Home » Ingredient Substitute » Seeds & Oil Substitutes » Best Caraway Seed Substitutes

Best Caraway Seed Substitutes

Lisa Price
Last Updated on
by Lisa Price

Caraway seeds are an ingredient that you will commonly find in baking. However, there are a lot of people that do not typically carry caraway seeds in their kitchen. If you are someone who is trying a new dessert, you might stumble into the mysterious ingredient.

However, there is no need to worry if you do not have that ingredient. There are a lot of substitutes that you can find for caraway seeds that produce similar effects. This article will help you find a substitute for caraway seeds that will work best for your meal.

What are Caraway Seeds?

Caraway Seeds
Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds are part of the caraway plant. These plants produce achenes that you can eat. Achenes are the botanical term for caraway seeds the plant produces.

Despite the name, the seeds are not necessarily seeds. They are dried fruit, each containing one seed. And since 1500 BC we have been using the seeds for a variety of reasons. Numerous parts of the world use caraway seeds and plants for medicinal reasons.

However, caraway seeds are not as common as some other spices. As a result, trying to recreate a recipe that involves the seeds can be an issue if you don’t have them. Whether you forgot to grab them for your meal, or no store around you carries them, sometimes caraway seeds are out of the question.

Fortunately, there are substitutes available that are more likely to be in your area.

There is more than one substitute for caraway seeds. To help you find the best substitute, we are listing the top five caraway seed replacements:

1. Anise Seeds:

Similar Flavor
anise seeds
The first caraway seed alternative is the anise seed. These seeds are a spice that you can implement into your baking or cooking. Some common ways of incorporating the seeds are to grind them up or use them whole.

Anise seeds tend to work very well in baking. You can add the spice to regular cooking as well if you are looking for a specific flavor profile.

Despite having a similar name, the anise seed has no relation to the star anise. However, anise seeds are similar to fennel in flavor and aesthetic. And more importantly, anise seeds are similar to caraway seeds in terms of taste.

One of the most distinct flavors that you can pinpoint in caraway seeds is the licorice flavor. This flavor is one of the challenges in finding a very similar substitute for caraway seeds. However, the anise seed also carries a distinct licorice flavor. As a result, anise seeds make a great alternative. Because of the licorice flavor, people like to incorporate the spice into their baking.

Anise Seeds are the best substitute for caraway seeds
Anise Seeds

Anise seeds can also make a good alternative for fennel seeds. Fennel and anise do stem from the same plant family. However, anise seeds tend to be better for baking. Fennel seeds are typically for cooking.

The anise seed wins the top spot as a caraway seed substitute. Both seeds are slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and feature that distinct licorice flavor. Anise seeds are also fairly common, and you are likely to find them in your local department store.

2. Dill Seeds

Buildable Flavor
Dill Seeds
While anise seeds are known for providing a lot of flavors, there are times where you might need a more subtle spice. Not everyone enjoys the way that caraway seeds taste in their food. To avoid this problem, you may need to take a different approach.

Dill seeds are similar to caraway seeds in a lot of ways. The first similarity is the flavor profile. Both seeds share licorice and aromatic flavor. Dill seeds tend to taste a little bit earthy in comparison to caraway seeds, however.

If you are looking for a subtle flavor, you will want to consider using dill seeds. Dill seeds are a good replacement even if you have caraway seeds handy. By using dill seeds, you can cut the intensity of the aromatic, licorice flavor caraway seeds provide.

Dill Seed is also another excellent substitute for caraway seeds
Dill Seeds

Cutting the flavor intensity can come in handy if you are serving a meal to picky eaters. Kids may not enjoy such strong flavors. Replacing caraway seeds with dill seeds is a good way to make your food more palatable for your children.

But another important aspect to remember is that dill seeds have a buildable flavor. Because the flavor isn’t as intense, you can add more without going overboard right away. If you want to match the intensity that caraway seeds provide, you can add dill seeds until you approve.

On the contrary, you can add just a small amount if you want to reduce that flavor intensity. However you want your meal to taste, dill seeds are a great caraway seed alternative.

3. Star Anise

Intense Flavor
The third viable caraway seed alternative is the star anise.

When it comes to bringing intense flavor, the star anise is a great option. Unlike the dill seed, star anise is for raising the flavor intensity.

One of the biggest flavors in caraway seeds is licorice. This component is one of what many dishes are looking to provide by adding caraway seeds. Star anise is a spice that features an almost overwhelming amount of licorice. By adding the spice, you can pack quite a licorice punch.

Star Anise is a good caraway seed replacement
Star Anise

Star anise is a unique spice in many ways. One of the most unique parts of spice is its shape. Star anise got its name due to the star shape of the plant. The spice typically has eight points and carries eight seeds within its pod. You can buy star anise in its original star shape, or you can buy it ground.

However you incorporate the spice, you will be adding a lot of licorice flavor to the dish. While this may be your goal, you will still want to be careful. Highly potent spices can easily ruin your dish if you aren’t careful.

It is much easier to add a spice than it is to take it out. When you are cooking with potent spices, make sure to taste as you go. Neglecting to taste can lead to a nasty dish for the whole family.

4. Fennel Seeds

Most Common
Fennel Seed
If you are someone who cooks frequently, you likely already work with fennel seeds. But what you might not know is that fennel seeds are also a good caraway seed replacement.

Fennel is part of the carrot family, and fennel seeds feature in countless dishes all over the world. One of the biggest appeals of the spice is the smell. Fennel seeds provide a great aromatic value to your food. By adding fennel seeds, you are adding a layer of depth to the dish.

Similar to caraway seeds, fennel seeds also feature that famous licorice flavor. Fennel seeds are less intense than caraway seeds and more intense than dill seeds. The spice sits somewhere in the middle of the spectrum for flavor intensity.

Fennel Seeds are good caraway seed substitute
Fennel Seeds

However, fennel seeds can still pack a lot of flavors. There are a lot of people that even enjoy eating raw fennel due to the flavor and texture. You can add fennel seeds to numerous different dishes. While cooks tend to use fennel seeds for cooking, you can also add them to your baking.

Along with the licorice flavor, fennel seeds carry a natural sweetness that lends itself well to many dishes. If you are looking for a versatile caraway seed alternative, consider getting fennel seeds.

Can’t find fennel seeds? See our guide to Fennel Seeds Substitutes.

5. Cumin Seeds

Also Common
Cumin Seed
The last option for caraway seed substitute is cumin seeds. This option is the one you are most likely to find at your local grocery store.

Cumin comes from dry plant seeds. Typically, people will take the dry cumin seeds and grind them up. You can find both ground cumin and cumin seeds at most grocery stores.

There are also many different types of cumin available. Black, green, and white cumin are all also available, although they are less common. The most common cumin that you will find in stores is a light brown color.

Cumin Seeds
Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds carry an earthy and sweet flavor. Toasting the cumin seeds is necessary to bring out the most of this flavor. Once you toast the seeds, you can add them to nearly any dish. 

Cumin seeds are different from the rest of the alternatives on this list. The seeds do not carry the distinct licorice flavor that many people seek. However, cumin seeds do share the other flavors that you can find in caraway seeds. If you are looking to enhance those other flavors, cumin seeds are a good option.


Overall, there are numerous caraway seed substitutes that you can find at a grocery store. Each option provides its unique benefits to a dish. All of the alternatives are delicious in their way.

Even if you already have caraway seeds, you can still try out an alternative. Part of cooking is experimenting with your spices and flavor profiles. Experimenting can lead to your new favorite dish!

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.
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *