Home » Comparison » Dill Seed vs Dill Weed: What are the Differences?

Dill Seed vs Dill Weed: What are the Differences?

Lisa Price
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by Lisa Price

Do you have a recipe that requires dill seed, and you’re wondering if you can use dill weed in place of the other? Maybe you already have one or the other in your pantry and need to know if a trip to the store is in order.

Yes, there are differences between the two. Understanding those differences will make it easier to understand where each one should be used, and what you can expect when you add each one to a recipe.

Difference between dill seeds and dill weed

The main difference between dill seed and dill weed is the part of the plant from which the spice gets harvested. Dill seed refers to a dill plant’s fruit while dill weed includes the green parts of the plant – such as leaves and stems.

Dill seed vs Dill weed comparison

Here’s how they compare:

  • Appearance: Dill seeds are small, flat, and oval-shaped with a light brown to gray color. Dill weed is lighter, softer, and greener. Instead of seeds, it contains the thin, delicate leaves and stems of the dill plant.
  • Flavor: Dill seed has a pungent, somewhat bitter flavor reminiscent of caraway. Dill weed has a lighter, herbal taste often described as lemony or grassy.
  • Shelf Life: Dill seed can last up to four years when stored in an airtight container. Dill weed contains more plant matter and has a slightly shorter shelf life of two to three years.
  • Use Cases: Dill seed lends a bold flavor to dishes and makes an excellent focal point for meats, stews, and more. Dill weed offers a more delicate flavor and works well in sauces, seafood, and other lightweight dishes.
  • Cooking Times: It’s best to add dill seed towards the beginning of cooking to allow for the flavor to mellow. Dill weed loses its flavor when added too early and works best towards the end of cooking.

Comparison table

 AppearanceFlavorShelf LifeUsesCooking Time
Dill SeedBrown to GraySpicy3-4 yearsHeavy, flavorful dishesAdd at the beginning
Dill WeedGreenHerbal2-3 yearsLight, zesty dishesAdd close to serving

Can you use dill seed instead of dill weed?

Even though they both come from the same plant, dill seed and dill weed have vastly different flavors. While dill seed boasts a strong, spicy flavor, dill weed is milder and more herbal.

In most cases, it isn’t advisable to interchange dill seed and dill weed in recipes. Your end flavor won’t be true to your starting recipe, especially when cooking international dishes.

The best option for dill seed is usually caraway seed, though fennel, coriander, and celery seed also make good alternatives. The best substitute for dill weed include fresh fennel, tarragon, or lemon thyme.

In a pinch, you may be able to substitute both by adjusting your recipe. Even though dill seed is stronger and more pungent than dill weed, it boasts a similar base flavor profile. When subbing dill weed for dill seed, keep in mind that you need about three heads of leaves to achieve the same flavor intensity as a tablespoon of seeds.

You should also note that dill seed and dill weed cook differently in recipes. Most dishes call for the early addition of dill seed to mellow out its flavor, while dill weed most often gets added towards the end of cooking. When swapping dill seed for dill weed, you may want to add your spices early on to avoid any intense flavors.

If you’re a stickler for appearances, keep in mind that dill weed is much more noticeable in dishes than dill seed. If you don’t want leaf strands to stand out, make sure you chop your dill weed as finely as possible before adding it to your dishes.

What is dill seed?

Dill Seed
Dill Seed

Dill seeds come from the flowers and fruit of the dill plant, and they’re a common ingredient in recipes worldwide.

People originally used it for medicinal purposes, dating as far back as ancient Egypt. It was  considered an aid for insomnia, inflammation, and indigestion. The modern name “dill” comes from the ancient Norse word “Dylla,” which roughly translates to “to soothe or lull.”

In the early United States, dill seeds were also a popular digestive remedy. Puritans – particularly Quakers – would give children dill seeds to chew on as an appetite suppressant.

Dill seeds are a historic staple in traditional meals and recipes across Europe, Asia, and Scandinavia. The plant originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and parts of Western Asia. Thanks to its hardy nature, it quickly spread to other regions.

