15 Substitutes for Fennel Seeds (Simple To Find Alternatives)

It wasn’t the first time I was using fennel seeds. But this time, it was special. Some of my colleagues from the office were coming over and I wanted to impress them.

So, I chose my mother’s tried and tested pork roast recipe and I was determined to make it perfect.

I followed the recipe to the letter, but something was just off. The flavor wasn’t right and not at all what I was expecting.

It wasn’t until later that I realized my mistake; I had not added fennel seeds to the dish.

And to make matters worse, I didn’t have any!

This meant I had to look for substitutes for fennel seeds. It helped that I had done some research earlier, so I’ll share what I found in case you’re ever in the same predicament.

Here are some of the substitutes I found for fennel seeds, as well as a few tips on how to use them.

Substitutes for Fennel Seeds:

  1. Anise
  2. Caraway
  3. Dill seeds
  4. Cumin seeds
  5. Fennel fronds
  6. Licorice root powder
  7. Mahlab
  8. French tarragon
  9. Celery
  10. Onion
  11. Parsley
  12. Anisette liqueur
  13. Artichoke
  14. Fennel oil
  15. Leeks


Anise is a flowering plant that is similar in appearance to fennel, with a star-shaped fruit that is used as a spice. The taste of anise is similar to that of fennel, but it is more potent and fragrant.

Anise is used in a variety of desserts and pastries, as well as in some savory dishes. It can be used as a substitute for fennel in any recipe.

When substituting anise for fennel, use one-third less anise than the recipe calls for fennel. This will ensure that the dish doesn’t end up too sweet or spicy.

Anise is also available in powder form which makes it easier to store.


Caraway seeds are a common ingredient in bread, meat, and cabbage dishes. It has a taste that is similar to anise and licorice.

Caraway also looks similar to fennel seeds, although they are slightly bitter. When substituting caraway for fennel, it is important to keep this bitterness in mind. Too much caraway can make the dish taste different.

In general, you will want to use about half as much caraway as you would fennel. This substitution works well in bread where the flavor of fennel is not essential, such as rye bread. Caraway can also be used to top salads or other dishes in place of fennel seeds.

Dill seeds

Dill and fennel seeds look quite similar. And they can be used as a substitute for one another in many cases.

The taste of dill is less sweet and less potent than that of fennel. So you may need to use more of it to achieve the desired flavor.

Additionally, dill seeds are often used in dill tea, which is thought to have many health benefits. Some people believe that dill tea can help to settle the stomach, and relieve gas and bloating.

Whether you’re trying to replicate a beloved family recipe or experiment with new flavors, dill seeds are a versatile ingredient that is worth keeping in your pantry.

Cumin seeds

Cumin seeds are a popular ingredient in South Asian, South American, and Mexican cuisine. They have an earthy flavor and are often used in curry dishes.

Cumin seeds have a slightly bitter taste, while fennel seeds are sweeter. As a result, cumin seeds may not be suitable for all dishes that call for fennel seeds. However, they can be used as a substitute in dishes that have other strong flavors, such as curry dishes.

When using cumin seeds as a substitute for fennel seeds, it is important to adjust the amount used to avoid overpowering the dish.

Fennel fronds

Fennel fronds are the leaves of the fennel plant. And they can be used as a substitute for fennel seeds.

Fennel fonds are used to add flavor to soups, stews, and curries, but they can also be used as a garnish or to add flavor to other dishes. Fennel fronds have a similar flavor to fennel seeds, but they are less pungent.

When substituting fennel fronds for fennel seeds, use half as much of the herb. Fennel fronds can also be used as a garnish or to add flavor to other dishes.

Fennel Oil

Fennel oil is made by extracting the essential oils from fennel seeds. It is a good substitution for fennel seeds.

Why? The answer is obvious, they share the same name. Using fennel oil will give your dish the same flavor as using fennel seeds. In fact, the flavor in the oil is much stronger than that of the seeds.

The only downside to using fennel oil is that it is more expensive than fennel seeds. But, if you have it on hand, then by all means use it!

It might not complement all foods because of its oil form. It’s wonderful for salads, but it shouldn’t be used with sandwiches. You may also use it in baked dishes, as long as you don’t add any other type of oil.

You don’t want your dish to be too greasy, so no matter what, don’t put more than one or two spoons of this oil on top.

Licorice root powder

Licorice root powder can be used as a substitute for fennel seeds. Both have a similar taste, but licorice is more potent. So, you would need to use less of it.

Licorice also has some health benefits; however, it can negatively affect blood pressure. If you are substituting licorice root powder for fennel seeds, make sure to adjust the amount you use accordingly.


Mahlab is a spice used in Mediterranean cooking that has a cherry-like aroma. It is used as a substitute for fennel seeds because it has a similar sweet and sour taste.

The benefits of using mahlab as a substitute for fennel seeds include the fact that it is less expensive and has a more intense flavor. In addition, mahlab can be used in savory dishes, making it a versatile ingredient.

When substituting mahlab for fennel seeds, it is important to keep in mind that the flavor will be more pronounced. As such, you may want to use less mahlab than you would fennel seeds.

However, the end result will be a dish with complex and distinctive flavors that is sure to please your guests.

Anisette liqueur

Anisette is a clear, anise-flavored liqueur. It is made with anise seeds and has a sweet, licorice-like flavor.

Its liquid form ensures that you can use it in all cuisines without altering the texture. You may get this ingredient from shops with ease, and it will improve the flavor of your meal.

Please be aware, though, that anisette liqueur is much sweeter than fennel seeds. So, use it in moderation. Also, it contains alcohol, so use it cautiously, especially if you’re feeding children.

Other than that, anisette liqueur is a fantastic addition to sauces that require fennel seeds.

