Cardamom pods are triangular-shaped seedpods that have hard outer shells and small black seeds inside. There are three main varieties of cardamom pods, black/brown cardamom, white cardamom, and green cardamom.
Black/brown cardamom is mostly used in meat dishes and white cardamom is used in desserts because the white color complements the color of desserts. The green cardamom is more versatile since it can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. If a recipe calls for cardamom, use green cardamom unless the recipe states otherwise.
I’m sure you have come across recipes that call either call for crushed cardamom pods, ground cardamom, or cardamom seeds. Cardamom is a very versatile spice and is also quite popular. Cardamom is one of the few spices that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. I believe this is one of the reasons why it is so popular.
I use cardamom in meat dishes, grains, legumes, pastries, cookies, and other baked goods. Sometimes I even use it as a flavoring in tea, alcohol, or coffee. Cardamom compliments several other spices including nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cloves. Most of the recipes that call for cardamom also call for these other spices.
Cardamom is a common ingredient in Indian, Middle Eastern, Scandinavian, and African cuisines. Cardamom has intense floral, spicy, and warm flavors. The fragrance and aroma of cardamom are also very distinct. I always say that cardamom should be used sparingly no matter the dish you are making. A little bit of cardamom goes a long way. Using too much cardamom in any dish would make the dish undesirable.
We all know that cardamom is one of the most expensive spices out there. Some people even call it the queen of spices. No spice combination can accurately mimic the flavor and aroma of cardamom.
I always try to keep some cardamom on hand, but I tend to run out quickly since I use it in so many dishes. I have had several instances when I do not have it on hand yet I really need to use some in my dish. Therefore, I had to become creative and use substitutes instead.
There are several reasons why you may want to substitute cardamom with other ingredients. For starters, cardamom is really expensive. If you want a cheaper option you can use the substitutes instead. The second possible reason is you, or one of your family members or friends is allergic.
I am not allergic to cardamom, but I have a few friends who are. The third and most obvious reason is that you ran out yet you are making a dish that calls for cardamom.
Whatever the reason, you are in luck. There are several ingredients and spice combinations that you can use instead of cardamom pods. Ground cardamom, cinnamon & nutmeg, cinnamon & cloves, allspice & peppercorns, cinnamon & ginger, ground coriander, nutmeg, & peppercorn, cumin, and apple pie spice are suitable cardamom pods substitutes.
These substitutes try to mimic the flavor and aroma of cardamom. They will give you results similar to what cardamom pods give you. Without wasting any more time, let us discuss these good cardamom pods substitutes in detail.
Cardamom pods substitutes
Ground cardamom is, in my opinion, one of the best substitutes for cardamom pods. Ground cardamom is mostly used in desserts. Compared to cardamom pods, store-bought ground cardamom is less flavorful. I always prefer buying cardamom pods, roasting them, then grinding them in a grinder to form homemade ground cardamom.
This way, the cardamom maintains its amazing complex flavor. Whether your ground cardamom is store-bought or homemade, you should store it in an airtight container far away from sources of heat and light.
The rule of the thumb is that a teaspoon of ground cardamom is equivalent to six cardamom pods. Therefore, if a recipe calls for six cardamom pods, just use one teaspoon of ground cardamom.
I suggest using ground black cardamom in savory dishes and white cardamom powder in desserts. White cardamom powder is not ideal for savory dishes because it is too bland.
Cinnamon & nutmeg
A mixture of cinnamon and nutmeg makes an ideal substitute for cardamom pods. Cinnamon has a sweet woody flavor while nutmeg has a slightly spicy and citrusy flavor. The cinnamon also adds a little bit of heat to the dish and nutmeg gives it some fruity flavors.
The first thing you need to do is mix the two spices in equal amounts. Once completely combined, you can add it to your dish directly.
You can substitute cardamom pods with this combination of spices in equal amounts. If you are skeptical about how the flavor will turn out, you can add half the amount that the recipe requires then adjust the flavor to your liking.
I suggest using this substitute in baked goods and sweet dishes. Your baked goods will taste amazing. You can also use it in curries.
Cinnamon & cloves
The combination of cinnamon and cloves is an ideal substitute for cardamom. Cinnamon has a sweet flavor while cloves have an intense flavor. The two flavors combined to mimic the unique flavor of cardamom.
Mix ¼ teaspoon of cloves with ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and use it to substitute a teaspoon of cardamom. If the flavor is not as intense as you want it to be, you can add more to adjust it to your liking. We use less the amount that the recipe requires because cinnamon is a very strong spice and it can easily overwhelm your dish.
I suggest using this substitute in fish, stews, curries, and other meat dishes.
Allspice & peppercorns
Allspice and peppercorns can also substitute cardamom pods. Allspice can be used on its own especially in curries, stews, and meat dishes. When combined with peppercorns, this substitute has more sharpness.
Allspice contains nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. I would describe the flavor of allspice as fruity, spicy, and citrusy. The flavor is not 100% similar to that of cardamom but it adds some cardamom flavors to dishes it is added to. Peppercorns are spicy and very aromatic. Therefore, the combination makes a very powerful spice.
Combine ¼ teaspoon of allspice with ¼ teaspoon of peppercorns and use it to substitute a teaspoon of cardamom.
Cinnamon & ginger
Cinnamon and ginger are a powerful combination that you can use as an alternative to cardamom pods. This combination replicates both the flavor and aroma of cardamom pods.
When combined, cinnamon and ginger as an excellent addition to meat and rice dishes. The ginger adds a little bit of spice and sweetness to your dish and cinnamon also adds a sweet woody flavor to the dish.
It is important that you use ground ginger and not fresh ginger in this case. Mix equal amounts of ground ginger and cinnamon then use the mixture in your dish.
Both cinnamon and ginger are very strong spices. Therefore, you should only use half the amount that the recipe requires. If you use more, the spices may overwhelm your dish. In case you use half the amount and the flavor is not as strong as you want, you can always add more.
Ground coriander, nutmeg, & peppercorn
Ground coriander mixed with nutmeg and peppercorn is a suitable substitute when you are looking for an alternative for cardamom pods.
I suggest using this substitute in savory dishes like stews, curries, and meat dishes. The flavors of the spices replicate the flavor of cardamom.
To use these spices as substitutes, simply mix them in equal amounts then use the same amount that your recipe calls for. The flavor complements savory dishes perfectly.
Cumin is a common cardamom substitute, especially in savory dishes. Just sprinkle some cumin over your savory dishes to enhance their flavor.
Cumin adds both a sweet and bitter flavor. They also add a unique earthy flavor to dishes. It also adds a slight heat to dishes.
Apple pie spice
In case you have none of the substitutes we have discussed above, you can use apple pie spice. Apple pie spice contains cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.
Apple pie spice replicates both the flavor and aroma of cardamom. You can use allspice in both sweet and savory dishes.
Cardamom is the perfect addition to both sweet and savory dishes. It adds a unique flavor to the dishes. In case you find cardamom too expensive or you run out, you can use any of the substitutes that we have discussed above.
Replace cardamom with different spice combinations for a flavor that is very similar to that of cardamom. These substitutes may not give you the same aroma that cardamom does, but the flavors will blow your mind.
Be careful not to use too many of the substitutes since most of the spice combinations are pretty strong. The best way to go about it is to add half the amount that your recipe calls for then adjust the amount to your liking. Using too much will give you undesirable results.