Here's What You Can Substitute For Cloves

Cloves are a bold and distinct spice that's often found in the pantry, but not always. When your supply has gotten low, however, and your recipe calls for cloves, then it's useful to be aware of a few substitutes. Depending on what you're cooking, some alternatives to cloves are better than others.

Some substitutes for cloves share similar aromatic notes, while others are spicer with less sweetness. For the closest swap out to cloves, consider using nutmeg. Allspice is another good alternative. Nutmeg shares a similar aroma, while allspice presents a completely unique flavor profile when compared to cloves. 

If you don't have anything else on hand in the pantry, cinnamon will do, though it is not as sweet and adds more spice than cloves generally would to a dish. Finally, cardamom can also be used. If you're willing to experiment, it's also possible to combine any of these spices to create your own replacement (via Spiceography).

Measurements for cloves substitutes

If you happen to have whole cloves instead of ground cloves, then using whole cloves is possible and will not alter the flavor of the dish as much as using another ground spice substitute. To trade in whole cloves, simply use 1 teaspoon for every 3/4 of a teaspoon of ground cloves needed (via The Spruce Eats).

If using allspice instead of ground cloves, use in equal amounts. Allspice has subtle hints of black pepper, so consider that when using it in sweet baked goods. Nutmeg, which is the closest substitute for cloves, can be also be added in equal parts. So, if the recipe calls for a teaspoon of cloves, use a teaspoon of nutmeg in its place. Lastly, cinnamon should be added in equal parts as well. For cinnamon, however, your recipe could benefit from adding another complementing ingredient, such as vanilla extract.