Celery seed is a common spice used in a wide range of dishes. People will use celery seed in salad dressings, Asian cuisine, condiments, drinks, and much more than you probably think.
When your perfectly planned meal calls for celery seed, but you realize you don’t have it on hand, there’s no need to panic. You can use a celery seed substitute.
If you can’t make it to the store to purchase some, or the store doesn’t have it in stock, knowing what you can substitute for celery seed and how to substitute it correctly can save the day.
What is Celery Seed?
It’s easy to assume that celery seed is the seed from the garden celery you commonly see in your local grocery stores. But, while this is a common assumption, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Wild celery and garden celery actually have no relation other than their name. From where they’re grown to their flavor profiles, they couldn’t be more different.
Wild celery typically grows in moderately deep, brackish water around the world. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can grow garden celery in your backyard if you wanted.
The spice, Celery seed, comes from the seeds from wild celery. Garden celery has a much weaker flavor than wild celery. The more robust flavor is what makes utilizing celery seeds so appealing.
You’ll notice when following recipes that include celery seed that the amounts they call for are relatively small. Because the flavor of the spice is so robust, you’ll want to use it in small doses.
Celery seed is used very often in Indian cuisine. Most of this spice’s production comes from India, but a few companies produce celery seed in the United States.
Celery seeds are very small, brown seeds. Some recipes call for the seeds in their natural state when cooking with celery seed, whereas some suggest using celery seed as a fine powder. If you only have celery seed in its natural state, you can grind the seeds yourself. When you grind these seeds, you’ll have a powder that has a green-brown color.
Recommended Celery Seed Substitutes
Whether you can’t find celery seed in your local grocery store or don’t have time to go searching, there are alternatives you can use to cook your meal.
You may have some of these items on hand, or you’ll be able to find them in the store quickly. Before you change to recipes without celery seed, check out the top five celery seed substitutes.
1. Celery Salt
Celery salt is an excellent celery seed alternative. Celery salt is one of the top alternatives for celery seed because of its closeness to the original spice. Many people lean towards celery salt as a replacement because most celery salt contains some level of celery seed.
This spice alternative contains two parts of salt and one part celery seed. Some celery salt blends do not have any celery seed, though. They will all still be made almost entirely with salt, but instead of celery seed, some will use celery leaves or dried celery root.
The flavor of your dish will have an almost identical flavor if you use celery salt that has celery seed in it or celery salt that has celery leaves or dried celery. But for the closest taste to celery seed, you’ll want to read the ingredient list and find one with celery seed in it.
Regardless of whether your celery salt contains celery seed, celery root, or celery leaves, you can still use it as a substitute.
When using celery salt as a substitute for celery seed, the rule of thumb is one teaspoon of celery salt per one teaspoon of celery seed.
Because this alternative is heavy on salt, you’ll want to cut the amount of salt in the dish in half to prevent it from being too salty. This alternative works best for those who add salt to their dishes at the end. This way, you can taste your food to ensure the celery salt didn’t make it too salty. Of course, you can always add more salt if you need.
For example, if your recipe calls for three teaspoons of celery seed, you’ll use three teaspoons of celery salt.
2. Minced Celery Tops
The best alternatives for celery seeds are options that come from wild celery. But if you can’t find anything from wild celery, you can use garden celery that you can find in the produce section at your local store. Minced celery tops don’t have the strong flavor of celery seed but can be a fantastic alternative.
If you’re out of celery seed or can’t find it anywhere but have access to celery, get ready to use it. You can chop off the tops of your celery stocks and then mince them to create a quick and easy substitute.
When you’re mincing your celery tops to use as a replacement for celery seed, do your best to chop them as small as you possibly can. This way, the alternative is closer in size to celery seeds in their natural state.
Because garden celery’s flavor is much weaker than wild celery, you’ll need to use a bit more of the minced celery tops when substituting. So for every teaspoon of celery seed that your recipe calls for, you’ll use three tablespoons of minced celery tops.
For example, if your recipe calls for two teaspoons of celery seed, you’ll need six tablespoons of minced celery tops.
3. Chopped Flat-Leaf Parsley
You don’t need to use wild celery or garden celery products exclusively for celery seed alternatives. An excellent non-celery celery seed replacement is to use chopped flat-leaf parsley. While this does not originate from wild celery or traditional celery, it still provides a great flavor.
It’s important to note there’s a difference between flat-leaf and curly-leaf parsley when using it as a celery seed replacement. You may be able to utilize curly leaf parsley as an alternative, but flat-leaf parsley provides a more aromatic flavor component for your dish and is utilized more commonly.
The difference between these two types of parsley comes from their flavors—the flavor between the two parsley types due to a different balance in compounds. However, because flat-leaf parsley has a more robust flavor, it somewhat resembles the strong flavor of celery seed.
It may not be perfect, but the flavor profile is more similar to celery seed than curly-leaf parsley.
Even though the flavor of flat-leaf parsley is more substantial than other parsley, it’s still not going to be identical to celery seed. Therefore, you’ll need a more considerable amount of flat-leaf parsley to substitute it for celery seed.
When you’re chopping up the flat-leaf parsley, you’ll want to chop it as finely as possible. Like minced celery tops, you’ll need to use three tablespoons of chopped flat-leaf parsley per one teaspoon of celery seed.
4. Dill or Dill Seeds
Dill or dill seeds are another excellent option for a celery seed alternative. Dill and dill seeds are commonly used in central and eastern Europe and Asia to flavor their dishes and, of course, many pickle recipes.
To substitute dill seed for celery seed, you’ll use one teaspoon of dill seed for every one teaspoon of celery seed.
If you prefer to use dill and not dill seeds, it’s just as simple. You’ll still follow the 1:1 ratio of one teaspoon per one teaspoon.
The flavors of dill and dill seeds are not identical to celery seeds. So while these spices are commonly used as replacements for the latter, your dish may not have the exact same taste as it would with celery seed.
Related: Dill Substitutes
5. Fennel Seeds
This flowering seed from the carrot family is another good option to replace celery seed in your recipes. You’ll commonly find fennel seeds in Indian cuisine, but you’ll find them in dishes worldwide—this aromatic spice’s main ingredient in absinthe.
If you’re someone who regularly cooks with celery, you’ll notice that many recipes that call for celery or celery seed call for fennel seeds as well. The combination of celery and fennel seeds provides an excellent flavor profile.
When you’re using fennel seeds instead of celery seed, you’ll want to follow the 1:1 ratio that you would with other seeds. In addition, you may want to add some minced celery tops to your dish to give this alternative a more celery seed flavor.
Related: Fennel Seed Substitute
Whether you’re looking for celery seed alternatives because your grocery store is out, you ran out of time to run to the store, or maybe you or someone you’re cooking for has an allergy, there’s no need to panic. You can still create your favorite dishes with a celery seed substitute.
There are plenty of substitutes for celery seed out there. Some mimic the flavors of celery seed almost perfectly, whereas others may be a little off but are still a great replacement. Knowing what you can substitute celery seed for can make your cooking experience much less stressful.
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