Fresh Ground Cardamom

Two reasons why you shouldn’t buy pre-ground cardamom:

1) It’s expensive

2) It has a shelf life shorter than Bruce Willis’ singing career.


Granted, it’s a pain to grind your own, but the payoff is in the taste — and the aroma.

Grind only as much as you need for your recipe. A tablespoon of pods should yield two teaspoons of ground cardamom, give or take.

I know what you’re thinking, and no, you can’t just grind the whole pod. Unless, of course, you’re the type that doesn’t peel ginger before grating either.

But really, who am I to judge? I grew up eating Frito Pie.


Toast the cardamom pods in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, if you really want to intensify the flavor.

Place the cardamom pods in a mortar (or just put them on a cutting board) and smash with a pestle to crack open the pods.


Spread the cracked pods out, so you can pick out the shells and discard. Don’t drive yourself to drinking by trying to get every last little shard of shell. This is good enough.


The seeds are rock hard, so instead of putting them back into the mortar, I put them in my spice grinder (just an old Krups coffee grinder I retired from coffee grinding and use only to grind spices now).


Whirl the seeds in the grinder for 30 seconds or so, just until you have a fine powder.


Remove the lid of the grinder and watch everyone within 20 feet swoon with ecstasy. Fresh ground cardamom is the most fragrant spice ever, and it has been known to make me weep with joy.

Please don’t skip over recipes that call for cardamom, thinking it’s too expensive. I bought a 3-1/2 ounce bag of green cardamom pods at an Indian grocery for $2.29. The pods will last for at least a year, maybe longer.

As tempting as it might be to grind a bunch at once — don’t. That defeats the purpose.

Besides, don’t you want to watch everyone fall to the floor when you lift the lid off the spice grinder? That only happens when you grind your cardamon seeds fresh from the pod.

If you have a recipe that calls for cardamom, please share — just leave a link in the comments.

48 replies
  1. formerchef
    formerchef says:

    Well, I learn something new every day! I didn’t know about crushing the pods.
    I put the whole pods in my ginger syrup for gingerale, but maybe next time I will try crushing them first and just using the seeds.
    Next time I make something which calls for ground cardamom, I will certainly grind it myself!

  2. Danielle M
    Danielle M says:

    I like to add a little cardamom to pastry cream. Makes yummy tarts or filling for pate a choux…or you can just eat it! Mmmmm…

  3. Tyler
    Tyler says:

    Thank you! I have been trying to figure out exactly what I am supposed to do to grind this stuff. I am about to dive into Indian cuisine and I am looking forward to grinding my spices (I just bought a coffee grinder for that purpose).

    Thanks again!

    • chefgwen
      chefgwen says:

      Tyler, welcome and thanks for stopping by. You’ll find that the coffee grinder – now a spice grinder – is a most useful kitchen tool. A tip to clean it out is to grind up a small handful of white rice. That way, your ground cardamom won’t taste like the last spice you ground.

  4. Kenyatta
    Kenyatta says:

    I Love Cardamom and I am so happy there is lots of it in Montreal!! I spilled some on the kitchen floor so I through it in my laundry smelled soo Fresh. I added to my soap when taking a shower used it in my hair then rinsed ahhhwww :).
    I love putting it in my sweet potato pie and my homemade Almond milk. Go Go Cardamon

  5. terry R
    terry R says:

    I run a small B & B in Portland, Oregon, and have developed a wonderful quinoa porridge for those who are gluten free folks, though I now use it myself as a staple breakfast–tri colored quinoa, dried fruits, cardamom, a touch of chunky peanut butter–it’s fabulous. Also another is quinoa cooked in coconut milk or juice, raisins, cardomom/ginger and served with toasted slivered almonds. vacuum up a slight amount of ground cardomom and your house will smell wonderful every time you vacuum. I could bathe in cardamom!

  6. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    thanks, that’s really helpful and i love your description of the fragrance making you ‘weep with joy’
    will be sprinking over breakfast fruit along with ginger and cinnamon
    much appreciated

  7. Linda
    Linda says:

    Don’t see a lot of savory dishes here, I love cardamom along with caraway, turmeric, fresh mint, olive oil and lemon juice in couscous. Heavenly! Also try it with avocado oil instead of olive oil.

    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Linda, thanks for commenting. I had a broken link to Simply Recipes, but fixed it. She has 2 or 3 savory cardamom recipes but you are right, in general, we tend to use cardamom in sweet recipes. Your couscous combination sounds fabulous, so thanks for reminding me that it works in savory dishes, too.

  8. Dimitris
    Dimitris says:

    Besides the use in cooking, try it in your cup of black tea!!! Do not ground it, just crash the pods until they open a little.Then add them to the water.
    If you feel like it, add cinnamon sticks, and maybe some mint or sage leaves…
    PS. Make more than one cup, cause sure you will strive for more! :)))

    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Sage leaves? Interesting! I must try that. Fresh? Thank you for commenting and I do love cardamom scented tea.

  9. Dimitris
    Dimitris says:

    Don`t nention it! 🙂
    The normal semi-dried sage you can find in tea shops,or even super-markets!
    Don`t you drink it in the US?
    In Greece, we really like it when the winter comes.
    Bust just sage, no other ingredients mixed.
    So, I had the idea to mix it with black tea,mint(semi-dried again) and all the ingredients I mentioned above! The outcome was really good!
    I hope you `ll like it.

