Cardamom is an Indian spice used in a variety of savory and sweet dishes due to its spicy, minty, herbal, and citrusy flavor. Its complex flavor goes excellent with meats, grains, legumes, grains, pastries, cookies, chocolate cakes, soups, apple pies, tea, coffee, and alcohol.
The spice is worldwide available, but mostly used in the Middle Eastern, Arabic, Indian, and Swedish cuisines. It’s used in two forms, as whole cardamom pods and ground cardamom.
Whole pods are most commonly used for basmati rice and curries, and ground cardamom in various desserts. When ground, cardamom loses some of its flavors, so it’s best to buy whole pods, roast them, and grind them in a grinder.
Generally, one teaspoon ground cardamom equals 6 whole pods. You can store both of them in an airtight container like a jar and keep it away from light or heat.
Thanks to its distinctive flavor and aroma, cardamom is not easy to replicate. However, if you’re out of it or are hesitant to buy it due to its high price, you may want to try some other spices as a substitute.
Here are a few options to add to your savory or sweet dish instead of cardamom.
Best Cardamom Substitutes
Cardamom’s distinctive flavor can be hard to replace, so some combinations of more spices make a better alternative than a single spice.
1. Cinnamon & Cloves
Cloves have an intense flavor which pairs well with the sweet and woody flavor of cinnamon to form an amazing cardamom substitute. This combination is great for replacing cardamom in stews, curries, and other fish and meat dishes.
Use ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon instead of 1 teaspoon of cardamom. You can adjust the taste later. You may want to use a lower amount of cinnamon than the amount of cardamom required as cinnamon is a pretty strong spice.
Don’t use more than the equivalent amount of cardamom stated in the recipe.
2. Cinnamon & Nutmeg
Here’s another combination with cinnamon that can be an effective alternative to cardamom. Cinnamon adds heat to the food, but the fruit flavors of nutmeg bring the sweet, spicy, and slightly citrusy flavor of cardamom in the meal.
To use cinnamon and nutmeg as a cardamom substitute, mix equal amounts of the spices together. Use the same amount of the cinnamon/nutmeg combination as you would of cardamom, or half of the amount and adjust the taste later.
This cardamom substitute is best in baked goods and sweet dishes, although you can also use it in some stews and curries.
3. Cinnamon & Ginger
Cinnamon can be used in one more combination to replicate the flavor and aroma of cardamom. This time, you should mix it with ginger. This combination is best used in savory dishes with rice and meat.
Cinnamon replicates some of the cardamom’s flavor and aroma, while ginger provides the necessary sweetness.
Make sure you use ground ginger instead of fresh. To make this cardamom substitute, mix cinnamon and ground ginger in equal amounts. But, since both spices are pretty strong, you may want to use half the amount of this combination as you would of cardamom. You can always add more if you want a stronger flavor.
4. Allspice & Peppercorns
You can use allspice on its own in meat dishes, curries, and stews, or combined with ground peppercorns for more sharpness. Mix equal amounts of both spices to make this powerful combination.
Allspice has a complex flavor similar to cardamom, with notes of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. It’s also spicy and fruity and a little citrusy. Even though the flavor of allspice is not the same as that of cardamom, it does add some of the cardamom flavors to the food.
Both allspice and the combination of allspice and peppercorn are strong spices, so use half the amount of them as you would of cardamom.
5. Ground Coriander, Nutmeg, and Peppercorns
This cardamom substitute is best used in savory dishes. In fact, many people say it’s the best alternative to cardamom when it comes to savory dishes.
To make this fantastic combination, mix equal amounts of ground coriander, nutmeg, and ground peppercorns. Use the same amount of the spice combination as you would of cardamom.
Other Alternatives for Cardamom
Here are a few more cardamom substitutes you may want to try:
6. Apple pie spice – use this spice instead of green cardamom powder to sprinkle over sweet dishes.
7. Cinnamon, ground allspice, and ground nutmeg – blend ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice to get an alternative to green cardamom powder and apple pie spice for sprinkling over desserts.
8. Cumin – cumin is a common cardamom substitute in some cuisines, mostly used in savory dishes. You can use ground cumin to sprinkle over savory dishes as you would do with cardamom.
Why You Should Use More Cardamom in Your Cooking
This spice adds flavor to many savory and sweet dishes, but it also has many health benefits. For example, cardamom oil is said to have an antimicrobial activity that can destroy some fungi and bacteria. But, have in mind that cardamom essential oil is not supposed to be consumed.
According to studies, cardamom may support heart health by improving triglyceride and cholesterol levels. It may also be helpful for detoxification, liver disorders, and metabolic syndrome.
People use this spice to freshen their breath and prevent oral bacteria which can lead to gum disease or cavities.
Cardamom adds unique flavor and aroma to savory and sweet dishes, and if you ever run out of it or want to save money on spices, you can try replacing it with certain spice combinations. We’ve provided you some of our favorite replacements for cardamom to use in your next recipe.
Even though they can’t give the same flavor and fragrance as the original spice, they are good alternatives that can help replicate some of the flavor notes and aromas. Just don’t use too much cardamom or any of the cardamom substitutes as they are strong spices that can easily overwhelm your dishes.