Out of this or that? No worries! This post shares my handy spice substitute chart. From ginger to cloves to basil, you’ll learn all about common spice swaps and why they work so well!
If you love chicken tacos, chai lattes, and/or chicken marsala, chances are you love your spice rack too. However, there will be days when you lack that ONE ingredient.
Or maybe you aren’t a fan of a common spice (or have an allergy). This is where spice swaps really shine. In this post, I’ve compiled a list of the most common and effective spice substitutes.
It’s fascinating! Cooking becomes this creative process that requires a dash of this, a dash of that. And you don’t need to follow the recipe precisely every time. There’s room to experiment!
Check out the spice substitute chart I made for your easy reference below. Take a screenshot, and feel free to print it out. I’ve also answered questions on the most commonly used spices (and their awesome replacements).
Here we go!
Spice Substitution Chart
As crowded as our spice cabinet can get, it’s natural that we will run out of something eventually. So here’s a spice substitution chart that you can refer to when needed.
|Replace this…||With this…|
|Allspice||Cinnamon, Cassia, Nutmeg, Mace or Cloves|
|Aniseed||Fennel Seed or Anise Extract|
|Basil||Oregano or Thyme|
|Chili Powder||Hot Sauce plus Oregano and Cumin|
|Chives||Green Onion, Onion or Leek|
|Cinnamon||Nutmeg or Allspice|
|Cloves||Allspice, Cinnamon or Nutmeg|
|Ginger||Allspice, Cinnamon, Mace or Nutmeg|
|Italian Seasoning||Blend of Basil, Oregano, Rosemary and Ground Red Pepper|
|Marjoram||Basil, Thyme or Savory|
|Mint||Basil, Marjoram or Rosemary|
|Nutmeg||Cinnamon or Ginger|
|Oregano||Thyme or Basil|
|Poultry Seasoning||Sage plus Thyme, Marjoram, Savory, Black Pepper and Rosemary|
|Red Pepper||Dash of Hot Sauce or Black Pepper|
|Rosemary||Thyme, Tarragon or Savory|
|Sage||Poultry Seasoning, Savory, Marjoram or Rosemary|
|Thyme||Basil, Marjoram, Oregano or Savory|
What Spice Can Replace Oregano?
Oh no, out of oregano? You’re good! As showcased in the spice substitute chart, the two herbs with a similar flavor to oregano include basil and thyme.
Basil: This is the best substitute for oregano when cooking Mediterranean-style dishes. You may use fresh or dried basil (whether fresh or dried oregano is needed). Use the same amount of basil as instructed for oregano.
Thyme: Fresh thyme is the best replacement when needed as a garnish. Not only does it look similar to oregano, but the two taste similar when fresh. However, dried thyme is not the best substitute for dried oregano because it has a more pungent taste.
Other possible substitutes include…
Italian seasoning: If you’re cooking an Italian dish, you can use *drumroll* Italian seasoning! Oregano is one of the herbs included in this blend.
Marjoram: Although rarely used in the US, this is another spice that’s similar in flavor to dried oregano. It’s an excellent substitute for Mexican-style recipes (like these Shredded Chicken Enchiladas).
What Can You Sub All Spice With?
Allspice is a combination of 3 spices. I rarely buy it at the store because it’s easy to make at home. Here’s all you need:
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg.
- ¼ teaspoon cloves.
To kick things up a notch (or for more variety), you can also use a blend of cinnamon, cassia, nutmeg, mace (the sister of nutmeg), and cloves.
Is 5 Spice The Same As Chinese 5 Spice?
Yes, five-spice is also known as Chinese five-spice because it’s a traditional blend of ground spices used in Chinese and Vietnamese dishes.
It contains the following five spices:
- star anise
- fennel seeds
- Szechuan pepper.
It’s a highly potent blend, so I recommend you use it moderately (and taste as you go). Five-spice is an excellent seasoning for spice rubs and goes well in marinades for protein dishes. You can even use it in a few desserts!
What Spice Can I Use To Replace Basil?
No basil? No problem. Here are the herbs and seasonings you can use to replace basil:
Oregano: Widely used in Meditteranean cuisine, oregano has strong peppery and floral notes (just like basil).
Thyme: This herb has a distinct citrus taste, but the slightly minty flavor makes it similar to basil. Use in moderation because it can overpower other flavors.
Spinach leaves: If you’re making pesto sauce, spinach leaves make a brilliant substitute for basil! It’s a good option for those who find the flavor of basil a bit too strong. You can even combine the two in your next batch of pesto.
You can also use spinach leaves in place of basil for a more subtle flavor in Thai dishes.
Italian seasoning: An aromatic mix of rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano, and yes — basil!
Make sure to double-check your recipe if some herbs are already included in your Italian seasoning. For example, Italian seasoning does include thyme. So go lighter on this individual herb.
Celery leaf: Another creative option if you’re making pesto! The verdant green color lends itself well to this sauce.
Cilantro: While it may not replace basil’s flavor, cilantro adds a similar refreshing zing to sauce and dressing! It provides a lemony, peppery, and minty flavor/ aroma.
Mint: A suitable replacement for basil when you’re working with sweet dishes and desserts.
What Spice Can Be Used In Place Of Ginger?
Ginger is a spice with pizazz, so you’ll only want to sub it with something that delivers a similar punch. For every teaspoon of ginger, try it with a teaspoon of any of the following spices:
- Ground allspice
- Ground cinnamon
- Mace (sister of nutmeg)
Did somebody say ginger? It’s a wonderful spice. Try it in my Healthy Ginger Molasses Cookies.
What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Cloves For A Recipe?
I consider all of the other spices in my chai latte recipe when I’m out of cloves. They’re together for a reason! And can fill in for each other in a pinch (this is one of the swaps included in my spice substitute chart above).
Here’s what you can replace cloves with when cooking or baking:
- Allspice: This is my first choice because the blend (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) contains cloves…and further enhances the peppery taste.
- Cinnamon and nutmeg: This is the second-best alternative when combined.
What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Pumpkin Spice?
When fall comes calling, pumpkin spice isn’t far behind. You can make this festive blend using spices you likely already have at home.
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground all spice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
We use a similar blend in my Homemade Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe.
More Helpful Posts In The Kitchen
I recommend trying these swaps slowly, and tasting as you go along. It’ll become second nature soon enough. Want more helpful posts in the kitchen? Check out the following.
- Kitchen Conversion Chart | Guide To Culinary Measurements
- How To Cut An Onion Without Crying
- How To Use An Air Fryer | Beginner’s Guide
- 6 Healthy Sheet Pan Dinners | Super Easy Cooking & Clean Up!
- Ultimate Guide to the Best Meal Prep Containers
This post contains affiliate links to products I use regularly and highly recommend.