The 7 Best Substitutes for Nutmeg

But one swap-out spice stands above the rest

Nutmeg Substitute
Nutmeg Substitute. Juan Silva/Getty Images

Are you cooking a recipe and find that you've run out of that all-important spice, nutmeg? Don't fret. Save yourself a trip to the store, and don't let a lack of nutmeg keep you from completing that special recipe. There are seven perfectly adequate spices that you can swap out for nutmeg in a pinch—but one stands out above the rest. Read on to learn the best substitute for nutmeg as well as six other spices that will also work.

Best Bet: Mace

This is the closest and best substitute for nutmeg. Mace is actually the outer membrane that surrounds nutmeg before it's harvested, so it shares a lot of the same flavors. Replace the nutmeg in your recipe with an equal amount of mace. But, if your pantry lacks this special spice, there are six other substitutes that will do the trick.

Garam Masala

This is a spice blend that is commonly used in Indian, Pakistani, and other Asian cuisines. The ingredients vary, but a typical recipe includes mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves, so it makes a good substitute for nutmeg. Since garam masala also typically includes peppercorns, bay leaves, and cumin, this substitute works best in savory dishes. Replace it measure for measure.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

This fall favorite is a blend of nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cinnamon. So, if you use it as a substitute, you'll be getting some actual nutmeg into your recipe, plus several other spices that work well as a nutmeg substitute.

It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes with good results. Replace the nutmeg called for with an equal amount of pumpkin pie spice.

Cinnamon

You can use cinnamon as a replacement for nutmeg in both sweet and savory recipes. It has a similar flavor profile, but it's a bit more pungent, so start by using half as much, and taste to determine if you need to add more.

Allspice

The English thought this spice tasted like a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, so they named it allspice. That flavor profile makes it a good choice for a nutmeg substitute. Use an equal amount of allspice in place of the nutmeg called for in your recipe.

Ginger

This root has a spicier bite than nutmeg, but it tends to work well in the types of recipes that nutmeg is used in. Since it lacks a sweet side, you'll find it works best as a replacement for savory dishes. Replace the nutmeg called for with an equal amount of ground ginger in meat and vegetable dishes.

Ground Cloves

Cloves have a sweet, spicy, peppery flavor that goes nicely with nutmeg. For this reason, you'll often see recipes that call for both. If you don't have nutmeg, you can use ground cloves instead. Just know that a little goes a long way. Half as much cloves should get the job done. If the recipe you're working on already calls for cloves, consider using a different substitute. You definitely don't want to overdo the cloves.