Cardamom is a spice from the ginger family mostly cultivated in India, Sri Lanka, and Guatemala. It’s the main ingredient in many savory and sweet dishes because of its unique flavor.
It is a favorite spice in all cuisines around the world, especially in Arabic, Swedish, and Middle Eastern cuisine. However, it is also one of the most expensive too.
Cardamom is used in many dishes like curry, rice, red meat, lentils, oranges, cakes, pastries, or it can be added to drinks like tea, Turkish coffee, or mulled wine. It has a very unique flavor, so it’s not easy to find the right spice that will bring out the same flavor.
However, what if you don’t have cardamom on hand? Can you replace cardamom? Of course. It can be replaced with nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cloves, or some of the next substitutes.
Cardamom’s s brown-black seeds are contained in spindle-shaped pods with brown-black, or green color depending on the type.
There are many types of cardamom. However, green and black cardamom are the two most known types. Cardamom can be used whole or grounded.
Green cardamom has a slightly sweet herbal and citrus flavor and it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It’s the most common type of cardamom also known as “true cardamom”.
There is another type of cardamom, white cardamom which is green bleached cardamom. White cardamom is grown in tropical areas like India, Costa Rica, and Malaysia. It has a milder flavor.
If you want to use green cardamom it’s recommended to remove the seeds from the pods and ground them. Green grounded cardamom is perfect for hot drinks like Turkish coffee and Masala chai.
Black cardamom comes from India, Eastern Nepal, and Bhutan. It has large pods, strong mint, and a smokey flavor. Black cardamom pods are bigger than those of the green cardamom with brown to black color. You can use them as a whole while cooking and removed them afterward.
If you want to achieve a stronger flavor you can fry the pods in oil, and break them before adding them to the dish. Because of the smokey flavor, black cardamom is more used in savory dishes, but it can be used in sweet dishes too.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best cardamom substitutes.
Nutmeg is a spice that’s common in sweet and savory dishes. It has a mild nutty flavor and sweet taste. And it is ideal for meats, potatoes, vegetables, sausages, soups, sauces, beef stews, puddings, and baked products.
It is a traditional spice in mulled wine, eggnog, and mulled cider. You can find this spice in powder form or whole seeds. Because of its similar flavor nutmeg can be a good cardamom substitute use it in1:1ratio.
Mace is a product of the red cover of the seed of nutmeg. It has a softer flavor than the nutmeg with a hint of cinnamon and black pepper.
Thus, it is perfect for light dishes like fish, vegetables, meat, soups, baked products, cakes, pies, for pickling and preserving. Mace is a good cardamom substitute just like nutmeg.
Cinnamon is made from a layer of a few species of trees. It has a sweet woody flavor with a citrus hint.
You can use this spice in cookies, cakes, fruit dishes, apple pies, chicken, lamb, soups, and drinks. Cardamom and cinnamon have different flavors, but similar sweet tastes, so they’re good substitutes for one another.
Cloves are flower blooms of a tree used as a spice. They have a strong bittersweet flavor and heat feeling in your mouth. Cloves provide flavor to marinades, meats, curries, fruits, fish, stews, pies, rice, mulled wine, and chai.
Cloves work well with cinnamon, and nutmeg, especially in sweet dishes and drinks. And because they have a very strong flavor you should use a small quantity in dishes as a substitute for cardamom.
Allspice is made of the dried berries of trees that can be found in Central America, Southern Mexico, and the Greater Antilles. Its also known as pimenta, pimento, myrtle pepper, or Jamaica pepper.
Allspice has a flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove all together combined in one spice. You can use this spice whole or grounded. Whole berries are used like cloves, added to beef, or lamb meat for flavor.
Grounded spice is used in soups, meat, stew, veggies, or baked products. Allspice has a stronger flavor than cardamom. Thus, when you are using it as a substitute you should use it carefully.
6. Coriander seeds
Coriander seeds are dried fruits of the coriander herb. They have warm spicy, nutty, and lemon flavor and you can find them as whole seeds and grounded.
These seeds are perfect for curries, pickling vegetables and brining, or baked goods. They have a similar flavor to cardamom because they both have some citrus notes. Therefore it can be a good cardamom substitute.
Cumin is a spice that belongs to the parsley family. It’s a staple in Latin American, North African, middle eastern, and Indian cuisine. It is usable as whole seeds and grounded.
Cumin has a sweet-bitter earthy flavor. It is ideal for soups, sauces, vegetables, meat, rice, pastries, and pickling. Cumin is mainly used in savory dishes. Thus, it’s a better substitute for black cardamom rather than green cardamom.
Ginger is a spice that belongs to the ginger family, together with Tumeric and cardamom. You can find it fresh, pickled, dried, candied, preserved, or as a powder.
It has a sweet peppery flavor and a spicy aroma. Fresh ginger is a common ingredient in marinades, soups, curries, stir-frys, sauces, desserts, and drinks. It is an excellent substitute for cardamom because they both have a similar flavor.
Galangal is a member of the ginger family. It looks similar to ginger but with lighter, smoother skin and harder flesh than ginger. There are few varieties of galangal and they all have a different flavor.
Galangal’s native country is Indonesia, but its also grown in many Asian countries. It’s a great spice but also a popular remedy in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. It has a strong citrusy and earthy flavor almost like pine, there for you should use smaller quantities.
Galangal is used in Asian cuisine for preparing curries, noodles, stir-fries, or sauces. Some of the most popular Thai dishes prepared with galangal are TomYum soup and satay sauce dishes.
It has harder flesh than ginger, so it’s best to remove the pieces before eating, or you can use it in grounded form as a spice for your dishes.
10. Apple pie spice
Apple pie spice is a mix of nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. You can use it in sweet dishes like pies, cakes, muffins, pancakes, smoothies, cookies, or cupcakes.
If you want to use it as a substitute for cardamom it’s best to use it in sweet dishes. Otherwise, you will have to add some other spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or cloves. You can try to adjust the number of spices, and make the best mixture for your dish.
Here are some other mixtures of spices you can use as a substitute for cardamom.
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves+1/2 teaspoon nutmeg=1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon allspice=1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon galangal=1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon coriander+1/2 teaspoon cumin=1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon+1/2 teaspoon nutmeg=1teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg+1/4 teaspoon coriander+1/2 teaspoon allspice=1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon mace=1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg+1/4 teaspoon cinnamon+1/4 teaspoon cloves+1/4 teaspoon allspice =1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon +1/2 teaspoon ginger=1 teaspoon cardamom
What flavor is similar to cardamom?
Cinnamon and nutmeg have a similar flavor to cardamom.
Is Cardamom similar to allspice?
Cardamom and allspice have a similar flavor. However, each one has its unique taste.
Can I substitute cardamom for Nutmeg?
You can substitute cardamom for nutmeg because they have a similar flavor.
Is coriander the same as cardamom?
Coriander is not the same as cardamom. However, it has the same citrus-nutty flavor.
Cardamom is a spice with a specific flavor and taste. It’s one of the most expensive spices in the world because it’s harvested by hand, and there is increased demand for it.
If you don’t have it at home you can use some of these spices as a substitution, but you will get a similar flavor like cardamom because nothing can change the original cardamom.