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Star Anise is the seed pod from a native Chinese evergreen shrub. Grown in warmer climates worldwide, these star-shaped fruits have a warm, sweet taste with hints of licorice. Used as a mulling spice or in marinades, it’s also common in Asian and Indian dishes.
Don’t have star anise of either kind? We’ve got some common substitutions to help you out.
- About Star Anise
- Best Star Anise Substitutes
- Visit Cook Gem for More Great Substitutes
About Star Anise
You’ll find star anise in most grocery stores and online as whole pods or ground. Use the pods for long-simmering dishes like soups or marinades where their strong flavor has time to “simmer down”. The pods are beautiful but remove them before serving since they can’t be eaten.
You can also grind the pods as needed. One pod will yield anywhere from ¼ to ½ teaspoon of ground star anise.
Best Star Anise Substitutes
Anise seeds have a strong licorice flavor without the complexity of star anise. Whether ground or whole, use half the amount of anise seeds than the amount of star anise called for to avoid an over-licoricey flavor. For a bit of warmth and sweetness, lighten up on the anise seed and add a dash of cinnamon or cloves.
A note on using anise extract. Extracts can add an artificial taste to dishes, but if that’s all you have, use ½ – 1 teaspoon of extract for a single star anise pod or per 1 teaspoon of ground star anise.
Chinese Five Spice
One of the mainstays of Asian cuisine, this blend of spices includes star anise along with cinnamon, fennel, cloves and peppercorns. The cinnamon and cloves will enhance star anise’s sweetness and warmth. Start with half the amount of Chinese Five Spice powder in place of star anise and add more to taste.
While anise seeds have a strong licorice flavor, fennel seeds have only a hint. You’ll need to use more fennel to compensate. Use two teaspoons of fennel seeds for every teaspoon of ground star anise. And as with anise seeds, cut down on the amount of fennel seed if you prefer less licorice, and add cinnamon or cloves for sweetness and warmth.
You’ll find cloves in their whole form or ground. Clove’s slightly bitter taste makes up for its lack of licorice flavor but it’s the natural warmth and sweetness that makes this a good substitute for star anise. Use the whole buds when the recipe calls for whole star anise pods. Grind the buds or use ground clove when ground star anise is required. In either case, use half the amount of clove as star anise.
Caraway seeds have a similar pepper-like taste to star anise. Mixed with tarragon, the two make an impressive star anise imposter. Add a quarter teaspoon each of caraway seeds and tarragon for one teaspoon of star anise.
Allspice lacks the licorice flavor but its blend of nutmeg, pepper, cloves and cinnamon adds all of the other flavors in star anise. For every teaspoon of star anise, add half a teaspoon of allspice.
We have many more wonderful food substitutes that will come in handy in your cooking ventures. We also regularly discuss vegan-friendly ingredients and food options to help you maintain your vegan diet.