Best Star Anise Substitute Options

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Star Anise Substitute

Many recipes really enjoy the licorice-anise flavor that star anise brings, but it can be challenging to find in some areas or may not be readily available. Luckily, there are a few good alternatives that bring a similar flavor profile that can easily be found in most grocery stores.

Today I’ll share some useful facts and questions about Star Anise, and the top 3 substitutes that can be used in its place: fennel seeds, anise seeds, and liquorice root.

assortment winter spices 1

What Is Star Anise?

First, let’s clarify that Star Anise is the fruit of a small evergreen tree native to southwest China, while Anise seed comes from the flowering plant in the parsley family. Both have a similar licorice flavor, but the star shape and deeper flavor of Star Anise make it a preferred choice in many Asian cuisines.

cinnamon anise

Star Anise Flavor

Star Anise has a strong licorice flavor, with hints of clove and cinnamon. It’s often used in savory dishes but can also add depth to sweet treats like cookies and cakes.

Health Benefits Of Star Anise

Star Anise is rich in antioxidants and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for respiratory issues and improving digestion.

Star anise can boost your vitamin C and help promote healthy skin and immune system function.

star anise with glass bowl chakraful

Best Substitutes For Star Anise

So what are the best Star Anise replacements?

Here is a list of star anise substitutes and information on how to use them as such:

  • Anise Seeds
  • Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • Cloves
  • Caraway Seeds Mixed With Tarragon
  • Allspice
  • Cassia Bark Powder
  • Anise Extract
  • Licorice Root Powder
  • Tarragon
  • Fennel Seeds

Anise Seeds

Anise seeds are the closest substitute to Star Anise in terms of flavor, as they come from the same plant family. They can be used interchangeably in recipes, just note that anise seeds are smaller and more potent so you may need to adjust the quantity used.

Anise seed taste

Ground anise seeds and whole anise seeds have a strong licorice flavor, with a hint of sweetness. You need to store extra anise seeds in a cool and dry place to maintain their taste and aroma.

Chinese Five Spice Powder

Chinese Five Spice Powder often contains star anise as one of its main ingredients, along with cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, and Szechuan pepper.

This blend can be used as a substitute for star anise in savory dishes such as marinades or stir-fries. The woody flavor is great for replacing star anise and adding a touch of heat to dishes.

five spice ingredient
five-spice ingredient on white background

Cloves

Cloves have a similar flavor profile to Star Anise, but they also have a bit of a spicy kick. They should be used sparingly, as their flavor can easily overpower a dish.

The stronger flavor of ground cloves means you will need to use less in your recipe compared to star anise.

spice cloves isolated

Caraway Seeds Mixed With Tarragon

Caraway seeds have a slightly different licorice-anise flavor than Star Anise, but when mixed with tarragon they can provide a similar taste in some dishes. This blend works well in soups, stews, and braised meats.

Caraway Seeds are a great substitute to use on braised and roasted fish and make a good substitute in many savory foods. The licorice like flavor really pairs well with pork and cabbage dishes.

cumin seeds
cumin seeds in wooden spoon

Allspice

Allspice has a combination of flavors including cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon with a hint of licorice. It can be used as a substitute in some dishes, just keep in mind that the overall flavor profile will differ.

Allspice has a sweeter flavor than star anise and works well in marinades, glazes, and baked goods. One savory food option you can use this spice powder in as a substitute for star anise is Jamaican jerk chicken, which often calls for allspice as well as Star Anise.

Cassia Bark Powder

Cassia bark (also known as Chinese cinnamon) has a similar flavor profile to Star Anise, with a slightly milder taste. Anise on the other hand has a strong and distinct flavor in comparison.

Cassia bark can be used in place of star anise just note that the texture may be different as it is ground into a powder.

Ground cassia bark is a great option when baking and can be added to beverages such as mulled wine, mulled cider or hot toddys.

Anise Extract

An extract made from anise seeds or star anise can also be used as a substitute; just keep in mind that it is highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way.

Whether using anise seed extract or anise seed essential oil to replace star anise, you’ll need only a hint of the extract.

