The crust is crimped and ready to fill. You’re in the middle of making the pumpkin custard when—gasp—you realize you’re all out of precious pumpkin pie spice. Don’t panic: Your recipe isn’t ruined just yet. Odds are you can whip up a homemade substitute for pumpkin pie spice with what you *do* have in the pantry. All it takes is a few commonplace spices like cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Here’s how to pull it off for all your future fall baking needs.
What Is Pumpkin Pie Spice?
Pumpkin pie spice is really just a combination of warm ground spices that you’re already familiar with. But just because it's easy to make doesn't mean it's no big deal: Pumpkin pie spice is an essential autumnal seasoning that brings everything from hand pies to pecan rolls to life. Cinnamon is the main ingredient in store-bought pumpkin pie spice, but the spice mixture's signature heat and flavor is all thanks to ground ginger.
How to Make Pumpkin Pie Spice
While buying it premade at the grocery store is no doubt convenient, mixing up an impromptu batch on your own is ridiculously simple. (Most of the ingredients you need are probably in your spice cabinet right now.) If you don’t have bottled apple pie spice, which is almost identical to pumpkin pie spice (minus the ground ginger), here are the dry spices you’ll need:
Cardamom, star anise and mace are other popular additions, but they're not necessary. If you only have some of the ingredients in your pantry, use whatever’s available. But always make sure cinnamon is the bulk of what you’re putting in, unless you want it to be spicier than store-bought pumpkin pie spice. Ginger is the next most important, as it’s an addition that's unique to pumpkin pie spice.
Step 1: Start with 1 tablespoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ginger.
If you prefer your seasoning on the spicy side, feel free to use equal parts cinnamon and ginger, half as much cloves and allspice and a quarter as much nutmeg. If you want cinnamon to be the star, stick to this 3:1 ratio.
Step 2: Add ½ teaspoon cloves, ½ teaspoon allspice and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg.
Give the mixture a thorough stir.
Step 3: Feel free to add a ¼ teaspoon of any additional spices you’d like to spike your pie with.
Star anise, cardamom or even black pepper would make for a complex finishing touch. Once you're finished, store the spice mix in your pantry for future use.
How to Store Pumpkin Pie Spice
All you need to tuck it away in your cupboard is an airtight jar or container. It’ll keep in a cool, dry place like the pantry for up to a year or two (or TBH, even longer). But depending on how fresh the individual spices were when you combined them or how you stored the finished product; Pumpkin pie spice could start losing its flavor after a few months.
Just so you know, spices don’t really expire or go bad; they just turn a little flavorless over time. When spices are really old, they might not be as vibrant as when you first bought them either. Oxidation may make their color a little dusty and dingy. Ideally, ground spices should be replaced every three months for optimal flavor, but it’s totally cool to use your taste buds as a guide instead of the calendar.
How to Use Pumpkin Pie Spice
Ready to bake? Here are a few of our favorite recipes that call for pumpkin pie spice. P.S.: It’ll taste great in your morning coffee or latte, like a DIY PSL. Just saying.
- Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Roll Crust
- Creamy Pumpkin Eton Mess
- Pumpkin Spice Pecan Rolls
- Pumpkin Angel Food Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze
- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread
- Biscuit Dough Pumpkin Hand Pies
- Pumpkin Spice Icebox Cake