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11 Best Substitutes For Cloves That You Can Find Easily At Home

Quick Answer: What Are The Cloves Substitute And How To Use Them?

Fortunately, the strong flavor profile of cloves can be easily substituted with a variety of other ingredients. Some of the best substitutes for cloves include nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cardamon, star anise, peppercorns, five-spice, pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, mace, and ground cloves instead of whole cloves.

In the majority of cases, these substitutes can be used in replacement for cloves in a 1:1 ratio, making them the easiest substitutes available.

If you’re wondering how to use these substitutes as a replacement for whole cloves in your recipe, read our guide to find out more.

Cloves are one of the most pivotal flavors of the holiday season. They are actually aromatic flower buds from the Syzygium aromaticum tree, which is a species native to the Indonesian Maluku Islands. 

The flower buds are small and spike-shaped, with a rounded top and a distinctive dark reddish-brown coloring.

What Are Cloves?

11 Best Substitutes For Cloves

Cloves are most famously known for their powerful flavor and aroma, featuring a spicy, sweet, and slightly bitter flavor. 

This spice can be found in a variety of savory and sweet dishes, as well as beverages. It comes either in whole pieces or ground and used in sauces, curries, pies, marinades, roast meat dinners, and more. 

Problem is, if you’re following a recipe that calls for cloves and you don’t have any in your cupboard (or if you don’t like cloves), you’ll need to find a suitable replacement. 

Here are the 11 best substitutes for cloves!

Nutritional Value Table

SubstitutesCalories (Per 100g)Protein (Per 100g)Fat (Per 100g)
Pumpkin Pie Spice3425.76g12.6g
Apple Pie Spice2652.4g12.5g
Five-Spice Powder282.810g9.1g
Star Anise33718g17g
Ground Cloves3235.98g20.07g

1. Nutmeg 


Nutmeg is a popular festive spice known for its warming, sweet, and slightly nutty flavor. The flavor is pretty similar to cloves, making it a great substitute if you don’t have cloves in your pantry. 

Nutmeg is typically a ground spice (though you can buy whole nutmegs) that derives from the nutmeg tree.

Its nuttiness and sweet profile makes this spice a great addition to pies, vegetables, sauces, desserts, meats, soups, cakes, and drinks. 

Thanks to the similarities in flavor, you can easily replace ground cloves for ground nutmeg with a 1:1 ratio.

Just make sure to use a little at a time, because ground nutmeg is a particularly flavorful spice that can be overpowering. 

How To Substitute

With a nutty, sweet, and warming flavor, nutmeg has become a popular choice to replace cloves. You would love the taste it gives to various recipes. It works great if you replace it in a 1:1 ratio.

2. Allspice 


Allspice tastes like a mixture of various spices, including nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, and cloves.

The fact that allspice tastes like cloves (among other spices), makes it a fantastic substitute for cloves in a recipe. Plus, because it tastes like other spices, allspice adds a bunch of flavors to any dish. 

Interestingly, allspice is actually the dried fruit of the allspice tree, and is most commonly used in Middle Eastern, Caribbean, and Latin American cuisines.

Allspice comes whole or ground and is typically used in baked goods, soups, stews, and for seasoning meats and vegetables. 

When using allspice as a substitute for cloves, you can use a ratio of 1:1. 

How To Substitute

With the mixture of four spices, including cloves, allspice can substitute cloves perfectly. They would work great if you replace them in a 1:1 ratio in plenty of dishes such as soups, stews, seasoning meats, etc.

3. Pumpkin Pie Spice 

Pumpkin Pie Spice 

Pumpkin pie spice is the epitome of fall flavors, because it’s a blend of the most warming spices – allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

As pumpkin pie spice contains cloves, you can easily use it as a replacement for ground cloves in a recipe. 

The mixture of these spices means that pumpkin pie spice tastes warming, mild, slightly earthy, and a little bit spicy.

It is most commonly used in desserts, pies (most notably pumpkin pie), breads, cakes, cookies, and even savory dishes. 

Thanks to the inclusion of cloves, pumpkin pie spice can be used as a substitute for cloves in a 1:1 ratio.

If you find that it tastes a little too much like pumpkin pie, you can always add a little more cinnamon or nutmeg. 

How To Substitute

Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. You can use the spice to add an aromatic flavor to your dishes or as a replacement for cloves in some recipes.

4. Apple Pie Spice 

Apple Pie Spice 

If you’ve got apple pie spice hiding in your kitchen, you might be able to use it as a substitute for ground cloves!

Apple pie spice is a mixture of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and sometimes allspice – but it doesn’t include cloves. 

So, while apple pie spice isn’t the best substitute for cloves in comparison to pumpkin pie spice, it’s still a good replacement, as it contains spices that are often used instead of cloves (such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and allspice).

