10 Best Fennel Seed Substitutes

Fennel seeds 

If you are looking for a fennel seed substitute, this article is for you. We will provide plenty of alternatives that you can use if you are missing these seeds from your kitchen.

Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives you can use instead of fennel seeds and they will go with almost any recipe.

The best substitutes for Fennel seed are anise seeds, Licorice root powder, Cumin seeds, Parsley, Dill seeds, Caraway seeds, Mahlab seed, Anisette liqueur, Celery and Fennel oil.

Fennel Seed Substitutes 

You can use any of the following fennel seeds substitutes and expect your food to taste just as good or even better.

1. Anise seeds

Anise seeds 

Anise seeds are some of the best replacements for fennel seeds. You will find them almost in all local markets. The flavor of these seeds is very similar to fennel seeds.

Ѕou can use them in the same quantity to enrich the taste of your dishes. They are smaller but don’t worry. Their size doesn’t affect anything. Fennel seeds are also excellent substitutes for anise seeds. 

2. Licorice root powder

Licorice root is a great replacement for fennel seeds. They have a similar flavor. However, the texture is different. The intensity of the flavor is stronger for licorice root so you want to use less of it.

A good ratio is to use licorice root in half of the number of fennel seeds, so for each teaspoon of fennel seeds, you will be good using only half a teaspoon of licorice root powder. 

3. Cumin seeds


Another great alternative to fennel seeds is cumin seeds. You will find these seeds in your local market. The best part? They are cheaper than fennel seeds.

However, they are also spicier and have a more earthy aroma. In spite of the difference in flavor, you can keep the same ratio, so for one teaspoon of fennel seeds, you can use one teaspoon of cumin seeds too. 

4. Parsley 


Parsley is another great substitute for fennel seeds. You can use fresh or dried parsley. If you want to enrich the flavor of your food, add more parsley than you would add fennel seeds. You can use parsley in soups, salads, cooked dishes, and even sandwiches and it will add a unique taste to your food. 

5. Dill seeds


Dill seeds will not disappoint you if you use them instead of fennel seeds. They might actually be a better choice in some dishes as they have a fresher flavor.

If you use these seeds instead of fennel seeds, increase the quantity as they have a milder flavor. For one teaspoon of fennel seeds, use two teaspoons of dill seeds. 

6. Caraway seeds

Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds are not the first fennel seeds substitutes you should pick but they will definitely work in most dishes. These seeds don’t have the sweet flavor of fennel seeds.

They also have a milder taste but if you season your food correctly they will go great in any dish. You can keep the same ratio. However, if you feel like you want more flavor, simply increase the caraway seeds quantity. 

7. Mahlab seed

Mahlab seeds are definitely not the most common substitute for fennel seeds but you will love using them. The sweet and sour flavor of these seeds is delicious in almost all recipes. You can use this ingredient in sweet dishes too such as cookies thanks to its versatile taste.

However, it will not go as great with meat, especially red meat. If you are planning to cook meat, opt for some of the other substitutes. Otherwise, use one teaspoon of mahlab seeds for every teaspoon of fennel seeds.

8. Anisette liqueur 

Anisette liqueur is made of anise seeds. And since it’s liquid, you can use it in all dishes without affecting the texture. You can find this ingredient in stores with no hassle and it will change the taste of your food for the better. This liqueur contains alcohol so use it carefully, especially if you are cooking for kids. It is a great ingredient in sauces that call for fennel seeds. 

9. Celery 

Celery leaves

You might be surprised to find out that celery can successfully replace fennel seeds in almost all types of dishes. You can use raw, cooked, chopped, or shredded celery.

Your food will turn out very tasty either way. In terms of quantity, you will have to use more than you would use fennel seeds. Make sure you taste the food as you are cooking it because there is no straight ratio. 

10. Fennel oil 

Fennel oil is a great replacement for fennel seeds as it is made from them. But coming in an oil form, it might not suit all dishes. It is a great choice for salads but not sandwiche

s. Also, you can use it in baked dishes as long as you skip any other type of oil. You don’t want your food to turn out too oily so don’t add more than one, two spoons of this oil to flavor your food. 


Is fennel the same as cumin?

Fennel is not the same as cumin but they are similar enough to replace each other in different recipes. As we mentioned, cumin seeds are a bit spicier than fennel seeds but they are easy to use in the exact same way. Also, fennel seeds have a sweeter taste than cumin ones. 

In terms of color, fennel seeds are different from cumin seeds too. While fennel seeds have a green color, the cumin ones have a brownish shade. Due to these differences, fennel seeds and cumin seeds will impact the way your food looks and tastes different as well. 

What does fennel seed taste like?

Fennel seeds have a sweet and earthy flavor that goes well in most dishes. You can use them in desserts as well as more spicy recipes if you are looking for that bitter-sweet flavor. 

As you try out fennel seeds you will feel the flavor of anise seeds and licorice. This is why they’re the best substitutes for fennel seeds. If you roast fennel seeds you will obtain a more sour taste and they will give a crispy texture to your dish. 

Can I use star anise instead of fennel seeds?

You can use anise seeds instead of fennel seeds in all kinds of dishes and you will not regret it. The only significant difference is that anise seeds are smaller than fennel seeds. But the size will not affect their delicious taste in any of your recipes so use them with confidence. 


Fennel seeds are great in a variety of recipes. And if you don’t have any of these seeds handy, don’t hesitate to use one of the alternatives in this guide.

All of the ingredients in the list above will taste delicious in your most complex dishes. You can count on them for enriching many flavors and you will be thrilled to see how much your friends and family love your cooking.

Try these alternatives to fennel seeds out and see which one will suit your cooking better. Make sure to keep tasting your food while you cook it so you don’t add too much of anything.

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