Fennel is famously used in many dishes for adding unique flavors to sauce and fish. As it can be used as a spice as well as a vegetable, fennel’s use is multi-dimensional. Fennel seeds, however, are used mostly as a spice.
If you run out of fennel while preparing a dish that needs it, trying out some substitutes is the first thing that comes to your mind. Unlike many other spices, fennel has several excellent alternatives that can keep the food flavor consistent.
Here are the most appropriate fennel seed substitutes you can consider.
1. Caraway Seeds
Caraway is another famous spice that is used prevalently in bread and curries. Fennel and caraway share a similar flavor, but the latter has a bit of a bitter aroma.
If you have eaten different variants of sausages, sauerkraut, and rye bread, then the flavor of the caraway should be familiar to you. It pairs very well with cabbage due to the strong presence of licorice.
Bakery items like cakes, biscuits, and cookies taste a lot better with some caraway in them. Caraway seeds’ earthy flavor goes perfectly with roasts as well.
Cumin is made famous all over the world by Indian and Latin cuisine. Manufacturers also use it in seasoning taco, chili powder, curry powder, and fajita. Cumin powder easily blends with other seasoning ingredients and creates an outstanding taste.
Both cumin powder and cumin seeds are pretty decent fennel substitutes. Cumin has a different taste compared to fennel, but it can be an excellent replacement because of its delicious flavor and unique scent.
Cumin is a surprisingly good source of iron and manganese, so you won’t have to worry about its nutrient values.
3. Dill Seeds
Dill is a frequently used ingredient in chips and pickles. The same tangy flavor you see in these snacks can be applied in many other dishes too. Dill is much easier to store in your kitchen for months.
If you don’t have fennel to prepare a fish dish, then go with dill seeds without hesitation. Sprinkling some chopped dill over your trout or salmon will make your food delicious.
But don’t consider dill seeds as a substitute for fennel seeds in grilled and sautéed dishes. The licorice in dill is substantially more subdued compared to fennel, and it will ruin the taste in dishes like those.
4. Licorice Root
As fennel already contains a slight bit of licorice flavor, licorice root itself can substitute fennel seeds in many recipes. You can also try powder versions of licorice roots instead of the raw root.
If you are using the raw licorice root, then don’t apply it directly in the dishes. Soak the root in hot liquid and then apply the liquid to the dish for bringing the flavor out. To give the food a more intense taste, you can steep it for a few more minutes.
Though both the plants belong to the Apiaceae family, anise is quite different from fennel in terms of flavor, size, and texture. Regardless of their differences, their flavors are easily comparable.
If you are using anise as an alternative to fennel, then only use it in sweet dishes and desserts. As anise has smaller seeds, it is convenient for use in lighter dishes.
Anise doesn’t have licorice-like fennel seeds, so don’t consider this as an alternative to dishes that require strong licorice flavor.
This seed is blessed with subtle cherry flavor with its sour and sweet taste. It was used as a prime ingredient to bake cookies and bread in the Mediterranean. You’ll have to grind it properly for use as a fennel seed substitute.
Don’t use the mahlab seeds in their raw version; otherwise, the bitter aftertaste will consume all the other flavors present in the food. Mahlab seeds a very fruity flavor in sweet dishes when subjected to heat.
Use mahlab seeds in rice pudding and other dairy dishes to surprise your guests with wonderful desserts.
7. Anisette Liquid
It is a French liqueur but works just right as a substitute for fennel seeds. But don’t consider anisette liquid if you don’t like alcohol. The liqueur is made from neutral-flavored alcohol, anise seeds, and syrup.
You can cook a lot of sweet dishes by diluting anisette liquid with water. Besides, adding the liquid at the bottom of cooked meats enhances the dish’s taste by quite some margin.
You’ll simply be amazed to see how many dishes can be made better with fennel seeds. You can try those dishes by replacing fennel with these listed substitutes. You might even discover an even better recipe.
Feel free to experiment with different dishes by mixing and adding different spices and their substitutes. When a particular dish is cooked with the same recipe over and over again, it can become too boring.
But before you do experiments, conduct proper research on what spice goes with what dish. Otherwise, you will risk ruining the recipe instead of making it better.