I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of allspice substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
The best substitute for allspice is a mix of equal parts ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. If you can only use one spice, go for cloves. You can also use ready-mixed pumpkin or apple pie spice, but these are more cinnamon forward.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made small batches of plain sugar cookies to test out several different allspice substitutes.
Despite the name, allspice isn’t a blend of spices – it’s actually made from the dried berries of an allspice tree. It boasts a warm, sweet flavor with subtle peppery notes and a matching aroma.
It’s typically used alongside other warming spices like cinnamon in desserts but is also a mainstay in savory recipes from Jamaican, Middle Eastern, and Swedish cuisines.
Allspice flavor is one-of-a-kind, so there’s no perfect substitute for it. But I did find a few decent alternatives.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Ground cinnamon + ground cloves + ground nutmeg||Mix in equal quantities||8/10|
|Ground cloves + pinch of black pepper||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Pumpkin spice||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Apple pie spice||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Chai blend||Replace with 3/4 the amount||9/10|
|Five-spice powder||Replace with 3/4 the amount||8/10|
|Whole allspice berries (and vice versa)||1 tsp pre ground = 3/4 tsp freshly ground||10/10|
Common uses of allspice
Here are some common ways to use allspice and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For baking: A trio of ground cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg is the best substitute for allspice in baking. Ready-made spice blends like pumpkin, apple pie, or chai spice also work in a pinch.
- For spice blends: Grinding whole allspice berries is the best substitute for the ground version in spice blends. You can also use a combo of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg with a pinch of black pepper.
- For sauces and gravies: Try using five-spice powder or a combo of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and a pinch of pepper. In a pinch you can just use cloves.
Ground cinnamon + cloves + nutmeg
Allspice’s flavor is often described as a combination of these three spices, so this blend is a no-brainer substitute.
The mix has a familiar sweet, warming flavor.
I usually follow this recipe on Food.com, which combines equal parts of ground cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. But you can adjust the ratios to your liking, I went for slightly more cinnamon because I LOVE cinnamon.
If you’re a keen cook and baker, chances are you’ll already have these spices in your pantry, which makes this option super convenient too.
How to substitute: replace ground allspice in a 1:1 ratio with a blend of equal parts ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg.
Cloves + black pepper
Not got all three of those spices?
If you want one-for-one substitute, cloves are your best option.
And an easy tip I found while digging through the forums is to mix the cloves with a pinch of black pepper.
Cloves already have allspice’s warm, sweet notes, but adding black pepper gives them that slightly woody flavor.
I didn’t add much because I was making a sweet dish (cookies), but it’s definitely a good call if you’re making a savory sauce or marinade.
For best results, use ground cloves in the place of ground allspice and whole cloves to replace whole allspice berries.
How to substitute: replace ground allspice in a 1:1 ratio with a mix of ground cloves and black pepper.
Not in the mood for blending spices? Try a ready-made pumpkin spice blend instead.
It starts with the same cinnamon-clove-nutmeg trio, but it’s much heavier on the cinnamon and also has a decent amount of ginger.
The ginger helps balance out the cinnamon, and also adds a subtle heat.
Using pumpkin spice as a substitute is a no-brainer for desserts.
But if you plan on using it for more savory dishes, try adding a pinch of ground black pepper to cut through the sweetness.
How to substitute: replace ground allspice in a 1:1 ratio with pumpkin spice.
Apple pie spice
This is another ready-made spice blend you can use in place of allspice for your desserts.
The ingredients in my apple pie spice mix (from McCormick) are: cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
With allspice in the ingredients list, this had to be a substitute option! But again, it was very cinnamon-forward which masked the allspice’s peppery notes.
Lots of homemade apple pie spice include cardamom, which I thought was a great idea if you don’t want the sweetness to be overwhelming.
Cardamom in cookies is the best.
How to substitute: replace ground allspice in a 1:1 ratio with apple pie spice.
Chai spice blend
Chai is a unique flavor that’s hard to describe, so I asked a few friends to try.
Answers ranged from ‘sweet and spicy’, to ‘like a bold gingerbread’ and ‘kind of like cinnamon… I don’t really know’.
It’s not an exact flavor match for allspice, but gave my cookies the same warmth and complexity that allspice provides.
And bonus, I had loads left over for making chai lattes!
Tip: not everyone likes the taste of chai, so maybe do a test run before you commit to making lots of food with it.
How to substitute: replace ground allspice with 3/4 the amount of chai spice (to account for the different in flavor)
Five-spice is a staple seasoning in Chinese cuisine that makes for a solid alternative to allspice.
It has the same warming sweetness, thanks to the familiar base of cinnamon and cloves.
But there’s lots of bold additions like Sichuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, and star anise. The Sichuan peppercorns are citrusy and spicy. While the fennel seeds and star anise add a aniseed flavor.
This substitute is best in savory dishes, but this doesn’t mean you can’t use it in desserts.
It tasted great in my cookies, but I did up the vanilla essence by a few drops to make sure it didn’t get lost.
How to substitute: replace ground allspice with 3/4 the amount of five-spice (to make sure it doesn’t overwhelm your dish).
Can I use whole allspice berries instead of ground?
You can easily swap whole allspice berries for the ground version and vice versa.
If your recipe calls for ground allspice and you only have the whole version, you can use a spice grinder to crush the berries into a powder.
Freshly-ground allspice will be more potent than the pre-ground stuff, so you’ll want to use around 3/4 of the amount called for.
You can also use ground allspice instead of whole berries (in most recipes… use your own judgement if you think it will work or not). 6 whole allspice berries are equivalent to 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice.
How to substitute: grind the allspice berries into a powder and use 3/4 the amount.
Other substitutes to consider
The suggestions listed above are my top picks for allspice substitutes, but they’re not the only options!
Here are other alternatives you can try in place of allspice:
- Nutmeg – nutmeg is one of the main flavors in allspice so you can use it as a substitute in a pinch. The overall flavor of my cookies was much more one-dimensional, but I also didn’t get any complaints.
- Cinnamon – like nutmeg, cinnamon is one of the main ingredients in allspice and so it will work fine as a replacement.
- Mace – no, this is not the self-defense tool! It’s nutmeg’s spice-sibling and shares the warm, sweet flavor with a bitter-floral note. This spice has a subtler flavor than allspice, so it’s a good option if you want something milder.
Substitutes to avoid
I saw one blog suggesting all the spices under the sun as substitute options for allspice, but they clearly hadn’t tested them!
One of the worse suggestions was star anise. Star anise has a very pronounced liquorice flavor that’s nothing like allspice and probably won’t go with the other flavors in your dish.
Best Allspice Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon + ground cloves + ground nutmeg equal quantities
- 1 tsp ground cloves + black pepper pinch of black pepper
- 1 tsp pumpkin spice
- 1 tsp apple spice
- 3/4 tsp chai spice blend
- 3/4 tsp five-spice powder
- 24 whole allspice berries
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen ground allspice substitutes at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.