The 7 Best Substitutes For Black Cardamom

What can I use instead of black cardamom? Green cardamom is the best substitute for black cardamom. Spice blends that include cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cumin, and coriander can also be used. You can also use cloves, Chinese 5-spice, or whole nutmeg. Since the taste of black cardamom is so unique, it may be better to leave the ingredient out entirely.

Black cardamom, also called brown cardamom, is an Indian spice used in slow-cooked dishes. It is a popular ingredient in Chinese and Middle Eastern recipes. Black cardamom is an expensive spice that also has medicinal uses. It has a distinctive, robust, smokey taste and is available as dried pods or in a ground form. Pods can be stored for about a year, but the ground spice should be used sooner.

The Best Black Cardamom Substitutes

Green Cardamom

Green cardamom, widely grown in tropical regions, is much more common than the black variety. The spice is made from the green seed pods of a perennial plant related to the ginger family.

Although green cardamom is related to black cardamom, it has a much milder flavor. There is none of the strong smokiness associated with the black variety, so expect a far less intense taste.

Green cardamom can be used instead of black cardamom, but note that because of black cardamom’s strong taste, this substitute cannot be used the other way around.

The common green cardamom variety can even be used in sweet recipes, whereas black cardamom is only suitable for savory dishes.

Substitute green cardamom for black in any recipe.

Ground green cardamom will have a much milder taste profile than black cardamom or even green cardamom pods, so more may be required if it is used instead of pods or seeds.

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, And Allspice

Black cardamom adds a complex, robust flavor profile to savory dishes. It is, therefore, tricky to replicate all the nuances with a single ingredient.

The combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice can be an acceptable substitute for black cardamom in some recipes.

It will not taste the same as black cardamom, but the combination can add a familiar warmth and earthy wholesomeness that can work well in a dish.

Combine ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in equal quantities to form a blend. Then add it to recipes according to taste. Start sparingly and add more if required.

Blend Of Powdered Ginger And Cinnamon

Cardamom plant is a family of ginger. Although the dried black seed pods have a unique aromatic strength, adding a touch of ginger can lend an element of that familiar warmth to savory dishes.

While there is no exact taste match for the intense flavor of black cardamom, combining ginger and cinnamon can fill the gap in some recipes.

This combination of powdered spices works better when ground black cardamom is required in a recipe. It may not be strong enough to stand in for whole cardamom pods and won’t impart any of the robust smokiness that black cardamom is known for.

Use a half-and-half blend to substitute ginger and cinnamon for ground black cardamom. So, for every 2 teaspoons cardamom required, use 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Cumin And Coriander Mix

A blend of the deep earthy taste of cumin combined with the spicy zing of coriander can work well as a replacement for black cardamom in casseroles, curries, or meat dishes.

Use the ground versions of these spices and simply add the spices together in equal amounts to create a substitute for black cardamom.

While it won’t have the distinctive hot smokey taste of black cardamom, this mixture will provide a pleasing overall warmth and aroma to dishes.


Cloves are spiky little dry buds harvested from clove trees. The spice is commonly grown in Madagascar, Indonesia, and India.

Try adding a pinch of cinnamon to tone down the sharp taste of cloves when using it as a substitute for black cardamom. The combination works well to give a more complex flavor profile.

Like black cardamom, cloves have a robust flavor, and a small amount of the spice goes a long way. Cloves will impart a strong, distinctive taste and smell to any dish where it is used.

Add it sparingly as a replacement for black cardamom, and taste the recipe frequently to find the right balance.

Chinese Five-Spice Powder

Chinese five-spice powder is a combination of peppercorns, star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, and fennel seeds. The result is a widely used aromatic blend popular in Asian cuisine.

The hearty, warm blend of spices can work well as a substitute for black cardamom in stews, meat rubs, and marinades. It provides a complex array of tastes that will add depth to dishes where black cardamom is required.

Like black cardamom, Chinese five spice can be quite strong, so it should be added sparingly and according to taste.

Whole Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a hard tree seed that is commonly used as a spice. It has an unmistakable aroma that adds a warm, homely taste to sweet and savory dishes.

In recipes where whole black cardamom pods are required, whole nutmeg seeds can be roasted to add a similar aromatic warmth and visual effect.

To mimic the pungent smokey taste of black cardamom more closely, it can also help to add a pinch of cloves and cinnamon.

Whole nutmeg does not have the same taste profile as black cardamom and has a very distinct flavor of its own.

However, like black cardamom, it imparts a fuller flavor to slow-cooked dishes, and whole nutmeg seeds can provide the textured appearance required by some recipes.