Allspice recipes | Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2023)

Allspice is the ironically named spice. Though notin theAlanis Morissette sense of the word "ironic", which she uses as asynonym for "quite annoying", which is, ironically, quite annoying. No, the irony of allspice is that it really is incredibly useful and versatile, with the qualities of acomplex assembly of other spices, with notes of bay, citrus, mace, clove, cinnamon, black pepper… andyet we hardly ever use it.

Well, if you've got some lingering in the cupboard, get it out now (or get some in), for few flavourings segue so easily between sweet and savoury, and make such an intriguing, complex contribution. Used alone or in ablend, allspice can do great things.

Also known as Jamaica pepper (and also pimento), allspice brings with it a true breath of the West Indies – it's the backbone of jerk seasoning, the defining touch in rice and peas, and even used to flavour a fiery, rum-based liqueur called pimento dram. It is also found in many Latin American and Middle Eastern dishes, as well as in the cupboards of cake- and biscuit-bakers the world over.

Allspice is not to be confused with proprietary blends labelled "mixed spice" – those are generally designed for sweet baking. Rarely is allspice part of the blend, perhaps because of its intense pepperiness, yet that heat can be very welcome in a sweet batter or dough, just as ginger can (see the sumptuous cake recipe).

I love the look and feel of allspice's fat, round, brown berries. They vary in size – some as small as a coriander seed, some aslarge as a pea – but allare easily crushed to release the multi-layered flavour. Just broken open like this, then captured in alittle square of muslin, they are wonderful simmered in a chutney, soup or curry, or even in the fruit cooking for a marmalade or jam. Thecrushed berries can also be added to marinades. Alternatively, grind them to a fine powder, which is ideal if you want just apinch for arice dish or biscuit dough.

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While writing this, I nipped to the larder to crack a couple of berries and inspire myself with that heady aroma, but I've used so much of late that I've run out. Ironic, wouldn't you say? Or at least quite annoying.

Sardine escabeche with allspice

An escabeche is a dish of richly spiced, lightly pickled fish, and it's delicious made with oily fish. If you can't get sardines, small, whole mackerel or large mackerel fillets are an excellent alternative. Serves six.

12 large sardines, descaled andgutted
Olive oil

For the dry spice mix
1 tbsp allspice berries
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
Black pepper
1 rounded tsp fine salt
1 rounded tsp sugar

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For the marinade
A few allspice berries
1 pinch dried chilli flakes
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finelysliced
2 bay leaves
125ml white wine
75ml cider vinegar

In a heavy frying pan over medium heat, lightly toast the allspice, cumin and coriander, tossing often, until fragrant. Tip on to a plate to cool. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar, add the pepper, salt and sugar, and grind to a coarse powder.

Rinse the sardines and pat dry with kitchen paper. Put the spice mix on a plate and dust the fish in it, making sure they're evenly covered; shake off the excess. Put the pan back on a medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Fry the fish in batches, adding oil as necessary, for three to four minutes, until coloured all over, then transfer the fish to a deep dish. Add alittle more oil to the pan. Roughly crush the allspice berries for the marinade and add to the pan with the chilli, onion, garlic and bay. Cook for a few minutes until the onion is soft, pour in the wine and vinegar, and simmer for three to four minutes. Tip the hot marinade over the fish – they should be completely covered – leave to cool, then chill for at least six hours and up to two days. Escabeche is best served at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge a few hours beforehand. Serve with flatbreads, pittas or toasted sourdough and a simple salad.

Jerk chicken

This classic West Indian dish is a real winner. You can also use the paste asa seasoning for pork, fish and even vegetables such as aubergines. It will keep for two weeks if covered and refrigerated. These quantities make about 250g paste.

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1 chicken, jointed (or about 1.5kg on-the-bone chicken pieces)
1 small handful coriander leaves and some lime wedges, to serve

For the jerk seasoning
4 tbsp allspice berries
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
6 garlic cloves, peeled
4 spring onions, white and pale green part only, chopped
1 small bunch coriander, tough stalks removed
4 Scotch bonnet chillies, cored anddeseeded
1 small thumb fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp light muscovado sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil

For the rice and peas
200g basmati rice
410g tin kidney beans
400g tin coconut milk
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed andchopped
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp ground allspice

In a spice mill or mortar, grind the allspice, coriander and peppercorns until fine. Tip into a blender or food processor with the other jerk ingredients and blend to asmooth paste. Turn the chicken pieces in thepaste so they're well coated, cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

Soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Line a roasting tin with baking parchment and lightly brush the paper with vegetable oil. Lay in the chicken in a single layer and roast for half an hour, turning occasionally, so it browns all over.

