Finding an apple pie spice substitute is as easy as pie when you know what to look for. With three main ingredients in apple pie spice, you might already have alternatives in your pantry to work with.
What is Apple Pie Spice?
Apple pie spice is a spice blend that has a warm, sweet, and slightly spicy flavor that complements the sweetness of apples in apple pie. It is often associated with fall-inspired recipes, especially sweeter dishes and baked goods.
What Is Apple Pie Spice Made Of?
The blend of spices always includes cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Depending on the brand, ginger, cloves, and cardamom may be added to the blend.
Common Uses for Apple Pie Spice
- Apple pies and other baked goods
- Holiday-themed hot drinks
- Flavored toppings, ice cream, and whipped cream
- Sprinkled onto oatmeal, yogurt, and other porridge.
- Adding flavor to smoothies
- Sprinkled over roasted starchy veggies like sweet potatoes or pumpkin.
8 Apple Pie Spice Substitute Options
Cinnamon is one of the main ingredients in apple pie spice, so using it as a standalone ingredient will work just as well. Bon Appetit uses cinnamon only as an aromatic, warm spice in their apple crumble pie.
Nutmeg is a flavor often associated with holidays and is used in small quantities due to its strong flavor. It can be used as a substitute for apple pie spice, but add small amounts at a time until you are happy with the results. Masterclass teaches you how to cook with nutmeg.
One of the main ingredients in apple pie spice blends is allspice. A warm, aromatic spice, allspice resembles the taste of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger all together in one single spice, without being too overwhelming. Ground allspice is best when used in baking, as explained by The Spruce Eats.
4. Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pumpkin pie spice is very similar to apple pie spice. While pumpkin pie spice includes cloves in the mix, apple pie spice often includes ginger. On the other hand, pumpkin pie spice is more versatile and works well in both sweet and savory dishes. Webstaurant Store explains the difference in detail.
5. Chinese 5 Spice
This blend of 5 spices, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, and Sichuan pepper, is similar to apple pie spice but is a bit more fragrant and spicy, making it ideal to use in spiced cakes like The Cozy Apron’s Chinese 5 spice recipe.
6. DIY Apple Pie Spice Blends
If you have the three main ingredients of apple pie spice on hand, The Spruce Eats has a simple recipe to follow to make your own. Cardamom is optional but will add a complex flavor profile to your spice blend.
7. Chai Spice
Chai spice is another spice blend that is very similar to apple pie spice, with a bit more complex flavors thanks to the cardamom and cloves in the blend. Lively Table has a recipe to make your own and some tips on how to use it.
8. Mulling Spices
Mulling spice blends are often used to make apple cider or mulled wine but can be used to replace apple pie spice since the key ingredients are the same. The main differences between the two spice blends are that mulling spices include dried citrus peels, and most of the spices are whole as opposed to ground spices.
This is best used in recipes where you can easily remove the spice, like in hot drinks. Plum Deluxe has some recipes to use mulling spices in.
Tips for Apple Pie Spice Substitution
- Consider the flavor profile of the dish you are cooking since some ingredients in other spice blends might not work with the flavors of your dish.
- Start with smaller amounts and add more as you go, especially with alternatives that have strong flavor profiles, like nutmeg or ginger.
- Look at the ingredients of a spice blend and reduce the other spices or ingredients in your recipe to avoid an overwhelming flavor in your final dish.
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