Star Anise is a well known and flavorful spice used in cooking. However, if you don’t have star anise available in your spice rack, there are other spices, like fennel, that you can use as substitutes.
This article explores the different spices that can be used as substitutions for star anise, the amount you want to use in comparison, and how the flavor may change.
What Spices are Recommended as Substitutions for Star Anise?
The goal with substitution is to match the flavor of star anise, which is often described as a mild, fragrant flavor with distinct notes of licorice.
However, you’ll also want to make sure the unique qualities of any substitution pair well with other parts of the overall dish.
How do I Use Chinese Five-Spice as a Substitution for Star Anise?
Chinese Five-Spice is considered the best substitute for star anise because ground star anise is one of the five ingredients that give the spice its name.
The other ingredients are szechuan peppercorn, cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground fennel. If you’re considering using Chinese Five-Spice as a substitute, be aware of how these other spices will work with your recipe.
Experts recommend using 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese Five-Spice per whole star anise in a recipe.
How Do I Use Fennel Seeds as a Substitution for Star Anise?
Fennel seeds can be used alone as a substitute, but their flavor is much milder than star anise. Their primary value as a substitute is the licorice notes that they share with star anise.
For best effect, experts recommend blending fennel seeds and aniseed. These two spices blend well and create a flavor that is very similar to star anise.
Because these two spices are milder than star anise, experts recommend using more of the mix.
Recommendations are generally 1/4 mix per whole star anise, or up to 1.5 teaspoons of fennel/aniseed mix to 1 teaspoon of ground star anise.
What’s the Best Way to Use Cloves as a Substitution?
Whole cloves can be used as a substitution, but you’ll need to be careful not to overwhelm the other flavors in your dish.
Whole Cloves are a recommended substitution in things like compotes and jams.
How Should I Use Ground Cloves as a Substitution?
Ground cloves combined with Cassia Bark Power provide an excellent balance of sweet and bitter flavors to substitute for star anise. The flavor is not as intense as star anise, but it does work well.
This substitution is recommended for meat dishes.
The recommended ratio is 2 teaspoons of clove/cassia bark mixture for every 1 teaspoon of star anise in the recipe.
Does Using Allspice as a Substitution Work?
Allspice can be used as a substitution. It has a distinct flavor that works well in many of the same recipes that call for star anise.
Allspice substitutions lack the licorice overtones that star anise contains, which is the only real drawback to using this substitution.
How Does Using Caraway and Tarragon Work as a Substitution?
Caraway seeds have a very intense and bitter flavor, which means it needs to be used sparingly. Experts recommend mixing caraway and tarragon until it achieves the flavor you want.
Once you have a mix that you feel works, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon caraway/tarragon mixture for each 1 teaspoon of star anise. This is considered a good substitution for soups.
What Dishes Use Star Anise?
Star Anise is often used in Chinese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese dishes. However, it can be incorporated into many other dishes.
Star anise is often used for savory meat dishes, and can be paired with other spices like cinnamon, or flavors like citrus or ginger.
Experts recommend that you use star anise sparingly, as it can overwhelm other flavors if overused.
So, yes, there are options you can use as a substitute for star anise, so if you don’t have any star anise don’t panic. But, it’s a good spice to have on hand as it adds wonderful flavors to dishes like homemade butter chicken, so next time you see some star anise at the store, it might be time to stock up and keep some handy.