Are you excited to try out a Caribbean recipe but don’t have allspice on hand? If your local supermarket has also run out of allspice or you simply don’t have the time to make a quick trip to the store, you can consider using an allspice substitute.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options when it comes to finding a substitute for allspice. But before we get to what you should do when allspice is not available, let’s first learn a little bit about this popular spice:
Allspice is one of the most commonly used spices that is used to season sauces, side dishes, main courses, desserts, and drinks. It’s a staple in Caribbean cuisine, as well as Middle Eastern and Latin American dishes, among others.
While its name may give the idea that it’s a blend of spices, it’s actually a single spice that comes from the dried berries of the allspice tree. The tree goes by the scientific name of Pimenta dioica and is native to Jamaica, Mexico, Central America and the Greater Antilles.
The berries look like peppercorns and are consumed as whole berries or ground spice. Whole berries are used in soups, stews, pickles, etc. Ground spice is used as a popular seasoning in desserts, such as spice cakes, pumpkin pie, gingerbread syrup, and sauces like Jamaican jerk sauce, apple butter, and more.
What Does Allspice Taste Like?
Allspice has an aromatic, warm, slightly sweet, and peppery taste. It has hints of juniper, nutmeg, and peppercorn. The taste is quite powerful, so you only need to add a small quantity of it to a savory or sweet dish.
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How People Use Allspice
Allspice can be used for cooking and baking. You can add whole berries to meat recipes, such as beef stew. You can either add them raw or roast for a few minutes over a cast-iron skillet before using them in your seasoning mix.
Ground allspice is used to season meat, vegetables, and baked goods. The Jamaican jerk chicken is one of the most popular Caribbean recipes that use ground allspice as a key ingredient. If you’re looking to enhance the flavor of sautéed vegetables, you can add about a quarter teaspoon of ground allspice. It works well with string beans, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and collard greens.
Substitutes for Allspice
Here are some allspice substitutes that you can easily find or prepare at home in times of emergency.
1. Ground Cloves
Ground cloves are one of the best allspice substitutes because of their sharp flavor. You can easily substitute allspice with ground cloves in casseroles, curries, and drinks, such as mulled wine. However, ground cloves have a stronger taste than all-spice so you should use less of them.
For example, if a recipe calls for a teaspoon of allspice, use half a teaspoon of ground cloves.
2. Pumpkin Spice
You can easily find pumpkin spice blends at your local grocery store even when it’s not the holiday season. This blend contains allspice, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon and can work as a fantastic allspice substitute.
You can use it in the same amount as the recipe requires for allspice.
3. The Best Allspice Substitute
If you’re looking for an allspice substitute that is closest to the original allspice flavor, you can prepare a blend of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Combine equal parts of ground nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.
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This blend is also a 1:1 substitute for allspice.
4. Combination of Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Mace and Black Peppercorn
A combination of the ground version of these spices can also be used as an allspice substitute.
Some Useful Tips
- When using a blend of spices to substitute for allspice, always prepare it at the time of use, otherwise, it will lose its flavor. If you do prepare it well in advance, store it in an airtight container made of glass.
- If you are using ground allspice for a recipe with whole berries, you can take ¼ to ½ teaspoon of ground allspice to substitute 6 whole berries. If ground allspice is not available, you can use any of the above-mentioned allspice substitutes.
- You may remove nutmeg from the nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon blend if it’s not available. Instead, use equal parts of ground cloves and cinnamon.
Allspice is a must-have in any Caribbean kitchen. Its strong, sweet-spicy taste adds a wonderful flavor to a variety of dishes. However, if you don’t have allspice available with you, you can still enjoy Caribbean cuisine using an allspice substitute.