What Is the Different Between Fennel and Anise? (Comparison of Tables)

If you like the rich and full tastes of spices in both savory and sweet foods, you’re certainly familiar with fennel and anise. Lovers of foreign cuisine will recognize the warm, inviting licorice-like taste that both these plants and their products provide.

Are fennel and anise the same thing? While smelling similar and having similar origins, these two sought-after flavorings have several crucial characteristics that distinguish them.

Difference Between Fennel and Anise

The fundamental distinction between anise and fennel is based on their distinct tastes. Whereas anise is sweeter and stronger, fennel has a softer flavor with woodier and greener undertones than anise.

Fennel vs Anise Comparison

Here’s how they stack up:

  • Anise has a stronger licorice taste and is significantly more pungent. Fennel has a much lighter flavor that leans toward the herbaceous side of the classic licorice flavor.
  • Anise seeds are derived from the blossoms of a shrub planted exclusively for their seed, but fennel seeds are derived from bulb-forming plants, of which all components are consumed.
  • Anise seeds are tiny, firm, and crescent-shaped, and they range in hue from light brown to dull green. Fennel seeds resemble sesame seeds but are smaller and oval-shaped, with a dry feel and a light green tint.
  • Whole anise seeds may be kept in a dark, cool area for three to four years. In comparable circumstances, fennel seeds may last two to three years, and both seeds should be kept whole for the optimum flavor and shelf life.
  • Anise seed is a classic ingredient in savory and bread-based meals such as pastries and liqueurs. Fennel is utilized in many different international cuisines as well as spice mixes for soups, meat dishes, and even desserts. For millennia, both seeds have been utilized for medical reasons.
  • Although fennel is generally associated with southern Europe, anise is associated with the Mediterranean and Egypt.

Comparison Table

  Fennel Anise
Taste Licorice-like with green, woody notes and a soft, subdued flavor that has a bright quality. Licorice-like with warm, sweet, and spicy accords that are potent and pungent, and very fragrant.
Best Uses Used as a crunchy bulb, herbaceous greens, or dried seeds. Seeds are added to spice mixtures and included in savory and meat-based dishes. Used only for seeds, which are added primarily to bread and pastries but also dairy products and desserts.
Medicinal Uses Seeds can aid in digestion and have anti-inflammatory properties Seeds and oil are used as a diuretic and expectorant and can help soothe upset stomachs.
Main Chemical Compounds Anethole is the main chemical compound in both fennel and aniseed that gives the licorice-like flavor. This compound is also responsible for some of the health benefits of both types of seeds and can also be found in peppermint and coriander.
How It’s Grown Fennel is a mostly annual bulb vegetable that is sensitive to cold. Anise comes from a perennial bush that prefers sun and well-draining soil.
Where It’s Grown Originating in southern Europe, fennel is now grown all over the world but thrives in warmer climates, such as Egypt. Anise is native to the Mediterranean region, but it’s grown in many moderate climates across the world.
Where to Get It Both products can be found in dried seed form in local grocery stores or even ordered online. Just don’t mistake anise for star anise!
Different Varieties Sweet fennel and bitter fennel: both are consumed as seeds, but bitter fennel is similar to celery seed. Anise and star anise: though they have a similar taste, anise seed is spicy and much stronger. The two are from different plants altogether; star anise is actually a small tree fruit.

Can I Use Fennel Instead of Anise?

Despite their numerous variances, many cooks use these two ingredients interchangeably since they both give a similar licorice-like taste.

As previously said, the intricacies of each variety of seed do come through in particular cuisines. Fennel complements heavier and savory foods, while aniseed shines in sweets, bready dishes, and even dairy goods.

Hence, if at all feasible, adhere to the seed specified in the recipe you’re following. But what if you can’t get your hands on the necessary ingredient?

The good news is that, like many international cooks, you can replace fennel for anise by using the proper substitution ratio. Since fennel has a gentler, lighter flavor, you will need more of it to fully mimic a real aniseed flavor.

As a general guideline, use half the number of fennel seeds as aniseed in your recipe. Similarly, if you need to substitute aniseed for fennel seed, simply use half the quantity specified.

We offer a guide on the best fennel seed alternatives if you want to learn more about fennel substitution.

Other Noteworthy Substitute Ideas

Although fennel and anise complement each other well, neither is usually the perfect substitute for the other in every meal. If you require that particular licorice flavor, you can probably swap one for the other.

But, caraway seeds are an excellent alternative. These seeds, which are related to fennel, have a licorice-like taste with a black pepper character that makes them a superb one-to-one substitute for fennel.

In a sweet-centric meal that calls for aniseed, star anise will provide a comparable warm, sweet, spicy flavor that is slightly softer. One of these star-shaped pods, also known as pericarps, is a fantastic substitute for every half teaspoon of crushed aniseed called for in your recipe.

