Thanks to their earthy taste, caraway seeds can add a distinguishing flavor to your rye bread. They’ve also proven good for garnishing cookies or enriching the aroma of your dishes. Without you even realizing it, this dried fruit has become part of all your pastry recipes.
But the fact that this condiment has its designated place on your kitchen shelves doesn’t mean you can’t try seasoning your food with another spice. You’re about to find out that certain herbs make a perfect substitute for caraway seeds. To see which spices can rise to this task, read on.
1. Fennel Seeds
Just like caraway seeds, fennel seeds belong to the family of carrots. The plant itself is green and white, with two edible sections. The seeds, however, have a more potent flavor than the bulb. That’s because they feature a mix of essential oils that make their aroma more memorable.
Fennel seeds are somewhat similar to cumin, only a bit greener. Their sweet and warm flavor can add a unique twist to your otherwise bland dishes. But you can also use them in combination with other more aromatic herbs for an even better effect. Spice mixes like Chinese five-spice powder will offer you a rich aroma and an overall unforgettable experience.
This spice will also prove beneficial to your health. That’s because fennel seeds are low in calories but rich in many necessary nutrients. As it goes, one of the compounds found in fennel seeds might even be able to help with cancer.
Overall, fennel seeds may be the best substitute for caraway seeds, thanks to their similar origin and flavor. You won’t have to worry too much about keeping the same earthy aroma of your favorite dishes. The only difference is that they’ll now be enriched with a more licorice taste. You can also stick to the same amount of seeds you would generally use:
1 tbsp of caraway seeds = 1 tbsp of fennel seeds.
2. Coriander Seeds
This herb is also related to the family of carrots, parsley, and celery. Thanks to its floral taste, it has become a necessary part of Indian, Asian, and European cuisine. And this spice is pretty old, too. Some believe it dates back to 5,000 BC and is native to the Mediterranean.
When it comes to their flavor, coriander seeds have a tangy, lemony note. But the leaves of this herb known as cilantro have a completely different aroma. They taste somewhat soapy and wouldn’t make a good substitute for caraway seeds. So, when we speak of the coriander spice, we mean the one that comes from the plant’s seeds.
You can use coriander seeds in curry as well as many baked foods. But bear in mind that these guys can be tough to chew, which is why they may need pre-preparation. These seeds make the best condiment when they’re ground beforehand. And because their flavor goes well with cumin, you may even end up using both spices in your meals.
Finally, coriander seeds can replace caraway in a 1:1 ratio. Still, bear in mind that your meals might lack the distinctive licorice taste in the end. To enrich the aroma, you could even add a dash of fennel seeds to your dish.
1 tbsp of caraway seeds = 1 tbsp of coriander seeds.
Aniseed is yet another cousin to carraway, fennel, and coriander. Like them, this herb belongs to the family of parsley, celery, and carrots. While this plant is native to the eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia, people all over the world use it to season their drinks and food.
Also called anise, this herb can reach a height of up to 3 feet. It has its distinctive flowers and the fruit known as anise seed. In general, the plant is beloved for the many health benefits it offers. Anise seeds are rich in nutrients (iron, in particular) that help produce healthy blood cells.
Flavor-wise, aniseed has a distinctive licorice-like note. Because of that, people use it for sweet and fruity drinks, candies, and desserts. You can also enrich your post-meal tea with anise seeds to ensure better digestion.
Although it has a fruitier and sweeter taste, licorice aniseed still makes a good replacement for caraway. You can start with half the amount you would go for in general. Later on, you can try increasing the dose for a more pungent aroma.
1 tbsp of caraway seeds = ½ tbsp of aniseed.
4. Star Anise
Based on its name, you might conclude that this spice is related to aniseed. However, star anise has nothing to do with any of the herbs mentioned so far. For starters, the plant that this spice comes from resembles none of these carrot-like herbs. Instead, you get star anise from a Chinese evergreen tree known as Illicium verum.
The pods of this tree have a distinctive star shape, which accounts for the name of this spice. But thanks to its flavor, star anise does bear a significant resemblance to aniseed and other caraway substitutes. Just like these herbs, it has a licorice taste and a rich aroma.
These star-shaped guys are also renowned for their numerous health benefits. Because of its wide range of flavonoids and polyphenols, star anise gets applied even in medical treatments. On top of that, certain animal studies have shown that this spice might also possess anti-cancer properties.
When substituting caraway with star anise, you may need to use lower doses at first. Otherwise, star anise might leave your dish with a very licorice taste. So, you can start with the same amount you’d use if it were aniseed:
1 tbsp of caraway seeds = ½ tbsp of star anise.
5. Dill Seeds
Last but not least, dill seeds have a lot in common with caraway. This herb is widely used in Asian and European cuisine to season otherwise bland dishes. For instance, dill seeds make a perfect combo with potatoes, salmon, and yogurt sauces.
Like all of the previous spices, dill seeds have their fair share of health benefits. Fresh dill is very low in calories, and it comprises many nutrients and vitamins, like vitamin C, A, and magnesium. It is also rich in antioxidants and helps reduce chronic inflammation. Also, dill might be able to help with heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.
But when it comes to the flavor of dill seeds, they are somewhat milder than caraway. They also feature a well-known licorice taste enriched with an aromatic note. However, dill has a bit more earthy flavor compared to caraway and all the other spices we’ve mentioned.
Given its overall milder taste, dill might end up unnoticeable in your food. So, if you want a perfect substitute for caraway seeds, go for a somewhat larger amount of the replacement herb:
1 tbsp of caraway seeds = 1 ½ tbsp of dill seeds.