9 Top Alternatives to Cloves for Your Cooking Needs

Are you out of cloves in your pantry? Keep reading to uncover 9 remarkable alternatives! Delve into our comprehensive guide to find the best clove substitute to suit your culinary needs.

Are you out of cloves in your pantry? Keep reading to uncover 9 remarkable alternatives! Delve into our comprehensive guide to find the best clove substitute to suit your culinary needs.

Cloves are renowned for their quintessential holiday flavor. They’re a staple in creating sweet and savory festive beverages, adding a special touch to Christmas hams, and even used in home decorations during the winter holidays.

Running out of this spice doesn’t mean you can’t replicate its distinct flavor, though challenging, it’s certainly achievable.

Continue reading to explore the top alternatives to cloves.

The Best Substitute for Cloves: 9 Superb Options

We’re delving into nine prime substitutes for cloves, including allspice, pumpkin spice, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, mace, white and black peppercorns, star anise, and five-spice powder.

First on the list, allspice.

1. Allspice

Allspice, often deemed the top alternative to cloves, typically blends several spices, including ground cloves.

It shares a strong aroma with cloves but with a more intense punch. It’s ideal for snickerdoodles, apple pies, tomato marinades, split pea soup, and apple spice cake.

Substitute cloves with allspice using a 1:1 ratio, though you can increase the allspice for a richer flavor.

Next, let’s explore pumpkin spice.

2. Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin spice is a well-rounded replacement for cloves, containing ground cloves within its blend. It adds a signature pumpkin flavor but doesn’t overpower most recipes.

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting pumpkin spice for cloves. It’s perfect for creamy pumpkin soup or pear pumpkin tartine. Consider adding a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg to balance the pumpkin taste.

Now, let’s discuss nutmeg.

3. Nutmeg

Nutmeg, with its warm, nutty, and sweet attributes, is an excellent clove substitute.

For ground clove replacement, use an equal amount of ground nutmeg.

It pairs well with spices like cinnamon or cardamom. Be cautious with its potent flavor – start with half the amount your recipe calls for, adjusting to taste.

Up next, cardamom.

4. Cardamom

Cardamom, available in ground or pod form, is a splendid clove alternative, known for its slightly herbal and citrusy notes, suitable for both sweet and savory dishes.

Substitute cloves with cardamom in a 1:1 ratio. It also pairs well with nutmeg or cinnamon for a more robust clove-like flavor.

Next, let’s focus on cinnamon.

5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon pairs well with cloves in various recipes, making it an apt substitute.

It’s suitable for desserts, stews, and even coffee. You can use ground cinnamon as a 1:1 replacement for ground cloves, enhancing the recipe’s sweetness and warmth.

Let’s consider mace next.

6. Mace

Mace, derived from the outer layer of nutmeg, is another feasible substitute for cloves.

Its flavor profile is milder than cloves, but with a similar warm and sweet essence. Use mace in a 1:1 ratio for clove substitution in both sweet and savory dishes.

Next, white and black peppercorns.

7. White and Black Peppercorns

White and black peppercorns are less common substitutes but can mimic cloves’ spicy kick.

They’re ideal for savory dishes like marinades, gravies, and meat rubs. Use finely ground peppercorns in a 1:1 ratio for ground cloves.

Star anise is up next.

8. Star Anise

Star anise offers a similar licorice-like flavor to cloves, making it a suitable alternative.

It works best in slow-cooked dishes, giving a mild, sweet taste. Replace cloves with star anise in a 1:1 ratio, especially in stews or braised meat recipes.

Finally, five-spice powder.

9. Five-Spice Powder

Five-spice powder is a versatile blend containing cloves, which makes it a fantastic alternative.

It’s commonly used in Asian cuisine, bringing a balance of sweet, sour, bitter, and umami flavors to dishes.

Use it in a 1:1 ratio when substituting for cloves, ideal for marinades, rubs, and sauces.


Choosing the right substitute for cloves depends on the recipe and desired flavor profile. Experiment with these nine alternatives to find your perfect match, and don’t be afraid to blend them for a customized spice mix.

Remember, the key to a successful substitution lies in balancing flavors to achieve the desired outcome. Happy cooking!

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