What is Good Substitute for Anise Seeds in Recipes? (UPDATED)

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We have all been there. You are in the middle of cooking a dish only to find you are missing one of the most important ingredients. If your missing ingredient is anise seed, then you are in luck.

We took the time to make a list of nine anise seed substitutes that can save you a last minute trip to the grocery store.

Before freaking out, check your cupboards and see if you have one of these nine ingredients.

  • Caraway seeds
  • Chinse Five Spice
  • Fennel Seed
  • Clove
  • Allspice
  • Star anise
  • Anise Extract
  • Cinnamon
  • Terragon

What is Anise Seed?

Anise seed, otherwise known as aniseed, comes from a flowering plant native to Eurasia.  People cultivate this item far and wide, but it is more common in the Mediterranean and South East Asia.

This plant is part of the parsley family, and aside from a rich flavor, it offers users many health benefits.

Many people in Asia will chew on this plant after a meal to help aid in digestion. It is also used to,

  • Ease menstrual cramping
  • Clear phlegm and control coughing
  • Relieve headaches
  • Improve memory
  • Stimulate the pancreas

Anise seeds don’t only taste good; they also omit a delectable aroma. This scent mimics the licorice flavor, filling the room with a spicy, warm feel.

You can use anise seeds in their whole form, or you can grind them up and create a powder. The powder version is much easier to work with, especially as a seasoning or rub.

How Does it Taste?

Anise seeds have a semi sweet licorice-like flavor that is spicy and aromatic. It has a similar taste profile to that of fennel seed, star anise, clove, and tarragon.

You will find this seed in recipes from many types of ethnicities, including,

  • Middle Eastern
  • Italian
  • German
  • Indian
  • Mexican

9 Anise Seed Substitutes in Your Cupboards

We spent quite a bit of time doing a little bit of research. When we finished, we ended up with a list of nine alternatives to use if you don’t have anise seeds on hand.

1. Get the Sweet Flavor You Crave with Caraway Seed

The caraway seed comes from a plant relative to carrots. The seed is native to Northern Africa, Western Asia, and Eastern Europe. The Caraway seed is often added to soups, curries, and sauces.

This seasoning is full of nutrients that benefit your health, including,

  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • vitamin B
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Choline
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

These various nutrients make this anise seed substitute a no-brainer for health conscious cooks.

How Does it Taste?

Curry has a similar licorice flavor with a mild, sweet undertone, like an anise seed. This similarity is what makes it such a good substitute.

2. Chinese Five Spice Powder is Always an Option

Chinese Five Spice Powder mixes ingredients found in Chinese meals and oriental dishes.

The spices included in Chinse Five Powder can differ depending on the source but often have,

  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Anise
  • Pepper
  • Fennel seeds

This combination of spices provides a robust flavor. The strong aromatic taste is there whether used as an ingredient or sprinkled on as a seasoning.

Since Anise is a big player in this spice mixture, it only makes Chinese Five Spice a substitute for it. (*)

How Does it Taste?

These spices combined to provide a robust and flavorful punch. All the ingredients offer up a nice mixture of the typical five fundamental flavors,

  • Sweet
  • Salty
  • Bitter
  • Sour
  • Umami

Learn more: Chinese Five Spice Powder Substitutes

3. Fennel Seed is a Perfect Substitute for Anise Seed

We love using fennel seed in place of anise seed because of the taste it brings to the table. It is pretty shocking to learn that fennel is not a seed at all but a fruit.

Fennel seeds are an herb related to the parsley family. Its job is to provide a great aromatic flavor to food. But, this spice is also well-known for its health benefits and healing properties.

How Does it Taste?

Fennel seed has a strong anise flavor, which makes it one of the best alternatives for anis seeds.

While it offers a bitter licorice flavor when raw, it can become very sweet once it cooks.

4. Try Clove For a Strong Taste

Clove is an aromatic, pungent spice. Cloves come from the flower buds of an Indonesian tropical tree.

This particular spice is usually an ingredient for savory dishes. But it is also an ingredient in things such as toothpaste, cosmetics, and soaps.

