What Is Allspice?

Allspice is just one spice, but it's power-packed with flavor. We’re smashing allspice berries open to find out more.

August 25, 2021
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748495727

Photo by: Michelle Arnold / EyeEm/Getty Images

Michelle Arnold / EyeEm/Getty Images

By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen

Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.

It’s easy to understand why so many of us think that allspice is a spice blend, and Google "what is in allspice?": its name certainly implies that it's made up of a number of ingredients. However, allspice is, in fact, a single berry that is used around the world to bring big flavor to often tiny morsels.

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1072258986

Pimenta dioica fresh foliage

Photo by: seven75/Getty Images

seven75/Getty Images

What Is Allspice?

Allspice is the berry from a lush evergreen named Pimenta Dioica, which is native to the countries in Central America. The berries are harvested in late fall and are dried before being packaged. Allspice berries are sold whole and ground, and the cooking method you’re using will usually dictate which is best.

What Does Allspice Taste Like?

Allspice is what we call a warm spice. Other warm spices include cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, star anise and anise - to name a few. Allspice tastes like all of those warm spices mixed up together and put into a sugar cookie recipe. It has a sweet-smoky flavor that adds a pungent kick to the foods to which it is a key identifier. Jerk chicken or any jerk recipe, for example, wouldn't have the same distinctive flavor without the allspice.

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538643550

Spicy Grilled Jerk Chicken with Lime and Spices

Photo by: bhofack2/Getty Images

bhofack2/Getty Images

What Is Allspice Used for?

In addition to its spot in all jerk spice blends, the warm spicy flavor of allspice makes it a perfect spice for baking. It’s often called for in spice cookies, especially those that have molasses in the ingredient list. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense: molasses and allspice both come from the same part of the world.

As a whole berry, allspice is used where the flavor will develop over time. Our pickle recipe is an example of this, and many mulled cider and mulled red wine recipes that show up at holiday parties have allspice berries as an ingredient. Glogg, a Scandinavian hot red wine drink, is simmered with allspice berries, and Swedish meatballs also have allspice in the ingredient list. The spice trade took allspice all over Europe after it was brought to the new world in the 1400’s.

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746083647

Photo by: Michelle Arnold / EyeEm/Getty Images

Michelle Arnold / EyeEm/Getty Images

What Is a Good Substitute for Allspice?

A good facsimile of allspice can be mixed from spices that are more common, some of which you may already have in your pantry.

You could mix together one part cinnamon with dashes of nutmeg, ginger, cloves and black pepper. Alternatively, Chinese five-spice powder already has some of the aforementioned spices, along with fennel and star anise. It won’t be exactly the same as allspice, but it will be good.

Allspice Recipes 

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FNK_TheSpiciestGingerbreadCookiesEver_H

Food Network Kitchen's The Spiciest Gingerbread Cookies Ever for THE ULTIMATE FRIENDSGIVING/12 DAYS OF COOKIES/LAST-MINUTE SIDES, as seen on Food Network

Photo by: Renee Comet ©©Renee Comet

Renee Comet, ©Renee Comet

Talk about spicy! Cayenne, black pepper, allspice and nutmeg go into these cookies - all the hot and warm spices to keep everyone toasty when they’re decorating the cookies that didn’t get eaten first.

Photo by: Brian Kennedy ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Brian Kennedy, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Slow Cooker Pot Roast can be a monthly event, and this recipe will be one of the most memorable thanks to the allspice.

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11_JerkChicken_024.tif

Bring your A-Game to the table when you make this jerk sauce and use it with Cornish Hens instead of chicken legs and wings.

SLOWCOOKER SWEDISH MEATBALLS Food Network Kitchen Food Network Beef Broth, Worcestershire Sauce, Pork, Turkey, Breadcrumbs, Eggs, Allspice, Onion Powder, Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, Unsalted Butter, Flour, Sour Cream, Lingonberry or Red Currant Jelly, Flatleaf Parsley

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Allspice brings the defining flavor to these easy slow cooker meatballs in the traditional Swedish sauce.

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

Allspice is just one of the spices in these quick, sweet pickles, but it's the one that brings the most flavor.

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