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What is Nutmeg Spice?

whole nutmeg spice, ground


Nutmeg is a spice that comes from a small brown nut which when ground produces an intense sweet warmth through dishes. The best thing about nutmeg is that you can use it in a variety of both sweet and savory recipes.

Nutmeg spice is used to flavor many kinds of baked dishes, cakes, confectionery items, puddings, sausages, and vegetables. The spice is available in the whole-seed form, but it is more commonly used as a ground spice.

What does Nutmeg taste like?

Nutmeg spice has an intense warming flavor of sweet, nut, and light spice and musk aroma of pepper and pine.

Where does Nutmeg come from?

Nutmeg spice is native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia also known as the Spice Islands. The spice is harvested from the dried fruit (inner seed) produced by the nutmeg tree or myristica fragrans.

What is Nutmeg used for in cooking?

Nutmeg spice can add depth to sweet and savory dishes when lightly ground fresh, a freshly grated pinch adds richness to mince dishes such as chili con carne or bolognese. 

What is Nutmeg commonly used in?

The sweet aroma of nutmeg spice is also used for dishes including rich meats, custard, desserts, sauces, curries, eggnog, baking, and fruit dishes. One of the most common uses is in desserts, especially apple or pumpkin pie and muffins. It is also used in beverages like eggnog and nutmeg tea. It Is often added to alfredo or bechamel sauce to give a twist to the recipe.

What spice goes with Nutmeg?

Nutmeg spice is used as a flavor enhancer when paired with chili, honey, black peppercorn, star anise, tarragon, cinnamon, bay leaf, spinach, minced meat, poultry, pumpkin, cabbage, cheese, ginger, clove, allspice, dairy, and creamy cheese. 

Is mace the same as nutmeg?

Both mace and nutmeg spice are harvested from the same tree, with mace being the outer shell of the seed. 

What is a good substitute for Nutmeg?

Use half of the quantity of any spice according to the recipe. I prefer Mace as it comes from the same plant and has a similar, though much harsher flavor rather than the other spices.

Allspice: named because of its similarity to nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves allspice carries many of the flavor profiles of the nutmeg.
Mace: obtained from the same fruit as nutmeg, mace is more pungent but shares similarities in sweetness, spice, and aroma.
Cinnamon: higher in spice but similar in use for sweet and savory dishes.

Does Nutmeg expire?

Whole nuts are desirable to ground nutmeg, as flavor deteriorates very quickly in grounded form. Store the Whole nuts in an airtight jar, and you can grate them with nutmeg grater on the requirement for better taste and aroma. Store both ground and whole nutmeg in airtight containers. Place these containers in a cool and dry place.

Ground: store in an airtight container away from direct light and use within 6 months.
Whole: stored in an airtight container in dry and cool conditions, whole nutmeg can be kept for up to 4 years. 

Where can I buy a whole Nutmeg?

You can buy whole organic nutmeg from Sri Lanka on amazon.

Nutmeg Spice Fun Facts

  • The name translates in Latin to ‘nut musk’ which describes the strong aroma of the spice. 
  • Grenada is nicknamed Nutmeg Isle as a major producer of the spice.
  • If consumed in large amounts, nutmeg can be a hallucinogen, this is not an issue in cooking as so little of the ingredient is needed to impart its flavor.
  • It is also known as a bloody spice because, during the 17th century, the Dutch fought a bloody war to gain control of the nutmeg production. The British took nutmeg seedlings from the Bandas and planted them in areas under British colonial power. As these nutmeg plantations began to flourish, the spice became inexpensive.
  • The nutmeg tree can bear fruit for more than 60 years. (wikipedia)

Popular Nutmeg Recipes

  • Bechamel sauce
  • French toast
  • Spinach and ricotta ravioli
  • Peach cobbler
  • Eggnog
  • Bread and butter pudding
  • Apple pie

Other Names

The word nutmeg derived from the Latin phrase nux, which means nut, and muscat, meaning musky. This amazing spice has various unusual names in other languages like in French; it is noix muscade, in German: Muskatnuss, and in Italian, it is noce moscata. Spanish people like to call it nuez moscada while Chinese call it taukau . In Urdu or Hindi it is jaiphal while in Thai it is jathikkai.


Nutmeg has a distinctive taste and aroma, but it should be used in moderation or in small quantities. Excess amounts of nutmeg not only destroy the taste of your recipe but also have other unhealthy side effects.

Buy nutmeg spice on amazon.com

Chef Max

Michelin trained professional chef with a passion for recipe writing and all things food. I have worked for over five years at top restaurants across the UK and have gained an ability to create any recipe you desire, from comfort food recipes to fine dining recipes. My experience in food writing includes a placement at Delicious Magazine which involved feature writing, recipe testing, article research, and content creation.

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