Caraway is hard to replace, but there are a few options if you don’t have this spice on hand! Here’s the best substitute for caraway seeds.
Making a recipe that calls for caraway seeds and don’t have it? We’ve got answers. Caraway seeds have a very distinct flavor. You know that aroma when you bite into rye bread? That’s caraway. It’s got a licorice essence and light peppery notes. Really, there’s nothing like it! You’ll find it in cuisines like German and Eastern European foods like rye bread and sauerkraut, and also in Asian and African dishes.
Caraway seeds are so unique that if at all possible, go to the store and buy some! Especially if you’re making rye bread or sauerkraut. But if you’re in the middle of a recipe with no time to shop, we get it. Here are the best substitutes for caraway seeds.
Best substitute for caraway seeds
Note that how these options work depend on the type of cuisine and how caraway is used.
1. Fennel seeds.
The best substitute for caraway seeds? Fennel seeds, which are in the carrot family like caraway seeds. Fennel is distinctive and doesn’t taste quite like caraway, but it has licorice notes and a similar essence. You can substitute an equal amount of fennel for caraway seeds.
Note: Fennel is often used in sausage, so using the seeds may evoke a meaty flavor. (We actually often use that trick in our vegetarian and vegan recipes, like in our Vegan Biscuits and Gravy or Breakfast Pizza.)
2. Dill seeds.
Another substitute for caraway? Dill seeds, which are also part of the carrot family. They have a light licorice essence. Dill is more mild than fennel, but you can use it in a pinch. Another plus: it’s often used in Eastern European cuisine so has the same vibe. You can substitute an equal amount of fennel for caraway seeds.
3. Anise seeds.
Take care when using anise seeds as a substitute for caraway: they are very strong! Anise seeds have a strong licorice flavor. Because of this, we’d recommend using half the amount of anise seeds to caraway seeds. So, use 1/2 teaspoon of anise seeds to every 1 teaspoon caraway seeds.
Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring caraway:
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.