When it comes to finding good substitutes for star anise, they are readily available at your kitchen. However, the exact flavor might be difficult to mimic.
Star anise is a seed pod that originates from the Chinese evergreen tree Illicium verum. It comes with five-pointed pods from which the spice seeds are derived.
The seeds are harvested by picking the pods early and drying them. The taste of star anise is reminiscent of licorice and common anise.
Star anise is a popular spice for seasoning meat and poultry dishes, especially in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisines. It’s also used as a flavoring in liquor, sweets, and compotes.
Apart from the culinary application, star anise is also popular for its medicinal benefits. However, if you fell short of this amazing spice, the following substitutes may help you save your dish.
Substitutes for Star Anise
1. Common Anise
Due to the similarities in the flavor and name, star anise is often confused with common anise. However, they belong to different species.
Common anise is a small, brown-striped seed that belongs to the Umbelliferae family.
It comes with a distinct flavor that makes it a popular culinary spice.
However, common anise is quite milder in flavor compared to star anise. Hence, you need to use it almost double the quantity when substituting for star anise.
2. Fennel Seeds
Fennel or Foeniculum vulgare is a flavorful medicinal plant that belongs to the same family as common anise.
Fennel seeds are quite sweeter and milder than star anise. That’s why they are not a good alternative in savory dishes.
However, if you’re baking cakes or making some sweet dishes that call for star anise, fennel can be a perfect substitute.
Even if you have star anise at your home, you can mix it with fennel to get a pungent flavor.
A pinch of allspice powder can be a workable substitute if you don’t have star anise. Also known as Jamaican pepper, its flavor is quite similar to that of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper.
Apart from being a great culinary ingredient, allspice is also rich in antibacterial, hypotensive, antineuralgic, and analgesic properties.
Allspice doesn’t have the same licorice flavor as the star anise, but it can still give your food a pungent, sweet kick, and an exotic taste.
To bring a taste that closely resemble the star anise, you can add some sugar with allspice.
Clove is a versatile spice that comes from the clove tree, also known as Syzygium aromaticum.
Clove is quite popular as a spice due to its sweet, aromatic flavor. It will also provide you with a number of health benefits such as stabilizing blood sugar levels, supporting liver health, treating respiratory problems, etc.
Although it doesn’t have a similar flavor as star anise, clove will bring some sweetness and a coffee note to your recipes.
5. Chinese Five Spice
Chinese five spice is a blend of five different spices, including, star anise, cinnamon, fennel seed, Sichuan pepper, and clove.
This spice blend is commonly found pre-mixed in the spice-section of any super shop. It can be a great choice is cooking as it contains star anise as one of its key ingredients.
Besides, Chinese five spice is an extremely healthy option for cooking. It contains phenolic compounds that have high antioxidant capabilities that can treat diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
Due to its strong flavor, Chinese five spice blend is not suitable for sweet dishes. You need to use them sparingly in savory dishes as well.
The exact flavor of star anise may be hard to emulate, but some alternatives can bring the closest flavor and save you from ruining the recipes.
Among all the above mentioned spices, common anise or Chinese five spice blend can be the perfect substitute for star anise.
However, whenever you use any spice as a replacement for others, have proper knowledge of their flavor and taste as you may need to change the quantity based on that flavor.
Next time you run out of star anise, Try these spices to bring the same exotic flavor in your dish.