Best Cardamom Substitutes for Cooking Recipes
Spices transform meals by adding a range of flavors to complement meat, vegetables, and other ingredients. Some spices have a distinct and complex flavor, like cardamom which has a combination of fruity, woody, and citrusy flavors. Because of its unique flavor, finding a substitute for cooking is not an easy feat.
Before you hit the road and head to a grocery store or market, know that you can experiment with alternatives to get the flavor of this herb. The great news is you have options to choose from; in fact, your perfect cardamom substitute is most likely available right in your spice cabinet.
Read on and discover the best substitutes for cardamom spice and the perfect recipes to try them in.
What Is Cardamom?
Cardamom grows wild in Southern India, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Bhutan, China, and Tanzania. These days, you can find this spice at local Indian stores and other huge supermarkets.
It has an intense aroma and flavor not easily replicated by other ingredients. Mostly referred to as the ‘Queen of all Spices,’ this herb provides a spicy, floral, and woody flavor best for curries, desserts, baked items, and tea.
Because of its unique flavor, cardamom is the third most expensive spice in the world, following saffron (which has a unique color) and vanilla. However, given the increase in production worldwide, the cost of the herb has become affordable for cooking.
If you’ve never seen cardamom, it is a small, triangular-shaped seedpod found in green, white, brown, and black. It has a hard outer shell and tiny black seeds inside.
White cardamom is used for baking and desserts, while the green variety is best for savory and sweet dishes. Black and brown cardamom are only used to flavor meats.
As mentioned, the flavor is complex and it’s hard to replicate the same potent content. However, you can create almost the same intensity of flavor using just two ingredients.
For every one tablespoon of cardamom, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon each of cloves and cinnamon.
The intensity in the flavor of cloves replicates the flavor of cardamom, then add to that the woodiness of cinnamon and you’re good to go.
The combination of the two ingredients can be used for meat and seafood dishes.
For baking, you can combine 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1/2 tablespoon of ginger.
If you want a milder and less complicated end flavor, you can opt for 1 tablespoon of mace or 1 tablespoon of apple pie spice.
When experimenting with the combination of ingredients, start with a lesser quantity of cinnamon and ginger because the two have a stronger flavor. If you don’t have cinnamon at home, you can also use peppercorn or nutmeg.
Here’s a summary of how to make a substitute for cardamom:
- For sweetmeat and baked desserts: ½ tsp. ground cinnamon + ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- Rice and meat: ½ tsp. ground nutmeg + ½ tsp. ground cloves
- Curries and meat dishes: ½ tsp. ground cumin + 1 tsp. ground coriander
- Fish: ½ tsp. allspice powder
Qualities of Cardamom Substitute
Now that you know what are the best replacement for cardamom for cooking and baking, here’s detailed information on the qualities of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
Cinnamon has a well-known aromatic quality, used to make dishes smell good. Aside from its aroma, cinnamon also provides delicious taste to meals, especially baked goods. The taste is distinct too, fruity and woody.
Nutmeg is a common spice in Indonesia and is popular for its sweet and savory flavor. Because this spice is common, the price is cheaper compared to cardamom. You can stock up on this ingredient in your kitchen and use it as a replacement for other spices.
Also known as Jamaica pepper, allspice is dried, unripe, and aromatic berries found in Jamaica and Central America. It tastes warm and sweet, with hints of juniper and peppercorn.
Another spice known for its aroma, cloves smell sweet and have a pungent taste. When using them for baking or cooking, use a small amount as the flavor is already strong.
Health Benefits of Cardamom
This herb may be expensive compared to other spices, but cardamom yields a number of health benefits. Similar to ginger, cardamom can combat digestive problems like acidity. In addition, this spice can also prevent constipation and promote appetite stimulation.
More importantly, cardamom is also a good detoxifier. It helps clean out kidneys and bladder, removing excess water and salt.
Whenever you are out of cardamom, you can use alternative ingredients to mimic its flavor and aroma. Make use of the mentioned spices the next time you need a cardamom substitute for baking and cooking meat.