What Is Fennel

Fennel is a bulb-producing vegetable that may be used in a wide variety of cuisines. While dealing with a fennel recipe, keep in mind that it may ask for the roasted, starchy bulb or the feathery leaves rather than the more usual dry seeds.

This plant has been utilized since ancient times for its wonderful, fragrant flavor as well as its therapeutic benefits. It’s often used in Chinese spice, Indian curry, and real Italian meatballs.

How to Use Fennel

You may follow in the footsteps of famous foreign chefs and create your own global cuisine at home using fennel seeds. If you’re new to the item, a good place to start is by incorporating it into homemade pizza or sausage-heavy recipes.

You may have spotted a dish of dried fennel seeds by the entrance if you’ve ever dined at an Indian restaurant. After a meal, a tablespoon of this substance chewed up not only helps to cleanse the mouth and breath, but these seeds also make an excellent post-meal digestive assistance. Also, they are delicious!

If you want a stronger, more localized taste from your fennel seeds, use them whole. Grinding the seeds into powder, on the other hand, may provide a more subtle and pervasive taste to full recipes and serve as the foundation for a delightful medicinal tea.

What Is Anise

Aniseed grows on woody, tough plants that produce lovely blooms resembling Queen Anne’s lace. Because of their similar names, anise seed is often confused with star anise, which grows on a little evergreen tree from a completely different plant family.

Several civilizations, including Mexico, Germany, Italy, India, and those of the Middle East, enjoy the seeds of the anise plant, which are usually recognized as a spice.

Due of its sweet, warm, spicy flavor, aniseed complements other warm tastes like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Its no surprise that it may be found in rich sweets and dairy-based dishes, as well as certain alcoholic drinks.

How to Use Anise

Since the seeds are the sole portion of the anise plant utilized, you may get them in a variety of shapes to meet your culinary requirements.

Aniseed, like fennel, is best kept whole and unground, since this form keeps the tastes at a higher degree and for a longer period of time. When it comes time to utilize them, crush them into a powder and add it to fruit fillings, yogurt, or as a dessert topping.

Aniseed may also be turned into an extract that can be used in beverages to lend a kick to hot chocolate, tea, or even a special cocktail.


Can I substitute fennel seed for anise?

Fennel seed has a very distinct taste than star anise, but it can suffice in a pinch. We suggest using a lower quantity of fennel since the taste is distinct. Use the following replacement ratio: 14 teaspoon fennel seeds equals 1 entire star anise.

What is the difference between anise seeds and fennel seeds?

Anise Seed compared. Fennel Seed

Fennel seeds resemble anise seeds in appearance, although they are somewhat smaller, and they both contain an organic component called anethole, which is responsible for their comparable flavor. Fennel seeds have a somewhat sweeter and milder flavor than anise seeds.

Is fresh anise the same as fresh fennel?

Bulb fennel, unlike anise, has stalks and frondlike leaves that look like fresh dill. Use it in recipes that call for fennel bulb. Anise is a completely separate plant, the seeds of which are used for flavoring. Fennel and anise have similar but not identical flavors.

Which is better star anise or fennel?

Anise is a superior choice for desserts like biscotti or pizzelle. Fennel, with its milder licorice taste and somewhat woody flavor, complements marinara sauce and other savory foods.

Does fennel taste like anise?

What Is the Flavor of Fennel? The word “anise-flavored” is most often used to describe the flavor of fennel—but that doesn’t imply it tastes like a licorice stick! In truth, the anise component of fresh fennel is subtle and moderate; many self-proclaimed licorice-haters really like it.

What is the closest spice to fennel seed?

In substitute of fennel, we recommend the following spices: Anise. Cumin. The root of licorice.

What do you use anise for?

Anise is used as a flavour ingredient in meals. It has a sweet, fragrant flavor that is similar to black licorice. It’s typically found in alcoholic beverages and liqueurs like anisette and ouzo. Anise is also found in milk, gelatins, meats, sweets, and breath fresheners.

Is it OK to eat anise seeds?

Most individuals may ingest anise without fear of negative side effects. It may, however, cause an adverse response if you are sensitive to plants in the same family, such as fennel, celery, parsley, or dill.

Is black licorice made from fennel?

While anise, fennel, and licorice are all distinct plants, they have similar flavor characteristics. They are all fragrant and pleasant. This often causes misunderstanding when consuming items containing any of them.

Can I substitute anise for fennel in a salad?

The seeds of anise (fennel seed)

Anise seeds are another fennel replacement. Anise seeds are significantly smaller and more pungent, with a pronounced anise taste. We prefer caraway seeds as a better taste complement for fennel due to their strong flavor.

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