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Meanwhile, drain the rice and rinse until the water runs clear. Tip into ameasuring jug, make a note of the level, then tip into a bowl. Drain the liquid from the kidney beans into the jug and add the coconut milk: the liquid needs to be one and a half times the volume of the rice, so pour some away or add water, as necessary. Pour into a pan and bring to a boil. Add the rice, spring onion, thyme, garlic, allspice and a good pinch of salt, and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the beans and simmer, covered, for five minutes, until the rice is done. Drain, and serve hot with the chicken. Garnish with the coriander and lime.

Orange, ginger and allspice cake

A wonderful winter tea-time treat, packed with warm, spicy, aromatic flavours. Or serve it still warm from the oven, with cream, asa pud. Makes one 23cm cake.

180g self-raising flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground allspice
180g butter, softened, plus extra forgreasing
180g caster sugar
3 eggs
60g stem ginger, chopped
Juice of 1 orange
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges

For the syrup
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of ½ lemon
3 tbsp syrup from the ginger jar
1 pinch ground allspice
2 tbsp demerara sugar

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Grease a 23cm-diameter loose-bottomed cake tin, line with baking parchment and butter the parchment. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Sift the flour, ginger, baking powder and allspice into a bowl. In astand mixer or with a hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. (If it looks as if it's going to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour with the last egg.) Gently fold in the rest of the flour, then stir in the stem ginger, orange juice and orange zest.

Spoon into the tin, smooth the top and bake for 25-30 minutes, until risen and golden, and a skewer comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, make the syrup. In a small pan, combine the orange juice, lemon juice, gingersyrup and pinch of allspice. Warm through and let it steam gently for five minutes. When you take the cake out of the oven, prick it all over with a skewer and trickle the syrup over the top. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar, leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, then remove and leave on a rack to cool completely.


What is allspice best used for? ›

WHAT IS ALLSPICE USED FOR? You can use allspice in a variety of recipes that are sweet or savory such as cookies, pumpkin pie, spice cake, spicing for sausage and glazes for ham. It's a key flavor in Jamaican jerk seasoning, the fiery blend of herbs and spices that turns chicken or pork into an instant party.

How do you use allspice in a recipe? ›

How to use allspice in cooking
  1. Add a couple of allspice berries when making glühwein or chai tea.
  2. Try sprinkling a pinch on roasted vegetables for a hint of warmth.
  3. Add it to sweet dishes where you want a bit more spiciness such as gingerbread, apple pie or dark chocolate desserts.

What is Jamaican allspice used for? ›

Allspice is one of the most important spices in Jamaican cuisine. Among other traditional uses, it's often used in Jamaican jerk seasoning, pickling, sausage preparation, and curries. It's also a staple in many Middle Eastern dishes, where it is used to flavor a variety of stews and meat dishes.

Can you use allspice in cakes? ›

Use allspice in pumpkin desserts such as pumpkin pie, bread, cake, or muffins. Warming winter beverages such as mulled wine and spiced apple cider is a great use for whole allspice berries.

What flavor does allspice add? ›

Allspice combines the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper. It can be used for many purposes that those warm spices are used, or as a substitute for them.

What compliments allspice? ›

Allspice has a pleasantly warm, fragrant aroma. The name reflects the pungent taste, which resembles a peppery compound of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg or mace. Good with eggplant, most fruit, pumpkins and other squashes, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables.

Is allspice anti inflammatory? ›

Allspice is rich in plant compounds that may have cancer-fighting, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Some of the most important compounds include eugenol, quercetin, gallic acid, and ericifolin.

Is allspice all purpose seasoning? ›

Are they the same thing? No, don't let the names confuse you, they are two very different things. Allspice is an individual spice, while all-purpose seasoning is a blend of spices. Allspice is derived from berries and has a very different flavor.

What is the difference between allspice and Jamaican allspice? ›

What's the Difference Between Jamaican, Guatemalan and Mexican Allspice? Jamaican Allspice has the highest volatile oil content, and because of that has long been considered to be best quality allspice in the world. Mexican Allspice berries are the largest and have the darkest color.

What is allspice called in Jamaica? ›

Allspice is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. Under the name pimento, it is used in Jamaican jerk seasoning, and traditionally its wood was used to smoke jerk in Jamaica.

