Baking Spices

In the simplest terms, baking spices are the spices generally used in baking. But with all the different cultures and cuisines with their unique recipes, the term has come to refer to different things to different people based on what they associate with their favorite bread and cookies.

Still, a few specific spices bring to mind the warmth of the oven and a freshly baked batch of cookies or a loaf of bread you may have come across at the baker’s. These are counted as ‘baking spices’. For obvious reasons, these are often associated with Christmas.

Baking Spices

Spices and Condiments Associated With Baking

It includes all the typical spices, including a couple of seeds, with an idea of what they taste like in baked goodies.

Additionally, you can get some ideas for substitutions and alterations if a particular spice is not at hand. But remember, no substitute will smell and taste identical to the original spice because each has its unique aroma and taste. Also, adjust the quantities based on your use and the recipe.

NameFlavor ProfileUsed ForSubstitutes & Alternatives
CinnamonWarm, sweet, and slightly spicyCakes, cookies, piesAllspice, nutmeg
Star AniseLicorice-like, sweet, and aromaticBreads, cookiesAnise seeds, fennel seeds
GingerWarm, spicy, and slightly sweetGingerbread, cookiesGround allspice, cinnamon
NutmegWarm, nutty, and slightly sweetCakes, pies, custardsCinnamon, allspice
AllspiceAromatic, warm, and slightly sweetCakes, pies, cookiesCinnamon, nutmeg
Vanilla ExtractSweet, rich, and aromaticCakes, cookiesWhole vanilla beans, almond extract
Anise SeedStrong, licorice-likeBreads, cookiesStar anise, fennel seeds
CardamomCitrusy, spicy, and slightly sweetBreads, cakesCinnamon, ginger
ClovesPungent, warm, and sweetPies, cookiesAllspice, cinnamon
MaceWarm and nutmeg-likeCakes, cookiesNutmeg, allspice
Poppy SeedMild, nutty, and slightly sweetBreads, muffinsSesame, chia seeds
Sesame SeedNutty and slightly earthyBreads, cookiesPoppy, flax, sunflower seeds
CorianderCitrusy, slightly sweet, and earthyBreads, cookiesCumin, cardamom
Fennel SeedSweet and licorice-likeBreads, cookiesAnise seeds, star anise

Almost all these spices are best when added ground in baked items, though a few of them, like clove and cardamom, may also be used whole. The seeds are also often used whole or lightly crushed.

The very last entries, coriander and fennel, may be considered somewhat unusual by many. However, they can be as good as any of the other spices. Ground coriander works well in deepening the flavors of cookies while adding a citrusy brightness. Fennel can be used much the same as anise seeds.


What does ‘baking spices’ mean in reference to wines?

The term is often used to describe certain wines, both red and white. It essentially refers to the warm and sweet aroma characteristic of spices such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice — all mentioned above. This aroma can be attributed to specific grape varieties that naturally exhibit ‘baking spice’ notes or result from aging the wines in oak barrels. Oak can impart sweet, warm aromas reminiscent of cloves and similar spices due to the presence of the same aromatic compound (eugenol, isoeugenol).