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Substitute for Fennel Seed

Fennel belongs to the Apiaceae family, of which carrot and parsley are also members. They are related to cumin, dill, caraway, and anise, which bear aromatic fruits commonly referred to as seeds. It has its origin from Southern Europe but is now naturalized in the Northern part of the continent, Australia and North America, and cultivated around the globe.

Fennel can be biennial or perennial as they grow up four or five smooth stalks, which is hollow but contains a white pith. It bears feathery and finely divided linear foliage on clasping leaf stalks. They bloom essentially flat umbels of golden yellow flowers in late summer. Fennel is yet another herb that is known for its medicinal, magical, and culinary uses.

Fennel seed was used by the older Egyptians as food. And also as a medicine because it was considered an antidote for snake bites. Fennel seeds are aromatic and sweet with a flavor that resembles that of anise. The vegetable form of fennel, Foeniculum Vulgare, is sometimes mistaken with anise because of their similarity in taste. Virtually all of the aerial portions of the fennel are edible, even the flowers.

Fennel seeds can be baked into bread, biscuits, stuffing, and Italian sausages and added to sweet pickles and Sauerkraut. Their seeds can be added to asparagus, tomatoes, and cucumber. Its stems can equally be grilled with meats, fish, and vegetables, while its leaves can be added to salads, olives, fish, snails, or even applied as a garnish. The leafstalk bases of fennel are eaten as a vegetable, raw or cooked. Also, tea can be made from fennel seeds and leaves.

Fennel essential oils can be extracted from the seeds and added to perfumes, soaps, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. Fennel oil, seeds, and extracts can be used to flavor already made foods such as meats, ice cream, candy, condiments, baked foods, and liqueurs like sambuca, non-alcoholic beverages toothpaste. Fennel is very safe at 50-6500ppm. It is important to note that the oil may cause nausea, vomiting, or other problems. Even at small amounts, therefore, should not be used by home cooks.

The fennel flavor is slightly sweet and has a definite licorice-like taste. They also have an aniseed flavor with a warm and sweet aroma. The similarity in these three herbs’ flavor is mainly because they all contain a chemical called anethole. Although fennel seeds are sweeter and a bit less intense when compared to aniseeds.

Dried fennel seeds have an abstract background texture and feel. The seeds are ovate and pointed at both ends. At maturity, however, they appear pale in color, hard with a smooth, long furrowed texture.

Fennel Seed Nutrition Facts:

Substitute for Fennel Seed

Use in Different Types of Recipes

Fennel seeds have versatility in usage, both as cooking spices and as a garnish in already prepared food. Some of the recipes that fennel seeds can be used for includes:

  • Bread
  • Biscuits
  • Italian sausages
  • Garnish in Salads
  • Fish dishes
  • Meat grill
  • Sauces
  • Lamb-or potato-based curries
  • Pickles and confectionery

Substitute for Fennel Seeds

Several substitutes for fennel seed are equally as great as if you may be allergic or averse to this herb. These substitutes share similar characteristics with fennel seeds. Take a look.

Anise Seeds

Badia Spices inc Spice, Anise Seed, Whole, 16-OunceAnise Seeds

An ideal substitute for fennel seeds is anise seeds. Apart from being from the same family as fennel seeds, they have a similar flavor, so you will be getting almost the same taste in your cooking when use anise seeds. Also, anise seeds are a little smaller than fennel seeds and are more pungent. Hence, this serves as a worthy substitute, and they can be replaced in the same amount.

Cumin Seeds

Cumin SeedsCumin Seeds

Although cumin seeds and fennel seeds differ in flavor, they can be used as a great substitute. Cumin seed has a spicy and earthy aroma which can give a great taste to your recipes. It can be used to replace fennel seeds in equal amounts.

Licorice Root

Licorice Root

Both fennel seeds and licorice have similar flavors. However, with this substitute, you will require a lesser amount as it has a more robust flavor when compared to fennel. So, if you need one teaspoon of fennel seeds for your cooking, then half a teaspoon of licorice powder will be enough as a substitute.

Caraway Seeds

Caraway Seeds

In the absence of fennel seeds, then you may want to try caraway seeds as a substitute. However, caraway doesn’t have the sweet flavor of fennel, but it can impart a slightly similar taste.

Dill Seeds

The dill seeds are similar to caraway in flavor. Though not as flavorful as fennel seeds, as it has its unique flavor, which is quite spicy, they can serve as an alternative when other substitutes are unavailable.

Dill SeedsDill Seeds

Substitute for Fennel Seed in Soup

The perfect substitute for fennel seeds when making soups will be anise seeds. For that switcheroo, you cannot go wrong on this substitute. Cumin seeds can also serve as a substitute in your soups. You can use the same quantity for both.

Substitute for Fennel Seed in Lasagna

When preparing the yummy lasagna, you can substitute licorice root for fennel seeds in the same quantity. Even cumin is a good substitute for fennel seeds here.

Substitute for Fennel Seed in Baking

When baking biscuits, bread, or cakes, fennel seed substitutes like anise seeds can come in handy for a similar great flavor in your recipes. It is also great because you can substitute them in the same amount.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

Are fennel seeds the same as cumin?

Fennel seeds come from the Foeniculum vulgare plant, while cumin seeds are from the Cuminum cyminum plant. Fennel seeds are greenish, while cumin seeds are browner. Also, fennel seeds are slightly larger than cumin seeds. So, they are different.

What does fennel seed taste like?

Fennel seeds are the dried seed of the fennel herb. They have an aniseed flavor and a warm, sweet aroma.

Can you substitute celery for fennel seed?

It also has a licorice flavor which is a good substitute for fennel seeds. So, yes, you can substitute celery for fennel.


This is a wrap on a substitute for fennel seed. I hope that you find this piece helpful as you explore the best substitute for your cooking.