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Substitute for Caraway Seeds

Caraway Seeds are a popular addition to recipes all around the world. They bring out a strong presence in every dish, with an interesting flavor profile that makes them a favorite for Asian, Indian, European, and African recipes. And because of this impressive quality, you may feel stranded when your menu calls for it but you’ve run out. It’s a good thing to know that you can still recreate the same sensation caraway seeds have to offer with some interesting and close substitutes. But before we delve into that, let’s ask; what are caraway seeds? And what makes them so special that they can be used so extensively?

What Are Caraway Seeds?

Caraway seeds are derived from the fruit of the Carum carvi plant; a small herb that belongs to the parsley family, which makes it closely related to carrots. The seeds are small with tapered ends and are widely grown in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Caraway seeds are widely known for having a noticeable nutty aroma, with a sharp licorice taste. This flavor and aroma profile makes them a favorite among many baking cuisines, especially in the European regions of Austria, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Sweden, and Hungary.

Caraway Seeds Uses and Benefits

The taste and aroma aren’t the only reasons why caraway seeds are so widely sought-after. The seeds are also very beneficial to health and have been proven to have medicinal qualities. Many Asian and African cuisine use caraway seeds in special dishes to aid recovery from numerous illnesses ranging from stomach upsets to indigestion and flatulence. And in some regions, this ingredient is commonly added to concoctions and herbal mixtures used to tackle high blood pressure!

The strong, pungent aroma of caraway seeds makes it a go-to option for dishes that require a strong presence. Also, caraway seeds have a primary licorice flavor, and this goes perfectly in baked goods. In savory dishes like stews, curries, cheese recipes, and cabbage dishes, the nutty taste and aroma are better enhanced with the addition of caraway seeds. Sweet recipes aren’t left out either, as caraway seeds are popularly used to flavor jams and even marmalade.

Caraway seeds are extensively used in various menus which include;

  • Rye bread
  • Irish Soda bread
  • Sauerkraut and Goulash
  • Polish sausages
  • Roasted Chicken
  • Harissa
  • Cream-based soups
  • Indian Naan
  • Cakes
  • Stews and curries
  • Marmalade
  • Biscuits and cookies
  • Homemade jam

And not only are caraway seeds an amazing ingredient for regular dishes, but they also spike up the taste in chess as well. In a cheese spread, caraway seeds are well known for adding a strong and warm, yet sweet flavor.

Caraway Seeds Substitutes

Though much may consider them a super ingredient you can’t do without, there are many great substitutes for caraway seeds in recipes. You must note, however, that different recipes call for different sides of caraway seeds. As such, some substitutes are better for certain types of dishes than others. In the end, all of them can easily replace caraway seeds in your recipes.

Fennel Seeds

Nature's Way Fennel Seed 480 Mg

Considerably one of the closest substitutes to caraway seeds, fennel shares similar notes of licorice in strong amounts and can easily be swapped in savory dishes. The best thing about using fennel seeds in place of caraway seeds is its strong presence is most welcome in savory dishes like goulash, stews, and soups. And it also stands out in curries as well and gives it a powerful flavor and rich aroma. Fennel seeds can be used in place of caraway seeds in equal amounts.

Nigella Seeds

Sunfood Superfoods Black Seeds Organic

Nigella is probably one of the oldest spices known to culinary enthusiasts with good notes of licorice in its flavor profile. With a considerably strong flavor, it works perfectly as a substitute for caraway seeds in savory recipes like soups, stews, and curries. To get its highly sought-after taste to stand out in your dish, roast or fry the nigella seeds before adding them to the dish. You can also ground it and use it as a spice rub for recipes that need that touch of licorice caraway seeds to give. Also, commonly called kalonji, charnushka, or black onion seeds, nigella seeds also blend quite well in baked foods like rye bread. They can also be mixed with other popular spices like coriander and allspice.

Anise Seeds

Anise Seeds, 5 Pounds

Anise seeds share various similarities with caraway seeds that make them an ideal substitute. First, it’s also a member of the carrot family, like caraway seeds. And second, it has very strong hints of licorice in its flavor. Anise, however, is stronger in both flavor and aroma, you certain care must be taken when using it in place of caraway seeds. The best method will be to add little quantities at a time until you achieve the satisfactory level of flavor you seek. Anise is great for use in place of caraway seeds in cookies, biscuits, and bread recipes.

Dill Seeds

Rani Dill Seeds

Another member of the carrot family, dill seeds also carry strong hints of licorice, making them another ideal substitute for caraway seeds in many sweet recipes. Dill seeds are great for soups with a light texture, especially the cream-based types, and go well in rye bread and Irish Soda bread. And if you ever run out of caraway seeds when making sauerkraut, simply use dill seeds instead, in the same quantity. This makes it also great for other cabbage-based recipes that need to balance the sourness with the right amount of sweetness.


Happy Belly Cloves

Cloves also work great as a substitute for caraway seeds, and one main perk is you stand a higher chance of having them lying around in your kitchen. Cloves are renowned for their sweetness and capacity to blend with savory tastes as well.  This makes them perfect for replacing caraway seeds in sweet recipes like jams, pickles, and marmalade. And not only will cloves give the recipe an amazing flavor, but it also enhances the aroma with a wonderful warm effect.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you substitute cumin for caraway seeds?

Yes, you can. Dry roasted, ground cumin makes an excellent substitute for caraway seeds, especially in spicy curries. However, cumin is heavier in aroma and flavor, so it’s best to add little of it gradually until you achieve the desired aroma and flavor. Regardless, you’ll still end up with a powerful taste and flavor presence in your dish.

Can you substitute celery seeds with caraway seeds?

Though not always a direct alternative, celery seeds can still be used in place of caraway seeds. Celery seeds are almost as rich in flavor as caraway seeds and can impressively enhance the aroma and taste of vegetable dishes like potatoes, coleslaw, and cabbage

Can you replace caraway seeds with juniper berries?

While both are renowned for adding a sweet flavor to recipes, their taste profiles are quite different. Though both are nutty, caraway seeds give off a more licorice-like taste, while juniper berries don’t. If sweetness is the aim or the recipe isn’t one that needs caraway seeds to look authentic, like sauerkraut, you can use juniper berries instead. But to bring it to a balanced level of flavor, mix half juniper berries with half celery seeds for a full quantity of caraway seeds the recipe calls for. Or blend both, and add to the recipe till you’re satisfied.


With any of the substitutes above, making your dish without caraway seeds is now a possibility. Though caraway seeds give your dish a unique and robust flavor and aroma, you can still gain this effect in your cooking if you ever run out of it. Remember to experiment more with these spices till you find the right proportion for your needs.