Spices transform foods by adding a variety of flavors to complement meat, vegetables, and other ingredients. Some have a distinctive and complex flavor, such as cardamom, which is a combination of fruity, woody, and citrus flavors. Due to its unique taste, it is not easy to find a substitute for cooking. Before heading to a grocery store or the market, know that you can experiment with alternatives to get the flavor of this herb.
The good news is that there are different options to choose from. Your perfect cardamom substitute is most likely readily available right from your spice cabinet. Read this article so you can see the most suitable substitutes for cardamom spices and the excellent recipes to try. Now that you know that we can substitute something for cardamom concerning cooking and baking, we will provide detailed information in this article on the properties of the different alternatives below.
Get to Know About Cardamom
Before we dive right into the cardamom substitute options, how about we get familiar with cardamom first? Know their tastes and uses in the kitchen. Cardamom is a complex flavor spice that combines citrus, spicy and herbal aromas in a single pod. It is also very fragrant. If you’ve been to an Indian restaurant before, this is the smell that probably caught your senses first.
Unlike most spices, cardamom is a spice that can be prepared from the cardamom pods, fruits, and seeds of Elettaria cardamomum from the ginger family. You could easily say that cardamom is a close relative of ginger and turmeric. However, they are completely different in appearance. Cardamom is easy to spot because it has a very distinctive spindle-shaped capsule. The skin on the pod is paper-thin and tender.
Inside are black seeds that are very similar to black peppercorns. Trying cardamom for the first time and describing its flavor notes can also be a daunting task, as its flavor profile is quite complex. It starts with a fruity, acorn-like flavor that becomes astringent if too much is consumed. You’ll also taste hints of menthol, cloves, licorice, and fennel. Because of this, cardamom can be used in both sweet and savory foods. Furthermore, it is one of the spices that are handy in the kitchen.
Best Cardamom Substitutes for Cooking
#1. Cinnamon and Ground Ginger
A combination of regular cinnamon and dried ginger can be a helpful substitute for black cardamom. It includes the earthy elements of cardamom and the sweet and sour taste. Less of this spice mixture is required than a regular amount of cardamom. It’s because both ginger and cinnamon are quite pronounced in dishes.
#2. Cinnamon and Nutmeg
Cinnamon adds a bit of “spice” to a combination of spices, while nutmeg offers more of the sweet side of cardamom. It makes the combination an effective replacement for cardamom in savory and sweet dishes that will surely give the taste you like, mainly in curries or stews.
#3. Apple Pie Spice
Almost at the bottom of our list is apple pie seasoning! Without a doubt, apple pie seasoning is a great substitute, especially if you know what dishes complement this alternative. But why exactly is this a good alternative to cardamom? For starters, this spice is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cardamom, all of these turned out to be good alternatives to cardamom.
While cumin is on the savory side, it is a well-known spice in Asian and Mexican food. It gives certain dishes an earthy yet aromatic touch and enhances softer aromas. It is an excellent replacement for black cardamom, as green cardamom is most commonly found in sweet preparations that cumin would not be suitable for.
#5. Cinnamon and Cloves
Cloves are perhaps one of the best options as a substitute for cardamom. They have a smoky and aromatic quality that is sharp on the nose but warm and aromatic on the palate. These are already used in both savory and sweet preparations, making them great substitutes for black and green cardamom depending on the recipe.
#6. Cinnamon and Allspice
For sweet dishes, an excellent substitute for green cardamom is made from cinnamon and allspice. You can also add cloves and nutmeg if you like.
#7. Coriander Seeds
If you cook with whole coriander seeds, you will find that the aroma is quite strong. When you crush coriander seeds, the nutty and earthy aroma is released. Thanks to the natural oils that also serve as alternatives for cardamom. Depending on the recipe and the type of cardamom desired, ground coriander is an excellent substitute. For a simple recipe, see How to Make Fresh Coriander Powder.
In a Nutshell
Cardamom is a unique flavoring spice, and a good substitute is not easy to find. No spice or combination of spices exactly matches cardamom. The best thing you can do is invest in a jar of this delicious spice. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of recipes.
It is not always possible to get this spice. Price is usually an important factor. If you can’t or don’t want to buy cardamom, use cinnamon and cloves for a hearty recipe. Use cinnamon and ginger as a backing spice for baking. Want to enjoy a cup of cardamom coffee? Alternatively, use cinnamon and nutmeg.