If you need a ground cloves substitute because you’ve run out of the warm spice often added to baked goods and roasts, there are some quick alternatives you might already have on hand.
What Are Ground Cloves?
Ground cloves are the ground and dried aromatic buds found on the clove tree. The clove tree is an evergreen tree native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia. Ground cloves are used in baked goods and savory dishes, as well as added to meat dishes.
What Do Ground Cloves Taste Like?
Ground cloves are a warm and aromatic spice that has a subtly sweet flavor and pairs well with other warm aromatic spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. They have a slightly bitter taste that counters their sweet flavor but are used in small amounts in dishes due to their strong aroma.
Difference Between Whole and Ground Cloves
The difference between whole and ground cloves when cooking is the ability to remove the spice. Cloves are often preferred whole since they contain more aroma and flavor and can easily be removed to avoid a bitter taste when eaten whole.
Ground cloves are used where you would not want to remove the spice after cooking or baking, and works well in meat rubs and marinades. Ground cloves can replace whole cloves, using ¾ of the number of whole cloves you would use.
Common Uses for Ground Cloves
- Meat rubs
- Spice blends like Chinese 5-spice or garam masala
- Mulled wine
- Chai tea
- Hot apple cider
- Stewed fruits
- Pumpkin pie
- Pickling mixes and spice
10 Best Ground Cloves Substitute Ingredients
1. Whole Cloves
If you don’t have any ground cloves, whole cloves might just do the trick – this is best suited for recipes where you can remove the cloves after cooking, or you can grind them at home if you have the tools to do so. Tilda explains what they are and how to use them.
Many recipes pair clove and allspice, so you might get away by replacing your ground cloves with ground allspice in a 1:1 ratio. Spice Rally notes the two spices come from the same family of plants and explains the key differences in flavor.
Nutmeg has a similar taste profile as cloves, just with an added nuttiness. It works well in any dish, from baked goods to soups where you would need some cloves. Spiceography explains exactly where it is best to substitute spices for one another.
Cinnamon might be the easiest substitution for ground cloves since it is likely you already have it in your pantry. It will give a warm and slightly sweeter aroma to your dish, which might be ideal where you would need a bit of sweetness, especially cookies. Food Struct compares the nutritional information of both spices.
Mace is the outer part of the nutmeg fruit that is dried and ground to use as a warm and nutty spice to add to your sweet or savory dishes. Tilda gives you a complete overview of the spice and how to use it.
6. Pumpkin Pie Spice
This spice blend is made from warm and aromatic spices, which include cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. You don’t have to only use it in baking dishes. Try it in I Am Homesteader’s recipe for pork tenderloin.
7. Star Anise
Star anise is similar to cloves since it adds a hint of spice and warmth with an added hint of licorice. You can use it whole or ground. Star anise works well in this apple cider sangria recipe from Lively Table.
8. Fennel Seeds
It is important to use fennel seeds and not fennel leaves when substituting fennel for ground cloves. It will add a flavor to your dish that reminds you both of cloves and star anise. Use it in a 1:1 ratio for cloves. Food Struct compares the nutritional information of both spices.
9. Five Spice
Whether you use Chinese five spice or normal five spice, the blend would likely have cloves, cinnamon, and fennel in the blend. Spice And Life guide you on how to use the spice blend.
10. Apple Pie Spice
Apple pie spice is a staple blend of spices when used in fall baking dishes, but like pumpkin pie spice, you can use it in savory dishes, too, like this pork chop recipe from Spice Walla.
Tips for Ground Cloves Substitution
- Spice blends – if you are using a recipe where you need more spices than just cloves, using a spice blend that has some of the other spices that you need it’s an ideal swap – adjust every other spice to get a similar taste profile.
- Ground spices – if your recipe calls for cloves and you will be using ground spices as a substitute, start with half of the amount and slowly increase the amount added since ground spices are stronger than whole spices.
- Whole spices – if you are using whole spices as a substitute for ground cloves, ensure you can easily remove them, or place them in a cheesecloth tied with a food-safe string for easy removal.