Although these three ingredients sound similar, they each have different uses when cooking. Mixed spice is a sweeter spice most commonly used in sweeter dishes. Allspice is fragrant and found in both sweet and savoury cooking. Five-spice has a powerful aroma and is mostly called for in Chinese cuisine. Each of these spices can be easily made or substituted at home.


Mixed Spice

Mixed spice derives its name from the combination of ingredients from which it is made. It is usually a blend of allspice, caraway, coriander, cumin, ginger and nutmeg. Sometimes cinnamon, cassia or cloves are added. Mixed spice is commonly used in cakes or with fruit. You can make your own mixed spice by combining the following ingredients.

Mixed Spice Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

Mixed spice will generally keep well for two months.



Allspice can be used in cakes, cookies, puddings, casseroles and condiments and is often used in Caribbean and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is the ground up or whole seeds from the dried, green berry of a Pimenta dioica tree. The berry changes colour from green to brown as it dries. The Pimenta dioica or pimento tree from the myrtle family is most commonly found in Central and South America, especially around the Caribbean. Jamaica supplies most of the world with allspice. Allspice tastes like a combination of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, which is how its name came about. If you need a substitute for allspice, you could use the following recipe, which is equal to one teaspoon of allspice.

Allspice Substitute Recipe

  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg                                                                                                   



Five-spice is used mostly in Chinese cuisine as well as roast and braised meat dishes. It is a mixture of star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds and Szechuan (or Sichuan) pepper. While this powder does have five ingredients, the name is actually said to originate from the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Combine the following ingredients to make your own five-spice.

Five-spice Recipe

  • 1 teaspoon of ground Szechwan pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of ground star anise
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon of ground fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground white pepper

 Store all spices in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.