12 Cardamom Substitutes

White cardamom

If you cook a lot, you will agree with me that there is nothing as joyful and satisfying as finding a versatile spice and can be used in many recipes and dishes. This diversity is what cardamom offers you.

Cardamom can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, and you can never miss out on the taste when used in food. Cardamom is an aromatic spice gotten from a plant of the ginger family. It is a spice that has been used for ages, and it is cultivated because of its seeds.

The seeds of cardamom are dark in color, and they are enclosed within a green pod.  Cardamom is outstanding because of its complex flavors; it has a citrus and herbal undertone with a floral and spicy flavor.

It has a spicy and sweet taste, and this is what makes it a versatile spice; you can use it for sweet and savory recipes and dishes. It can be added to soup, curries, broth, pilau, meat and fish marinade, hamburgers, bread, and baked goods.

This spice is used regularly in Asian, Arabic, and Middle Eastern cuisines. Cardamom has a pungent aroma, and because of this, it requires you to use a little quantity when adding it to your dish.

And it is better for you to but the whole seedlings with the pod and grind them when you are about to use it. This helps you maintain the taste and make sure that it is pure cardamom and nothing is being added to adulterate it.

Now we all agree that there are some times you might want to use a specific spice and ingredient when cooking and you discover that you have run out of it and you cannot run to the supermarket to get a new one before you start cooking.

Also, you might not like cardamom so much, and you might be thinking of replacing it with something similar; well, that is why we are here. This article will give you some of the best options you can rely on when you are looking for a substitute for cardamom in your recipe.

Cardamom Substitute

Although no one spice can fully replace the unique and com0plex flavors that cardamom offers, some of them come close to replicating the taste of cardamom. The best part is that you can use one of the spices listed here or mix them to get a perfect flavor like cardamom.

1. Cinnamon


Cinnamon is an aromatic condiment gotten from the bark of several trees that belong to the Cinnamomum species. This spice is added to a lot of food items and used in recipes all over the world.

Cinnamon has a complex flavor just like cardamom, which makes it one of the best replacements, and it can stand on its own as a substitute for cardamon without having to mix it with any other spice on this list.

Actually, most spices are added to cinnamon to get the complex, fantastic flavor that cardamon offers. Cinnamon has the same sweet, warm, earthy, and spicy flavors that cardamon offers you and is best used in recipes with a sweet flavor. But it can work as well for savory dishes.

When using cinnamon, you can cut the barks into tiny pieces for your stews, soups, and other dishes. But when you are using them in baked goods like buns or cakes, it is best to ground them into fine powder.

Cinnamon is richly endowed with antioxidants like polyphenols that protect the body from oxidative damages caused by free radicals. The anti-inflammatory agents help your body to fight off infections and repair tissue damage.

Using cinnamon in your meals reduces your chances of getting heart diseases, reduces blood sugar levels, and may protect you against cancer.

2. Coriander Seeds

coriander seeds

Coriander can refer to the seeds and the leaves of the coriander plant, which are all helpful for cooking and used as spices. But the one mentioned here is the seeds of the coriander plant, which has a different taste and ways of usage from the coriander leaves.

Coriander seeds have citrus, nutty and spicy flavors, close to the complex flavor of cardamom. The seeds of coriander are best used when dried, and then you can ground them into powder and use them as a substitute for cardamom.

Rather than buying this seed in powder form from the market, it is best to buy the seeds, toast them at home and ground them shortly before using them. Toasting and grounding them shortly before using them will ensure that you get the best flavor out of them.

Coriander seeds help you to maintain blood glucose levels which is essential for preventing diabetes. Coriander seeds also help you with the digestive process and prevent you from getting diarrhea.

Intake of the spice can also help you prevent ailments like rheumatism, arthritis, abdominal pains, skin-related issues, minimizing bad cholesterol and preventing and curing anemia.

3. Cloves

The cloves

Clove is a flavorful spice gotten from an aromatic plant, and it is cultivated for its culinary value. The dried flower buds of cloves are aromatic and spicy, and these buds are harvested when they are nearing maturity; they are dried and used for seasoning dishes.

