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Substitute for Ground Fennel

Fennel is a perennial herb that features yellow flowers and a sweet fragrance. It’s native to the Mediterranean but is now found throughout the world as a culinary and medicinal plant. The plant is white and green, with feathery leaves, and both the bulb and the seeds possess a mild, licorice flavor.

But, the seeds are more potent because of their concentrated essential oils. And besides its numerous culinary uses, fennel and its seeds offer a wide array of health benefits and may provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects. Dried fennel seeds are typically used in cooking as an anise-like spice. And both fennel’s dried ripe seeds and oil are used to make medicine.

Ground Fennel Nutrition Facts

Ground Fennel Nutrition Facts

Uses of Ground Fennel

Ground fennel seed has a licorice flavor like anise, though the latter is sweeter. And this spice is common in Italian fish and sausage recipes. This seed is also added to bread, pork, and vegetables and can be used whole or be finely ground. And both ways offer a strong anise flavor that is warm and aromatic.

Ground fennel blends wonderfully with tomatoes, seafood, and other spice. And it’s a delicious addition to fish or poultry dishes, cooked whole grains, pasta sauces, and many other recipes such as;

Substitutes for Ground Fennel

Whether you don’t have the spices around or want to try something new, these alternatives make excellent ground fennel substitutes.




One of the best substitutes for ground fennel is anise. Ground fennel tastes very similar to anise seeds because they both share the licorice taste. This makes it an excellent replacement for ground fennel seeds if you seek a similar semblance to the licorice-like flavor profile.

Anise is a bit more intense and smaller-sized than ground fennel. But it’s often used in sweet recipes but can be used in savory, too, in place of ground fennel. So, it can be swapped for the original thing in most recipes, and when using, replace it at equal amounts as ground fennel.

Dill Seeds

Dill Seeds


Dil seeds also possess a similar note of licorice in their flavor profile, making them fantastic replacements for ground fennel. But the sweetness isn’t as strong, as dill’s factor is on the lesser side. Still, dill seeds will work well when used in savory recipes.

They are not as intense as ground fennel, so you’ll need more of the dill seeds when making the swap. This substitute also has more of a tangy flavor, but you’ll be glad about it if you’re making fish dishes and egg recipes.

Caraway Seeds

Caraway Seeds


A caraway is a fantastic option when you are looking for a substitute for ground fennel that will have similar anise or licorice flavor. And caraway is richer in the licorice taste, though its drawback is it also comes with a somewhat bitter hint. So, you’ll only need it in times when you’re asked for little amounts of ground fennel, so the bitterness isn’t pronounced. And it’s perfect for savory recipes, especially when you also seek a touch of earthiness in the dish.

It’s why caraway seeds are perfect in savory bread recipes such as soda and rye bread and all meat or cabbage dishes. But practice a bit of moderation when using caraway seeds- add in little amounts, and work your way up to preference.

Cumin Seeds


Cumin is a trendy spice commonly used in various cuisines such as Mexican, South American, Indian and more. While they have slightly different flavors, their earthiness is distinct. Cumin is a bit on the spicy side than ground fennel, so it is commonly used in spice mixes and seasonings such as curry powder, fajita spices, chili powder, and taco seasoning.

You can buy cumin in powder form and seeds, and depending on your recipe, either will work. Use the same amount of cumin to replace ground fennel, but note that powdered cumin is likely more potent than cumin seeds.

Licorice Root Powder



The powder of the licorice root can also be used in place of ground fennel if you want to replicate that same taste. And you can buy licorice root powder from health stores and independent grocers. Bear in mind that it’s very potent and will be far sweeter than ground fennel. As such, we recommend that you only use it in sweet dishes such as cakes and pastries.

Use it in small amounts and be aware of the health risks of licorice. It is known to affect blood pressure, and so if you have heart issues or blood pressure concerns, consult your doctor before consuming licorice, even in small amounts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is jeera a fennel seed?

Jeera, popularly known as cumin seed, is one of the main spices of garam masala and curry powders, while fennel is used as rubs for many dishes. The cumin seeds are brownish, whereas the seeds of fennel are greenish.

What’s the Indian name for fennel seeds?

Fennel seed is commonly known as saunf or Sonp in Hindi.  Also called varyali in Gujarati, fennel’s more technical name is Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.).

Is ajwain a fennel seed?

It looks similar to fennel and cumin seeds and is highly fragrant, smelling like thyme. Its taste, however, is more like oregano and anise due to the bitter notes and strong flavor, and nothing like fennel seed.


Ground fennel is an all-rounder; it’s used in many ways and recipes to serve different purposes and achieve different aims. But when there’s no ground fennel, or there isn’t enough, you can easily acquire many other ingredients that can get you close to its licorice and anise kick. And you can still enjoy your favorite recipes that call for ground fennel and get the lip-smacking delight.