Spice Substitutions Chart

Essential Flavors You Can Fake at Home

Piles of spices
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Spices have a long and storied history in cultures around the world. The trade of spices from Asia into Europe created one of the most significant cultural interchanges in history. Cuisines are profoundly influenced by the spices common to a region, or they are favored from longstanding trade routes. What would Indian cooking be without cardamom pods or Jamaican recipes be without the many-flavored kick of allspice? However, sometimes a home cook must substitute for a spice in a recipe, either because of an unexpected shortage of the called-for spice or because of a personal dislike of a specific ingredient. Picking the right substitute can be challenging.

Spice Substitutions

This chart will help you choose substitutions or alternatives that work with your recipe. The flavor will not be as originally intended in the recipe, but the selected flavors should harmonize or hint at the original. Even so, the wise cook begins a substitution with just half the specified recipe amount. Taste as you go and then adjust as needed. 

  • Allspice - substitute cinnamon, cassia, a dash of nutmeg or mace, or a dash of cloves
  • Aniseed - substitute fennel seed, a few drops of anise extract or anise stars
  • Apple Pie Spice - substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg plus 1/8 teaspoon cardamom plus 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice for 1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice
  • Cajun Spice - substitute equal parts white pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne and onion powder
  • Cardamom - substitute ginger
  • Chili powder - substitute a dash of bottled hot pepper sauce plus a combination of oregano and cumin
  • Cinnamon - substitute nutmeg or allspice (use only 1/4 the recipe amount of allspice) 
  • Cloves - substitute allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Coriander - substitute ground caraway seed or cumin
  • Cumin - substitute chili powder
  • Ginger - substitute allspice, cinnamon, mace or nutmeg
  • Mace - substitute allspice, cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg
  • Mustard - substitute wasabi powder (using only 1/4 to 1/2 as much as the recipe calls for since it is hotter), horseradish powder, or dry mustard powder using the equivalent 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder = 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • Nutmeg - substitute cinnamon, ginger or mace
  • Poultry Seasoning - substitute sage plus a dash of marjoram, thyme, and black pepper
  • Saffron - substitute a dash of turmeric or annatto powder for color
  • Turmeric - substitute a dash of saffron for color plus ground mustard powder using a 1-to-1 ratio or use annatto powder