Sometimes, you might find an apple pie recipe that calls for ‘apple pie spice.’ No, this is not some exotic spice a legendary pastry chef discovered on some remote island and deemed perfect for apple pie. Apple pie spice is nothing more than a mixture of the spices commonly used in apple pies, but that are usually listed separately in a recipe. You might also see pumpkin pie spice called for in a pumpkin pie recipe, which is similar. Unless you make a lot of pies, you will not want to buy a separate container of apple pie spice. It will just sit there and go rancid because you are unlikely to use this group of spices for many other things besides an apple pie (although it’s possible). Most of the spices commonly used in the mix you most likely already have in your spice pantry and you are more likely to find apple pie spice called for in older recipes.
What to Substitute for Apple Pie Spice
The ubiquitous spice company McCormick uses cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in its apple pie spice. It will have more cinnamon than nutmeg or allspice, as evidenced by the fact that cinnamon is listed first, and the fact that nutmeg and allspice are always used in lesser amounts.
Another spice that people sometimes use in apple pie is ground cloves, as are common in traditional English apple pies, or for cooking apples in general. And sometimes, although this is found more in pumpkin pie, people use ginger. If you are tempted to use cloves or ginger (which I don’t care for in an apple pie as they are too strong), I would advise you choose one or the other.
To make 1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice use:
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
If using cloves, ground dried ginger, or both, add just a dash or to your liking. Allspice already has a clove-like flavor, with a hint of nutmeg and cinnamon, also, with the cloves being more pronounced.
Note that these general recommendations are for when you are trying to make a certain written apple pie recipe that calls for apple pie spice. You do NOT have to use any spice in your apple pie. Many cooks prefer to let the apples stand on their own with just a little brown sugar to bring out the sweetness. Keep in mind, though, that cooked apples retain little of their natural flavor, other than sweetness, and this is the reason they are normally spiced. It also explains how mock apple pie can fool people, as the spices, along with a bit of acid, explain the apple pie like flavor.
If you choose to use spices, though, you do not have to use all of the spices mentioned in this article. You may only want to use one or two of them. If you want to cut it down to just two, try going with just cinnamon and nutmeg, as many cooks prefer. Regardless, however, keep the proportions in mind that are given here. You should never use an entire teaspoon of nutmeg in your pie, for instance, as nutmeg is all you would taste.
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