What Is in Apple Pie Spice, and How Can I Make It from Scratch?

published Oct 22, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn
Pictured recipe: The Easiest Apple Pie

Sure, pumpkin spice gets all the glory every fall, but it’s not the only seasonal spice blend on the block. There’s also apple pie spice, which pops up in recipes for pies as well as spice cakes, apple dumplings and turnovers, muffins, and all manner of autumnal baked goods. But what exactly is apple pie spice?

What Spices Are in Apple Pie Spice?

Just as there is no single definitive recipe for apple pie, there’s no overwhelming consensus about what goes into apple pie spice. Your grandmother might have only used cinnamon in her pie, but your parents might have gussied things up with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

And so it goes with the many apple pie spice blends out there: Store-bought blends from Penzeys, McCormick, The Spice House, Frontier Co-op, Spiceology, and King Arthur Baking, as well as various popular online recipes, all differ greatly. The only spices that are included across the board are cinnamon and nutmeg.

From there, it seems as if the entire spice cabinet is up for grabs: allspice, ginger, mace, cloves, and star anise all appear in varying quantities and combinations. And although it’s not included in store-bought blends, many homemade recipes for apple pie spice include cardamom.

How Is Apple Pie Spice Different from Pumpkin Pie Spice?

There’s a more generally agreed-upon set of spices that are considered part of pumpkin pie spice. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice form the basic pumpkin spice blend, although some recipes add cloves and mace.

So if you want a more traditional “pie spice” taste in your baked goods, you can substitute pumpkin pie spice for apple pie spice and chances are you’ll end up satisfied.

How to Make Apple Pie Spice from Scratch

Because there’s no one way to make apple pie spice, this is an opportunity for you to customize your own blend to suit your taste.

Start with a base blend of 3 or 4 tablespoons of cinnamon to 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of nutmeg, then build your personal apple pie spice using a combination of any of the following ground spices:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • A pinch of dried lemon peel

As for what to do with your apple pie spice blend (other than pie), how about apple pie-inspired granola bars or stuffed scones, or one of these ideas for using apple pie spice, which include oatmeal, coffee, whipped cream, and more?

To use apple pie spice in a recipe that doesn’t specifically call for it, just add up the total amount of spices in the recipe and use the equivalent amount of apple pie spice.