9 Great Allspice Substitutes
Allspice is one of the most unique spices in the world – nothing tastes quite like it! It is sometimes known as Jamaican pepper or pimenta, as it is the dried berry of the Pimenta Dioica, which is a tree native to Central America and popular in the Caribbean.
The berries of these trees are picked when they are green and unripe, and dried in the sun. When they are dried, they turn brown and become sweet and flavorful. It is believed that allspice got its name because of the wide flavor profile, which includes notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and pepper. Because no one could pinpoint the exact flavor, it was nicknamed allspice.
Allspice is one of the primary ingredients in classic Jamaican jerk seasoning and is very popular in Caribbean and Mexican cuisine. It is also very popular in Middle Eastern recipes. There are many Arabic stews and broths that are heavily flavored with allspice.
It can be found in North American and European foods as well, but is often more subtle, and found in small amounts in mincemeat, sausage recipes, curry and especially in pickle spice blends. Finally, allspice is sometimes used in hot pot or pho, and is often considered a mystery “secret” ingredient that is difficult to pinpoint… and impossible to miss!
Allspice is an important ingredient in the pastry kitchen as well! It is a critical spice for many desserts and is often considered to be more complex than just cinnamon or nutmeg alone. Because allspice is called ALLspice, it is known for its considerable depth of flavor and is not for the faint of heart. It can be quite strong, so ensure you use it in moderation, especially when using ground allspice.
Allspice can be found in any spice store in its whole or ground form. If using whole, you will need a very fine, small grater. If you cannot find allspice, there are several other options that will make suitable alternatives, which you can find here.
1. Pickling Spice
There is a blend available for all your pickling needs which can be found in any bulk spice store.
It typically contains lots of dill seed, dehydrated garlic flakes, mustard seeds, coriander seed, cloves and, you guessed it, allspice! Pickling spice is coveted because you can simply add a spoonful of seasoning to anything you are pickling for a quick infusion of flavor and spice.
But the good news is, you can also add some pickling spice to your savory recipes that require allspice and get the same effect! You may want to ground up your pickling spice in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle before adding it to your recipes as pickling spice almost always comes in its whole form.
Cinnamon is a delicious and beloved spice that may be considered more widely available than allspice, so it is something you likely have in your cupboards if you don’t have allspice.
Although cinnamon and allspice are not the same, they do belong to the same flavor family and therefore can be used to substitute one another at a pinch.
It is important to note that allspice is much stronger in flavor than ground cinnamon, so do not use 1:1. For every teaspoon or so of cinnamon, you will only need about ⅛ of a teaspoon of ground allspice.
3. Chinese Five Spice
Chinese five spice is a fascinating and flavorful blend containing all five elements! Earth, water, fire, and air (and metal) are represented by five different, dynamic spices to make up this blend, and it is beloved in cultures all over the world!
The blend for Chinese five spice sometimes changes, but the bulk of recipes list the following five spices: star anise, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon.
The recipe for this blend is thousands of years old and this blend is so common in China because it is believed to have healing properties.
While allspice is made from the dried berries of a tree, cloves are actually made from the dried buds of a tree!
Clove is a versatile ingredient not only in the world of edible spices, but also for its fragrance and medicinal purposes. It is a common ingredient in toothpaste, perfume and medicines, and it is also popular in desserts around the world!
Cloves can make a great substitute for allspice because they do have similar big, bold flavors! Cloves are also available in ground or whole form, and typically in their whole form, they are removed after cooking as they do not break down as ground allspice does.
Nutmeg is popular all over the world and therefore will be readily available as a quick alternative to allspice, especially in sweet recipes.
Nutmeg can be finely ground into dishes, or purchased in its powdered form. It is incredibly popular in Indonesian cuisine, as well as in European sauces and pastries, and is an irreplaceable ingredient in your spice cabinet!
Mace is very similar to nutmeg, and can certainly be used as an alternative if you do not have allspice and cannot find nutmeg. It is said to be more delicate than nutmeg and is preferred in light-colored dishes for its golden, amber hue.
7. Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
Pumpkin pie typically contains a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice, so if you cannot find allspice, it is reasonable to use this popular and easy to find blend in any recipe that requires allspice, especially sweet ones!
8. Jerk Seasoning
While jerk seasoning often contains allspice as one of its signature ingredients, it also contains a lot of other awesome spices! Cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, chilies, and sugar… just to name a few!
Jerk seasoning is a delicious blend used to marinate chicken, meat, seafood, and vegetables, and will quickly become one of your favorite spices! Allspice makes a star appearance in this blend, so if you cannot find allspice, you can definitely use jerk seasoning in any savory recipe!
9. Garam Masala
If you are needing an alternative for allspice in a savory recipe, garam masala might make an interesting choice! Although garam masala doesn’t typically contain allspice, it can contain a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, mace and a variety of savory spices like pepper, fennel, bay leaves, cumin and coriander.
It can range from spicy to mild, so take note of what your final flavor portfolio is before using garam masala. Garam masala is most popular in Indian food, and can be found in specialty grocers or Indian/Asian stores.
If you’re interested in a recipe using allspice, you are in for a treat! Allspice is delicious, nutritious, and complex. It is not considered difficult to find and should be kept for a year or less, to maintain freshness and the highest quality possible.
It can be an acquired taste, so using any one of the substitutes listed above might make your recipe more approachable and versatile… but it’s best to try it out for yourself and see if you like allspice! Try your own blends, to your own tastes, and go wild! Allspice is loved all over the world for its unique flavor that is often imitated (as seen here) but never 100% duplicated!