As the name suggests, apple pie spice is most commonly used to flavor an apple pie, but it’s also a good secret ingredient in a range of savory and sweet dishes to provide a sweet, warming, and slightly spicy flavor. 

The best way to use apple pie spice as a substitute for cloves is in a 1:1 ratio.

If you’re worried about the flavor being slightly off, you can also add a little more cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or cardamom to better mimic the flavors of ground cloves. 

How To Substitute

While some may think that apple pie spice is a lesser version of cloves, the truth is that this is not the case. The apple pie spice has more flavor than cloves. In addition, there is no need to add cinnamon because apple pie spice has a nice touch of cinnamon. The product is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves ground into powder.

RELATED: 10 Of The Best Alternatives To Chinese Five-Spice To Use In Your Cooking!

5. Cinnamon 


Speaking of the iconic spice, cinnamon is another great substitute for cloves, as it is most commonly used as a complimentary spice for cloves and nutmeg.

Cinnamon is made from the interior bark of the cinnamon tree, and features a slightly spicy yet sweet and warming flavor. 

Cinnamon is popularly used to flavor a range of desserts and baked goods, but it’s also often included in drinks and savory dishes.

Only a small amount of cinnamon is needed because of its overpowering flavor profile. 

As cinnamon isn’t an overly sweet spice, it works as a close substitute for cloves, and can therefore be used as a replacement in a 1:1 ratio.

You can also pair it together with nutmeg for an even closer representation of ground cloves. 

How To Substitute

Cinnamon is a spice with a warm and sweet taste that is easy to substitute for cloves in recipes. You can use it for baking goods and as meat seasoning. Spice is commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine but can also be used in Indian and other international recipes.

6. Five-Spice Powder 

Five-spice Powder 

Five-spice is a popular Asian seasoning that consists of cinnamon, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel, and cloves.

The inclusion of these five spices means that five-spice has all five flavor profiles – sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami. 

Despite the name, some five-spice powders come with additional flavorings such as nutmeg, anise seeds, turmeric, and cardamom depending on the intention.

Five-spice is most commonly used in marinades and as a rubbing spice for meats and fish. 

As cloves are present in the making of five-spice, it makes sense to use five-spice as a substitute for cloves in a recipe. Just keep in mind that the inclusion of other spices will add other flavors, too. 

You can use five-spice as a substitute for ground cloves in a ratio of 1:1.

If you find that the flavor isn’t accurate enough, you can add small amounts of cinnamon or nutmeg to better mimic the flavor of ground cloves. 

How To Substitute

Five spice powder is a mixture of many spices that includes cloves and provides a bitter, umami, salty, and sweet taste. You may replace it in 1:1 quantity, but you should be ready for the other flavors in your dish since it combines other spices.

7. Peppercorns 


Despite coming from the same plant, both white and black peppercorns feature very different flavors, and both are great substitutes for cloves.

Peppercorns might not be quite as sweet as cloves or nutmeg, but they provide a nice earthiness and spice that works well in replacement for cloves. 

The key difference between white and black peppercorns is that black peppercorns are distinctly stronger and more spicy than white peppercorns, which are milder and more aromatic.

If you don’t want your dish to be too hot or overpowering, then you might want to use white peppercorns instead of their black counterpart. 

When using peppercorns instead of cloves in a recipe, you can use it as a 1:1 ratio. Plus, you can use either ground or whole peppercorns similarly to ground or whole cloves. 

How To Substitute

You can substitute cloves with Peppercorns in most recipes. The difference is that the Peppercorns can give your dishes a more spicy, peppery taste, while cloves are sweeter. Peppercorns are a popular spice that is perfect for adding to a recipe.

RELATED: The Best Alternatives To Annatto Powder For Flavor, Color, and Spice

8. Cardamom 


Cardamom is a spice typically used in Indian, Arabic, Middle Eastern, and Swedish cuisines.

It comes in either its original pod form, seeds, or ground. Cardamom comes from the seed pods of several plants belonging to the ginger family. 

As with the other spices on this list, cardamom is suitably flavorful and impactful, featuring a warm, sweet, and slightly spicy taste with tones of lemon or mint.

You can get either black or green cardamom, with green being the most common form found in grocery stores. Black cardamom is slightly smokier than its green counterpart. 

When using cardamom as a substitute for cloves, you can use it in a 1:1 ratio. Cardamom works well as a replacement for cloves in stews, soups, marinades, curries, drinks, desserts, and more. 

How To Substitute

Cardamom has a sweet, floral aroma that adds a touch of exotic to savory dishes. It’s also known for its digestive benefits and ability to help digestion. Cardamom is a key ingredient in Indian cuisine and a favorite of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. It works perfectly to substitute cloves.

