What usually comes to mind when one hears of allspice is a mixture of different spices. But allspice is actually a spice on its own and is made from the whole, unripe allspice berry. Unlike most spices, this ingredient is versatile and can be used in desserts and savory dishes. It is most commonly known for recipes like spice cake. So it shouldn’t be surprising if you ran out of allspice at home, considering how much of a versatile ingredient it is. But worry not! If you find yourself in a pinch, there should be an allspice substitute that you can whip up at home that should be easy to find and make.
You’d be glad to learn that some spices can stand in for your missing allspice ingredient. Although some can’t perfectly replicate its flavor, we believe these spices can capture some of the flavor notes you need in a dish.
With that being said, below is a list of substitutes for allspice you might already have in your pantry as well as how to use them and what dishes you should try it with.
What Is Allspice?
The allspice berry comes from the Pimenta dioica tree that’s native to Jamaica. But it’s also grown in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and other tropical climates. That is why allspice is also known as Jamaican pepper and myrtle pepper, to name a few.
Considered as a magic spice, allspice has a strong, spicy, and overpowering peppery taste that can be startling when you sample it for the first time. Not only is it strong in taste, but its aroma is quite overwhelming too. And despite not being a mix of different spices, it does contain flavor notes of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, as well as aftertastes of pepper and ginger. Thus, the story behind the nickname ‘magic spice’.
Even though allspice is native to Jamaica, it is also used in several cuisines such as Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Latin American, and Western cuisine. And it flavors several kinds of dishes as well. We mentioned earlier how it can be added to desserts and savory dishes. However, it also flavors several kinds of beverages like this mulled cider recipe.
10 Best Substitutes For Allspice
Running out of this magic spice can be a bother especially if you’re in the middle of making your delectable baked custard with allspice. However, fuss-free and easy alternatives may be in your pantry already. And so, we’ve compiled a list of allspice substitutes you can use in place of this magic spice!
Five Spice Powder (Chinese Five Spice)
Five spice powder (otherwise known as Chinese five spice) can also be used to substitute allspice in some recipes. So what exactly is five spice? It is a blend of five or more different spices significant in Chinese cuisine (though it’s also a staple in Hawaiian and Vietnamese cuisine). Mainly, these are cinnamon, fennel, cloves, star anise, and either ginger or Szechuan peppercorn.
Five spice is warm, earthy, and strong in taste. But it also has a spicy-sweet flavor that’s absent in allspice. That’s because five spice has all five flavors in the traditional Chinese cuisine (sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami). For this reason, it’s best to use it for recipes with savory and sweet flavor notes like in Tuscan-style spare ribs.
To use this as a substitute for ground allspice, use equal parts five spice for every teaspoon of allspice as indicated in the recipe. That should be enough to dupe and replicate some of the allspice’s flavor notes.
DIY Spice Blend (Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Clove)
By this time we already established that allspice is spice on its own. But while allspice is not a blend, we can still easily replicate its flavor from a combination of spices already in your pantry! If you have some cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, then you’re in luck. These three are the dominant flavors you experience when you taste allspice, so there should be no qualms about trying this alternative.
To make this super easy spice blend, simply mix 3½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg, and a pinch of clove. Adding this DIY spice blend should be easy and fuss-free, just add 1:1 replacement for every ground allspice the recipe is calling for.
British Mixed Spice
Like the Chinese five spice, British mixed spice is a blend of different spices. And you may have guessed already that it’s a spice more commonly used in the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth countries. This spice typically includes a balanced ratio of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, coriander, and allspice.
Since it’s just a blend of sweet spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, this alternative won’t give you much versatility like allspice and Chinese five spice does. However, its warm and spicy-sweet tastes are enough to use as an alternative for some dishes. It’s also similar to gingerbread and pumpkin spice blends. So if you run out of those too, you can also use this to stand in for them.
With this in mind, you will yield better results if you use this ground allspice substitute for desserts like this delectable honey cake. Just use an equal amount of British mixed spice in place of ground allspice and you’re good to go!
Whole Allspice Berries
Before turning your pantry upside down looking for the best allspice substitute, you may have to ask yourself first if you got whole allspice berries lying somewhere. Ground allspice is a by-product of the dried whole allspice berries, so naturally, you can also use it to replace ground ones. Simply use your handy spice grinder and just like that, you can now make your favorite bread pudding just in time for breakfast!
We all know cinnamon and it’s very likely that you also have this in your pantry. Plus, we did say one of the major flavor profiles of allspice is cinnamon, so why not use it as an allspice substitute? But since it’s just one of the original spices’ flavor components, we suggest you use this for recipes that have both allspice and cinnamon in them, like this breakfast bread pudding.
To use cinnamon as a replacement, just put a little more of what the recipe says to give it more kick. You may also add a pinch of black pepper for recipes that need a peppery bite.
This is another spice that’s popular in most households and can easily be found either ground or whole. Nutmeg is good for both savory and sweet recipes. But keep in mind that nutmeg has a nutty flavor that’s also warm and aromatic. Although, it still lacks the peppery kick that allspice has. Still, it does have some hints of clove. So if you’re planning on using allspice for something sweet and nutty like this wild rice with cranberries and nuts, then this allspice substitute will work out nicely.
For nutmeg, a little goes a long way. Start by putting half of the nutmeg for every teaspoon of ground allspice.
Aside from cinnamon and nutmeg, you’ll also find one good allspice substitute with ground cloves. They’re sweet and extremely aromatic yet still lack the same peppery kick that allspice has. Simply compensate by adding a pinch or two of pepper for savory dishes. To employ cloves in place of allspice, cut the number of cloves in half per teaspoon of allspice in the recipe. Also, note that it also has a subtle taste of bitterness and acidity that’s perfect for mulled cider and anything acidic in taste.
Pumpkin Pie Spice
If you’re going to use allspice for anything pumpkin-related, then your best option is pumpkin pie spice! It has all you need to make a pumpkin dump cake. It has spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. But you can also use this for savory dishes. All you have to do is add pepper and you’re all set. For this one, you can use an equal amount of allspice as indicated in the ingredient list.
Before using star anise as an allspice substitute, you might want to consider its taste and aroma. Star anise has a very distinctive smell that can effortlessly overwhelm you and your dish. It also has a very strong flavor that tastes like sweet licorice with warm and spicy undertones. If you don’t like this characteristic smell, then you might want to consider other options.
Otherwise, it’s best to use star anise for dishes that already have a licorice and anise flavors like curries, stews, and marinades. But it also goes well with cloves and nutmeg-like in this easy grilled jerk chicken. Add it little by little and adjust according to your taste to avoid overwhelming the dish with a strong anise flavor.
Apple Pie Spice
If you do not have all of the previous replacements lying around, you may also use apple pie spice as a last resort. Like pumpkin spice, apple pie spice has cinnamon and nutmeg that’s more suitable for desserts and beverages. You can try making apple spiced iced tea first before moving on to making cakes.
For this alternative, you can use the exact quantity of apple pie spice for every allspice the recipe asks for.
Use These Allspice Substitutes for Your Dishes
You’ll be surprised how easy it is to replace allspice with spices you already have in your pantry. The key to using these allspice substitutes is to know what combinations you need for your dishes.