Best Substitutes for Fennel Seed

Fennel is a lovely and distinct herb with several health and culinary uses. However, since it is not well recognized, you may have difficulty locating it at a grocery store or farmers market the next time you want to include it into a meal.

If you can’t find fennel seed to use in that dish you’ve been wanting to try, consider these top 5 fennel seed substitutions, which may give a similarly rich, sweet earthy tone to your pork rub, fish crust, or after-dinner tea.

What is Fennel Seed?

Foeniculum vulgare, the scientific name for common fennel seed, is a plant with several culinary and medicinal use. This seed originates from a blooming plant in the carrot family, yet its white flesh and feathery leaves are unlikely to fool you!

The seeds are extracted from the fennel flower and dried, resulting in a tiny, green-to-tan seed.

Despite its Mediterranean roots, the fennel plant and its seeds are found all over the globe. The fennel seed may be found in anything from drinks to curries to sweets. It not only adds a fragrant, toasty, and somewhat sweet taste to foods, but it also has several health advantages.

Licorice root is the greatest fennel seed alternative since it is chemically identical to fennel seed. Anise and caraway seeds are two more fennel seed substitutes.

1. Licorice Root

Licorice root is the first and most apparent fennel seed substitute on our list. Because fennel seed is commonly compared to black licorice, it is an obvious alternative. Both chemicals provide a sweet kick and unique taste to your cuisine.

Licorice is extracted from the root of the licorice plant, while fennel seed is a dried component of the herb plant. As a result, it will have a slightly different texture and will be considerably stronger than fennel seed, therefore use roughly half the quantity of licorice if substituting for fennel seed.

Licorice root, like fennel seed, has health advantages such as relieving heartburn and sore throats. However, due to some of the components in it, licorice is best avoided on a daily basis. Nonetheless, it is totally safe to use as a fennel seed alternative in drink flavorings and meat rubs.

Did you know that licorice sweets aren’t made from licorice root? They’re flavored with another plant, dried seed, which we’ll get to later.

2. Anise

These seeds are a natural alternative for fennel seeds, which are often mixed up. Both have a rich, toasty licorice flavor that lends a herbal spice to baked foods and beverages.

Although related to fennel, anise seed is a completely separate species and has nothing in common with the similarly misidentified star anise. Anise seed is ideal for replacing fennel in baked products such as biscottis, pie fillings, and even as a component of ground beef. It is often used to enhance the taste of sausage in particular.

Anise seed is also a beneficial plant for your health. It includes essential iron and assists in the treatment of depression and stomach ulcers. It can even kill certain forms of fungus. Overall, anise seed is virtually identical to fennel seed. It is significantly stronger than fennel seeds and, like licorice root, should be used in smaller amounts to get the same benefits.

3. Caraway

Although caraway is not as well-known for its sweetness as fennel seeds, it is an excellent replacement in baked products and savory recipes.

Caraway may be purchased whole or ground. Whole caraway is a preferable alternative for fennel seeds since it gives the same distinctive crunch and flavor release. Ground caraway is significantly stronger than whole caraway, yet it is useful in any dish that would benefit from the characteristic crunch.

A frequent myth is that caraway, like fennel, is used in loaves of rye bread and other baked products in seed form; however, the caraway we use in cooking is the dried fruit of the caraway plant.

Caraway has a lesser form of the fennel-famous sweet licorice flavor. It has a more earthy flavor with hints of spice and lemon. Caraway is another anti-inflammatory, digestion-promoting component that is wonderful for after-dinner consumption and for adding to teas.

Can’t seem to locate caraway seeds? See our Caraway Seed Substitutes page for more information.

4. Dill Seeds

Although dill seeds taste more like caraway than fennel seeds, they may be used in place of fennel seeds as a spice flavoring in dips, rubs, or other spice mixtures.

The plant itself, which is a leafy green herb that many people are familiar with, is the most often used version of dill. The herb has a distinct flavor than the seeds and is often added in yogurt mixes for a Mediterranean flavor.

For savory meals, dill seeds are an excellent replacement for fennel seeds. They go well with roasted veggies or any other prepared food that might benefit from their robust yet smooth taste. Dill seeds are an excellent substitute for fennel seeds for those who want a less strong flavor.

Dill seeds provide several health advantages, including high levels of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

Can’t seem to locate dill seeds? See our Dill Weed Substitutes page for more information.

5. Cumin Seed

Although it has a somewhat distinct taste than fennel seed, cumin seed is a popular ingredient in Indian cooking. It is often found in chili powder as well as various marinades and spice combinations. This is another seed that is available whole or ground, with the whole version holding its taste for a longer period of time than the ground variety.