9. Star Anise 

Star Anise 

Star anise is a star-shaped seed pod from the Illicium verum plant, with the pod containing roughly 8 seeds.

Both the pod and seeds are used either whole or ground in a variety of dishes, specifically in Chinese cooking

Star anise is similar in flavor to cloves thanks to its warm, strong, sweet, and suitably spicy taste that is also similar to licorice.

The sweetness of star anise works particularly well in savory dishes, including broths, stews, soups, and meats. 

Due to the likeness of star anise to cloves, it can be used as a decent substitute for cloves in a 1:1 ratio.

Keep in mind that whole star anise is bigger than a whole clove, however, so only use this ratio for ground star anise. 

How To Substitute

The Chinese five-spice mix uses star anise. This mixture of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, ginger, and star anise is a favorite in Asian dishes. You can substitute the star anise with the cloves. But you should be aware that it will give flavors of other spices too.

10. Mace 


Mace is a spice made from grounding the reddish coating of nutmeg seeds. It features a warming, spicy, sweet, and slightly woody flavor that tastes like a mixture between cinnamon and pepper. 

The combination of sweet, spicy, and earthy tones makes mace a good addition to a variety of savory dishes, including soups, meats, rice dishes, curries, sauces, and a range of baked goods and desserts.

It is a prominent spice in Asian, Moroccan, Indian, and Caribbean cuisines

When using mace as a substitute for cloves, you can use it as a replacement in a 1:1 ratio. It’s best to get mace in its ground form, however, as the whole form can be hard to work with. 

How To Substitute

Mace is the outer shell of the nutmeg and has a similar flavor. Therefore, it can be used as a substitute for cloves in recipes. Mace can be used in sweet and savory dishes. In addition, it is used in pickling and baking. Mace is also used to flavor beverages such as coffee and tea.

11. Ground Cloves 

Ground Cloves 

If the recipe calls for whole cloves, but you’ve only got ground cloves, then you can still use ground cloves in replacement for whole cloves! 

However, it’s important to remember that ground cloves are far more intense in flavor than whole cloves, because it takes a lot of whole cloves to turn it into a powerful ground form.

So, you’ll need to only use a small amount of ground cloves in replacement for whole cloves. 

For every 1 teaspoon of whole cloves, you can replace this with ¾ of a teaspoon of ground cloves, allowing you to experiment with the intensity if you wish for more flavor. 

However, you should also be aware that ground cloves lose their flavor faster than whole cloves.

So, if you’ve had ground cloves in your cupboard for a fairly long time, you might be able to use them as a substitute for whole cloves in a 1:1 ratio. 

Plus, keep in mind that using ground cloves will provide a different color to the dish than if you were to use whole cloves!

How To Substitute

If you want to substitute ground cloves for whole cloves to achieve a different flavor profile. Ground cloves add a subtle hint of spice and aroma to dishes. However, you should be aware that ground cloves have a more intense flavor, and you may subtitle it in 1:1 quantity.


So, there you have it! If you don’t have cloves available in your pantry, there are lots of other ingredients that can be used as a substitute for either ground or whole cloves.

Hopefully, this guide will have helped you find a good alternative, so you don’t have to run down to the grocery store!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Nutmeg Instead Of Cloves?

You can substitute nutmeg for cloves in some recipes. It includes baked goods, such as cookies and cakes, but savory dishes are not advisable.

Nutmeg is also known to be toxic if ingested in large amounts, so it is best to avoid it when preparing foods for children.

Does Clove Taste Like Cinnamon?

Since everyone’s taste buds are different but the answer could be different for all. However, many people say that clove does taste like cinnamon.

Both spices have a warm, sweet, and slightly spicy flavor. Ultimately, whether or not clove tastes like cinnamon is up to the individual.

Does Allspice Taste Like Cloves?

Allspice is a flavor that tastes like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, all of which are used to make different types of food taste better. The flavor is popular in Mexican, Caribbean, and Asian dishes.

11 Best Substitutes For Cloves

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Cloves are the hallmark of a variety of dishes, from meats and curries to desserts and warm drinks. Here are the 11 best substitutes for cloves if you have run out.


  • Nutmeg

  • Allspice

  • Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • Apple Pie Spice

  • Cinnamon

  • Five-spice Powder

  • Peppercorns

  • Cardamom

  • Star Anise

  • Mace

  • Ground Cloves


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith


Wednesday 17th of May 2023

Obrigado por compartilhar. Estou preocupado por não ter ideias criativas. É o seu artigo que me deixa cheio de esperança. Obrigado. Mas, eu tenho uma pergunta, você pode me ajudar?


Friday 12th of May 2023

Thank you for your sharing. I am worried that I lack creative ideas. It is your article that makes me full of hope. Thank you. But, I have a question, can you help me?