Spices have been a constant staple ingredient in cooking for many different types of cuisines. It is used in a variety of dishes to enhance flavor, color, and aroma. Today, there are a lot of spices that are commonly used, including Allspice, Five Spice, and Cloves.
You may have encountered these spices in your dishes and wondered if they are similar or different. These spices have a few similarities in terms of flavor and purpose, but some key differences make them unique. In this article, we answer the question for Allspice, Five Spice, and Cloves – Are they any different?
This article compares the main differences in origin, flavor, color, and uses, among other things. Learning how they are similar and different helps you know how to use them better in your dishes. Let’s dive deep into each spice’s benefits and discover which spice is for you.
What Is Allspice?
It is common to mistake Allspice as a blend of several spices, but the fact is it is a single-ingredient spice that comes from one tree. Allspice is the dried unripe berry or fruit of a tree called Pimenta dioica, a tree of the myrtle family native to Jamaica and several parts of Central America. You may also know it as myrtle pepper, Jamaica pepper, and pimento.
Originally, it is a green unripe berry that becomes brown after drying in the sun. The dried berries turn into large peppercorns that have a smooth exterior. You can get it as a whole or in ground form. However, the whole Allspice is better since the flavor is more potent and intense than the ground.
Taste And Aroma
Allspice is considered a type of warm spice for its strong pungent aroma and warm and spicy taste. With this single spice, it is loaded with distinctly different flavors that are reminiscent of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, pepper, and cinnamon. Its flavor profile is a combination of sweet, earthy, peppery, and a hint of nuttiness.
Allspice is a popular ingredient in several cuisines, such as Mexican, Middle Eastern, Jamaican, and French, to name a few. It is used for jerk seasoning, sausage seasoning, glazing, desserts, cakes, cookies, pies, soups, stews, curries, marinades, meat flavoring, and beverages. Moreover, its similar flavors to other spices make it a great substitute for spices like Chinese Five Spice, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. For instance, you can use 1/2 tablespoon of Allspice for every 1 tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice.
What Is Chinese Five Spice Powder?
Unlike Allspice which is made from one spice, Chinese Five Spice (五香粉) is made from five spices:
- Star anise (八角)
- Chinese cinnamon (肉桂)
- Fennel seeds (小茴香)
- Szechuan peppercorns (花椒)
- Cloves (丁香)
You can find Chinese Five Spice in your local Asian grocery store. Alternatively, you can also make your own homemade version of this spice with my Homemade Chinese Five Spice Powder recipe. Generally, all the ingredients are toasted in a pan and then ground into fine powder.
Since this spice powder has several variations in terms of ingredients added, the color and taste may differ slightly. Once all five ingredients are combined and ground into a fine powder, its overall color becomes orange to brown. It gets its deep brown color from the cloves, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns, and the orange tones from the cinnamon.
Taste And Aroma
Let’s break down its flavor profile based on the five spices. Generally, it has a punch of warm and sweet flavors. It emits an earthy taste with the cinnamon and fennel seeds and a hint of licorice with the star anise.
The Szechuan peppercorns contribute to its numbing sensation and lemony taste, while the cloves give it a strong and slightly bitter taste. When it comes to aroma, the strong smell of the star anise is the most noticeable one. It has a sweet anise-like smell with notes of spiciness.
This spice powder is a popular ingredient in Chinese and Asian dishes. It is commonly used as a seasoning for stir-fries, marinades, stews, and sauces. Use it as a topping for plain rice and an additional ingredient to make chili oil and salt and pepper seasoning. Here are some recipes where you’ll need Chinese Five Spice:
- Salt and pepper seasoning– Once you have salt and pepper seasoning, you can make salt and pepper shrimp, salt and pepper potatoes, salt and pepper tofu, and several other salt and pepper recipes.
- Air fryer char siu pork– You can make homemade char siu sauce for this recipe with Chinese Five Spice, agave syrup, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, salt, water, garlic, and cornstarch.
- Air fryer pork belly– Instead of barbecue rub, use Chinese Five Spice for this recipe.
- Crispy pork belly burger– A teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice is needed for the marinade.
- Cantonese roast pork belly– The marinade requires Chinese Five Spice.
What Are Cloves?
Cloves are made from dried flower buds of the clove tree or Syzygium aromaticum, an evergreen tree from the Myrtaceae family. This spice is native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia, also known as Spice Islands. Keep in mind that cloves are completely different from your typical garlic cloves and are not interchangeable. You can buy cloves in most grocery stores in the spices section.
Cloves are easily identifiable by their unique appearance, which has a round head and a thin tail. The flower buds start with a pale color, then become green and red in the process. It eventually becomes reddish-brown when it is dried. You can find cloves in whole and ground forms. Whole cloves are ideal for slow-cooked meals, while ground cloves are best for stronger flavors.
Taste And Aroma
Cloves are sweet, spicy, woody, and warm to taste. Its aroma is similar to flowers soaked in eucalyptus oil. Moreover, it is reminiscent of the earthy and wood-like scent of sandalwood and musk.
Cloves are cooked in many different ways, commonly used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It serves as a spice for curry, meat seasoning, marinade, warm drinks, and pastries. Moreover, it is a staple ingredient when making garam masala, biryani, and masala chai, to name a few.
In American and European desserts, cloves are key in making gingerbread cookies, pumpkin pies, and cakes. You will also need cloves for Chinese Five Spice recipe. In addition, cloves are great alternatives to Allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Comparing All Spice Vs Five Spice Vs Cloves
In a nutshell, Allspice is a single spice made from dried unripe berries of Pimenta dioica tree, while Cloves are also a single spice made from dried flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum. On the other hand, Chinese Five Spice is a blend of five spices, including star anise, Chinese cinnamon, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, and cloves. All three spices have a similar warm, sweet, and spicy taste.
Here’s a quick comparison of the three spices:
Table Of Comparison – All Spice Vs Five Spice Vs Cloves
|Dried unripe berry of Pimenta dioica tree
|Smooth, large, brown peppercorns.
|Warm, spicy, sweet, earthy, peppery, nutty
|Strong and pungent
|Jerk seasoning, meat rub, soups, stews, baked goods, marinades, and beverages
|A mix of Star anise, Chinese cinnamon, Fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, and Cloves
|Orange to brown powder
|Warm, sweet, earthy, licorice-like, numbing, and slightly bitter
|Sweet anise-like smell with notes of spiciness
|Stir-fries, marinades, stews, sauces, topping, for salt and pepper seasoning
|Dried flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum
|Reddish brown round head with a thin tail
|Sweet, spicy, woody, and warm
|Earthy and wood-like scent
|Curries, meat seasoning, marinades, warm drinks, and pastries
How do you use these spices in your recipes? Share your recommendations in the comments section below! Don’t forget to follow Kitchen Misadventures on Instagram and Tiktok for informative spice guides.