15 Mace Spice Substitutes

Mary and Brenda Maher

By Brenda & Mary

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Without mace, your heart-warming (literally) fall treats might lack the iconic autumn vibe! But let’s be real here: mace is a kinda gourmet baking spice with a premium price and scarcity. 

Mace Spice

It’s a real pain in the neck to head to a specialty store just for, say, a pinch of mace. No worries! I’ve done the hard work for you, playing around with various ingredients to find the best alternative to mace spice. Now, I have 15 options in store; check them out!

What Is Mace Spice?

Ever heard of mace? For many American bakers, it sounds like a mystery in the baking world, right? But I’m sure nutmeg does ring a bell. It’s actually a “nutmeg sibling,” which comes from the delicate coating of nutmeg seeds. This yellow-brown outer layer will then be crushed into fine ground or kept intact as “mace blades.” 

The aromatic spice is a signature in Caribbean, Asian, Moroccan, and Indian cuisines, adding a layer of warmth and a subtle hint of sweetness to the dishes. But we bakers love blending it into our pasties, pies, custard, and spiced cakes. 

Mace pairs perfectly well with sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and cheese, making it a heavenly addition to our favorite fall treats and creamy desserts. Fruits, like pears, apples, and berries, are also destined pairings of this spice. So, feel free to sprinkle some mace on whatever fruit cakes or pies that call for a spicy-sweet punch.

Now that you know what mace has to offer in the flavor department, finding a substitution should be a no-brainer!

15 Substitutes For The Spice Mace

1. Nutmeg


What makes a better substitute for mace than its family member? Coming from the same fruit, mace and nutmeg definitely share the flavor profile.

Nutmeg comes from the seed inside the outer coating (mace), delivering a similar spicy, nutty kick with a delicate note of sweetness. This spice adds a warm touch to my butter puddings and apple pies, but it will shine in any spiced dessert, like pumpkin pies, sweet potato pies, pecan pies, spice cakes, and other muffins. 

Though nutmeg packs a less intense flavor, it’s still a safe 1:1 substitution for mace spice.

2. Ground Ginger

Oh, ginger—the warm spice that we all crave on chilly days. If you ever try the iconic gingerbread cookies on Christmas, you know what I’m talking about. A pungent, peppery flavor with a tad sweetness and citrus, ground ginger ticks all the boxes for an alternative to mace spice.

Worried the strong aroma might overpower other flavors? Great news: it will fade into a gentle warmth when cooked. You can replace mace with ground ginger with an equal amount. But for me, ginger is not as bold as mace, so I always add a bit more when swapping them.

3. Ground Cinnamon


Cinnamon reigns supreme in the world of warm spices, imparting a distinctive spicy aroma and a mild sweetness to your recipes. And guess what? This ingredient works like a charm in a wide range of baked goods, sweet and savory alike. So, I find it an MVP in my spice rack that offers the desired cozy touch instead of mace.

However, ground cinnamon packs a stronger punch than mace, so I recommend cutting its amount in half. Go overboard, and you might end up with a cinnamon-flavored treat for whatever recipe you are whipping up.

4. Ground Allspice

Don’t let the name fool you! Allspice is not a blend but a standalone spice made of ground dried berries of the allspice tree. Its flavor is quite complex—a harmonious dance of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. 

But I notice a kinda intense peppery note, which can be a blessing or a curse for someone. I mean, it might be the cherry on top for a cozy autumn or winter treat, but some are just not ready for that spicy kick.

So, depending on your preferences, you can swap it 1:1 or dial back on allspice a bit for a milder flavor.

5. Apple Pie Spice

Ever wonder what joins the aromatic apple pie spice? It’s all about nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice (sometimes, you might spot ginger or cardamom). So, it brings the exact spicy-sweet flavor that mace leaves out.

Of course, this spice will be your lifesaver if you are baking with apples, yet it also finds its place in coffee cakes, pumpkin pies, custards, and cookies. 

The presence of three other subs for mace spice takes its spiciness to a new height. It’s best to play it safe and start with half the amount the recipe calls for when substituting mace with apple pie spice.

6. Pumpkin Pie Spice

If apple pie spice can work in a pinch, why not pumpkin pie spice? It’s also a spice blend, including cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. Looks similar to apple pie spice? Here’s the catch: it’s packed with more cinnamon, so you will notice a stronger aroma.

However, the overall flavor is still a tad milder than the apple one, so you can replace mace with this spice using the same amount. It works well in a wide range of baked goods, such as cakes, pies, cookies, and waffles.

7. Ground Cumin

If you’ve explored Latin American or Mexican cuisines, you know what ground cumin brings to the table. Its flavor journey goes through various notes, from spicy, earthy, and nutty to sweet touches.

