Here's What You Can Substitute For Cardamom

Cardamom is a spice used in meals throughout the world, from Scandinavian to Indian dishes. It starts as a small, triangular pod with a hard shell and tiny seeds inside. There are three different types of cardamom: green, which is used for savory and sweet dishes; white, which is usually used in desserts; and black or brown, which is used to flavor meats (via Tastessence). 

As one of the more expensive spices, however, sometimes you may need to substitute if you don't have any on hand and your recipe calls for it. The good news is that most of the substitutions for cardamom are spices that will already be in your pantry.

As the flavor of cardamom is so complex, combining two other spices will work the best to get a similar flavor. A combo of cloves and cinnamon is the best option for a cardamom substitute. This combination will get you the closest to the real thing, and is best used in meat and seafood dishes (via Spiceography). To replace one teaspoon of cardamom, use half a teaspoon each of cinnamon and cloves.

Additional cardamom alternatives

There are other spice combinations that also work as cardamom substitutes. One alternative is to use the cinnamon with nutmeg in the same proportions as you would with cloves (via Spruce Eats), which will result in a combination that will work best in baked desserts. Ginger also works in place of cloves. Again, use a half-teaspoon each of ginger and cinnamon to create an equivalent flavor best used for rice and meats. If cinnamon isn't an option, combine cloves and nutmeg, maintaining the same proportion of a half-teaspoon of each to one teaspoon of cardamom. This combination is best for rice and meats.

If baking spices aren't an option, another alternative is cumin and coriander. For this combination, use a half-teaspoon of cumin with a teaspoon of coriander to get the equivalent flavor of a teaspoon of cardamom. This combo is a bit stronger, and tends to work best in curries and meat dishes.

None of the substitutes will provide the exact same taste, but you will be able to complete your dish without sacrificing the general flavor of cardamom.