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Don’t have this unique ingredient or realized you’re all out while you’re cooking? Here’s the best star anise substitute in recipes.

Star Anise Substitute
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Making a recipe that calls for star anise and don’t have it? Star anise is a seed pod that’s shaped like a star. It’s a warm spice with an anise flavor, giving it hints of black licorice. The culinary uses are wide: it’s the main ingredient in Chinese five spice powder, and is used in Vietnamese pho and is part of Indian masala chai and mulling spices for cider. Don’t have time to grab it? Here’s the best star anise substitute to use in a pinch.

First off…decide whether you need a substitute!

Are you making a recipe with star anise other spices, too? Often star anise is used in combination with spices like cinnamon, cloves and fennel. If there are a lot of other spices going on in the recipe, you might be able to simply omit the star anise. Of course, it won’t taste nearly as good! But it works in a pinch.

That said, if you’re making a recipe with “star anise” in the title, like Star Anise Braised Chicken, or a traditional recipe like Vietnamese pho, you may want to wait until you have a chance to run to the store to grab the real thing.

Best star anise substitute

1. Chinese five spice powder.

The best star anise substitute? Chinese five spice powder! Star anise is one of the main ingredients in Chinese five spice powder, which also includes cinnamon, fennel, pepper and cloves. Use this substitution ratio: For 1 whole star anise, use ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder.

It’s likely if you don’t have star anise you might not have five spice powder on hand, so see below for more options. Another thing to consider is if your recipe calls for whole spices like in mulled cider, you may not want to use a ground spice (or just strain it before drinking).

2. Anise seeds.

Another good star anise substitute? Anise seeds! The two plants are not related, but both have a similar black licorice finish to the flavor. Use this substitution ratio: For 1 whole star anise, use ½ teaspoon anise seeds.

3. Fennel seed.

A final star anise substitute? Fennel seeds. Fennel seed has a much different flavor from star anise, but it can work in a pinch. Because the flavor is different, we recommend adding a smaller amount of fennel. Use this substitution ratio: For 1 whole star anise, use ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds.

Can you substitute ground star anise for whole?

Yes! If your recipe calls for the whole version of this spice, you may use ground if you have it. Substitute ½ teaspoon ground star anise for 1 whole star anise, and vice versa.

Here are some recipes where you could use this star anise substitute:

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. Jennifer Vasquez says:

    VERY helpful blog 😊
    I’m gonna use fennel n clove with cinnamon to make mulled wine 🍷😋

  2. Gloria says:

    Hi – I have a recipe that calls for star anise. Unfortunately I am “allergic” reaction to this family (fennel, aniseed, Liquorice) is there an ingredient I can use to substitute that is NOT in this food family?
    Thank you in advance

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! What type of recipe is it?