Such a complex taste profile makes it a less desirable replacement for mace spice in sweet dishes. That said, a pinch of ground cumin in savory baked goods, like scones (my go-to recipe is the one with cheese and herbs) and pastries, won’t hurt! Only use half the measurement, though.

8. Ground Cloves

Ground cloves are my go-to choice in my Indian curries. But the idea of using it in baking has only struck me recently, and it works beautifully! Also spicy and warm, ground cloves can replace mace just fine.

Note that it also introduces a sweet and woody note to your recipe, so I recommend using it for savory treats only. To not overwhelm your baked goods with its aroma, swap it for mace at a 1:2 ratio.

9. Garam Masala

Another staple in Indian cuisine, garam masala, contains almost any warm spice you can think of: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, cardamom, cumin, star anise, and coriander. Get ready for its pungent punch!

Besides the spiciness, it adds more complexity to the flavor profile, which can overshadow your sweet recipes. But the good news is that garam masala is a decent alternative to mace spice in spiced treats. Of course, only ½ teaspoon of this spice can be potent enough for 1 teaspoon of mace.

10.  Ground Cardamom

cardamom in a bowl

Heads-up: Cardamom tastes like nothing on this list, so expect it to change the flavor profile a bit. Of course, it still delivers the spicy-sweet taste comparable to mace, but you will also spot mint and lemon notes. 

Honestly, I love swapping mace spice for ground cardamom in cookies and cakes more than ground cloves. A 1:2 ratio ensures the cardamom complements without overpowering.

11. Ground Mixed Spice

Looking for a spice mix that contains mace? Enter ground mixed spice! Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, coriander, ginger, and, of course, the star of the show—mace. So, for recipes that call for standalone mace, feel free to throw in some ground mixed spice instead.

Its warm and pungent flavor will shine in pies, cookies, cakes, and bread. Sometimes, I toss it in my pudding and pancakes, and it doesn’t disappoint! If you’re into its bold flavor, a 1:1 swap will do. Otherwise, use less ground mixed spice to keep things on the right track.

12. Mace Blades

As mentioned, mace spice comes in ground and blade forms. While the blades of mace are less widely available, they perfectly replace ground mace if you have some on hand. They taste exactly the same!

The only drawback is that it takes a little extra prep work. You can’t just toss the whole mace blades into the recipe, right? Take a grinder and grind them into a fine powder. You will have homemade ground mace in no time, ready to use in any recipe!

13. Black Peppercorn

Coming from the same family as cloves, black peppercorn offers a spicy, earthy flavor. Though it doesn’t completely fill the gap mace leaves behind, this spice is still an acceptable stand-in.

Due to its strong taste and aroma, you’ll want to use it in baked goods with a complex flavor profile, especially savory spiced cakes. I’ve tried it with carrot cakes and gingerbread, and the results are good enough. 

14. Ras El Hanout

Here comes another spice mix that comprises mace! Ras el hanout usually comes with mace, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin. Its flavor profile is warm, spicy, and slightly sweet, with earthy and floral notes.

The use of this spice in baking is quite limited, but I find it works fine in pumpkin and apple pies. However, you must reduce its amount to not overpower other flavors, say ½ teaspoon of ras el hanout for 1 tablespoon of mace.

15. Other Spice Mixes

It’s time to unleash your inner creativity genius! Try blending different spices to reach a flavor as close to mace as possible. Here are some of my tried-and-true blends:

Nutmeg and ginger: This spice mix is the best substitute for mace spice for its similar spicy-sweet flavor.

Cinnamon and ginger: Both deliver a desirable warmth, and cinnamon adds a delightful touch of sweetness. Mix 1 part of cinnamon with 2 parts of ginger.

Cinnamon and cloves: Cloves are known for their strong flavor. When blended with cinnamon, its spiciness gets balanced out while introducing a pleasant, sweet hint.


Is Mace More Expensive Than Nutmeg?

Yes, for the most part. It’s simply because the amount of the seed coat in each nutmeg fruit (mace) is less than the nutmeg seed itself. As far as I know, harvesting mace costs more than with nutmeg.

Where To Buy Mace?

Finding mace at local grocery stores can be a bit of an adventure. You might need to head to spice stores or supermarket spice aisles. Otherwise, order it from online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, etc.

How To Store Mace?

You only need to put this spice into an airtight container, preferably a jar, and keep it in a dark, cool place, like in your pantry or spice cabinet. Forget the fridge! That cool and damp environment is the breeding ground for mold.

How Long Does Ground Mace Last?

If properly stored, this spice can keep its heat and flavor for up to 3 years.

Armed with these 15 fantastic mace alternatives, it’s time to get back to your baking game!

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Mary and Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher, are the founders of Cake Girls, a Chicago-based online baking shop specializing in cake supplies, party decor, and DIY cake tutorials. They are known for their elaborate and artistic cake creations, which have been featured on the Food Network Challenge and in a reality show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

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