Cumin is an excellent addition to rice, as well as a meat rub or marinade. Its warm, earthy, sweet taste is balanced by a little bitterness that may enhance the flavor of savory meals.

Although it is not a true fennel seed alternative, it is a popular digestive aid in the Middle East and India. It is abundant in iron and antioxidants, making it an excellent supplement to a healthy diet.

Can’t seem to locate cumin seed? See the best cumin substitutes.

Health Benefits of Fennel

This plant’s fresh bulb and dried seed are both very nutritious; they are low in calories but abundant in vitamin C, potassium, iron, fiber, and other vital nutrients. This plant is recognized to have anti-inflammatory qualities since it contains polyphenol antioxidants.

What it is most known for, though, is its benefits to digestive health. Fennel seed is frequently used in teas and even ingested alone after meals in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern nations to help in good appetite and digestion. Furthermore, taking it after a meal has the additional benefit of refreshing your breath!

Culinary Uses for Fennel Seed

Fennel seeds are often used to compliment savory meals due to their sweet and characteristic warm and earthy taste. Fennel is often used as spices or rubs for red meat, sausage, or fish.

Fennel seed, on the other hand, is a popular addition to sweet chai tea mixes or other delicacies that call for spicy sweetness. It’s great in baked bread or any other baked product that requires a little sweetness. As a result, many people connect fennel seeds with a Christmas-like flavor.

Despite its distinct taste, a variety of other savory herbs may serve as excellent fennel seed substitutions in a hurry if you’re itching to try any of these fantastic meals!

Final Thoughts

The possibilities for using fennel seed in recipes are endless. Fennel seeds may be found in soups, sausages, lamb curries, baked bread, desserts, beverages, and more, depending on your taste preferences.

If you ever run out of this distinctive item, there is an excellent, acceptable fennel seed substitution for each of these situations. Each of these 5 fennel seed replacements would complement a variety of recipes.

Anise seed, for example, complements sweet meals and meats, while caraway works well in bread and cumin seeds complement spicy dishes. Overall, it is up to you to decide which fennel seed alternative would complement your recipe the best.

If you attempt a fennel seed recipe for dinner or dessert tonight, remember to enjoy the fantastic flavor it or any of its alternatives may give to your globally-inspired foods. Good luck in the kitchen!



What is fennel most similar to?

Star anise or anise seeds are the closest spice substitutes for fennel seeds. Fennel seeds have a licorice flavor that may be fairly strong. Star anise is a milder spice that may be used in both sweet and savory recipes.

What seeds taste like fennel?

Because their flavors are similar, anise seed may be used in place of fennel seed.

Can I replace fennel seeds with anise seeds?

Fennel seeds have a softer taste and are less sweet than anise seeds. Anise seeds have a much sweeter, more intense black licorice flavor. While fennel seeds and anise may be used interchangeably in the cooking, they have distinct traditional applications.

Can I use caraway seeds instead of fennel?

Caraway and fennel seeds may be used interchangeably, however there will be small taste changes. So, essentially, if you’re in a hurry, go for it, but keep a separate jar of each in your cupboard.

What herb tastes like fennel?

Although anise and fennel seeds have somewhat distinct taste qualities and may be replaced in most recipes, I like aniseed to be more forceful in flavor and fennel seed to be gentler and slightly sweeter.

Is fennel similar to cumin?

Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) and cumin (Cuminum cyminum) are two distinct plants that need different growth conditions. Fennel seeds are significantly bigger and have a greenish hue, whilst Cumin seeds are typically darker and slightly more compact.

What flavor does fennel give?

Fennel has a slight anise or licorice taste that may be accentuated or sweetened depending on how it’s cooked (or not). Fennel gets particularly sweet when chopped and sautéed with onions as one of the initial stages in producing a soup or stew.

Is anise the same as fennel?

While both anise and fennel have a licorice-like taste, they are derived from distinct plants. Anise is often found in seed form, either whole or ground, but fennel may be purchased as a seed, leaves, or the aforementioned finocchio, whose fronds, greens, and bulb are all edible.

Can coriander substitute for fennel?

Seeds of Coriander

The perfume of ground coriander seeds is strong, powerful, and spicy. They may be used in lieu of fennel seeds, but be cautious not to overshadow the recipe. Add them in a 1:2 ratio to any dish that calls for fennel seeds and proceed from there.

Which is better anise or fennel?

Uses of Anise vs. Fennel

Both of these plants are employed in the manufacturing of liquor and medicines, albeit the anise seed has a sweeter and more strong taste than the milder fennel plant. This makes fennel appropriate for savory foods, while anise is often used in desserts.

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