Fennel seed is an essential part of many dishes, from Spanish to French and in between. However, there are times where we can’t really use it, whether it is because we can’t find it in the grocery stores or because someone in your party is allergic.
Although a great spice and ingredient, there are some substitutes for fennel seed out there that work quite well and we will list them for you today.
So, what exactly is fennel seed? It is the fruit of what we commonly know as fennel, a plant from the carrot family. It has an oval shape, and once dried, it is a green-brown color. Originally from the Mediterranean region, fennel seeds are now part of all sorts of diets around the world.
Fennel seeds are not only a great spice, but they also provide a wide range of health benefits for you. These seeds are highly packed with anti-oxidants such as kaempferol and quarcetin. They are a great source of minerals like copper, iron, calcium, potassium and zinc among some.
You can also use them when making sweet and savory dishes. For example, when creating sauces like marinara, or add them when cooking homemade sausage for extra sweetness or in lamb, or potato-based curry.
You can also use fennel seeds as powder, which is easy to make at home, to then boil into a tea for digestion or to mix with other spices.
These amazing seeds are available year-round in the markets. When you buy them, try storing these dry seeds in an air-sealed container and put them in cool, non-humid and dark place.
In all the sense of the way, fennel seed is a good addition to your diet, but when something gets in your way, you can add other equally good ingredients to your recipes, diets and day-to-day activities.
6 Substitutes for Fennel Seeds
#1. Anise Seed: The Closest Substitute
Having a similar licorice flavor, anise seeds might be the best substitute. In comparison, these seeds are smaller and their flavor as well as their aroma is stronger.
It is also great to note, that anise seeds have widely been used to cure stomachache and as a cold remedy for years. Aside from putting these seeds in hot water to create a healthy tea, you can also use them to create oil to then apply on areas that hurt in your body.
These seeds are full of important nutritional factors, such as calcium, iron, copper, potassium, zinc and more, as well as vitamins and anti-oxidants. If after reading about anise seeds, you are unsure which one to use, check out this comparison between fennel seeds and anise seeds.
#2. Cumin Seed: The Healthy Choice
Unlike anise, cumin seeds are different in flavor from fennel seeds, but cumin is equally beneficial and delicious.
You can replace fennel seeds for cumin ones and expect to have better digestion, improve your immunity, in treating insomnia, respiratory disorders, anemia and even aid in cancer treatment.
Cumin seeds are part of the parsley family and have good amounts of iron, vitamins, protein, carbohydrates, minerals and fatty acids. They are considered—along with turmeric—to be the best ingredients in modern diets thanks to their range of health benefits and their flavor.
Using cumin seeds is easy, as it mixes well with seasonings, sauces, soups and even as stand-alone ingredients. Watch 10 ways you can use cumin seeds here.
#3. Caraway Seed: The “Blend In Well” Option
Definitely a different flavor, but still along the same line of cumin, caraway seeds are easy to mix in with all sorts of foods, from coleslaw to potato salad or pork roast. It has a strong flavor, but not as specific as anise or even fennel seeds, which allows you to mix it up and try different things like these
These aromatic seeds can be used to make a distinct bread, soup, tea, and even liqueurs and spirits. Caraway seeds are key in Indian, Dutch, German, Russian and Scandinavian foods.
As the other seeds in this list, caraway seeds have been known to prevent bloating and gas. However, thanks to its antihistaminic compounds, it aids congestions and colds. Try these seeds as supplements for fennel seeds, but also as key ingredients for your favorite recipes.
#4. Dill Seed
These seeds are very similar to caraway in taste. Don’t be deceived, though this seed is actually the flat oval and brown part of the flower from the herb, it is still related to the carrot, cumin, coriander and parsley, which is why it can sometimes be used as a replacement for these.
The most common use of dill seed is to make dill oil, also known as eugenol, which as therapeutic uses as an anti-septic and anesthetic. The oilcan aid breast-feeding mothers and relieve neurological symptoms like headaches. If you suffer from insomnia, you can try making dill seed tea.
This seed also contains more calcium than milk, as well as manganese, iron and magnesium.
Unlike the others in this list, dill seed goes better with acidic foods, such as recipes using cucumber, beets, and even fish. It can also go well in casseroles, stews, rice, and of course in making pickles. You can try out these recipes.
#5. Coriander Seed: The Different One
This one is definitely a bold choice, unlike the rest of these items, coriander seeds have a very different flavor from fennel seeds, but they can turn your meal around and help pitch in when you can’t use anything else.
Like cumin, coriander seeds have a good effect on your health, as they possess anti-oxidants and prevent diseases, watch more here. Use them for stews, sausages, sweet pastries and especially when cooking Middle-Eastern, Indian and Chinese foods.
Coriander seeds are also rich in dietary fiber, and an excellent source of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Unlike other dried seeds, coriander seeds have high levels of vitamin C too.
If you can’t think of another seed, coriander can provide your meal with more nutritional content than others. If you need more ideas on how to use it, try mixing it with cumin seeds too, as they blend well together.
#6. Licorice Root: The Safe Bet
This root has a very similar flavor to fennel seed and anise, but it’s flavor is much stronger, which is why you have to use lesser amounts.
This sweet root is a native of the Mediterranean and has medicinal properties too, such as relieving stomach ulcers, cure sore throat, cough and colds, acid reflux, and support the immune system.
Unlike the other items in this list, licorice root is extremely sweet due to its high content of glycyrrhizin, a compound 50 times sweeter than sugar. This is why eating too much licorice can cause headaches, fatigue and high blood pressure in rare cases.
Make sure that you know how much fennel seed is required in the recipe and always use half less of that amount of licorice root, or even less, as this root can ruin your recipe because of its strong flavor.
What is Your Substitute for Fennel Seeds
Did you enjoy these 6 substitutes for fennel seed? Try them out instead of fennel, or simply add them to your favorite dish. Remember you can always use one or the other according to your own taste and seed availability.
This list is also a guide as to how to use the seeds and licorice root in different ways. Whether you want to help boost your immune system before winter, or you have to cure a cold, all these items can in some way intervene for your health and make you feel better.
Don’t forget to let me know which seed you tried and if you liked the articles in the comments below. Get cooking!