widely recommended as substitutes for cardamom simply on their own. Cinnamon is the most popular of the two for use as a standalone cardamom replacement; however, nutmeg is still a popular and relatively inexpensive alternative. Cinnamon has the proper intensity (more of a warming heat than a spicy flavor), along with a sweet taste that gives it depth. Nutmeg adds to that sweetness, with its own intense aroma and unique flavor.
When using either of these spices in place of cardamom, it is recommended that you start with half the amount of the spice that your recipe requires and adjust the quantity to taste.
Aside from cinnamon and nutmeg, there are other spices that can be effective individual replacements for cardamom. For example, some experts recommend using allspice. As with cinnamon and nutmeg, you would halve the recipe’s cardamom amount for the replacement. If the recipe calls for a teaspoon of cardamom, use a teaspoon of allspice instead.
Ginger can also be used, as can coriander. But those flavors are different enough to not be optimal alternatives.
As mentioned in our note above, most recipes that include cardamom mean green cardamom. Black cardamom pods are another spice entirely but can be used as a replacement for green cardamom in some applications. Due to black cardamom’s smoky flavor, it should only be used in savory dishes.
Must-read related posts
- Black Cardamom Vs. Green: Learn more about the similarities and differences between these aromatic spices.
- Too Much Cardamom? How To Fix Your Dish: If you’ve gone heavy-handed with that ground cardamom, it can have a major impact on your meal. There are ways to tone down the potency.
- Cooking With Cardamom: We cover the dos and don’t of using this aromatic spice in the kitchen.