    PS. Some days ago, I found out that some people in the Middle East drink their cardamom scented tea in this way!

  10. Moiche
    Moiche says:

    re:chefgwen | DECEMBER 28, 2009, How to clean coffee Spice grinder:
    A handful of dry rice? BRILLIANT! I would NEVER have thought of that. Thank you Thank you! So I learned two things today – very grateful.

  11. Penny Huber
    Penny Huber says:

    Could someone tell me how to make cardamon essential oil from cardamon seeds or from ground cardamon? I have a recipe for a body scrub that calls for this. I went to a natural store and bought it there but they only had the seeds and crushed. They told me I could just put it in ground but the way you all are talking I am thinking I would miss out on the wonders of the fragrance and wonders from the fresh seeds. I would like to make it for gifts, it if turns out, for Xmas gifts for my daughters and daughter in laws.

  12. Sophie
    Sophie says:

    I used to use a coffee grinder to grind all kinds of spices and nuts, but it broke down, I think because the nuts were too tough for it to grind. Now I always use a pestle and mortar which feels nice and authentic 😉 it works very well for grinding cardamom seeds. If I grind it for a sweet recipe I add some sugar while grinding the cardamom, it goes quicker that way.

  13. Becky
    Becky says:

    You forgot a tip…When toasting the pods, don’t try to multitask. Although their heavenly scent wafts through the house just before they catch fire, and it saves time because the charred pods are essentially pre-ground, they definitely loose the majority of their flavor when burned to a crisp. Haha!

  14. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    Thank you, All! I, too, swoon for the aroma of cardamon! I pack blankets and linens with cardamon, as well. Discovering your site and the beautiful recipe ideas delights me. Infinite gratitude, Kathy

  15. Steve Wilcock
    Steve Wilcock says:

    I recently bought a smoothie maker and wanted to make a banana, dates, chia, lemon juice, almond milk and cardamon smoothie. I’m by no means an experienced cook and was surprised to find all the cardamon sold in shops was in pods (now I know why). I decided to crush the pods with my pestle and mortar and found the seeds easily came out of the shells but was mixed in with the husk fragments. Now I’m not a cook but I do work at Plant Word Seeds in DEvon, England, where we grow, harvest and clean seeds by hand and this separation issue comes up time and time again and there’s an easy solution. You need a clean large empty plastic ice cream tub (8″ x 8″ x 8″) is about right. Put the seeds and chaff in the tub and tilt the tub away from you and blow directly onto the seeds with a long steady puff. You’ll see the lighter chaff travels up the slop and leaves the tub. I’d put some newspaper down to catch the debris and any rogue seeds which may come out when you’re a novice. There’s a bit of skill involved in doing this and you’ll have to adjust the strength of your blow and the angle to get the right results but you should easily get very clean cardamon seeds left in the tub and all the chaff on the newspaper. It’s effectively winnowing. Hope this is useful to you.

    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Hi Beth… it depends on how large your pods are but roughly 20 pods should yield close to a teaspoon once ground.

  16. caligo
    caligo says:

    Partially agree with you… Most of the ground cardamom sellers are providing less quality products. But I brought ground cardamom from They are providing high -quality aromatic ground cardamom with a long shelf life. 🙂
    Anyway good tip 🙂
    Expecting more tips like this

  17. Elaine
    Elaine says:

    I make the Finnish Pulla Coffee Bread with cardamom ground up.
    But happy to know I can use the pods for much more flavour than the powder.
    Thanks for the ideas God Bless..E.H.

  18. peggy
    peggy says:

    I was at a yoga retreat center in New Zealand in 2006 and they didnt have any cinnamon, so I added cardamon to my coffee and I’ve been hooked ever since!

  19. stargazer_1118
    stargazer_1118 says:

    Hi everyone. I use freshly ground cardamon seed in my apple pies in place of cinnamon, clcove allspice. Just don’t replace it one to one. Cardamon is stronger than cinnamon. Have fun with it. I also put it in the basket of my coffee maker along with the coffee when I make a whole pot. Had it once in a Middle Eastern restaurant. Yummy!!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] vinegar 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive […]

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  3. […] 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (either pre-ground or freshly ground) […]

  4. […] since ground cardamom in the stores seems to lose its flavor much more quickly than other spices. I used the technique found at for toasting and then grinding my own cardamom which is…. The only tedious part I will warn you about is after crushing the cardamom pods with your mortar […]

  5. […] came from Epicurious. The rest of the recipe, however, is a classic from Julia Child. Also, this is a great visual tutorial for grinding […]

  6. […] Just give cardamom a sniff and you’ll understand what I mean. I buy the whole green pods and grind them myself, as it’s easy and cardamom sold already ground deteriorates rapidly. Now onto the prunes. […]

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    […] 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (either pre-ground or freshly ground) […]

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  9. […] Cardamom — Long used in Indian, Scandinavian and Middle Eastern cooking, cardamom jumped the shark into chewing gum this year in Eclipse Breeze “Extotic […]

  10. […] vinegar 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive […]

  11. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gwen Walters, Gwin Grogan Grimes. Gwin Grogan Grimes said: Great! RT @chefgwen: Got a great recipe that calls for ground cardamom? Post it on my blog entry about how to grind… […]

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