Contrary to popular belief, allspice is not a mixture of different spices. That, my friends, is mixed spice.
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Allspice is a delicious spice in its own right, deriving from the dried berries of the Pimenta dioica plant, which is a member of the myrtle family.
So, now that we’ve established the difference between allspice and mixed spice (trust us, that is important for later on in the article), we want to explore what happens if you don’t have any allspice.
Allspice is used in many different recipes and is popular thanks to its sweet, warm, slightly earthy taste.
However, it might not be as common as some other spices out there, and so sometimes you might come across a recipe that needs it but you realize you don’t have any there.
What happens then? Is your recipe doomed forever? Do you need to run out to the store and hunt down some allspice? Or can you substitute it for something else? We vote for the latter!
In this article, we will be exploring some of the best substitutes for allspice and telling you what sort of recipes they would work in, and what amounts of each are needed.
What flavor profile does allspice have?
Before we go ahead and tell you about the different substitutes for allspice, we thought that it would be very helpful to let you know about the flavor profile of allspice.
As we made clear in the introduction, allspice is not a mix of spices like it is commonly assumed. The term ‘allspice’ is used interchangeably to mean ‘mixed spice’. However, as you now know, allspice is a spice in its own right.
However perhaps the confusion lies within its flavor profile, because, whilst it isn’t a mix of different spices, it certainly tastes and smells that way.
What we mean by this is that allspice tastes and smells a lot like some other common spices. These are cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. It is for this reason that allspice is named allspice.
When English explorers first discovered it in Jamaica they remarked that it tasted like many different spices, and henceforth, called in allspice.
The flavor profile suggests that allspice is used entirely for sweet dishes. However, this is not the case.
Whilst it is used in many sweet recipes, it is a very versatile herb and is used in savory dishes from cuisines all around the globe. It is also used in sauce and drinks!
As you know from the introduction, allspice is the berry of the Pimenta dioica plant, and so it comes in the form of a berry. You can get these berries fresh or dried, both of which can be used for their flavor.
However, it is, perhaps, most common to find ground allspice. This is made from dried, ground berries. The leaves can also be used in recipes, and they resemble bay leaves when they are whole.
With this in mind, you can, in theory, substitute one type of allspice for another.
What we mean is, if your recipe calls for some whole allspice berries (they resemble peppercorns when they are dried) but you do not have any, you can actually use ground allspice in its place.
Pumpkin spice mix
The first substitute that we wanted to tell you about is one that you may have left in your store cupboard or pantry after fall!
A pumpkin spice mix is a fantastic substitute for allspice in so many recipes. If you are swapping it out in a sweet recipe, you can use your pumpkin spice mix as it is.
If the recipe is a savory one then you can also add in some ground black pepper to suit the recipe a little more.
Pumpkin spice mix, whatever the brand, or even if it is homemade, is highly likely to contain cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, among other yummy herbs and spices.
Given the flavor profile of allspice, it is likely that there may even be some allspice in your pumpkin spice mix!
If your recipe calls for one teaspoon of ground allspice then you can use one teaspoon of pumpkin spice mix in its place.
As we said, for any savory recipes it may be a good idea to also add in some ground black pepper. When adding your black pepper you can use a quarter of a teaspoon of it for each teaspoon of the pumpkin spice mix.
One thing to keep in mind is that store-bought pumpkin spice mix may also have some other flavorings in there such as vanilla, and may also have added sugar or sweeteners.
Bear this in mind as this could alter the taste of your recipe. You can either adjust the amount accordingly or avoid using a mix that has these added extras, depending on what your recipe is.
Using cloves in place of allspice works well in many different recipes, both sweet and savory. This is because of the clove flavor that allspice has.
You can use whole dried cloves in place of whole dried allspice berries, or you can use ground cloves in place of your ground allspice.
Cloves have a much more bitter taste when they are used on their own, and so, if you are using them in a recipe in place of allspice, then you will need far less of them in comparison.
For example, if your recipe calls for two teaspoons of allspice powder, then you would only use one teaspoon of ground cloves.
Cloves work especially well in a sweet dish in place of allspice. They add warmth and depth, especially when baked into a cake or used in a fruit dish.
If you are using cloves in place of allspice in a savory recipe then you may miss the hit of pepper that allspice can give you. You can, if you wish, add in either ground black pepper or whole black peppercorns to help add in that peppery savory taste.
Many people use allspice berries in drinks such as mulled wine and hot cider to add some depth and a wintry spice. You can certainly use cloves in place of these berries.
Add in some whole cloves, ensuring to take them out before serving - trust us, as fragrant as they are, crunching on a whole clove is not a pleasant experience!
Nutmeg is a delicious and distinct spice that adds warmth and depth to may a recipe that we know and love.
Unlike allspice, nutmeg lacks a pepper taste, meaning it may not be as suitable in savory recipes unless some pepper is added alongside it. However, in sweet recipes, nutmeg can be used in place of allspice to great effect.
You can buy nutmeg whole or ground. For this purpose, we highly recommend that you use ground nutmeg. It can replace ground allspice in all of your favorite baked recipes.
One thing to bear in mind is that nutmeg, as delicious as it is, can quickly overpower the other flavors of your dish. For this reason, we recommend that you err on the side of caution and use less nutmeg than you would allspice.
Our recommendation would be to use a ratio of 2:1. So, if your recipe calls for one teaspoon of allspice, you can try half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
If you can, we recommend tasting in between each addition of nutmeg. However, if you are baking something that cannot be tasted, always use the ratio 2:1, so as not to overpower your delicious bake.
Whilst we recommend nutmeg for sweet recipes, there are times when you may have this as the only substitute for your savory recipes too.
You should use the same ratio as in a sweet recipe, but also add in a quarter teaspoon of ground black pepper for every half a teaspoon of nutmeg.
Cinnamon is probably the most common substitute on this list (seriously though, if you don’t have this in your store cupboard then you need to get to the grocery store pronto!). This one is easy peasy.
As you can imagine, cinnamon shares many of the same elements as allspice with its warmth, sweet earthiness, and depth. It can be used in sweet and savory recipes.
What’s more, you can use cinnamon like for like. What we mean is that for every teaspoon of allspice you need, you can use a teaspoon of cinnamon in its place.
Of course, as you know, allspice has that peppery bite. Cinnamon does not. If you need that pepper flavor, simply add a quarter of a teaspoon of ground black pepper for those savory dishes.
Black pepper will not be needed for your sweet dishes. It is likely that any sweet dish that calls for allspice may also use cinnamon. If this is the case for your recipe you can simply use extra cinnamon!
A mixture of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon
We have discussed the use of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg separately in place of allspice, however, perhaps an even better substitute is to use all three of them together!
As you know, the flavor of allspice is a mixture of all three of these flavors. With this in mind, you could make your own ‘DIY’ allspice using a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
For this particular substitute, we recommend using ground versions of all three of them. This way they will all blend far more easily.
With this in mind, you should only use this in place of ground allspice. To replace the whole allspice you can use one of the other substitutions above.
The amounts needed of each of these ingredients are as follows: - 3.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 1.5 teaspoons of ground nutmeg, and a quarter of a teaspoon of ground cloves.
Whisk all three of these spices together. You can then decant this into a jar if you wish, ready for use when needed. We recommend that you use one teaspoon of this DIY mix for one teaspoon of allspice.
If you are making a savory recipe, you may also want to add in a quarter of a teaspoon of ground black pepper.
There you have it! Our ultimate guide to allspice substitutions. As you can see, there are a plethora of choices to suit all recipes.