Know Your Spices: Allspice

Allspice comes from the allspice tree, is available in both whole and ground form, and can be used to flavor everything from jerk chicken to gingerbread!

Whole and ground allspice on wooden cutting board

Lori Rice

Curious about allspice? This versatile spice is used in both cooking and baking in many cuisines around the world, particularly in seasoning blends for meats, sauces, and pastries.

What Is Allspice?

Allspice, sometimes called Jamaica pepper or pimento, comes from the allspice tree, a tropical evergreen in the myrtle family that is native to the West Indies and Central America. It features prominently in Caribbean cuisines as well as Middle Eastern and traditional Latin American recipes.

It was first imported into Europe in the 1600s and, as a result, became a common ingredient in spice blends for European seasonal pastries like German lebkuchen and gingerbread.

Allspice vs. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Allspice is sometimes confused with blends of spices, like a pumpkin pie spice blend, because those blends often contain allspice, but they are not the same thing!

Ground allspice is a single spice made from the allspice berry. It is a component of pumpkin pie spice, which also contains cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

Whole and ground allspice on wooden cutting board

Lori Rice

Whole vs. Ground

Whole allspice is the dried allspice berry. It resembles a large, medium-brown peppercorn with a similar, pebble-like firmness. Whole allspice berries are often used with other whole spices like peppercorns and clove to infuse beverages, sauces, and broths.

Ground allspice results from grinding dried whole berries. You’ll most often see ground allspice called for in rubs, sauces, and baked goods recipes. Both whole and ground allspice have a similar aroma and flavor, but ground allspice is a tad more bitter.  

To make your own ground allspice, simply pulse whole allspice berries in a spice or coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle to create a fine powder.

What Does Allspice Taste Like?

Allspice tastes like a combination of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, which is why the word “all” was used in its name to describe it! Ground allspice is slightly bitter, earthy, and fruity.

Where to Buy

Ground and whole allspice can be found in most supermarkets in quantities that range from less than one ounce to three ounces. For larger quantities and more affordable pricing try purchasing both at international markets and online.

whole and ground allspice on wooden cutting board

Lori Rice

How to Store

Like most spices, allspice should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Both whole and ground allspice will last up to two years, but ground allspice will lose its potency quicker than whole allspice.

Substitutes

The best substitute for allspice is a blend of the spices that it resembles in flavor. If a recipe calls for cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice, and you don’t have allspice on hand, you can slightly increase each of the other spices to make up for the missing allspice.

Recipes That Use Allspice

Use allspice to infuse pickling liquids, broths, and beverages, like mulled cider and wine. To do this, place the berries in a spice pack made from cheesecloth or in a metal tea infuser; once the berries have infused the liquid, discard.

Blend ground allspice with spices like black pepper, paprika, clove, cinnamon, or nutmeg and rub over meat, stir it into a sauce, or blend it into batters, fillings, and dessert doughs.

Here are a few recipes to get you started!

Savory Meals

Baked Goods

Drinks