How to Grind Cloves

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Cloves are a wonderful spice to add to your sweet and savory dishes. They are actually the flower buds of the Myrtle tree native to Indonesia.

Cloves have strong aromatic qualities and bring a warm pungent flavor to foods. They come in both whole and ground preparations. When you want to maximize the flavor and aroma of clove it is always best to grind it yourself. 

How to Grind Cloves

Here’s a quick outline of the steps for how to grind cloves, which I will talk about in detail below:

  1. Bring a cast iron or other non-coated pan to medium high heat
  2. Place whole cloves into pan and toss for 2 minutes or until fragrant
  3. Immediately remove from heat and let cool 
  4. Move cloves to a spice mill, coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle
  5. Grind until cloves are a fine power

Step 1: Heat up a Pan

I will be toasting my cloves to release their essential oils, to do so I need a pan that will not buy under high heat. No need to worry about cloves sticking to the pan since they are hard and dry. 

I recommend using a cast iron or heavy steel pan for this. Another option is to use tin foil and actually toast your whole cloves prior to grinding.

Step 2: Toast the Cloves

It is generally best to toast spices before grinding them. Toasting your cloves will release the essential oils, specifically the eugenol which is what gives cloves their flavor. Once you toast your cloves, those oils and flavors will degrade over time, so make sure you use your cloves as soon as possible after toasting.

Step 3: Let the Cloves Cool

It is important to let your cloves cool before grinding them. This will prevent any staining or oil deposits into porous plastic parts. It will also prevent any burns if you are using a mortar and pestle.

Step 4: Move the Cloves to your Grinder

A coffee grinder works great for spices, just make sure you can clean it thoroughly or have a second grinder just for spices.

Should you be using a food processor or blender, just make sure you have enough to cover the blades. If you are using a mortar and pestle, then do not overflow the mortar. 

Step 5: Grind the Cloves

Grind your cloves until they are a fine powder. This step is pretty self-explanatory, and it’s pretty hard to mess up. You can’t really over grind cloves, so once they are a fine powder, you can stop grinding them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Part of Cloves Do you Grind?

You can absolutely grind the entire clove if you want. People have been using clove in dishes for centuries. Just think, if the stem was bad I would not “stud’ food with them. 

How Do you Grind Cloves without a Grinder?

The best way to grind cloves without a grinder is to use a mortar and pestle. When grinding your cloves make sure they are not too hot (in case of any spills). You can also put whole cloves into the bender, assuming you have enough to cover the blades. 

How Much is 4 Cloves Ground?

When you grind your own spices, measurements may seem a little off. For cloves specifically, it is roughly ¾ teaspoon power for every 4 teaspoons whole. 

Beginner Cooking Methods


Pre-ground spices go stale, and clove is no exception. To get the best results from your cloves, always buy them whole, keep them in a dark, dry place, use them frequently, and apply heat before grinding.

The fresher the cloves you use are the better they will taste. Keep all spices away from heat and moisture once they are ground. 

Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. He is a contributing chef at Mashed, and his recipes and contributions have been featured in Tasting Table, Edible Arrangements, Insanely Good Recipes, and The Daily Meal.