Looking for clove substitutes? You’re in for a treat! Unlock these 4 best substitutes for cloves, from the sought-after allspice to the underrated cinnamon.
Cloves are a staple ingredient in every household’s kitchen cupboard or pantry—they’re just impossible not to have around.
The popular spice is primarily used to flavor meat, sauces, and rice dishes.
With a blend of nutmeg and cinnamon, cloves also work great in sweet dishes, especially in making the all-time fall favorite, pumpkin pie.
So if your recipe calls for the warm spice and you realize that you’re in short supply, don’t panic.
Here are some ingredients you can substitute for both whole and ground cloves in your recipes.
Check out #3—this substitute for clove is an underrated spice that offers a distinctive flavor in both sweet and savory recipes!
First things first, let’s talk about what cloves are.
Cloves refer to the flower buds of the clove tree, an evergreen plant also known as Syzygium aromaticum, native to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar.
Their name derives from the Latin word clavus, which means nail since the shape of a dried clove resembles small nails.
The flavor of cloves is subtly sweet with a spicy warmth undertone.
They come in both whole and ground form and can be found in the produce section in the grocery store.
This delicious spice is often used to season meat dishes like Christmas ham, add warm flavor to hot beverages, and rice-based recipes like rice pudding, to combine with other warm spices for baked goods.
It’s also considered one of the main ingredients in pumpkin pie spice and a staple aromatic in Middle eastern cuisine alongside star anise and allspice.
Short overview of cloves flavor
As mentioned, cloves feature a subtly sweet flavor, spicy warm taste, and intense aroma.
This flavor profile pairs well with sweet spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Cloves are also described as mildly spicy, but their sensation and spiciness usually won’t transfer to your recipes.
Subs and how to use them
If you’re running out of cinnamon or simply can’t stand the smell of cloves, here are the best clove substitutes you can rely on when you’re in a pinch.
Instructions: Replace one teaspoon of cloves with 1 teaspoon allspice
Commonly used in Jamaican and Middle Eastern cuisines, the flavor of allspice is peppery with complex flavors similar to cinnamon, nutmeg, black peppercorns, and cloves—this is why the aromatic spice gets its name.
Just like cloves, allspice adds its warm-tasting flavor to both sweet and savory dishes.
Moreover, the spice features eugenol, an aromatic compound found in cloves—making allspice the perfect substitute for cloves.
To use it as a substitute, use an equal amount of allspice that calls for cloves—meaning if your recipe calls for a teaspoon of whole cloves, replace it with a teaspoon of allspice instead.
Use the same ratio if you’re planning to use the condiment as a ground cloves substitute.
Looking for an ideal substitute for ground cloves? Don’t forget to add nutmeg to your list!
Nutmeg has a quite similar flavor to cloves, just milder, making the spice a great substitute for the ingredient.
If you heard the ingredient for the first time, nutmeg comes from the seed of an evergreen tree native to Indonesia and India.
It has a warm flavor and earthy plus nutty-sweet undertones.
The sweet seasoning is versatile and can be added not only in savory or sweet treats but also in festive drinks.
In your recipe, replace half a teaspoon of ground cloves for every teaspoon of nutmeg (ground).
Instructions: Use one teaspoon ground cinnamon (or whole) in every teaspoon of cloves. Combine with nutmeg if desired.
Another suitable substitute for clove is cinnamon.
The spice is derived from the inner bark of different tree species belonging to the genus Cinnamomum.
It’s also popular in Indian cuisine and used to add this distinctive spicy and sweet flavor in both sweet and savory recipes.
However, cinnamon isn’t as sweet as cloves, so you might consider combining it with nutmeg to imitate that sweet clove flavor.
Use equal amounts of cinnamon in place of cloves called in for your recipe, then add nutmeg if desired.
4. Pumpkin Pie Spice
Instructions: Start with small amounts and work your way up
Another great cloves replacement if you don’t have the ingredient in your spice rack is pumpkin pie spice.
It’s a spice mix that features a blend of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg.
Pumpkin pie spice isn’t just for making pie, it works best in savory recipes as well.
To use, start with small amounts and work your way up until you reach your desired taste.
Pro tip: If you’re planning to poke whole cloves into meats or oranges, but you don’t have the ingredient, unfortunately, there’s no substitution for this recipe, not even the ground cloves.
So visit your nearby grocery store and buy the real thing!
Whether they’re in ground or whole form, cloves are a well-known spice for many recipes across the globe.
Whether you happen to run out of the ingredient or simply don’t prefer its taste, the good news is there are plenty of spices that can take their place in your cooking or baking.
From using nutmeg to choosing pumpkin pie spice instead of ground clove, the possibilities of mimicking cloves’ taste (or look) are endless.
- 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
- Replace 1/2 teaspoon of cloves with 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg