What Is Allspice?

by Rachel Lovejoy

Allspice on table beside spoonful of grounded allspice

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Native to Jamaica, Mexico and Central America, allspice is so named because its flavor suggests a blend of several other spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Produced from the unripe fruit of the Pimenta dioica tree, it is also called Jamaican pepper or pimento. The fruit, which appears as over-sized reddish-brown peppercorns, can be purchased whole for grinding fresh or as a powder in the spice aisle of your supermarket or natural foods store.

Uses for Allspice

Allspice is used in jerk sauce, rice dishes, soups and stews, as well as in many baked goods such as pumpkin pie, gingerbread, spice bars and molasses cookies. If you grind it yourself, a little goes a long way, and its warm, pungent flavor pairs well with many vegetables such as carrots, spinach, beets and squash.


Substitutions for allspice include equal parts cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg or equal parts of cinnamon and cloves. Allspice can be used as a replacement for any of those spices individually or as a blend such as is used in pumpkin pie filling. Whether store-bought or freshly ground, allspice keeps well in a cool dark place for up to six months.

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About the Author

Rachel Lovejoy has been writing professionally since 1990 and currently writes a weekly column entitled "From the Urban Wilderness" for the Journal Tribune in Biddeford, Maine, as well as short novellas for Amazon Kindle. Lovejoy graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.