Cloves have an intense taste and aroma, and they have a sweet and slightly bitter flavor. Although it has an intense aroma, clove is warm and flavorful to the tastebuds, making it one of the best substitutes for cardamom, and it can stand on its own without having to mix it with another spice.

Cloves are the best substitute for cardamom when preparing both sweet and savory dishes. Ground cloves can be used to flavor meat recipes, rice dishes, and sauces.

Cloves are rich in nutrients, fibers, and minerals. They are high in antioxidants that help rid the body of free radicals, and they can help protect you from getting cancer. Cloves have antimicrobial properties which help to kill bacterias and even promote oral health.

The eugenol compound in cloves helps promote your liver’s health, and cloves may also regulate blood sugar. If you are struggling with stomach ulcers, adding cloves to your meal plan might be a good idea because cloves reduce stomach ulcers.

4. NutmegNutmeg

Nutmeg is a spice that belongs to the Myristica genus. Nutmeg has many similarities with cardamom; they both have complex flavors that elevate any dishes that they are used in. This spice has a hint of sweetness that is similar to that of cardamom.

Nutmeg also has an earthy and fruity tone present in cardamom, and it makes it one of the stand-alone options that you could easily use as a substitute for cardamom. The good thing is that you can use the same quantity of nutmeg as specified in the recipe for cardamom; you do not have to worry about adding less or adding more.

Nutmeg is perfect for both savory and sweet dishes, and it is advisable to grind it yourself just when you are about to add it to your dish. It is advisable to use this spice in moderation to avoid side effects like a hallucination.

This spice also offers you many health benefits; it has a good amount of antioxidants which you can use to treat against signs of heart disease, cancer, and liver disease. It can help you get good and quality sleep, improve your mood, and keep your digestive system healthy.

5. AllspiceAllspice

Allspice is a dried, unripened berry of the tree Pimenta Dioica. It is also known as myrtle pepper and Jamaican pepper. This spice is called allspice because it embodies flavors from different spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.

Allspice has a complex combination of flavors, just like cardamom. It has a spicy note, combined with citrus and fruity flavors. It has many similarities with cardamom that you might mistake it for cardamom when used in dishes.

The seeds of this plant are picked when they are still unripe, and they are left to dry and then grounded for use. It can be used for both sweet and savory dishes, and you will find it being used in dishes like soups, vegetables, chutneys, and desserts.

Allspice contains minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that you will naturally find in a lot of spices. You can use this spice to treat cancer, nausea, inflammation, relieve pain, and prevent infections. Allspice can slow cancer growth and ease menopause symptoms.

6. Cloves and Cinnamon

Cloves and Cinnamon

If you are hoping to replicate that perfect cardamom flavor, you can use a mixture of cloves and cinnamon if you have both ingredients available at your disposal. Cloves and cinnamon make a perfect combination when paired together.

Cinnamon provides the spicy and citrus flavor that is present in cardamom, cloves add the intense taste and aroma, and warmth found in cardamom. If your recipe suggests one teaspoon of cardamom, you can use a half teaspoon each of cloves and cinnamon.

This combination is best suited for dishes like seafood and meat dishes. This combination hopefully will give you a flavor profile that is similar to that of cardamom.

7. Ginger


The ginger spice is gotten from the root of the ginger flowering plant. It is used for spicing and flavoring dishes in many cuisines. Ginger has a hot spicy, and pungent flavor and a hint of some fruity tinge.

It is better to buy the roots of ginger and let them dry off, then grind them and add them to your recipe. You can use ginger as a substitute for cardamom in dishes like confectionaries, curry, sauces, flavor bread, and pickles.

Since ginger has a more pungent flavor, it is better to use a smaller quantity when using it as a substitute for cardamom; this will help your dish not become too spicy. You can use ginger for both your savory and sweet dishes.

Ginger possesses antiviral and antibacterial properties that make it easy for it to prevent and cure diseases.

It also contains anti-inflammatory agents that help treat inflammation, prevent blood clotting, and protects you from stroke and heart attack.

