Cardamom is a widely popular flavor and spice for different foods around the world.
With its warmth and nutty flavor, cardamom works well in both savory and sweet recipes.
In addition to the gently warming taste, this delicious spice also has different layers of mint and citrus which hints at its tropical origins.
Saying this, not everyone is a fan of the fragrant spice flavor of cardamom.
Plus, cardamom isn’t as widely available as some other spices such as ginger and cinnamon.
That’s why, it can be a good idea to have a few cardamom substitutes at home.
We put together a handy list of all cardamom alternatives that can help you create an equally delicious flavor in your dishes.
Cardamom isn’t everyone’s go-to herb when it comes to cooking more fragrant dishes, so having a few substitutes to hand can help you create a similarly vibrant flavor.
1. Cinnamon And Cloves
A blend of cloves and cinnamon in equal amounts is one of the best substitutes for cardamom in a recipe.
Typically, you can find cardamom in the shape of pods which are added to a dish for more flavor.
These cardamom pods then get removed once the dish is fully cooked.
You can use both cinnamon and cloves in the same way. Just use whole cloves and cinnamon sticks instead of the powdered alternatives.
You can remove both from your recipe once it is fully cooked.
A mixture of cloves and cinnamon is ideal for a wide range of different dishes but you will notice that it’s particularly tasty in stews, soups or broth.
So, if you have a delicious lamb stew cooking and you realize that you are out of cardamom, just add a few whole cloves and cinnamon sticks in.
Let everything cook for a while and then remove both before you serve the stew.
While this way works very well with strews, soups and other savory dishes, it can be more tricky in baked goods such as cakes.
That’s when you will need to used ground cinnamon together with ground clove to create the same flavor as cardamom.
It can be a bit more difficult to find ground cloves and powdered cinnamon but make sure that you check the spice aisle in your local store.
You can use half a teach spoon of both ground cloves and ground cinnamon to replace cardamom in your cookies or cake.
Ginger is a very popular spice on its own, so if you do not have any cardamom at home, then why not try some ginger?
While ginger is often associated with the sweet dishes made for Christmas or the festive season, you can use this delicious spice as a substitute for cardamom in many different recipes.
From tasty stews to heart curries, ginger works in almost any dish where you want to add a little spicy kick.
You can use ginger in different forms although fresh ginger is always the better option, so you also get plenty of the health benefits of this root vegetable.
But also powdered ginger works very well in a range of dishes as it adds the same citrus flavor and spicy warmth to your food as cardamom.
Plus, ginger is a little easier to find in local stores and it’s even cheaper than the unusual cardamom.
You can simply add half a teaspoon of ginger as cardamom substitute to your dish.
If you want to create even more flavor depth, then also add a little bit of cinnamon.
This will make sure your recipe is even more warming.
If you are using fresh ginger, then you can either chop it into smaller pieces or grate the ginger.
Then measure one teaspoon and add this into your recipe. It’s a good idea to use a little less for fresh ginger, as a good quality ginger can be stronger than dry ground ginger.
3. Cinnamon And Nutmeg
Just like cloves and cinnamon sticks, a blend of nutmeg and cinnamon make a wonderful substitute for cardamom pods.
Both cinnamon and nutmeg are relatively sweet, so they balance each other very well.
This makes a great combination in all types of recipes, especially in sweet dishes.
You can use both ground cinnamon and nutmeg, or the powdered alternatives, to create a delicious spice flavor in your cardamom bakes.
The same mixture also works beautifully in spicy dishes such as curries where cardamom is often a staple flavor.
It’s best to use equal amounts of both nutmeg and cinnamon, with half a teaspoon of each as a replacement for cardamom.
Alternatively, you can also use whole nutmeg and cinnamon sticks but bear in mind that they are usually stronger in flavor.
Plus, you cannot use them whole in baked goods, such as pies, pastries and cakes.
That’s why, it’s better to use the whole versions just in soups, stews and curries where you can remove them before you serve the dish.
4. Coriander And Cumin
Another great cardamom alternative is an equal mixture of coriander and cumin.
It creates a special savory flavor in spicy dishes such as meat recipes and curries.
Cardamom, cumin and coriander are very popular in Indian dishes and Asian recipes.
If you don’t have cardamom at hand, then using both coriander and cumin in its place is a good alternative.
Just put half a teaspoon of both coriander and cumin into your recipe, and it will add a comforting warmth to your food.
It’s worthwhile noting here that both cumin and coriander are more typically used in savory dishes as they don’t work very well in sweet dishes.
Just chop up a little bit of fresh coriander and put some cumin seeds into your food for an extra spicy kick.
