The fennel is a perennial plant that shares significant links to parsley. Many use the stalk and root for vegetables, but its seeds also function as a fantastic spice.
Fennel seeds have found significant application throughout history in different types of dishes. Some even use them as mints after meals. From Africa to Europe and the Americas, fennel seeds are considerably popular. Still, several other spices can pretty much do its work.
So, are there any substitutes for fennel seeds? Yes, there are. Today, the most prominent substitute for fennel seeds will be caraway seeds. The two taste incredibly similar, making caraway seeds the ideal replacement for fennel seeds.
An Overview of Fennel Seeds
As explained, fennel seeds are an excellent spice for several types of dishes. They have a mild and sweet flavor that will immediately add some flair to your meal. So, it is no surprise that people use fennel seeds for anything, ranging from salads and deserts to whole meals.
Fennel seeds look yellowish or greenish, and they have an oval shape. Traditionally, you can find them in sausages, sauces, and pork dishes. Thankfully, you can easily find replacements for fennel dishes if you don’t have them in hand.
Why Replace Fennel Seeds?
- Unavailability: It is possible for you not to have fennel seeds around. They are seasonal plants, and they might not be available to you. So, you go for an alternative.
- Allergies: People who are allergic to plants like celery and carrots will most likely have allergic reactions to fennel as well. If you’re such a person and would like to replicate fennel seeds’ taste, you will need an alternative.
Options for Fennel Substitutes
The Top Recommended Substitute: Caraway Seeds
If you can’t seem to get any fennel seeds at your local grocer, then you could always get some caraway seeds as alternatives. These seeds are the caraway plant’s actual fruit, and they measure about a quarter of an inch in size.
Caraway seeds are perhaps the ideal alternatives for fennel seeds for several reasons. For one, they have a similar flavor to fennel seeds. So, you won’t be missing much by adding them as your ideal replacement. Note that you will need to know how to use caraway seeds ideally to get the best flavor out of them. However, it shouldn’t be so challenging.
The bitter aroma is there, and you can find an even stronger licorice flavor than what you would get in fennel seeds. So, you’re pretty much good to go.
Caraway seeds are a staple in rye bread. They also work in making sauerkraut and several other sausages. You can pair it with cabbage as well, and it is an ideal ingredient in making cakes and biscuits if you want to throw in an earthy flavor, but don’t have any fennel seeds.
The Best Substitute for Desserts: Anise
Anise and fennel seeds are another great pairing that can work as substitutes. Many believe that you can pretty much swap fennel seeds and anise for each other in the same quantities, but that isn’t entirely true.
To be fair, anise and fennel aren’t the same plants. Their seeds also aren’t of the same flavor and texture. However, they do have a lot of similarities. Nonetheless, anise is an excellent substitute for fennel seeds in pastries.
Along with deserts, anise seeds are also compatible with light dishes and pastries.
The Best Substitute for Fish Meals: Dill Seeds
The dill is a commonly-used plant across the United States. Many love dill chips and pickles for sure. Still, in chips and pickles, the dill is essentially relegated. Many don’t know that it can also be pretty good when you let its flavor dominate a dish.
Dill seeds come with a lovely, tangy flavor that any dish will appreciate. When dried, it is also easy to store. So, you’re not nearly missing anything here.
Generally, dill is an excellent substitution for fennel in fish-based dishes. Sprinkle some chopped dill over a trout or salmon, and you’ve got yourself a treat. At the same time, dill is great for eggs too.
Many stores have come to find that dill seasoning is pretty good. It can add a significant amount of depth and flavor to any dish. When you’re through with it, just wrap it in a damp kitchen towel and store it in your fridge to keep its freshness.
The Best Substitute in Whole Dishes: Cumin
Hardly does cumin need any introduction. This lovely ingredient functions as a famous seasoning, and it is widely used in Indian and Latin cuisines.
Cumin is a reliable source of iron and manganese. So, apart from having great taste, it also provides a lot of health benefits. Cumin is also incredibly versatile- thanks to its spicy taste, it works perfectly for curry powder, taco seasoning, chili powder, and much more. Cumin has a lovely powder that meshes seamlessly with other seasonings and creates an outstanding taste.
Many know cumin to be excellent in powder form. However, its seeds also provide great utility. This area is where it really shines as a substitute for fennel seeds. Cumin seeds can work as garnishes for salads, tortillas, and other dishes. At the same time, you can even put whole seeds in dishes that are already cooked.
Note that cumin seeds have a more powerful taste than fennel seeds. However, you should be able to make up for that with some adjustments.