Is Jamaican allspice different? ›

Jamaican allspice comes from dried allspice berry. The unique flavor of allspice is a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger, and is an essential ingredient in Jamaican jerk.

Is allspice the same as five spice? ›

Allspice is ONE spice, not a mixture of them (it's a berry from the pepper family.) Five spice is a mixture of five (or more) spices starting with a basic four: cinnamon, fennel, star anise, and cloves--the last ones are up to you. Often it's ginger.

Does allspice have cinnamon in it? ›

Often mistaken for a blend of spices, allspice is a single-ingredient seasoning with loads of unique flavor. Its name is derived from the flavor profile — a mixture of nutmeg, black pepper, cinnamon and clove. Not all spices, but many of the most impactful.

Why is allspice called allspice? ›

The plant is native to the West Indies and Central America. Allspice was so named because the flavour of the dried berry resembles a combination of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

What happens if you eat allspice? ›

Many compounds in allspice may be able to reduce inflammation. Eugenol, the compound that makes allspice “spicy,” is sometimes used to treat nausea. Allspice tea may help settle an upset stomach. Allspice many contain compounds that could help prevent bacterial infections.

Can you eat allspice? ›

These dried allspice berries can be used whole or ground to a powder and used as a spice in cooking. The leaves of allspice plants look a lot like bay leaves and are also used in cooking. Additionally, meats smoked with the wood and leaves of the allspice plant have a unique flavor to them.

Is 7 spice the same as allspice? ›

❓FAQ. Is allspice the same as 7 spice? No, allspice is a single berry with a combination of flavors akin to cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I often tell people to use ground allspice in place of Lebanese 7 spice when it isn't available.

What meat is good with allspice? ›

Allspice is that spice that's reminiscent of the holidays, but it's terrific with savory food and delicious on pork roast. Much like cinnamon, allspice compliments the inherent sweetness of pork.

Is allspice good on vegetables? ›

Allspice can be purchased as whole berries or ground. Commonly used in baking, allspice is also good in savory dishes like grain salads and polenta. Allspice pairs well with beets, carrots, parsnips, and winter squash.

Does allspice and cumin go together? ›

The incredibly savory base flavors of cumin pair well with spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, clove, fennel, Greek oregano, nutmeg, fenugreek, thyme leaves, coriander, cilantro, sumac, and mint.

Is allspice good for high blood pressure? ›

Allspice is used for indigestion (dyspepsia), intestinal gas, abdominal pain, heavy menstrual periods, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, colds, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. It is also used for emptying the bowels.

Is allspice a laxative? ›

Allspice is an ideal digestive and stomachic. It is especially useful on protein rich foods. As a laxative, it causes looser, more frequent bowel movements. However, it's astringency may be useful for diarrhea as well.

Is allspice good for anxiety? ›

Allspice essential oil, when added to massage oils and baths, is known to promote circulation so as to relieve pain from muscle cramps and strains. Also, it is used for headache, to combat stress and depression and to overcome fatigue because of its comforting scent.

What is allspice called in USA? ›

Also known as a Jamaica pepper, myrtle pepper, or pimento, allspice is the unripe fruit of the Pimenta dioica, an evergreen tree in the Myrtle family native to the West Indies, Southern Mexico, and Central America.

What is the Indian name for allspice? ›

Part of the problem with allspice in India is its name, which is usually given as kababchini.

Is allspice a strong spice? ›

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.

Is there MSG in allspice? ›

McCormick Culinary Ground Allspice is kosher and made with no MSG added. Our global sourcing enables unparalleled control and understanding of our supply chain, ensuring every product delivers a pure and consistent flavor. There are 6/16 oz.

What is the most popular seasoning in the world? ›

Chiles: Chiles are fruits whose seeds are protected by the pungent, burning chemical capsaicin. They're the most popular spice worldwide, with a consumption rate 20 times greater than that of the second most popular spice, black pepper. There are 25 species of Capsicum, of which only five have been domesticated.

Why is allspice called pimento? ›

The name Pimento originated from the Spanish word "pimienta" (pepper or peppercorn). To most English speaking people the tree is called "pimento" and the berries "allspice".

Is allspice a drug? ›

Allspice is a plant. The unripe berries and leaves of the plant are used to make medicine. People use allspice for many conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. In foods, allspice is used as a spice.

