I have made a carrot cake several times, and I like the way the cake turns out but I want it to have more spice flavors. The recipe only calls for 1 tsp of cinnamon, but since I want it to have more spice flavors I have tried adding varying combinations of the following spices:

  • cloves
  • allspice
  • nutmeg

I have tried amounts between 1/2 tsp and 1 tsp of each of the above spices but it seems the taste is always the same - good but not spicy enough. I'm afraid to go too far overboard and ruin a good cake, so does anyone have any suggestions on how much to add or other spices that would help the cake be more spicy?

5 Answers 5


Cayenne pepper.

I'm actually serious. I haven't tried it in carrot cake but a little capsaicin actually works well with a little sweet to offset it. Chile powder also works well in sweet things.

Cardamom is my wife's favorite and so it goes into many baked goods I make. It would work and be interesting but not spicy.

You can always put in a good extra dose of cinnamon if you want it to punch you in the face.

  • 1
    I love cayenne heat popping up in sweet things!
    – DHayes
    May 18, 2011 at 19:44
  • I'll try out the cayenne and cardamom next time.
    – mthorp
    May 18, 2011 at 21:58
  • 2
    For the record I don't know about trying them together. May 19, 2011 at 3:09
  • Cardamom takes getting used to, imo. Another detractor is the price.
    – zanlok
    May 19, 2011 at 16:31

When it comes to spicing cakes I tend to err on the side of heavy handed as I like them to have a bit of punch. I'd go for more cinnamon definitely, and I'd also consider a good pinch or more of powdered ginger. i love the combination of cinnamon and ginger in a cake.

I also like to butter my cake tin, then sprinkle a layer of sugar over the butter and cinnamon/ginger/whatever spices I'm putting in over that, then pour the cake mix on, to give the cake crust a nice, cooked spiced edge, hopefully with a bit of chewiness from the sugar. this works especially well with upside down fruit cakes.

  • Right now I just butter+flour the cake tin, I'll have to try your method!
    – mthorp
    May 18, 2011 at 21:57
  • Wouldn't ground fresh ginger work well also? I find that it's got more kick than the powdered stuff.
    – paul
    Aug 16, 2012 at 20:47

I would go easy on the cloves and allspice, but increasing the nutmeg and cinnamon more shouldn't be too risky. You might also try mace if you can get hold of it; it's the dried husk that surrounds nutmeg.

  • 1
    Love the mace! Deserty stuff is where it best distinguishes from plain nutmeg.
    – zanlok
    May 19, 2011 at 16:30

I love cardamom with my carrot cakes. I'm from a Persian background so it's a nostalgic spice for me. Both my boyfriend and I love the punchiness of cardamom so I'm often liberal with it. I recently used boxed Carrot cake mix (super moist) and added 1 tsp cardamom, and 2 tsp of cinnamon to the dry mix, it and it was delicious for us. If I was to do it again, for guests, I'd probably just add half a tsp of cardamom. I also love a maple frosting with my carrot cake.


Add Chinese Allspice. These days people are using it to spice up cakes.

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