Mace is a spice from the Myristica fragrans tree, which is the same tree that provides nutmeg. Mace is the lacy covering that grows on the shell of the seed that contains the nutmeg spice. It is used in desserts, Indian cuisine, and for making sausages. If you don’t have any on hand and need a quick mace substitute, try one of the options below.
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Your best bet: Nutmeg
Mace shares much of its flavor profile with nutmeg, the spice that comes from the same parent fruit. Mace could be described as a milder version of nutmeg in that its flavor is not as sweet, which is why it is often used in savory preparations. Nutmeg can work as a substitute for mace in any dish, but it is slightly better suited to the sweet ones.
The fact that it is stronger also means that you will need to use less of it to replace mace. When replacing mace with nutmeg, use about half of what the recipe requires for mace. In many dishes, nutmeg will be a close enough match to mace that you probably won’t be able to tell the difference.
A decent second choice: Cinnamon
One of the most widely recommended substitutes for mace is cinnamon. It has enough spicy notes that it can make a decent mace substitute. Cinnamon is also easier to find than mace and relatively inexpensive.
The differences between cinnamon and mace will be more noticeable in some applications than others. If mace is supposed to be the main flavor in a dish, replacing it with cinnamon most likely won’t ruin the dish, but the flavor profile will be different. Cinnamon is more intense than mace, so use about half the amount of cinnamon that a recipe requires for mace.
In a pinch: Allspice
Descriptions of allspice often state that it tastes like a mixture of several spices, one of which is nutmeg, mace’s closest relative in the spice world. Allspice also tastes a little like cinnamon, another potential mace substitute. Like mace, allspice does double duty as both a savory and sweet spice. It is as at home in a pumpkin pie as it is in Jamaican jerk seasoning. While it does share some mace flavor characteristics, the use of allspice as a substitute will be easy to detect in some dishes. The more mildly flavored a dish is, the more noticeable its differences from mace will be.
Garam masala is a common Indian spice blend that can include both mace and nutmeg, which means that it should be able to provide some of the flavor profile. Of course, it may also include a range of other spices that may affect how suitable it is for some dishes.
Dried and ground ginger can provide many of the flavors that you want from the mace. It is mellower and less spicy than the fresh rhizome. You can use it in some of the same applications that require mace, but it may stand out if mace was the main flavor.
Pumpkin spice contains nutmeg, which may make it an effective substitute in some applications, but it is more intense than mace. You will have to use about half of the amount required for mace in a given recipe.
Cardamom has a mint and citrus quality to its flavor profile that will work in some dishes that require mace. Keep in mind that cardamom is much stronger than mace and is often expensive.