What is the closest spice to allspice? ›

According to The Spice House, any of the following spices would be also apt substitutes for ground allspice: cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, mace, pumpkin pie spice and ground black pepper, apple pie spice, and a chai blend.

Is pimento and allspice the same thing? ›

Allspice, also commonly known as pimento, is prized for its complex and versatile flavor. Tasting like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, the humble brown berry is essential in Caribbean and Middle Eastern cooking, and popular in many European style dishes as well.

Is Jamaican allspice the same as allspice berries? ›

Allspice is the dried, unripe berry (fruit) of Pimenta dioica, the Jamaican allspice tree.

What is one of Jamaica's most popular spices called? ›

Pimento (Allspice)

Trees grow widely throughout the island and Jamaica supplies majority of the world pimento (allspice).

Where does the best allspice come from? ›

Sourcing All Spice

We source our berries from Jamaica, which is known to have the highest grade Allspice in the world. I was lucky to visit our farmer Mr Sherlock at harvest time. His trees grow in the limestone hills in the southwestern part of Jamaica and are grown as a canopy to provide shade for coffee plants.

Is British mixed spice same as allspice? ›

No, these are completely different. Allspice (also known as myrtle pepper) is a single origin spice which is dried and ground from the allspice berry. Mixed Spice is a blend of several different spices.

Is allspice used in Chinese cooking? ›

These add flavor to dishes like orange chicken or this vegan ma la xiang guo (spicy numbing stir-fry). This list doesn't cover all the spices used in Chinese cuisine, as you'll find recipes with allspice, licorice root, sand ginger, anise seed, and more.

Can I replace five spice with allspice? ›


It is the dried berries of the pimenta dioica plant. Allspice is the best single spice powder substitute for Chinese five-spice. Use ground allspice as a direct substitute for five-spice. Or add a tablespoon of dried allspice berries to pickling or braising liquids.

Is Chinese five-spice allspice? ›

Five Spice is a blend of these fragrant spices: cinnamon, coriander seed, bay leaf, anise powder, allspice.

Is Garam Masala the same as allspice? ›

Allspice's flavor is reminiscent of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper—mixed with cumin, that's a pretty darn good garam masala substitute.

Is nutmeg in allspice? ›


Its flavor is often described as a combination of nutmeg, pepper, juniper berries, and cinnamon. However, authentic allspice is made from the berries alone and not a blend of other spices.

What does allspice mean? ›

all·​spice ˈȯl-ˌspīs. : the berry of a West Indian tree (Pimenta dioica) of the myrtle family. also : the allspice tree. : a mildly pungent and aromatic spice prepared from dried allspice berries.

What tree is allspice from? ›

Additionally referred to as “Pimenta,” “Jamaica Pimenta” or “Myrtle Pepper,” Allspice is actually the dried unripened berry of the Pimenta dioica, a small midcanopy tree originating in southern Mexico, Central America and the Greater Antilles.

What spices are in McCormick allspice? ›

McCormick Ground Allspice evokes a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and lends a deep, warm flavor to savory and sweet dishes alike.

Is allspice just one spice? ›

Ground allspice is a single spice made from the allspice berry. It is a component of pumpkin pie spice, which also contains cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

Is allspice good for your health? ›

Allspice contains a range of components like vitamin A, vitamin C, eugenol, quercetin, and tannins that make it a powerful antioxidant (5). These antioxidants help get rid of free radicals from your body that are a leading cause of a number of diseases (like cancer) and age-related problems.

What's the difference between all purpose seasoning and allspice? ›

Allspice is an individual spice, while all-purpose seasoning is a blend of spices. Allspice is derived from berries and has a very different flavor.

Is allspice a blood thinner? ›

Allspice might slow blood clotting. Taking allspice along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Allspice contains eugenol. Eugenol is the part of allspice that might slow blood clotting.

Why is it called allspice? ›

The plant is native to the West Indies and Central America. Allspice was so named because the flavour of the dried berry resembles a combination of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Can I use allspice instead of five spice? ›


If you don't have Chinese five spice in your kitchen, chances are that you might have one of its most popular alternatives, allspice. Due to its sweet flavor, reminiscent of pepper, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, allspice can add an exotic touch to any recipe.

Does allspice cause diarrhea? ›

Spice allergy and allspice allergy can cause symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction, symptoms can include, hives, swelling of the lips/tongue, shortness of breath, wheezing, vomiting and diarrhea. Management of a spice allergy or an allspice allergy is strict dietary avoidance.


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