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Gourmet Hacks: 5 BEST Substitutes for Mahlab

Alright, who hasn’t been halfway through a recipe only to find out you’re missing that one exotic spice?

Totally happens to the best of us, right?

Today, we’re tackling mahlab, that cherry-kernel spice that’s a game-changer but also kind of rare in most kitchens.

No mahlab? No problem. We’ve got you covered with five super substitutes that are probably already hanging out in your cupboard.

Diving into these swaps not only saves your dish but also turns you into a bit of a kitchen wizard.

Trust us, your dishes are about to get a whole lot more interesting.

what is mahlab

The 5 Best Substitutes for Mahlab

If you can’t find mahlab at your local spice shop, don’t worry.

There are several suitable substitutes that will give your dish the same flavor profile.

1 – Cardamom and Ground Fennel Seeds

cardamom and ground fennel seeds

Cardamom and ground fennel seed are two of the most common spices used in Indian cooking.

Cardamom is a member of the ginger family and has a warm, spicy flavor.

Ground fennel seed comes from the herb fennel and has a more licorice-like taste.

Both spices are used to flavor many different dishes, including curries, stews, and rice dishes.

Cardamom is also sometimes used as a digestive aid.

In addition to being used in cooking, cardamom and ground fennel seed can also be used in baking.

They are often used to flavor cakes, cookies, and bread.

If you’re looking for a way to add some extra flavor to your baking, try adding these spices to your following recipe.

2 – Star Anise and Almond Extract

star anise and almond extract

Star anise and almond extract are two of the most popular ingredients in baking.

Combined, they create a unique and irresistible flavor that is perfect for cookies, cakes, and other sweet treats.

The sweet taste of almond extract is balanced by the licorice-like flavor of star anise, resulting in a delightful blend that is sure to please any palate.

This combination is also frequently used to flavor candy and other sweets.

When baking with these two flavors, use them sparingly, as too much can easily overwhelm the other ingredients.

3 – Cinnamon, Bay Leaf, and Cloves

cinnamon bay leaf and cloves

When it comes to the flavor of cinnamon, bay leaf, and cloves, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Cinnamon is often spicy and sweet, with a warm and woody flavor.

Bay leaf, on the other hand, is earthy and slightly bitter.

And finally, cloves are typically intensely aromatic and somewhat bitter.

When these three flavors are combined, they create a unique and complex flavor that is perfect for fall recipes.

Whether baking a spice cake or simmering a pot of soup, these three ingredients will add depth and dimension to your dish.

4 – Bitter Almonds and Tonka Beans

bitter almonds and tonka beans

Bitter almonds and tonka beans are two ingredients that may not sound like they go together, but they create a unique and delicious flavor profile.

Bitter almonds have a robust and nutty flavor offset by the tonka bean’s sweetness.

The two flavors combine to create a complex and well-rounded taste perfect for baking or cooking.

When combined, these two ingredients can add depth and dimension to any dish.

Whether you’re looking for a new twist on an old favorite or simply want to experiment with new flavors, bitter almonds and tonka beans are a great place to start.

5 – Cherry Liqueur and Almond Liqueur

cherry liqueur and almond liqueur

The sweet and tart flavor of cherry liqueur is a perfect complement to almond liqueur’s rich, nutty flavor.

Together, these two liqueurs create a delicious and unique flavor that will please any palate.

The best way to enjoy this flavor combination is to mix equal parts of cherry liqueur and almond liqueur in a glass and enjoy it neat or on the rocks.

You can also use this mixture to create a delicious cocktail by adding sparkling wine or club soda.

When substituting cherry liqueur for mahlab, use a high-quality brand that is not too sweet.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Mahlab

Seeking alternatives for mahlab in your recipe? Your search ends here! Discover the top 5 substitutes that seamlessly replace mahlab, ensuring your dish maintains its delicious essence.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Cardamom and Ground Fennel Seeds
  • Star Anise and Almond Extract
  • Cinnamon Bay Leaf, and Cloves
  • Bitter Almonds and Tonka Beans
  • Cherry Liqueur and Almond Liqueur


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for mahlab
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