Cloves and cardamom are two pantry staples that are often used together in a wide variety of sweet and savory foods. So, let’s enlighten you with everything you need to know about cloves vs cardamom.

Cloves and cardamom are two completely different spices derived from different plant sources. In fact, cloves have a more robust flavor than cardamom, with spicy, warm, bitter-sweet, and slightly astringent undertones. On the contrary, cardamom is piney, fruity, and sweeter, with menthol-like taste notes. These two spices also differ in aroma, appearance, and usage.

Let’s have a closer look at each of these two ingredients and clarify how they distinguish from one another.

Clove vs Cardamom-The SpiceRally Drill Down

Clove vs Cardamom
Flavor profileMore piquant and bolder in flavor than cardamom, with spicy, warm, bitter-sweet, and slightly astringent undertones.
– In general, all varieties of cardamom possess a less piquant flavor than cloves.

– Green cardamom is warmly sweet with piney, fruity, slightly citrusy, and menthol-like undertones.

– Black cardamom has a smokey, spicy, and more pungent flavor element.

– White cardamom is warmer and mildly floral with mint and citrusy hints.
Aroma profileCloves are more intensely aromatic than cardamom, with a spicy-sweet fragrance.All types of cardamom generally hold a sweet, fresh, warm, and spicy scent which is less assertive than cloves.
Base flavorWarm and spicyWarm and spicy
Appearance– Whole cloves resemble the shape of a tiny nail or a pin which are usually deep and reddish-brown in color.

– Ground cloves are a fine dark brown or reddish-brown powder.
– They are recognized by their tiny seed pods: triangular in cross-section, sharp, and spindle-shaped. They come in a papery, delicate outer shell and contain tiny, black seeds.

– Green cardamoms are smaller pods, while black cardamoms are larger, deep brown pods, and white cardamom pods are cream-colored.

– Powdered cardamom is pale green, grayish, or brown in color.
Forms used– Whole cloves
– Ground cloves
– Essential oil
– Clove extract
– Capsules
– Whole pods
– Ground cardamom
– Cardamom extract
– Essential oil
– Capsules or pills
AvailabilityWhole cloves and ground cloves are widely available in grocery stores, supermarkets, and online shopping sites.– Green cardamom and ground cardamom are readily available in supermarkets, grocery stores, and online shopping sites.

– But white cardamom and black cardamom can be a bit demanding to find. However, they can be bought online or from Asian or Indian stores.
Clove vs Cardamom – SpiceRally

Click on this link to learn about cloves in detail.

Purpose in cookingIngredientIngredient
Usage in cooking– Mainly used to flavor meat, fish, and seafood dishes.
– Widely used in beverages, spiced desserts, and sweets.
– Paired with other warm spices in spice blends and seasoning mixture.
– Used in marinades, dry rubs, and wet rubs.
– Whole cloves are used in simmering liquid-based dishes like broths, soups, stews, etc.
– Green cardamom and black cardamom feature together in popular spice blends and seasoning mixtures.
– Used to flavor curries, sauces, and gravies.
– Ground cardamom is incorporated into sweets, desserts, and baked goods.
– Green cardamom is extensively used in beverages.
– Widely used to season meat and seafood dishes.
Health benefits– Alleviate toothaches and other dental/ oral-related problems.
– Improves liver health.
– Helps to keep the blood sugar level in check, preventing diabetes.
– Aids in digestion.
– Contains anti-cancer properties.
– It might contain cancer-fighting properties.
– Antioxidant and diuretic properties may decrease high blood pressure.
– Possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
– Promotes gut health by improving the digestive system.
– Prevents tooth cavities and eliminates bad breath.
Storage & Shelf Life– Both whole cloves and ground cloves should be stored in air-tight glass jars/ spice containers in a cool, dry, dark place.

– When stored properly, whole cloves will stay fresh for about 3-4 years, while ground cloves will retain their potency for 2-3 years.
– Every type of cardamom in its whole or ground forms should be stored in well-sealed spice jars/ containers. They should be kept away from direct sunlight, moisture, and heat.

– Whole cardamom pods will stay flavorful and aromatic for about 3-4 years, while ground cardamom could lose  its fragrance and flavor sooner than whole pods
Part of the plantUnopened dried flower budPods
Scientific nameSyzygium aromaticumElettaria cardamomum (Green cardamom/ true cardamom)

Amomum kravanh/ Amomum compactum (White cardamom)

Amomum subulatum (Black cardamom)
Genus/ GeneraSyzygium– Elettaria
– Amomum
Plant familyMyrtaceaeZingiberaceae
Mainly featuring cuisinesIndian, Sri Lankan, African, Middle Eastern, Western, Mexican, and Mediterranean cuisines.Indian, Middle Eastern, Sri Lankan, Arabic, and Swedish cuisines.
OriginMoluccas islands, IndonesiaWestern Ghats of southern India

Elaborating On The Difference Between Cloves And Cardamom

Cardamom and cloves are two culinary spices closely associated, paired in a number of sweet and savory dishes. Their flavors complement each other, so that is the main reason why you often use them together. However, despite this fact, these two ingredients are way different from one another, as we have presented to you using the table above.

There are two main varieties of cardamom, green and black, that are widely used in cooking, while you can find only one type of clove. In addition, cardamom is also considered one of the most expensive spices in the world due to its labor-intensive harvesting process. But you’ll find that cloves to be less costly in the market when compared with cardamom.

Click on this link if you need to discover the best substitutes for cloves.

However, both spices have hefty health and medicinal benefits. But we see that cloves have more non-culinary uses than cardamom, owing to their assertive fragrance and flavor. In fact, cloves are widely used in various household uses, skincare, haircare, and home remedies, while cardamom is usually confined to being incorporated in cooking and baking.

Can Cloves And Cardamom Be Used Interchangeably? 

Although these two spices have different flavor profiles, they both fall into the category of warm spices. And cloves and cardamom are paired in most curries, sauces, beverages, sweets, etc. 

Accordingly, cloves can sometimes be used in place of cardamom and vice versa, even though they cannot be the best substitutes for each other.
However, you can use ground cloves and ground green cardamom interchangeably in pinches, especially when you have other warm spices like ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg to back up the flavors.

If you like to elevate your cooking game with cardamon, we have listed out the best ways to incorporate cardamom into your daily dishes. Just click on this link and refer to our detailed post!

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