Nickel ferrite (NiFe2O4) thin films are grown epitaxially on two different isostructural substrates, (100)-oriented MgGa2O4 and ZnGa2O4, using pulsed laser deposition. These spinel substrates have a lattice mismatch of 0.62% and 0.04%, respectively, with NiFe2O4 crystal. While the films grown on MgGa2O4 substrates exhibit significant strain resulting in a tetragonal distortion of the crystal structure, the films on ZnGa2O4 substrate are essentially strain-free and retain their cubic structure because of the near-perfect lattice match. Magnetometry data suggest that film strain is the principal factor determining the anisotropy of these NiFe2O4 films. This is also confirmed by the effective magnetization values obtained from ferromagnetic resonance (FMR) measurements. While there is only a modest decrease in effective Gilbert damping constant with strain reduction, an enhancement in the spin voltage is observed in the spin Seebeck effect (SSE) measurements for NiFe2O4 films grown on ZnGa2O4 substrate with thickness ≤200 nm. © 2021 Author(s).