5. Allspice Powder
Allspice is one of these spices that almost everyone has at home. It works in almost every recipe, whatever savory or sweet dish you plan to make.
The best way to use allspice powder as an alternative for cardamom is in savory dishes where it’s ideal for fish, meat and even curries.
Allspice is a relatively strong spice similar to cardamom, so it’s a good idea to use a smaller amount than you would use cardamom.
Just half a teaspoon of allspice is enough to create a well-balanced flavor in your dishes.
Any more of the allspice and it may be too overly spicy.
It’s also worthwhile pointing out here that many people confuse allspice (see also ‘5 Allspice Substitutes‘) with mixed spices.
However, they are not the same. Allspice is not actually a mix of spices.
This means that you couldn’t use mixed spice as a replacement for cardamom.
So, make sure that you check the label of your allspice.
6. Cardamom Pods, Seeds And Ground Powder
You can also use different forms of cardamom as an alternative.
For example, swap cardamom pods for cardamom seeds or the ground powder.
While this does sound fairly straightforward, it needs a little consideration as not all types of cardamom work for each recipes.
Especially fresh cardamom pods have a strong flavor which means they may not be suitable for some dishes.
Here is a breakdown of the individual types of cardamom and what you can use them for.
Cardamom pods are the most commonly found type of cardamom in our kitchens.
There are both white cardamom pods and green cardamom pods which are more suitable for sweet recipes.
They don’t have an overwhelmingly strong flavor which makes them ideal for any baked goods.
You can use any type of cardamom pod, white or green, as a replacement for another.
Generally, white cardamom pods are a little blander in taste than the popular black and green pods.
This also applies to the cardamom powder. You can add half a teaspoon of white cardamom powder to your dishes, as an alternative to three green cardamom pods.
However, it’s good to bear in mind that cardamom powder isn’t as strong in flavor as the full pods, so it’s best used in dishes where you only want a more subtle cardamom taste.
Keeping this in mind, it’s a good idea to taste your dishes as you prepare them, and add a little bit of cardamom at a time.
Black cardamom is better not used in sweet dishes and desserts because it has a very strong flavor, so make sure that you only add black cardamom to your savory recipes.
Black cardamom has a smoky flavor and a slight minty taste which makes it much more suitable in curries, soups and stews.
The best way to use black cardamom in place of green or white cardamom pods is with equal amounts.
Instead of cardamom pods or ground cardamom, you can also use the seeds.
Cardamom seeds are very potent and flavorful, so you need to make sure that you use only a few of them as an alternative to other types of cardamom.
As a rule of thumb, you can use half a teaspoon of cardamom seeds as a replacement for one spoon of ground cardamom powder.
The exact amount depends on your recipe, and it may be easier to use ground cardamom powder in your savory and baked dishes as it dissolves.
What Do You Need Cardamom For?
Before you can replace cardamom in your dish, it’s a good idea to get a better understanding of what you would usually use this flavorful spice for.
Cardamom is a truly versatile spice and you can use it in both sweet and savory dishes.
It’s an ideal spice to use for all types of meat, including red meat and poultry.
But it also balances flavors well in pastries, pies and cakes. You can even add a special spicy kick to your alcoholic cocktails when adding cardamom.
It’s important that you understand the reason why you would want to add cardamom to a dish.
As an example, when you have a delicious meat dish, you would usually add cardamom pods to create a spicy and warm flavor.
In comparison, in a cake, cardamom can add a sweet nuttiness which would be perfect in a delicious chocolate cake or even a coffee cake.
Bartenders also add cardamom to cocktails for a little extra zing with lemon and mint flavors.
Plus, it also adds a little better of extra warmth to an alcoholic drink.
If you are not a professional chef, then it can be tricky to find out whu exactly you would need to add cardamom to your recipe.
However, it’s a good idea to bear in mind what cardamom can do to your dish and how it could create a more spicy, warm tone in your recipe.
Also check out what the recipe is asking for when it comes to cardamom.
Some recipes ask for specific forms of cardamom, such as cardamom pods, ground cardamom or powdered cardamom.
All these types can impact the end result of your dish and how strong the food tastes of cardamom.
Additionally, the recipe should also specify what type of cardamom you should be using.
There are three cardamom types: green cardamom, black cardamom and white cardamom.
You can easily swap out the different types and forms of cardamom for one another.
However, keep in mind that black cardamom has a much stronger flavor.
This means, you will need a lot less black cardamom when you want to substitute white or green cardamom.
Generally, cardamom pods are also a little stronger in flavor than ground cardamom powder.
What Flavor Is Similar To Cardamom?
Cardamom has a truly unique taste which is almost impossible to replace.
However, there are some great spices in your kitchen pantry that you may not have thought to be ideal cardamom alternatives.