French tarragon

French tarragon and fennel seeds are similar in flavor, making them interchangeable in many savory dishes. French tarragon can be used fresh or dry.

French tarragon has a more pungent flavor than fennel seeds, so it is best to use a little less at first and then adjust to taste. Keep in mind that French tarragon does not have the same anise flavor as fennel seeds. So it will not be an exact replacement.

However, it is a good substitute for those who do not like the flavor of anise.


Celery is a common vegetable that can be used as a unique substitute for fennel seeds. It has a sweeter and earthier flavor. And it can add a new dimension to your old dish.

Celery adds a crunch to the dish, making it a good substitute for fennel seeds. The benefits of using celery as a substitute for fennel seeds include the fact that it is easy to find and easy to use.

In addition, celery adds a crunch to the dish, making it a good alternative to fennel seeds in soups and curries.


Leeks are a type of onion that has a milder flavor. They are often used in soups and stews.

Leeks are good for your health. They are a source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium. Substituting leeks for fennel seeds will add more nutrition to your dish.

You can make a delicious fennel-leek soup by replacing the fennel seeds with leeks. If a recipe asks for one teaspoon of fennel seeds, use one teaspoon of leeks instead.


Artichokes are a type of vegetable that is often used in salads and as a side dish.

They have a slightly sweet flavor with hints of nuttiness. Artichokes can be eaten cooked or raw.

You can use artichoke hearts as a replacement for fennel seeds.

To substitute, use the same amount of artichoke hearts as you would fennel seeds. For example, if a recipe calls for one teaspoon of fennel seeds, use one teaspoon of artichoke hearts instead.


Fennel is a popular flavoring agent in many dishes, but did you know that onion can be used as a substitute? This unheard-of alternative is more potent. So you can use less and still get the same flavor profile.

However, it’s important to note that this substitute works best in soups or other dishes where the onion can be cooked down and mellowed out.

Overall, using onion as a substitute for fennel seeds is a good way to add flavor to your dish without changing the overall taste too much.


If you’re looking for a substitute for fennel seeds, parsley is a great option. It adds a touch of freshness to dishes.

It has an earthy, grassy taste profile that is a little bit different than fennel. But it works as a great alternative nonetheless.

Parsley is also a versatile herb that can be used in soups, curries, salads, and more. In addition, parsley is rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy choice as well.

So if you’re out of fennel seeds or simply want to try something new, give parsley a try.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best fennel seeds substitute in lasagna?

Trying to make lasagna but can’t find fennel seeds at home? Well, you should try using dill or caraway seeds.

Both of these ingredients look similar as fennel seeds. Moreover, caraway and dill seeds have a similar licorice flavor. Due to the similar taste profile, your lasagna will come out tasting delicious.

Caraway and dill seeds are sold both in seed and powder form. So, you can use whichever version you like.

However, when substituting fennel seeds for dill or caraway powder remember that they are more potent. So, use less powder for the same amount of flavor.

Are fenugreek and fennel seeds the same?

Due to their similar appearance and names, most people confuse these two ingredients. But no, fenugreek and fennel seeds are not the same.

Fenugreek greek herb has been used in medicine for centuries. It is packed with vitamins and minerals. And it can also be used as a substitute for fennel seeds.

However, this substitute is not the best because of the different taste profiles. Fennel seeds are sweeter while fenugreek has a more bitter flavor.

So, if you are in a hurry and want to use fenugreek instead, remember to use less than needed. Because using more fenugreek can change the flavor of the dish.

What is the best substitute for fennel seed in sausage?

The best substitute for fennel seeds in the sausages has to be cumin or anise. Both of these herbs share the same licorice flavor with fennel seeds. And due to this reason alone, these ingredients are the best fennel seeds alternatives in sausages.

However, if you want an even stronger flavor, use licorice root powder. As the name suggests, this powder is made from licorice roots and is very potent.

But remember that prolonged use of licorice root powder can cause health issues. So, use it less and only in emergencies.

What is the best fennel seeds substitute in curry?

The best fennel seeds substitute in curry is cumin seed for mainly two reasons.

First of all, in South Asian cuisines, cumin seeds are used as an essential ingredient to make curry. So, it means that your curry will have an authentic South Asian flavor.

Moreover, cumin seeds are fennel seeds that have a similar taste profile. So, the flavor will not overwhelm the other ingredients.

What do fennel seeds taste like?

Fennel seeds have a sweet, anise-like flavor.

Can I substitute fennel seed with star anise?

Yes, you can. Star anise has a similar flavor to fennel seeds.

What is the difference between fennel and anise?

Fennel belongs to the parsley family, while anise belongs to the carrot family. They have a similar tastes but belong to different families.

What are the benefits of fennel seeds?

Fennel seeds have many benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • They help with digestion
  • They are a good source of fiber
  • They can help relieve gas and bloating
  • They can help increase milk production in breastfeeding mothers
  • They have anti-inflammatory properties

Do fennel seeds have any side effects?

Fennel seeds are generally safe for most people. However, some people may experience side effects such as:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Skin irritation
  • Digestive upset

If you experience any of these side effects, stop using fennel seeds and see a doctor if the symptoms persist.

Can I substitute ground fennel for fennel seed?

Yes, you can. Ground fennel has a similar flavor to fennel seed.

I don’t have any of these substitutes on hand. What can I use?

If you don’t have any of the substitutes listed above, you can try using another type of seed or spice that has a similar flavor profile, such as cumin seeds, coriander seeds, or cardamom pods.

As a last resort, you can omit the fennel seed from the recipe altogether.

Signing Out

There you have it! A comprehensive guide to substitutes for fennel seeds.

I hope you found this guide helpful and that it has inspired you to experiment with different flavors in your cooking.

If you have any questions or additional substitutes for fennel seeds that you would like to share, please leave a comment below!

Thank you.