Nutmeg powder is a popular spice used in both sweet and savory dishes. Its warm, slightly sweet flavor lends well to baked goods, custards, stews, and more.
However, you may find yourself without nutmeg powder when a recipe calls for it. Thankfully, there are several excellent nutmeg powder substitutes you likely have on hand.
Best Nutmeg Powder Substitutes
Mace is the closest match for nutmeg powder. It comes from the dried aril or seed covering of the nutmeg seed.
Mace boasts an almost identical flavor to nutmeg. It has the same nutty, slightly sweet, and warm taste. Either spice can replace the other 1:1 in any recipe.
However, mace is more expensive and harder to find than nutmeg powder. Check specialty spice stores if you don't see it in the supermarket.
2. Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pumpkin pie spice makes an excellent nutmeg powder substitute. This blend contains cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and other spices associated with pumpkin pie.
With nutmeg as one of the ingredients, pumpkin pie spice offers a similar warming flavor. Use it 1:1 in place of nutmeg powder in desserts, breads, and beverages.
Contrary to its name, allspice comes from just one ingredient - the dried berry of the Pimenta dioica tree.
With its mixture of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavors, allspice suits both sweet and savory dishes as a replacement for nutmeg powder.
Use equal amounts of allspice in any recipe calling for nutmeg powder. Its flavor won't be exact, but it offers a comparable warming effect.
4. Apple Pie Spice
Like pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice contains nutmeg and doubles as a substitute. This blend also includes cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and sometimes allspice.
For sweet baked goods, apple pie spice makes a quality nutmeg powder alternative. Use it 1:1 in cookies, cakes, and pies.
Since this blend leans heavily on the cinnamon, start with about half the nutmeg powder amount. You can add more apple pie spice to taste.
Cinnamon is one of the most readily available nutmeg powder substitutes. You can find it in both stick and ground form in any grocery store.
Cinnamon brings warm sweetness to dishes. However, it's more pungent than nutmeg powder. Use about half the amount of cinnamon in any recipe calling for nutmeg.
For savory foods like stews, chilies, and potatoes, use a light hand with cinnamon. It can easily overwhelm other flavors.
Though different than nutmeg powder, cardamom makes a sensible substitute when used sparingly.
This spice features a warm, citrusy, and slightly sweet flavor. Its aroma is strong, so a little cardamom goes a long way.
For nutmeg powder, start with just a pinch or 1/8 teaspoon of cardamom per 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder. Slowly add more if needed.
Cardamom best suits sweeter recipes like custards, cakes, and holiday drinks. Avoid using too much cardamom in savory dishes.
7. Ground Cloves
Ground cloves lend a sweet, peppery flavor and aroma to recipes. Their warmth mimics nutmeg powder but cloves also have a spicy bite.
For baked goods, use about 1/2 teaspoon cloves in place of 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder. Cloves quickly become overpowering.
In savory cooking, start with just 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves for 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder. Cloves complement meats and root vegetables nicely.
8. Garam Masala
With its mixture of spices, garam masala offers complexity similar to nutmeg powder. It lacks nutmeg's sweetness but provides comparable warmth.
Use garam masala 1:1 in place of nutmeg powder in savory recipes. It pairs well with meats, lentils, and vegetables.
Nutmeg Powder Substitute for Baking
When baking, cinnamon makes the best replacement for nutmeg powder. Its sweet flavor suits most baked goods.
For 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder, use 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and add more to taste. Allspice also works well for baking, substituting 1:1 for nutmeg powder.
Start with 1/4 teaspoon cardamom or cloves for every 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder called for in baking recipes. Slowly add more as needed.
Pumpkin or apple pie spice offer additional baking-friendly nutmeg powder substitutes. Use them 1:1 in place of nutmeg in all types of baked goods.
Key Takeaway: For baking, cinnamon, allspice, pumpkin pie spice, and apple pie spice make excellent nutmeg powder substitutes.
Nutmeg Powder Substitute for Eggnog
Warm, creamy eggnog needs nutmeg powder's sweet flavor and fragrance. Cinnamon or allspice make suitable substitutes.
Use 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 teaspoon allspice for every 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder. Add the spices directly to the eggnog and garnish with extra on top.
For variety, use a dash of cloves or cardamom instead of nutmeg powder. Their flavors will differ but still complement eggnog's richness nicely.
Key Takeaway: For eggnog, substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 teaspoon allspice for 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder. Cloves and cardamom also work.
Substitute for Nutmeg Powder in Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin pie spice is the ideal nutmeg powder substitute for pumpkin pie. With its blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg, it offers the classic flavors we associate with pumpkin pie.
Replace nutmeg powder 1:1 with pumpkin pie spice in any pumpkin pie recipe.
Alternatively, use 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ginger for every 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder called for in pumpkin pie.
Key Takeaway: For pumpkin pie, use a 1:1 substitution of pumpkin pie spice or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ginger for 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder.
Nutmeg Powder Substitute for Custards
Nutmeg powder adds warmth and fragrance to creamy custards. For a quality nutmeg powder substitute in custards, use:
- Mace - 1:1 ratio
- Allspice - 1:1 ratio
- Cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon for every 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder
- Pumpkin pie spice - 1:1 ratio
Sprinkle extra mace, cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice over the tops of custards or puddings for garnish in place of nutmeg powder.
Key Takeaway: Mace, allspice, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice make suitable nutmeg powder substitutes for custards.
Nutmeg Powder Substitute FAQs
What can I use nutmeg powder for in baking?
Nutmeg powder enhances many baked goods:
- Cakes: Spice cakes, carrot cake, red velvet cake
- Cookies: Snickerdoodles, gingerbread cookies, shortbread
- Pies: Pumpkin, sweet potato, custard, apple
- Breads: Banana bread, zucchini bread, pumpkin bread
- Pastries: Bear claws, croissants, creampuffs
For all these recipes, cinnamon, allspice, mace, or a spice blend like pumpkin pie spice can sub for nutmeg powder.
Is freshly grated nutmeg better than ground nutmeg powder?
Yes, freshly grated nutmeg has a stronger, more complex flavor compared to pre-ground nutmeg powder.
When grated from a whole nutmeg seed, the volatile oils are released providing nuanced fragrance and taste. Pre-ground nutmeg loses some oomph.
However, nutmeg powder is still an excellent spice. It provides convenience, allowing bakers to quickly measure out what they need.
What is a good nutmeg powder substitute for bechamel sauce?
For a warm, creamy bechamel sauce, use 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 teaspoon mace in place of 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder.
Allspice also substitutes well, swapping in at a 1:1 ratio. For a more savory flavor, use 1 teaspoon garam masala instead of nutmeg powder.
Can I use apple pie spice as a substitute for nutmeg powder in mac and cheese?
Yes, apple pie spice makes a solid nutmeg powder substitute for macaroni and cheese. It provides fragrance and warmth from its blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and other spices.
Use a 1:1 ratio of apple pie spice in place of nutmeg powder called for in mac and cheese recipes. Pumpkin pie spice also works well.
Nutmeg powder provides unique fragrance and a subtle sweetness that enhances both savory dishes and baked goods. When you run out, viable nutmeg powder substitutes like cinnamon, mace, and pumpkin pie spice can work in a pinch.
Spice blends containing nutmeg offer an easy alternative with built-in flavor complexity. Spices like allspice, cloves, and cardamom also make sensible substitutes when used carefully and in moderation.