In the United States, dill seed often gets used in slaws and pickling recipes. Dill pickles are a wildly popular fixture in salads, sandwiches, and more. They differ from regular sour pickles in that pickling vinegar is infused with dill seed.

How to use dill seed

Dill seed is pungent, with hints of camphor that come out during cooking. Many people compare it to the taste of caraway seeds, and home chefs often substitute one for the other.

You can use dill seed in a wide variety of hearty, savory dishes, though most people are familiar with the taste of dill seed from pickled goods, including cucumbers, beets, carrots, and even fish. It’s also a common ingredient in slaws, soups, and vegetable dishes.

Dill seeds go particularly well in many types of whole-grain bread and biscuits. You can even find sweet, cake-like caraway seed bread popular in Scandanavian, Eastern European, and Asian countries.

You’ll find dill seeds more often in Indian, Scandinavian, and Eastern European dishes. Dill seeds also feature in many traditional herbal remedies, particularly for digestive issues and insomnia. The spice is also a popular treatment for chronic halitosis, as the pungent smell helps improve bad breath. 

When adding dill seed to any dish, it’s always a good idea to mix it in as early as possible to give flavors a chance to mellow. For example, if you are making a stew or braising meat, you should add dill seed at the liquid stage. However, if you are looking for a pungent dill taste, it’s fine to add seeds before serving.

What is dill weed?

Dill Weed
Dill Weed

When it comes to spices, plenty of people wonder – is dill weed the same as dill seed?

While dill seed comes from flowers and fruits, dill weed comes from the main body of the plant. It includes both feathery leaves and delicate stems.

People have been using dill weed for just as long as dill seed, if not longer. The ancient Egyptians prized dill for its soothing properties as far back as 5,000 years ago. The Babylonians also used dill medicinally. Societies such as the Romans and Greeks considered dill to be a symbol of luck and prosperity.

You find dill weed more commonly in American and European dishes than dill seed. Many people find its lighter flavor more tolerable, as it doesn’t overpower dishes. You can often find dill weed in salads, vegetable dishes, and light sauces.

The taste of dill is particularly popular in seafood dishes. Notes of citrus work to enhance the flavor of the fish, shellfish, and more. Often, the flavor gets paired with acidic ingredients such as lemon, lime, or white wine.

How to use dill weed

Dill weed has a much lighter flavor than its cousin, dill seed. Though both have green, woody, and citrus notes, dill weed offers a milder, more herbal taste.

You can use dill weed in a wide variety of seafood dishes – particularly those with fruity undertones. Dill also goes well with white sauces, whether paired with lean meats, pasta, or potato dishes.

Because of its stringy appearance, most home chefs will chop dill weed finely before adding it to any dish. Not only does this strengthen its mild flavor by introducing more oils, but it ensures that there are no changes to looks or consistency when serving a meal.

You may want to leave dill weed whole and uncooked as a garnish in some cases. The taste is light enough it won’t overpower your dish, and the light, feathery leaves add a charming compliment to any plate.

Unlike dill seed, you should add dill weed later in cooking to preserve the flavor. Otherwise, you may lose all herbal notes by the time you finish cooking. In simmering dishes such as soups or sauces, it’s best to add dill weed after removing everything from the heat. In fresh recipes, you can add dill weed right before serving.

If you choose to use dried dill weed, keep in mind that dried herbs tend to have a deeper taste than fresh varieties. You may have to adjust the amount you add to your dish to achieve the same level of flavor.

As a general rule of thumb, you should only use one teaspoon of dried herbs for every tablespoon of fresh in a recipe. Conversely, if you’re replacing dried herbs with fresh ones, you should increase the amount by one-third.

Dill seed and dill weed might seem similar at first glance, but the two herbs lend vastly different flavors to food. If you’re looking for something mild and herbal, dill weed is the right choice for you. For a stronger, spicier flavor, dill seed will give you the best taste.

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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