Spices such as coriander seeds, allspice and nutmeg, all have a similar flavor to cardamom and when you mix these spices together, you can replicate the note of cardamom.
One of the best mixtures that resembles the flavors of cardamom is cinnamon and cloves.
The strong intensity of cloves balances the sweet cinnamon, and both closely match cardamom.
They are also both very easy to substitute. Just use half a teaspoon of cloves and half a teaspoon of cinnamon in place of cardamom pods or powder.
Another great blend that works well as a cardamom substitute is nutmeg and cinnamon.
You can use them in similar amounts. Just mix heal a teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon in place of cardamom.
A third blend that is ideal as a cardamom alternative is ground ginger and cinnamon.
The cinnamon adds a beautiful warmth together with the fresh, spiciness of ginger.
Just make sure that you use equal parts for each to create the same cardamom measurement as asked by the recipe.
If you don’t have any cinnamon or ginger, then you can also use a mixture of nutmeg and cloves to replicate the flavor of cardamom.
Ensure that you use the same amounts for each and add them to your cardamom recipe.
How Do You Find Out The Quality Of Cardamom?
When it comes to cooking a delicious dish, it’s essential that you use good quality ingredients.
You can spot good quality cardamom pods by looking closely at the pods to ensure they have a strong color.
Green cardamom pods should be an olive green color. They should also look plump and ripe.
Make sure that the cardamom color isn’t too vibrant as this could mean that they have been artificially dyed.
Green cardamom pods that have turned yellow are usually dry and old making them a bad quality for baking and cooking.
In order to check that your cardamom pods are a decent quality, just rub one of the pods between your fingers.
If you cannot see any color rubbed off on your skin, then it’s very high quality cardamom.
Can You Substitute Cardamom For Coriander?
Yes, you can use coriander seeds as a substitute for cardamom.
However, you cannot use fresh coriander as cardamom replacement as it tastes very different.
Coriander seeds resemble cardamom pods in taste. They have a citrus and nutty flavor.
In comparison, coriander leaves don’t have the same flavor and they might change the taste of your dish instead of adding anything similar to cardamom.
Saying this, when you add coriander seeds to your food as a replacement for cardamom, you should be carefully not to add too many.
The seeds from coriander are quite strong and they can quickly create an overpowering flavor.
Is Cardamom Similar To Allspice?
Yes, allspice is very similar to cardamom in flavor.
While cardamom isn’t always widely available, allspice is often found in the spice aisle, which makes it an ideal cardamom substitute.
As allspice is similar to cardamom, it has a citrus flavor with spicy and nutty hints.
Although it doesn’t taste exactly like cardamom, the flavor is close enough that you wouldn’t notice the difference in a dish.
Both spices have slightly different origins. Allspice comes from a tree in Central America, while cardamom pods are tree seeds from different ginger plants.
There is a common misconception that allspice is a mix of different spices but this isn’t true. Allspice is just one single ingredient.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Spice Is Closest To Cardamom?
The spice that resembles cardamom the closest is allspice. They have a very similar flavor including the nutty, citrusy and spicy notes.
This means that if you need an alternative for cardamom, you can just take allspice as a substitute.
Is Cardamom Like Cinnamon?
Cardamom is different from cinnamon in taste, appearance and even price. Cardamom is much more expensive than cinnamon.
Cardamom is usually available in pods while cinnamon comes as cinnamon sticks. However, both spices can also be found as ground variations.
Is Cardamom The Same As Coriander?
No, cardamom is not the same as coriander. Although the flavor of the seeds of these plants is very similar, they have different origins.
In addition, cardamom pods are essential seeds from a plant that belongs to the ginger family, whereas coriander seeds are harvested from the coriander plant.
You can find a few varieties of cardamom, all which have flavors which vary in strength.
The two most common types of cardamom are black cardamom and green cardamom.
If you see also white cardamom, then this is usually a bleached version of green cardamom.
Coriander seeds in comparison come from the coriander plant, and their flavor differs to coriander leaves.
Coriander leaves do not taste similar to cardamom seeds so they can’t really be used as a replacement for cardamom.
However, coriander seeds are perfectly fine to use in place of green cardamom because they can add plenty of flavor to your savory and sweet dishes.
You can also use coriander as a replacement for black cardamom.
However, black cardamom has a smoky flavor which means it is usually only used for savory recipes.
Saying this, some Indian recipes from Southern India also include black cardamom for sweet dishes.
Whether you want to use less cardamom in your recipes or you have run out of cardamom in the middle of cooking, there are plenty of delicious cardamom substitutes.
And the best is that you may not even need to go out to buy all of them.
Some of these alternatives are so common that you might have them at home already.