5 Substitutes for Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds are used across the world from Britain and Scandanavia through to India and the Middle East. They add texture to breads, aniseed flavour to stews and are a great way to lift sauerkraut.

But what if you haven’t got caraway seeds on your spice rack? What are the best substitutes for caraway seeds?

Our 5 Substitutes for Caraway Seeds

When considering the best substitutes for caraway seeds, it’s important that every option has a hint of anise flavour to it. Caraway seeds are used for that pop of subtle liquorice flavour. Here are our top picks to use in place of caraway seeds:

1) Fennel Seeds

This is probably the cheapest, most accessible and best substitute for caraway seeds. It really is an all-rounder. Fennel seeds can be used directly in place of caraway seeds and can be used in nearly every place where you would normally use caraway seeds.

Fennel seeds even look just like caraway seeds. They’re similar in colour but tend to be a little small and have less of a curve to their shape.

Substitute Identical Quantities
If you choose to substitute caraway seeds for fennel seeds then you can use the exact same quantities. If your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds then use 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds. It’s that simple!

Substitute Caraway Seeds for Fennel Seeds

2) Star Anise

Star anise is almost as good as fennel seeds in terms of substituting caraway seeds. The only drawback is that they won’t work for all uses. If you’re looking to add the flavour of caraway seeds to stews, soups and goulash then star anise will work perfectly.

If, however, you’re looking for a caraway seed substitute to use in bread baking, decorations or as whole seeds then you’ll have to avoid star anise. As you can imagine, no one wants to bite down on a whole star anise! Sub

Use 1 Star Anise to Add an Aniseed Flavour
Where you would normally use 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds in a soup, stew, casserole or curry, you can simply drop 1 star anise in instead. When you’ve finished cooking, make sure you remove the star anise before serving.

3) Anise Seeds

They might be a little tougher to come by but anise seeds, as the name suggests, are a great way to add that aniseed flavour that caraway seeds are known for.

They can be used anywhere you would normally use caraway seeds. We would recommend reducing the amount you use by around a third compared to caraway seeds as they can pack a punch.

Anise Seeds Can be Found at Specialist Food Stores
A lot of normal supermarkets are unlikely to stock anise seeds. However, online food stores and specialist food shops will have them so you may need to shop around a little.

4) Dill Leaves

Dill leaves are particularly easy to come across and most major supermarkets sell a small packet which you can use in place of caraway seeds. It’s also an easy herb to grow at home.

However, dill leaves will only work in some dishes where you would normally use caraway.

Caraway seeds are often used in traditional goulash to give it a liquorice hit. Dill leaves can be used in place of these caraway seeds. Once the goulash has finished cooking, stir through a small bunch of chopped dill leaves.

Avoid Using in Cooked Dishes
It’s worth mentioning that this will only work as a substitute when you want to add the flavour of caraway seeds to a dish that won’t necessarily need cooking. Cooking dill can diminish its flavour.

Substitute Caraway Seeds for Dill

5) Coriander Seeds

Coriander seeds, unfortunately, lack the powerful punch of aniseed that caraway seeds and the other substitutions on this list possess. However, coriander seeds, when toasted and ground, release a sour citrus flavour which can still work great at flavouring curries and soups.

Coriander Seeds are a Great Way to Add Flavour
It might not be the same flavour as caraway seeds but coriander seeds are a great way to add a powerful flavour to a range of dishes, especially curries. If you want to add some sort of flavour to your cooking where you’d normally use caraway then give them a go!

Other Substitutes for Caraway Seeds

The above 5 options are the best substitutes to use. However, if you’re in a rush and don’t have any of the above then here are a few more options you could try. They won’t be quite as effective but can work in a pinch:

  • Nigella Seeds – You won’t get the same flavour from nigella seeds but if you’re only using caraway seeds to decorate the top of bread or rolls then nigella seeds will work just fine.
  • Poppy Seeds – Again, like nigella seeds, poppy seeds can be used to decorate dishes where caraway seeds aren’t used mainly for their flavour but for their aesthetics.
  • Fennel Fronds – If you’ve got a fennel bulb in the fridge and a few fronds have been left on top of it then you can dice these up and pop them into your cooking in place of caraway seeds to add a subtle aniseed flavour.


Ultimately, when looking for a substitute for caraway seeds, you need to find a spice or herb that has a distinctive liquorice flavour. It’s this liquorice flavour that makes caraway seeds so iconic.

Our top substitute for caraway seeds would have to be fennel seeds as they can be used directly in place of caraway seeds in exactly the same quantities.