What’s A Good Substitute for Cloves?

There are many popular recipes out there that call for cloves. With a powerful and distinctive flavor, this potent spice is often the one key component that gives a dish the boost it needs to go from ordinary to extraordinary. There comes a time in the life of every home chef when an ingredient is either overlooked on the recipe list or you think you have it only to realize (too late!) that you’re all out. Luckily, even the most casual of cooks most likely keep at least one spice on hand that can make a great substitute for cloves. Let’s review your best options.

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03/28/2024 06:07 am GMT

Table of Contents

Your best bet: Nutmeg

Out of all the possible substitutes for cloves, nutmeg is typically your best option. It is similarly aromatic with a wonderful and unique taste that is very similar to that of cloves when added to a dish.

Just like with allspice, all you need to do is add an amount of nutmeg equal to the number of cloves called for in your recipe. Nutmeg is ideal for all varieties of dishes, making a wonderful substitute for cloves in sweet dishes as well as savory.

–> Learn More: Nutmeg Vs. Cloves – How Do They Compare?

A decent second choice: Allspice

If you have allspice on hand, this is one of the top options for a cloves substitute. In order to use this substitute, simply add allspice to your dish in the same amount of cloves that your recipe calls for.

Allspice does have its own unique flavor profile, so be conscious of the difference in taste if you choose to use this substitution. For example, desserts often work better with a different substitute, as allspice has hints of black pepper that won’t necessarily complement your sweets.

–> Learn More: Allspice Vs. Cloves – How Do They Compare?

In a pinch: Cinnamon

If you don’t keep either nutmeg or allspice, cinnamon can work as a cloves substitute in a pinch. On its own, cinnamon has more spice and less sweetness than the other possible substitutes, so depending on what type of dish you’re cooking, you might need to add another ingredient to create the right flavor.

Vanilla and cinnamon work well together, particularly in desserts. Again, the amount of cinnamon (or the total amount of cinnamon plus vanilla or the ingredient of your choice) should be equal to the amount of cloves that your recipe specifies.

–> Learn More: Cloves Vs. Cinnamon – How Do They Compare?

Other Alternatives

In lieu of allspice, nutmeg, or cinnamon, cardamom is another spice that can be used in some dishes to stand in for cloves. If you’ve got just about everything but cloves, any combination of the spices listed above can be used as a substitute. In fact, you might find that the flavor you achieve is actually better than that of cloves alone!

Of course, there’s always the chance that your whole spice rack is looking a bit bare. Even if this is the case, don’t panic! When all else fails, most dishes will turn out just fine without the addition of cloves or a suitable substitution.