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Substitute For Nutmeg In Apple Pie

Substitute For Nutmeg In Apple Pie

Are you baking an apple pie but you’re all out of nutmeg? Or maybe you don’t like the flavor of nutmeg in your pie?

Either way, there are a number of nutmeg substitutions and alterations you make to any apple pie recipe.

Nutmeg is called for almost every traditional style apple pie recipe, but you can use any of the ingredients in this article instead of nutmeg and get a great tasting apple pie.

So what are the best substitutes for nutmeg when baking an apple pie?

The top nutmeg substitutions for apple pie are mace, cardamom with lemon zest, allspice, cinnamon, clove, ginger, garam masala, apple pie spice, and pumpkin pie spice.

Each of these ingredients will give a wonderful flavor note to your apple pie. Be sure to read on for how to use each of these nutmeg alternatives in your recipe.

Nutmeg Alternatives

dutch apple pie on cutting board

Nutmeg provides a sweet and nutty flavor that is one of the most popular spices used to make apple pie. In fact, it has been used in some of the oldest apple pie recipes around.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make an apple pie without it! In fact, apple pies are the perfect dessert to use all sorts of different flavors and spices.

Can you omit nutmeg from apple pie?

Yes, you can just leave the nutmeg out of your recipe and prepare it without adding any other spices.

But this is the perfect opportunity to add some wonderful alternative flavors to your pie. And the following nutmeg substitutes will do exactly that!

Related: Shortening substitute in pie crust


bowl of mace spice

If you want to add a spice to your apple pie that is quite similar to nutmeg, then mace is the one to choose.

Mace is actually made from the outer coating of the seed that nutmeg is made from. While the flavors are not identical, mace offers a less intense flavor than nutmeg with subtle notes of cinnamon and black pepper.

Mace will produce an apple pie that tastes strikingly similar to one made using nutmeg.


1 teaspoon of mace equals 1 teaspoon of nutmeg

Cardamom with Lemon Zest

closeup of cardamom seeds

If you don’t like the flavor of nutmeg, or are just looking for an interesting flavor combination then cardamom and lemon zest is an excellent option.

Cardamom has a slightly sweet flavor with citrus notes that when paired with lemon zest can really make a wonderful apple pie.

Related: How to freeze pie crust


1 teaspoon of cardamom and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest equals 1 teaspoon of nutmeg


bowl of ground allspice

Allspice provides a wonderful flavor to apple pie, and it is a great nutmeg alternative. It offers flavor notes including cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, and juniper berries.

Allspice is found in most kitchens so it’s a convenient substitute as well. Go with real allspice as imitation can contain other spices.

Related: Can you use expired pie crust


1 teaspoon of allspice equals 1 teaspoon of nutmeg


bowl of cinnamon and spoons

Cinnamon is usually already called for in most apple pie recipes. It provides that classic apple pie flavor, without needing any extra spices.

Instead of using the amount of cinnamon your recipe calls for, simply increase that amount instead of using nutmeg.

Use two or three times as much cinnamon as your recipe calls for. But be careful if your recipe already calls for a large amount of cinnamon, it is a strong spice.

Related: Substitutes for cinnamon


1 teaspoon of cinnamon equals 1 teaspoon of nutmeg


bowl of ground cloves

Cloves have a flavor that is quite complimentary to nutmeg, and it makes a great alternative. With sweet and peppery notes, clove goes wonderfully in apple pie.

You can find both ground and whole clove at most stores, but when baking an apple pie I recommend using ground cloves.

If your recipe already calls for cloves, don’t use additional clove as the flavor can become overpowering.


1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves equals 1 teaspoon of nutmeg


bowl of ground ginger and whole ginger

If you prefer an apple pie that is less sweet, ginger is an interesting choice. It has a much spicier flavor than nutmeg and is most commonly used when making savory dishes.

But it is a good substitute in apple pie for those who are looking for an interesting flavor twist. Dry, ground ginger is preferred when adding to apple pie but fresh ginger can be used if that is all you have on hand.


2/3 teaspoon of ginger equals 1 teaspoon of nutmeg

Garam Masala

container of Garam Masala

Garam masala is a spice mix that is popular in Indian and South Asian dishes. It comes in a variety of forms, but most commonly contains fenugreek, cumin, and star anise.

The flavor combination works quite well when used instead of nutmeg. It does have a slightly more intense flavor so reduce the amount used compared to nutmeg.


2/3 teaspoon of garam masala equals 1 teaspoon of nutmeg

Apple Pie Spice

bowl of apple pie spice

If you have apple spice on hand, you have a straight forward and simple substitute for nutmeg. Most apple pie spice contains nutmeg in addition to cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cardamom.

Because apple pie spice contains quite a bit of cinnamon, you will want to reduce or eliminate adding more cinnamon.

You can actually just use apple pie spice and leave out any other spices if you are unsure how much to use. In fact, I recommend that for most inexperienced bakers.


Use equal amounts of apple pie spice to other spices combined

Pumpkin Pie Spice

measuring spoon of pumpkin pie spice on table

Don’t let the name fool you, pumpkin pie spice can be used when making an apple pie. Most pumpkin pie spice contains cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice.

The flavor combo is great for making apple pie and just like above, you can eliminate using any other spices in your recipe.


Use equal amounts of pumpkin pie spice to other spices combined

Bottom Line

While nutmeg is called for in many apple pie recipes, you can make a delicious apple pie without it. In fact, you can make an apple pie just as good, if not better, with the other spices and flavor combinations listed above.

Experiment with a few of them an find out which type of apple pie is your favorite.