A Simple Substitute for Allspice

Whole Allspice
••• Whole Allspice. Michelle Arnold/EyeEm/Getty Images

Working on a recipe that calls for allspice? If you don't have any on hand, you can save money, and cabinet space, with one of these simple substitutes made from common spices that you probably already have in your pantry.

Ground Allspice Substitute

Use six whole allspice berries in place of 1/4-1/2 tsp of ground allspice. It's best to remove these before serving.

If you don't have whole allspice, mix together equal parts ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Store any unused portion in an air-tight container.

Whole Allspice Berry Substitute

If your recipe calls for whole allspice, use 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of ground allspice, or the previous allspice substitute, in place of six allspice berries.

The ground spices will flavor your dish more than the whole allspice would have, so it's best to start with a small amount of spice and adjust up until they suit your tastes.

Note that using ground spices may alter the color and flavor of the dish slightly. If you'd prefer to stick to whole spices, use an equal amount of whole cloves in place of the whole allspice berries.

What Does Allspice Taste Like?

Allspice has been described as tasting like a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves (hence the substitution suggested above). In fact, it's actually that complex flavor that earned it its name. When early English explorers tasted allspice and declared that it tasted like many different spices, they decided to call it allspice. That name has proven a bit confusing, though. Many people wrongly believe that allspice is a blend of spices, rather than one distinct spice.

While many spices are only significant to one or two cultures, allspice is important worldwide.

It appears in every type of recipe imaginable. It's used in savory dishes and sweet dishes, to flavor meat and seafood, to season vegetables and fruits, to enhance the flavor and aroma of bread and other baked goods, in salad dressings, in pickle brines and even in drinks.

What Is Allspice?

Allspice is the dried, unripe berry off of an evergreen tree that grows in tropical climates, like Jamaica and southern Mexico.

They are typically dried in the sun until they turn dark brown. Allspice berries bear a strong resemblance to dried peppercorns. In fact, Christopher Columbus actually mistook them for peppercorns when he first discovered them (it seems he had a habit of misidentifying things).

Ground allspice loses its flavor and fragrance quickly, so it's best to store allspice in its whole form until you're ready to use it. Allspice berries are easy to grind with a pepper grinder or a coffee/spice grinder. Just give them a few whirls, and they're ready to use.