WHAT IS NUTMEG:
You may be familiar with the taste of nutmeg in holiday treats, such as eggnog or baked vanilla custard, but what exactly is nutmeg? Nutmeg is a spice made from the seed of a nutmeg tree, a tree native to Indonesia. The seed is dried and ground to make a fragrant brown powder or ground nutmeg. You can add nutmeg to various sweet and savory recipes for an added nutty and sweet flavor that's hard to resist. Learn more about nutmeg, how to use it, and how it compares to other similar spices, like mace.
WHAT DOES NUTMEG TASTE LIKE?
Nutmeg has a distinct flavor that can be difficult to describe. It is both warm and sweet, bitter and spicy. When used in small amounts, nutmeg can add depth and richness to a dish, while larger amounts can add a distinct and overpowering flavor.
Nutmeg is most commonly associated with sweet dishes like pumpkin pie and eggnog. Its warm and spicy flavor pairs well with sweet ingredients like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and it can add a comforting and familiar taste to desserts and baked goods. But its diverse flavor profile can also be used in savory dishes. It pairs well with rich and creamy dishes like mac and cheese, and it can add warm undertones to soups and stews. When cooking with nutmeg, it's important to remember that a little goes a long way.
WHAT PAIRS WELL WITH NUTMEG?
Nutmeg pairs well with a range of both sweet and savory ingredients. Add it to creamy dishes like mac and cheese or potato gratin. Add nutmeg to buttered vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or green beans for a hint of sweet and spicy. Nutmeg is a star ingredient in many holiday dishes like egg nog, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie. It even pairs well with baked or poached fruit like apples, pears, and peaches. Nutmeg is a versatile spice that can elevate any dish – don't be afraid to try it!
MACE VS. NUTMEG
Mace and nutmeg are very similar. In fact, they come from the same seed. Mace is the coating found on nutmeg seed and is typically used in ground or powdered form for cooking. Its flavor is similar to nutmeg but much lighter, less sweet, and has a peppery taste.
IS NUTMEG A NUT?
Surprisingly, nutmeg is not a nut. While the name contains "nut," nutmeg is unrelated to peanuts or other tree nuts. It is considered a seed that is ground to make the spice you use in the kitchen.
GROUND VS. WHOLE NUTMEG
Whole nutmeg is the seed from which ground nutmeg comes from. It is about the size of a plum pit and can last for years while maintaining its flavor and aroma. It is typically sold with about 6 to 8 seeds in a jar. Ground nutmeg has a shorter lifespan and loses its flavor quickly after opening the jar. You can make ground nutmeg by grating whole nutmeg into a powder. Store your nutmeg in a dry, dark space to last as long as possible.
WHAT IS A GOOD SUBSTITUTE FOR NUTMEG?
A few nutmeg substitutes include:
- Whole nutmeg: When you don't have the ground version, whole nutmeg is the perfect nutmeg substitute as it has the same flavor profile. Whole nutmeg will have a stronger flavor, so it's essential to use it in moderation in your recipes.
- Mace: For savory recipes, McCormick Ground Mace is a great stand-in, offering a similar flavor profile with a slight peppery twist.
- Ground cinnamon or ginger: For your sweet dish recipes, ground ginger or cinnamon can be used as a substitute for nutmeg to bring a hint of sweetness and warmth to your recipes. McCormick Ground Cinnamon is warm, earthy, and sweet – perfect for your dessert recipes. McCormick Ground Ginger can also help warm up the holiday season whenever you’re out of nutmeg.
CHECK OUT MCCORMICK'S NUTMEG PRODUCTS:
TRY SOME OF OUR FAVORITE NUTMEG RECIPES:
Want to create a meal plan for your nutmeg recipes? Need help planning your weekly meals and want to try new recipes? Save your favorite food, dessert, and drink recipes and organize your ingredients with McCormick Meal Planner.