8. Cinnamon and Ginger

Cinnamon and Ginger

Ginger and cinnamon have properties that can give you a mixture similar to cardamom when combined. Ginger contains the spicy and fruity tinge that you will find in cardamom. Cinnamon, on the other hand, provides the warm, earthy flavors found in cardamom.

Also, cinnamon has complex flavors like cardamom, so that you won’t miss out on that. If you have both spices at home, you can consider mixing them to get a spice similar to cardamom. Cinnamon and ginger have distinctive flavors, yet they can blend so perfectly when mixed.

When you are combining these spices, make sure to combine equal parts of both spices. Also, cinnamon and ginger have a more pungent flavor than cardamom, so it would be better to use a smaller quantity when replacing it with cardamom.

9. Cinnamon and Nutmeg

Cinnamon and Nutmeg

Combining these two spices might give you the best and closest thing to cardamom. Both cinnamon and nutmeg have complex flavors, just like cardamom, which they seek to replace. Cinnamon can stand on its own as a substitute for cardamom.

Cinnamon has the same sweet, warm, earthy, and spicy flavors that cardamon offers. The mixture of nutmeg helps to enrich and bring forth the sweet and fruity flavors in cardamom. When mixing these spices, use equal portions to get a better result.

When you are using this combination, it is better to use half the amount stated in the recipe for cardamom. Then you can adjust the quantity as you go on cooking if you feel it is necessary.

You can use this substitute for both savory and sweet dishes, and they are most appreciated in curies and stew.

This combination will offer you the perfect balance of sweet, citrusy, and spicy flavors found in cardamom.

10. Cumin


Cumin has the same characteristics as cardamom seeds, it has a nutty flavor, and it is spicy. Cumin is gotten from the seeds of a leafy herb plant known as Cuminum cyninum, and it is a member of the parsley family.

These seeds are dried and grounded into powder, and it is commonly used to spice up and flavor dishes. It has a less citrus flavor than cardamom, and it has a more peppery taste. If you are using this as a substitute for cardamom, it is advisable to use it more for savory dishes.

It lacks the sweet flavor present in cardamom, which is used for sweet dishes. Cumin is used in many Indian and Mexican cuisines, and apart from its excellent taste, it also comes with some valuable health benefits.  

Cumin seeds contain antioxidants that help fight free radicals and the destructions they cause to your body system.

You can use cumin to treat diarrhea, control your blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, use it for weight loss.

It possesses anti-inflammatory effects, and it has anti-cancer properties that prevent cancer cells from multiplying.

11. Cloves and Nutmeg

Cloves and Nutmeg

Clove is an aromatic spice, Cloves have an intense taste and aroma, and they have a sweet and slightly bitter flavor.

Although it has an intense aroma, clove is warm and flavorful to the tastebuds, making it one of the best substitutes for cardamom.

On the other hand, nutmeg enriches clove with the earthy, nutty, and fruity flavor found in cardamom. With the mixture of the two spices, you can mimic the complex flavors, a quality of cardamom.

When used together, it is better to use equal half of each spice. If you are using cloves alone, you can sometimes slice or use them that way, but if you are mixing them with nutmeg, it is advisable to ground both of them to mix them for a better result easily.

12. Cumin and Coriander

Cumin and Coriander

Cumin and coriander are two spices that compliment each other. Most of the time, you will notice that recipes with coriander will also include cumin, so it is no surprise to mix them here.

Coriander I this combination offers the citrusy and nutty flavors found in cardamom. Cumin offers the spicy and earthy flavors which coriander misses. With this combination, you can get an outcome that is close to cardamom.

When cumin is used alone as a substitute for cardamom, it is not advisable to use it for sweet dishes; you can only use it for savory dishes.

But this combination of cumin and coriander can be used for both sweet and savory dishes.

Final thoughts

Cardamon is a very valued and essential spice in the culinary world; no wonder it Is referred to as the queen of spices. The importance of this spice is seen in the numerous recipes and dishes that it appears.

This is also why we are looking for a substitute for this spice if we run out of it. It is essential to know the substitutes listed here, which can stand alone as a replacement, and some others need to be added together to get a cardamon feel and flavor.

I hope that the next time you run out of cardamon rather than freaking out, you will know the best substitute that will help save the day.

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