Anise extract is great for flavoring soups, sauces, and baked goods.

Licorice Root Powder

Licorice root has a strong licorice flavor and can be used as a substitute for star anise in some dishes, just note that the texture will be different as it is ground into a powder.

Licorice root powder has a strong flavor and similar flavor to star anise, so use sparingly and adjust according to taste. It can be used in marinades, glazes, and Chinese cuisine.

powder licorice root table glycyrrhiza glabra

Tarragon

Tarragon has a mild licorice-anise flavor and can be used as a substitute in some dishes, but it may not have the same depth of flavor as star anise.

Tarragon can be used in meat dishes, in rye bread and as a flavoring in sauces and dressings. It pairs well with chicken, fish, and eggs.

organic tarragon bucket marble surface

Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds have a similar licorice-anise flavor to star anise, but they also have a slight sweetness. They can be used as a substitute in some dishes, just adjust the quantity as they are slightly milder in flavor.

fennel seed indian spicearranged white bowl with white colored background

Chinese Cardamom

Chinese cardamom has a similar licorice-anise flavor with slightly floral notes. It can be used as a substitute for star anise, but use sparingly as it is stronger in flavor.

Chinese cardamom pairs well with pork and chicken dishes, as well as braised vegetables and stews. It can

Facts And Questions

How To Store Star Anise Seeds

Star Anise can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a year. It is best to keep it whole and grind it as needed for maximum flavor and aroma.

Can Star Anise Be Used As A Spice And A Medicine?

Traditionally, Star Anise has been used as both a spice in cooking and as a medicine in traditional Chinese medicine. However, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before using any spice or herb for medicinal purposes.

Can Star Anise Be Used In Sweet Dishes?

Star Anise can be used in sweet dishes such as desserts and cocktails, but it should be used sparingly as its flavor can easily overpower the dish. It pairs well with chocolate, fruits such as apples and pears, and in spices blends for mulled wine or cider.

Can Star Anise Be Used In Place Of Anise Extract?

Star Anise can be used in place of anise extract, but remember that it may have a slightly different flavor profile and the extract is more concentrated so a little goes a long way. It is best to adjust the quantity used based on personal preference.

Do Star Anise and Star Anise Seeds Taste The Same?

The whole star anise and the seeds within it generally have a similar flavor, with the whole star having a slightly milder taste.

Some individual stars or seeds may vary in their level of potency. It is best to taste and adjust the quantity used based on personal preference.

Can I Grind Star Anise?

Yes, you can grind whole star anise using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle for maximum flavor and aroma. It is best to grind it as needed, as ground star anise will lose its potency over time.

Ground anise seed can also be used as a substitute for whole star anise, just keep in mind that it may have a slightly different texture and the flavor may not be as potent.

Can Star Anise Be Used In Place Of Fennel?

Star Anise and fennel both have a licorice-anise flavor, but they can have slightly different taste profiles.

Fennel also has a slight sweetness to it. They can be used as substitutes for each other in some dishes just adjust the quantity based on personal preference.

Can Ground Cloves Replace Star Anise?

While ground cloves have a similar flavor profile to star anise, they will not be a perfect replacement as the flavors are not exactly alike. It may work in some dishes, but it is best to adjust the quantity used based on personal preference and taste.

Are Star Anise And Chinese Five Spice The Same?

No, while star anise is a key ingredient in Chinese five-spice blend, it also includes other spices such as cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seed.

These spices all have a similar flavor profile, but they each bring their own unique flavors to the blend.

Can Star Anise Be Used In Indian Cooking?

Yes, star anise is commonly used in Indian cooking and can be found in many traditional spice blends such as garam masala. It pairs well with spicy dishes and rich meats such as lamb or beef. It can also be used in lentil and bean dishes, rice dishes, and curries.

Best Star Anise Substitute

There is no one best substitute for star anise however I personally prefer to use a combination of ground cloves and fennel seed. This combination still has the licorice-anise flavor, while adding some sweetness from the fennel and a slightly different spice profile from the cloves.

Whichever star anise substitute you choose to use be sure to adjust it according to your required taste.

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