5 Spice Blends to Use in Place of Pumpkin Pie Spice

updated May 1, 2019
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Now that we’ve made it to November, perhaps you’re growing weary of pumpkin spice, well, everything. Not to worry, though, because there are a handful of spice blends out there that just might rival that classic combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove. They may seem unconventional in your pumpkin pie or muffins, but give one a try and I guarantee that your taste buds will delight in the vast world of flavors beyond pumpkin pie spice.

1. Warming: Garam Masala

The exact combination of this Indian spice blend varies depending on the region, but it usually includes cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and peppercorns. This combination delivers the warm flavors found in most seasonal baked goods, with just a touch of intrigue from citrusy, earthy cumin and coriander.

2. Sophisticated: Chinese Five-Spice

Chinese five-spice is probably the headiest spice blend on this list. It’s sweet from star anise and cloves, savory from fennel, bitter from cassia, and just a touch sour and sharp from Szechuan peppercorns. It’s one of those ingredients in a dish that will keep anyone who takes a bite guessing what it is, and then going back in for more.

3. Minimalist: Cinnamon-Sugar

Go back to basics with the simplest spice blend there is: good ol’ cinnamon-sugar. Used in place of a more complicated spice blend, it really gives you the opportunity to taste the actual pumpkin in your pumpkin pie rather than mask it with heady flavors. Use the best cinnamon you can find for stunning effects.

Pumpkin Slab Pie (Image credit: Leela Cyd)

4. Pungent: Ras el Hanout

This Middle Eastern spice blend is popular in savory North African dishes like tagine, but it also has the makings of a unique pumpkin pie spice substitute. The blend can vary, but you can generally expect a mix of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, mace, nutmeg, peppercorns, and turmeric. It has mildly pungent flavor, thanks to the mace and turmeric that’s mellowed by the sweet cinnamon and cardamom. An extra sprinkle of sugar can help balance out the strength of this spice blend.

5. Spicy: Quatre Epices

Quatre épices translates to “four spices,” although the French blend may contain four, five, or even more spices. Ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and either white or black peppercorns are always included, and sometimes cinnamon or allspice gets thrown into the mix. The result is something truly lovely: It’s spicy and fragrant-like gingerbread with an extra kick from the peppercorns.

5 Great Pumpkin Recipes to Try These Spice Blends In