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Just what makes apple pie spice so cozy, comforting, and basically the embodiment of all things autumn? Let’s investigate: 

What’s In Apple Pie Spice? 

Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated

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Depending on which blend you buy (or make), apple pie spice can include different ground spices. For instance, McCormick lists just cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice among its ingredients. Meanwhile, The Spice House’s version is a bit more complex with cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, allspice, ginger, and cloves.

Buy it! The Spice House, $6.99

Really, apple pie spice is just a convenient amalgamation of the spices commonly used to flavor apple pies and other seasonal recipes. These are the ingredients most often featured in apple pie spice blends: 

  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Allspice
  • Cardamom (optional, but recommended)
  • Ginger (optional, but recommended)

Apple Pie Spice vs. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Sorry, spice blend purists: They’re really pretty similar. However, there are some notable differences: 

  • Pumpkin pie spice always includes the same list of ingredients in the same proportions (allspice, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg). There aren’t really hard and fast rules when it comes to apple pie spice, though it consistently contains cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. 
  • Cardamom is often included in apple pie spice, which gives it a bit of an earthy, woodsy flavor. Cardamom is rarely—if ever—involved in a pumpkin pie spice blend.   

Apple Pie Spice Substitute

Arkansas Black Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce

If you want, you could use pumpkin pie spice as an alternative. Just be aware that it will taste a bit stronger than apple pie spice, on account of the cloves, so you may want to use a bit less than is called for in your recipe.

Of course, the most accurate substitution is your own DIY apple pie spice blend. You can throw it together quickly with ingredients you already have in your arsenal. 

DIY Apple Pie Spice

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Here’s a basic recipe for apple pie spice, but you can get as creative as you want. Mess around with the proportions or throw in a little ginger—it’s your spice, after all.  

  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom

Combine and store in an airtight container. 

Ways to Use Apple Pie Spice

Hot Buttered RumChata image

This autumnal blend is useful way beyond apple pies. Use it to spice up your cool weather cocktails (Hot Buttered RumChata, anyone?), breakfast (this Baked Oatmeal with Apple, Cranberries, and Pecans is perfect for fall mornings), or even dinner (like this Honey-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Homemade Applesauce). 


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