Best Substitutes For Fennel Seeds: Guide To Delicious Alternatives

As a chef, I’ve used fennel seeds in many of my dishes but have had to substitute them frequently due to their elusive nature.

I’ve found that anise seeds are the most reliable substitute, especially in desserts or sweet dishes, as they provide a sweet, fragrant flavor that is similar to fennel.

However, when cooking savory dishes, I tend to use cumin or caraway seeds, as they provide a similar depth of flavor that complements many dishes. Recently, I’ve also been experimenting with celery seeds as a substitute for the texture of fennel seeds, and have found them to be a great option!

Read on to explore my complete list of the best substitutes for fennel seeds.

What Are Fennel Seeds?

Fennel seeds amongst other dry good herbs.
Fennel seeds amongst other dry good herbs.

Fennel seeds are small, oval-shaped seeds derived from the fennel plant, scientifically known as Foeniculum vulgare.

They have a distinct licorice-like flavor and aroma. Fennel seeds are widely used as a spice in various cuisines around the world.

They add a sweet and aromatic note to dishes and are commonly used in savory recipes, bread, and desserts.

Fennel seeds are also recognized for their potential digestive benefits and are often consumed after meals to aid in digestion.

Additionally, they are sometimes used as a natural remedy for soothing digestive discomfort.

Best Substitutes For Fennel Seeds

When cooking, fennel seeds are a great way to add flavor to a dish. However, they can be a bit tricky to find, and not everyone likes their strong licorice flavor.

Here is my list of best substitutes for fennel seeds that can provide a similar flavor profile or texture – taken straight from my chef’s diary/notebook!

Anise Seeds

Anise seeds are the most commonly used substitute for fennel seeds because they have a similar flavor profile.

Anise is a sweet and fragrant spice, much like fennel, and can be used in savory or sweet dishes.

Although they have similar flavors, anise seeds are smaller and have a more potent flavor than fennel seeds.

Use less anise in place of fennel seeds to avoid overpowering your dish.

Dill Seeds

Dill seeds are another great substitute for fennel seeds and can be found in most grocery stores.

They have a mild and fresh flavor, much like fennel, but with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Use an equal amount of dill seeds as fennel seeds in your recipe, and if you want a stronger flavor, add more.

Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds are another great substitute if you’re looking for a spice that can add depth and complexity to your dish.

They have a warm, earthy flavor and are commonly used in many savory dishes, such as curries and chili.

While cumin doesn’t taste like fennel, it can provide a similar depth of flavor in your cooking.

Use an equal amount of cumin seeds as you would with fennel seeds.

Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds are a perfect substitute if you’re looking for a spice that is similar to fennel, but with a slightly different flavor profile.

Caraway has a slightly nutty flavor and is used to add flavor to bread, liquors, and pickled vegetables.

Like anise seeds, use less caraway than fennel seeds if you don’t want to overpower your dish.


What Are The Most Common Substitutes For Fennel Seeds In Recipes?

The most common substitutes for fennel seeds include anise seeds, dill seeds, cumin seeds, and caraway seeds.

Is There A Good Substitute For The Texture Of Fennel Seeds?

If you want a substitute for the texture of fennel seeds, consider using celery seeds. While celery seed doesn’t taste like fennel, it has a similar texture and can add a unique flavor to your dish.

Are There Any Health Benefits To Using Fennel Seed Substitutes?

Yes! Many of the substitutes for fennel seeds have their health benefits. For example, cumin seeds can help aid digestion, and dill seeds can help alleviate gas and bloating.

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.