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Spice Up Dishes: 5 BEST Substitutes for Caraway Seeds

Caraway is highly known for its distinct flavor profile.

Have you ever gotten that beautiful aroma of when you chew into a delicious rye bread? Yes.

That’s what caraway tastes like, and it’s divine.

Caraway seeds are popular in baking, but it’s something that you commonly won’t find in many kitchen households.

This ingredient is widely used in cuisines such as Eastern European and German dishes.

But caraway does make a lot of appearances in African, Asian, and European foods as well.

Plus, caraway seeds also work really well with sauerkraut, polish sausages, and Tunisian harissa.

They are mainly grown in South East and East Europe, USA, Netherlands, and North Africa.

But are you aware of the best substitutes for caraway? Well, some of these replacements include fennel seeds, star anise, Aniseed, nigella seeds, and dill seeds.

What Is Caraway?

what is caraway

Caraway also goes by the names “Persian Cumin” and “Meridian Fennel”.

It consists of a biennial plant that comes from the Apiaceae family, which is native to North Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Here, caraway possesses a distinct sharp, nutty, and bitter taste, along with sweet, warm undertones.

Did you also know that many people use the fruit and oil of the caraway plant and not just the seeds? It is also believed that caraway can help treat health issues such as indigestion, obesity, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Apart from flavoring certain medications, caraway is a common ingredient in cosmetics, toothpaste, perfumes, and soap.

Caraway seeds are a traditional ingredient when it comes to British edibles like the famous ‘Seed Cake”.

These seeds bring a ton of flavors in veggies, curries, sausages, liqueurs like the popular “Scandinavian Spirit Aquavit,” and soups.

Plus, caraway seeds are also used for brining and pickling purposes as well.

The 5 Best Substitutes For Caraway

Now, without any further ado, let us dive into some of the top substitutes for caraway today:

1 – Fennel Seeds

fennel seeds

One of the closest substitutes for caraway has to be fennel seeds.

This ingredient features a mild licorice type of flavor that’s almost the same as caraway.

These seeds are full of aroma and prove to be sweeter and warmer than caraway.

The seeds come from the fennel plant, which also stems from the carrot family-like caraway.

Anethole, which is an aromatic compound, is also found in fennel, giving you that licorice taste.

Plus, fennel seeds help tackle bad breath, betters digestive health, regulate blood pressure, promote lactation, purify the blood, treat respiratory issues, and reduce cancer risks.

Substitute Ratio – You can go for a 1:1 ratio substitute with the fennel seeds.

2 – Aniseeds


Aniseeds also come from the carrot family, and it goes by other names like “Anix” and “Anise”.

Many folks heavily use this ingredient to create desserts, candies, and drinks that are licorice-heavy.

In a lot of cultures, anise is used for making sweets and teas that help treat digestive problems.

Aniseed does possess a sweeter flavoring in comparison to caraway, and its licorice taste is more intense.

However, it may not be as delicate as caraway in terms of its flavor profile.

Also, you do have to be careful with the amount that you are using since it will be too sweet for savory dishes.

Substitute Ratio – If your recipe asks for 4 tsp of caraway seeds, then go for 3 tsp of Aniseed.

You need to do this to balance out the sweetness.

3 – Star Anise

star anise

No, you are mistaken if you think that Star Anise is related to Aniseed.

This fruit comes from an evergreen tree called ‘Illicium Verum,’ which is native to Asia.

Just like most of the herbs from the carrot family, the Star Anise does contain Anethole.

Star Anise is known for its strong licorice flavoring, and it’s usually used as an affordable replacement for Aniseed to produce certain liqueurs and licorice candy in excess.

Similar to Aniseed, you can also use Star Anise in place of caraway.

The sweet flavor profile of this ingredient makes it suitable for sweet drinks and desserts.

Substitute Ratio – With star anise, you can go for ¼ of the required caraway quantity in the recipe.

4 – Dill Seeds

dill seeds

Dill Seeds also have that aromatic and licorice flavor like the caraway seeds.

However, they do tend to be a little more earthy when you compare them to the caraway seeds.

Dill seeds will work best if you are trying to get that subtle flavor profile.

One great thing about dill seeds would be their buildable nature surrounding their flavor profile.

Since they aren’t as intense as caraway seeds, you can always add more and more as you go before you get the right taste.

They help make dishes more palatable for the kids.

Substitute Ratio – If your recipe asks for 2 tsp of caraway seeds, then add 2 ½ or 3 tsp of the dill seeds.

You can always adjust the flavors as you go.

5 – Nigella Seeds

nigella seeds

Now, these seeds are quite underrated, but they work as a solid alternative for caraway seeds.

Nigella seeds also go by a variety of names, such as black onion seeds, kalonji, and charnushka.

Their shape and size are quite similar to the caraway seeds.

We believe that these seeds go really well in homemade bread, soups, and stews.

Nigella seeds tend to possess a plethora of flavorings, including that of licorice and an herbaceous hint to it as well.

You will see your dishes come to absolute life when you add them in.

Substitute Ratio – You can stick with a 1:1 ratio as asked in the recipe.


Caraway seeds aren’t just used in cooking, but it also works as an excellent herbal medicine.

It also comes equipped with a lot of essential nutrients that complement your health.

Caraway also helps in treating inflammation, enhances your digestive health, promotes weight management, and other amazing stuff.

Since caraway may not be easily accessible in your pantry, you can always choose to work with the substitutes that we have just mentioned above.

We are positive that they will work just as well for you and your dish.

best substitutes for caraway

The 5 Best Substitutes for Caraway

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 4 Servings


  • Fennel Seeds
  • Aniseeds
  • Star Anise
  • Dill Seeds
  • Nigella Seeds


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Follow the substitution ratio to determine how much is required in your recipe.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @EatDelights or tag #eatdelights!

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