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Which Spices Are Good for Desserts?

16 January 2024

In the world of desserts, sugar is just the beginning. After all, irresistible and delicious treats need more than just sweetness. They need complexity, depth, and spice. Yet, what spices are good for desserts? 

And, more importantly, how can you use spice to enhance your sweeter food products?

The food experts at Hela Spice have the answers. We overview the best dessert spices and how to use them to their full potential. You can combine any of these spices to create dynamic, dessert custom spice blends that your customers will adore.


Cinnamon is a classic dessert spice. Incredibly versatile. It possesses a delectable warmth and sweetness that enhances tons of dishes. Consequently, it’s the most commonly used spice on this list and a key ingredient in several sweet (and savoury) recipes. Ground cinnamon is powerful with its ability to add sweetness and comforting depth to desserts and pastries.

Although a defining component of cinnamon rolls, they appear throughout the dessert world. Cinnamon is prevalent in apple pie, bundt cake, coffee cake, truffles, rice pudding, scones, and many cookies.

There are two types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon. Cassia is the most common variety and has a spicier and more robust flavour than its Ceylon cousin. 

It originates in China, Vietnam (Saigon), and Indonesia (Korintje). Ceylon cinnamon is called “true cinnamon” and is native to Sri Lanka. It’s sweeter and more delicate, with a fragrant and floral aroma.


People use ginger in a wide variety of cooking and baking applications. However, it’s superb in the realm of desserts. It transforms sweet dishes simply by adding this powerful Southeast Asian spice. 

Ginger imparts a warming element to dishes, giving them a delightful dish and extremely subtle heat. Across the world, consumers love ginger for its warm, zingy, sweet, and slightly spicy qualities.

Gingerbread is the most obvious example of this spice in the dessert world. You can also find it in cookies, pies, tarts, custards, biscuits, cheesecakes, and creme brulees. 


Nutmeg has a sharper flavour. As a result, people use it in small doses. It’s a warming spice with a slightly sweet and nutty flavour that adds a lovely complexity to dishes. 

Like cinnamon, nutmeg is a versatile spice that finds its way into several desserts. Nutmeg enhances the flavour profile of baked goods (especially pies and tarts), custards, puddings, and spiced cakes and muffins.

Ground nutmeg is from the seed of the tropical nutmeg tree, native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia. The same tree also produces another spice: mace.


Mace comes from the outer red, lacy coating of the nutmeg seed. Consequently, it has a similar (although still distinct) flavour profile. It’s a lot lighter, subtler, and sweeter than nutmeg. 

There are even slight notes of citrus. It means mace pairs beautifully with berries and stone fruits, like cherries, peaches, and plumes. Therefore, we recommend adding it to fruit-based desserts, particularly crumbles and pies.

Mace is also commonly used in spice cakes and cookies. It won’t overpower the sweeter elements, instead contributing a subtle warmth and complexity.


Cardamom is another dessert spice staple, revered for its complex and spicy-sweet taste. There are two varieties of cardamom, each with a slightly different flavour profile.

Green cardamom is in desserts and sweet dishes. It has a robust, sweet flavour with citrus notes of lemon and mint. Conversely, black cardamom is typically reserved for savoury recipes since it has a bold and smoky taste. There is also white cardamom, which is simply bleached green cardamom pods.

Cardamom is essential in many international desserts from India, the Middle East, and Scandinavia.


Cloves are known for their aromatic flavour. Cloves are warm, sweet, yet slightly bitter tasting. They have a sharper taste than cinnamon yet less floral than cardamom. Because of their intense flavour, cloves are a great way to add depth and warmth to a range of desserts. Cloves pair well with cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace in recipes.

Additionally, you can use them either ground or whole. Ground cloves are a powerful flavour enhancer in cakes, biscuits, and spiced breads.

Star Anise

Star anise possesses a distinct (and pungent) licorice smell and taste. Slightly sweet, it brings a subtle complexity to desserts with just a hint of spice. With undertones of star anise, treats become unique, fragrant, and slightly exotic. 

Furthermore, star anise is a dynamic spice in its whole form. These delicate, star-shaped dried buds are a wonderful beautifying element to embellish dishes. You can use them in dried form to disperse their distinctive licorice flavour throughout a dish.

Star anise is a favourite component in spiced syrups, custards, compotes, holiday desserts, and cookies.


With saffron, you can effortlessly add sweetness and earthy elegance to desserts. Although slightly bitter (you’ll feel a hint of bitterness on your tongue), this gives way to delicate floral and honey notes. Saffron is a particularly revered spice, particularly for its vibrant yellow colour.

Saffron imparts its lovely golden-yellow hue on desserts, resulting in a feast for the eyes and the taste buds. Traditionally, people used it in desserts like Indian rice puddings, Persian ice cream, and Spanish pastries. It also works well in chocolates, cakes, and custards.


Chipotle may be an unconventional choice for desserts. Yet, it’s right at home with many treats. Infusing your desserts with chipotle will result in a sweet-savoury fusion that is spicy, smoky, and sweet. 

It introduces layers of complexity, creating a delightful contrast between a dish’s natural sweetness and the smokiness of dried and smoked jalapeno peppers. 

Add chipotle to chocolates, truffles, and spiced brownies. It pairs well with fruit-based desserts, sweet sauces and syrups, and other spiced pastries.

North America’s Top Custom Spice Blend Manufacturer

From cinnamon to cardamom and ginger to chipotle, these spices are the key to unlocking your best-selling dessert product or custom spice blend. Remember, when it comes to desserts, spice is just as essential as sweetness. It’s vital for creating a complex, unique, and mouth-watering flavour profile.

Ready to take your desserts to the next level? Contact the food experts at Hela Spice today.

To discover our custom spice blends at Hela Spice, visit us at www.helaspice.com or contact us here.

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