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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.

Substitute for caraway seeds
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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 ½ teaspoon of anise seeds to every 1 teaspoon caraway seeds.

Related recipes

Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring caraway:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Maureen Pagán says:

    Apparently, I used up my caraway seeds making everything bagel bombs….found your suggestions for substitutes. THANK YOU. My Irish Soda Bread this morning will be saved by fennel seeds.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:


  2. Donna Sharon Husch says:

    I was looking for a substitute for caraway seeds and came across your website. I like the information that you supplied! I do have dill seeds and will use that in my cabbage and kielbasa skillet recipe that I am trying tonight! Thanks for the info!!