6 Cardamom Substitutes That You Probably Don't Know

If you are into regional delicacies, there are a variety of herbs and spices that you should familiarize yourself with. Among them is garam masala that can provide an extra spicy punch to any dish. Another one is gochugaru, a native Korean spice that has the same effect as garam masala. However, there is one spice whose name is far more resonating than its counterparts, and that is cardamom.

Cardamom is quite a potent spice with a distinct flavor. Therefore, finding a cardamom substitute is not an easy task, and it is understandable if this ingredient is not always in your kitchen rack.

Cardamom is a spice that is made by grinding different seeds from plants that are part of the Amomum and Elettaria genera. Most of the time, the cardamom plant produces seed pods. It also comes in two varieties: black cardamom and green cardamom. Green cardamom is the most expensive. In fact, it is amongst the costliest spices you will find in the markets today, especially when it comes to price-per-weight calculations.

Because of this, a lot of people who have grown accustomed to the taste of cardamom are looking for potential alternatives. Of course, the most obvious option is black cardamom. However, it is not that common. Fortunately, there are a plethora of ingredients out there that mimic the taste and quality of cardamom.

Here are some of the suggested substitutes that you can use


Cardamom Substitutes

Before I go on to my list, let me emphasize the taste and texture of cardamom. It produces a sweet mesmerizing and refreshing scent, which can sometimes be smoky. You could say its scent is pretty similar to mint and citrus, with a nuance of earthly accents.

Because of its intricate flavor and scent, cardamom is commonly used to enhance the flavor of certain recipes and ingredients. You can use it to uplift the appeal of meat and fish, as well as desserts and pastries. It can also revitalize the flavor of cocktails and coffees.

When it comes to black cardamom, the flavor is quite different. It produces an overpoweringly smoky flavor. You can always include this ingredient in savory recipes. You will undoubtedly love the luscious taste that it will give your food.

So what can we use as a substitute for these two varieties of cardamom? Well, here is a list of some plausible alternatives that you can try. 

1. Ginger And Cinnamon

You can easily replicate the smoky flavor of a black cardamom by combining dried ginger and cinnamon into equal parts, as these two ingredients recreate the earthly taste of black cardamom. Moreover, they also offer a tart and sweet aftertaste because of the ginger.

However, you should not use too much ginger and cinnamon as a substitute for black cardamom. Always minimize the amount of this mixture that you use in the delicacy if you don’t want a strong flavor.

2. Nutmeg And Cinna

Once more, you will need cinnamon in this mixture, but this time pair it with nutmeg. If you don’t know, cinnamon can provide a slightly spicy flavor. Nutmeg does a great job of balancing this flavor by providing some sweetness. When combined together, the two ingredients mimic the taste of both cardamom varieties. If you want the dish to be minty and aromatic, increase the amount of nutmeg. Alternatively, if you want it to be savory, use the two ingredients in equal amounts.

If a particular recipe requires two teaspoons of cardamom, you should replace it with two teaspoons of the said mixture. Their amounts should be equal, especially if you are making stews and curries.

3. Allspice

Allspice is an excellent ingredient and a great substitutes for garam masala because it will add complex flavors to your dishes. This particular spice is created from the dried seeds of the allspice tree or the Pimenta dioica. It is extremely versatile, so you can use it in various recipes.

You can always use allspice as a substitute for cardamom in savory and sweet delicacies. There is no need for you to be specific about the measurements. If one recipe tells you that you should use one tablespoon of cardamom, just replace it with one tablespoon of allspice.

Another factor that makes allspice great is that it is readily available in the market. You don’t have to break your legs to find it as it’s as common as ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, which makes it an excellent replacement for cardamom. 

4. Cumin

Cumin has a strong taste with a potency that will make your dish savory. Many Mexican and Asian dishes use this spice, but Western markets are also sell lots of this ingredient, so replenishing cumin is definitely not a problem.

Cumin can give an earthy tone to your food. However, if it is mixed with the right ingredients, it can create an aromatic flavor. For me, it is an excellent substitute for black cardamom. I don’t think that it can serve as a replacement for green cardamom, however, because that is used for sweet delicacies. 

5. Cloves

This is one of the most versatile substitutes for both green and black cardamom. Cloves can release both an aromatic and smoky flavor at the same time. Most of the time, it is extremely pungent and will envelop your tongue with warmth and richness. Many sweet and savory recipes use cloves. Therefore, you can use it as a substitute for any variety of cardamom.

6. Coriande

Coriander is another excellent alternative that you should try. Coriander seeds are sweet and aromatic, which are two of the most common attributes of cardamom. But if you grind the seeds, the coriander will release an earthly and nutty aroma, which comes from the oil that the seeds contain. Of course, it can be used as a substitute for black cardamom.

Just be aware of the flavor of the recipe you are making. If you are making a sweet meal, make sure the coriander seeds are whole. For curries, the seeds should be ground. You can also use equal amounts of these two spices (coriander and cardamom) in a particular recipe. 

7. Black Cardamom

Can you replace green cardamom with black cardamom or vice versa? For me, the answer is a big YES, but only to a certain extent. Some people will never settle for any alternatives other than cardamom. If green cardamom is not available, they immediately opt for black cardamom.

If you are making a savory cuisine, you can always us green cardamom as a substitute for black cardamom. However, it is a different story when it comes to sweet recipes. Using black cardamom can overwhelm them with too much aroma or an earthly tone, which is bad news if the dish is a pastry or dessert.

But don’t be concerned by this. Just use the alternatives that I have provided for each cardamom variant and you will quickly get your desired results. 


No kitchen chef gives up if a particular ingredient is missing in their kitchen This is because we have a will to discover the possibilities that each food item presents to us.

Finding a cardamom substitute is quite tricky at first as it comes in two varieties. But once you get to know of all their respective nuances, you can replace them with their appropriate counterparts. I have listed some of the possible alternatives that you can use for green black cardamom here.

But if you still want to find out more replacements, you are free to experiment. Don’t forget to have fun, as this will make the process a lot less frustrating!

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