Cloves are one of the most important spices in the world. They’re used to add a sweet, spicy taste to all kinds of baked goods, but they’re especially prominent in holiday treats like pumpkin pie, gingerbread houses, and holiday cookies.
Trying to replicate that flavor with a clove substitute can be difficult—especially if you don’t have access to fresh cloves! But we’ve done our best here to come up with a list of clove substitutes for your baking pleasure.
The 13 Best Substitutes For Clove
This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think “clove substitute.” Cinnamon has a similar taste profile to cloves, but it’s also sweeter and less spicy. If you’re trying to replicate the flavor of cloves in something like gingerbread cookies or pumpkin pie without using fresh cloves, cinnamon will work great. Just remember that cinnamon will also impart its own flavor to the final product!
Nutmeg is another common alternative for cloves in baking recipes. It’s got a slightly different flavor than cinnamon and is much more aromatic than either cinnamon or cloves alone. Nutmeg pairs well with both sweet and savory dishes alike—so it works well as a general substitute for cloves.
For those who don’t want to mess with cinnamon or nutmeg, allspice is probably the best alternative. Allspice is a mixture of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg—so it will give you the flavor of cloves without needing any pre-ground spices. It works especially well in dishes where all three spices are listed in the recipe (like pumpkin pie) and it can also be used to season beef and chicken.
Ginger is a great alternative to cloves in recipes that need a more pronounced spicy flavor. It’s especially good in gingerbread cookies since the flavor profile is very similar. Just keep in mind that you’ll need quite a bit of fresh ginger to replace the taste of cloves (1/2 cup minced fresh ginger will give you about 5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon).
5. Sweet Paprika
Sweet paprika is a great alternative to both cinnamon and cloves since it usually features them both in the ingredients list anyway. This spice is probably best used in more savory dishes like meatloaf and Southwest-inspired dishes.
6. Ground cloves
Cloves are a strong spice that’s been used for centuries as a spice and medicine. They’re often used in meat dishes, especially in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine.
The flavor of cloves comes from their essential oil, which has a strong aroma. Ground cloves are made from the dried flower buds of the clove tree. They’re usually sold whole or ground into powder form. You can find them at most grocery stores or specialty food stores.
Cardamom is a tropical plant native to India and Sri Lanka that looks similar to ginger root but is much larger and bumpier. Its seeds are used to flavor foods throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe, while its leaves are sometimes used as a tea substitute or added to coffee blends. Cardamom is traditionally used in curry dishes, but it also pairs well with chicken, lamb, and seafood dishes such as bouillabaisse.
Cloves are a pungent spice made from the dried flower buds of a tree in the Lauraceae family. Cloves are native to Indonesia but grow all over the world now. They are usually dried before use and come in whole or ground form, with whole cloves being more common. Cloves are used in many cuisines and have a sweet yet spicy flavor. The spice is also used medicinally for its antiseptic properties and pain relief properties, among other, uses.
9. Pumpkin pie spice
Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice that can be used as an alternative to cloves when baking pumpkin pies or other desserts that call for them. The flavor profile is similar to what you’d find in a mulled cider or mulled wine — warm and spicy with notes of citrus and sweetness from the addition of nutmeg. Pumpkin pie spices are available in pre-blended jars at most grocery stores and online retailers like Amazon.
10. Five-spice powder
Five-spice powder is a spice mixture that typically consists of equal parts cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. The ingredients may vary from brand to brand, but this combination is common in Chinese cuisine. You can substitute five-spice powder for cloves in many recipes. Use one teaspoon of five-spice powder for every two teaspoons of cloves called for.
11. Star anise
A Star anise is a spice that looks like a star with eight points on its outside shell. These points are actually fruit segments that hold the seeds within them. Star anise has a licorice flavor and aroma similar to cloves, so it can be used as a substitute in many recipes calling for cloves. Use one teaspoon of star anise per two teaspoons of cloves called for in your recipe.
12. White or black peppercorns
Pepper is the dried fruit of the pepper plant, which is native to India and China. Black peppercorns are dark brown or blackberries from this plant. White or pink peppercorns are not true peppercorns at all; they are actually the same fruit as black peppercorns that have been soaked in brine to remove their natural color.
White or black peppercorns are used whole or ground into powder as a spice; they have a sharp, peppery taste similar to that of cloves but more subtle and less sweet. They’re most often used in meat dishes such as beef stew or sausages because their flavor pairs well with beef’s natural flavors. They’re also commonly used in pickling recipes because they enhance the flavor of vinegar-based sauces.
Rosemary is a woody herb that is native to the Mediterranean region. It has a distinct piney scent, and it’s related to mint and sage.
Rosemary can be used as a seasoning in many dishes. It’s often paired with other herbs like oregano, thyme, and sage to make an aromatic seasoning blend called “herbes de Provence.” The herb is also delicious when used in soups or stews.
What are cloves used for?
Cloves are used in cooking as well as in traditional medicine. The dried buds of the tree have a strong flavor that can be used in sweet and savory dishes. They can also be infused with alcohol to create an aromatic liqueur.
Cloves contain eugenol, which is an essential oil with antimicrobial properties that have been shown to help fight infections. This makes it an effective ingredient for toothpaste, mouthwash, and shampoo products as well as soaps and lotions (source).
How do you use it?
You can use cloves in sweet or savory dishes or drinks such as mulled wine or cider (source). You can also add cloves to your food while it’s cooking to give it more flavor or infuse them with orange juice or vodka for a delicious drink!
What are the health benefits of cloves?
Cloves are good sources of Vitamin C, fiber, and manganese. They also contain antioxidants that protect against free radical damage in the body.
What is the difference between cloves and nutmeg?
Cloves are long, dried flower buds whereas nutmeg is a spice made from a different part of the same tree – its seed. Both spices share similar medicinal properties and can be used interchangeably in recipes during winter months when fresh produce is scarce.
Can I use ground cloves as a substitute for whole cloves?
You can use ground cloves as a substitute for whole cloves if you need to increase the quantity of one or both ingredients. For example, if you need 3 tablespoons of whole cloves but only have 1 tablespoon of ground cloves available, substitute 1 tablespoon each of the whole cloves and ground cloves to equal 3 tablespoons total. If you want to make an apple spice cake but don’t have any whole cloves on hand, substitute 1 tablespoon each of ground cloves, allspice, and nutmeg with 1/4 teaspoon ginger for each whole clove needed. However, do not substitute more than two parts ground for one part whole because this will alter the flavor too much.
In conclusion, clove is an essential oil that can be used to make food taste better. It is not, however, the only plant that can be used to do so.
Many other plants have similar tastes and smells, and some of them even have more intense flavors than clove. The best way to determine which one you want to use is to try them all out!