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12 Best Fennel Substitutes

12 Best Fennel Substitutes

Fennel has such a unique flavor that leaves many wondering “What does fennel taste like”? Fennel is a fragrant sweet seed with a taste similar to anise. In ancient times it was used medicinally and to ward off evil spirits. In modern times it can be found in biscotti, Kashmiri dishes, as well as in sausages - its uses are many. It blends well with seafood, pork and tomatoes.

Fennel seed alternatives range from Anise to celery and parsley. Onion artichoke and bok choy are also suitable substitutes in a pinch. 

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Substitutes for Fennel: 

With such a distinct flavor, you’d think it would be hard to find a decent substitute, however there are actually many spices that will give your dish the same unique taste without the fennel. We suggest using the following spices in place of fennel:


Substitute for Fennel Seed in Sausage

Fennel seeds play an important role in italian sausage, making it the most prominent flavor in many sausages. Because fennel can be such a strong flavor, it’s not uncommon to dislike the taste. If you prefer using a different spice in your sausages, but want to keep a traditional flavor, try using one of the spices here instead!

    • Anise
    • Cumin
    • Licorice Root
    • Caraway seed

Fennel Substitute FAQs

What’s a Good Fennel Substitute in Soup?

When fennel is used in soups or stews the flavor becomes milder and the texture becomes softer, so you’ll want to use spices like celery seed or parsley when substituting fennel in soups or stews.

What Should I Substitute for Fennel Seeds in Curry?

Fennel is used widely in Indian cooking especially in curries and even when making pickles. The fennel in curries can be replaced by using cumin and celery seed. These two flavors together will bring a similar aroma and sweetness to your curry dish.

What’s a Good Fennel Seed Substitute in Lasagna?

If you’d rather not use fennel in your lasagna because you don’t love the taste, try using caraway seeds or dill seeds instead. Caraway has a similar impact in lasagna but doesn’t have as sweet of a flavor as fennel. Dill seeds give lasagna a similar texture, but without the strong licorice or anise flavor.

Can You Substitute Onion for Fennel?

Yes! Onion - as well as leeks - in soups or stews is a great substitute for fennel. Although onion doesn’t share all of the flavors that fennel does, it cooks similarly to how fennel cooks. Because onions don’t have all of the flavor of fennel, if you’re looking for a substitute for fennel seed, try using anise instead.



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