You will likely find clove in dishes that include meats or hot beverages like tea. Although it doesn’t taste like anise, it works well in its place because of the strong flavor it offers.

How Does it Taste?

Clove offers a bitter, sweet taste that can overpower any dish with ease if given a chance. It doesn’t have the same licorice flavor as anise but will liven up any recipe its added to

Learn more: The Best Cloves Substitute for Sweet and Savory Dishes

5. Allspice or Allspice Berries Give Your Dish a Nice Touch

While it sounds like allspice is a large mixture of different seasonings, it is only one. The allspice berry comes from an evergreen tree. These trees grow in Latin America and the Caribbean.

You can cook with whole allspice berries or use the powdered form. Both of these options provide a similar taste profile to anise seed.

How Does it Taste?

Allspice has a unique flavor that tastes comparable to the combo of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Allspice can replace anise in most recipes. This is because of its sweet undertone and savory aromatic makeup.

Learn more: 8 Allspice Berries Substitute Found in Most Pantries

6. Star Anise is Another Great Alternative

Star anise is native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China. It is a star shaped fruit that has six arms. Each of these arms contains one star anise seed. As strange as it seems, the star anise is unrelated to the anise seed.

The oil in star anise is in products such as mouthwash, toothpaste, creams, and more.

How Does it Taste?

The flavor of the star anise is very much like the anise seed. It has an earthy aroma with a licorice like flavor. This ingredient can take the place of anise seed in various dishes with ease.

Learn more: Top 10 Star Anise Substitutes You Can Try

7. Anise Extract Has a Similar Flavor

Anise extract combines water, alcohol, and pure anise oil. This oil can come from an anise or an anise star. To get the oils from the ingredient, it goes through a process of absorption.

This process uses alcohol, often vodka, to extract the strong aromatic flavors.

How Does it Taste?

Like anise seeds, the extract offers a black licorice flavor with a subtle sweet zip. The unique flavor comes from anethole, which is also found in fennel seeds.

Also, like fennel seeds, anise oils can be very overpowering, so you want to use them as little as possible.

Learn more: 11 Anise Extract Substitutes For a Sweet and Delicious Taste

8. Cinnamon Adds a Spicy Warm Touch

Many people are not aware of where cinnamon originates. Cinnamon is the inner bark of several species of trees. These trees originated in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

This powder is a light-medium reddish brown and has a woody, rugged texture. Cinnamon is a staple in many recipes but is often associated with baked goods and desserts.

How Does it Taste?

Cinnamon has a warm, sweet, earthy flavor with woody undertones. Cinnamon is a popular spice that offers a similar taste to anise seeds.

9. Consider Trying Tarragon

Tarragon is a leafy green herb from the Asteraceae family. This spice is widespread throughout Euroaisa and North America.

While it is usually cultivated for culinary use, you will also find it has medicinal purposes. This product has a reputation for aiding in gastrointestinal compilations  such as,

  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Poor appetite.

You may also see it as an aid for sleeping problems and toothaches. (There is no solid evidence tarragon helps with any of these issues.)

How Does it Taste?

Tarragon has a peppery, semi sweet, and floral flavor. While it doesn’t provide the exact same flavor profile as anise seed, it’s still a good substitute.

Tarragon might not have the signature anise licorice taste. But, it does provide a very palatable flavor.


How Do You Store Anise Seed to Keep it Fresh?

The best way to keep anise seeds fresh is by storing them in an airtight container. Place the container in a cool, dark location for long term use.

Can You Grind Anise Seeds Yourself?

Yes, you can grind anise seeds at home. If your recipe calls for anise powder, you can toss some seeds into a grinder a little at a time. Ensure the seeds are grounded well before adding them to your dish.

Where Can You Buy Anise Seed?

You can buy anise seeds from most big chain grocery stores in the spice aisle. You can also get them from specialty baking shops or order them online.


If you run out of anise seeds while preparing your dish, don’t panic. All you have to do is go to your spice cabinet and check for one of the nine anise seed substitutes listed above.

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Up Next: The Most Common Spices and Seasoning Substitutes

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