Caraway Seed Substitute

If there is a seasoning packed with flavor, it has to be caraway seeds. However, perhaps you feel that caraway seeds are not your cup of tea. In that case, you may need a caraway seed substitute.

Caraway seeds have a unique flavor. These seeds create a warm and rich touch to dishes. They deliver mild peppery notes with licorice undertones. And you’ll typically find them in German, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern cuisines, such as rye bread, spice pudding, and sausages.

Because of its uniqueness, it’s sometimes hard to find. But if you’re thinking of making a dish that calls for caraway seeds, here are the best caraway seed alternatives. 

What Are Caraway Seeds?

Caraway seeds are not particularly well-known. Harvested across Europe and Southeast Asia, these seeds grow from the Carum Carvi flowering plant.

They have a distinct citrus and licorice flavor and are incredibly aromatic. The seeds are found in most European and Middle Eastern cuisines. For example, a Tunisian dish, harissa, typically has caraway as the star ingredient. 

Due to their anti-inflammatory properties and being a source of vitamins A, E, and B-complex, they’re incredibly popular. These seeds also provide digestive benefits and antioxidants that enhance gut health.

Caraway Seed Substitute

Many substitute options can provide the same flavor caraway seeds are known for. And you may find most of these replacements in your kitchen.

1. Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, with a rich nutty taste that stands out. They are excellent substitutes because they have distinct licorice notes that mimic the prominent flavor of caraway seeds. 

However, they are slightly sweeter than caraway seeds. But fennel seeds are often a great addition to dishes such as curries and stews. 

When substituting fennel seeds for caraway seeds, use a 1:1 ratio in the recipe.

2. Dill Seeds

Another great substitute is dill seeds. Most people are familiar with their signature bright and fresh flavor. But they have a milder licorice taste than caraway seeds.

These seeds are a terrific alternative in various recipes, but they’re particularly good in salad dressings. However, they do carry strong flavor notes. But can add a bit more citrus flavor to your dish.

You can replace caraway seeds with dill seeds in equal parts.

3. Anise Seeds

Of all the caraway seed substitutes, anise seeds hit the mark. They deliver similar licorice notes and come from the same carrot and parsley plant family. 

If you’ve sniffed a jar of anise seeds, you’ll notice they have a rich aroma. But they lack the essence of the impactful aromatic notes of caraway seeds.

You can use anise seeds as a replacement in cookie and bread recipes to inject a flavor punch. Another option is to include them in tea or snack on them after a meal to aid digestion.

Bear in mind that anise seeds have a stronger flavor. Therefore, a little goes a long way. Start with ½ teaspoon for every one teaspoon of caraway seeds. Add a small amount each time until you achieve the taste you want.

4. Nigella Seeds

Also known as black onion seeds or charnushka, Nigella seeds have been around for centuries. These tiny black seeds deliver savory licorice notes, making them a terrific substitution. 

However, they have a slight bitterness and a toasty onion flavor. And there is an absence of the unmistakable citrus flavor found in caraway seeds. But they look very similar, making them an easy alternative for several dishes, from curries to naan.

You can replace one tablespoon of caraway seeds with one tablespoon of nigella seeds for the best-tasting results. 

5. Star Anise 

Finally, we have star anise. At first glance, you’ll notice they are shaped like little stars with eight cloves. This unique ingredient is packed with a ton of flavor and provides the aniseed/licorice flavor of the caraway seed. 

Unlike caraway seeds, star anise comprises a faint bitterness with sweet, warm notes. This makes it ideal for savory dishes like curries to sweet baked products. 

One thing to look out for is its strong flavor which can be overpowering in some meals. Start ½ tablespoon of star anise for one tablespoon of caraway seeds. If you buy whole star anise, you may need to crush it to avoid biting into a large piece of anise.


Though caraway seeds have a distinct flavor, there are plenty of spice alternatives you can use instead. There may be a slight difference in flavor, but they will do the job in a pinch. Armed with the above list, finding a caraway seed substitute will be as easy as pie.