Caraway seeds have a distinct flavor that can be difficult to replicate. However, there are a few possible alternative options that you can use in a pinch.
Read on to discover the best substitutes for caraway seeds.
Caraway seeds are a spice that tastes bitter, earthy, and pungent, similar to anise or licorice, with a hint of citrus and pepper. This spice is often combined with other spices, such as garam masala. A substitute for caraway seeds should share at least part of these traits that define the complex flavor profile.
Caraway seeds are popular in many cuisines, such as Scandinavian, German, Eastern European, Asian, Indian, and Northern African. For example, Kummel is a German liquor made with caraway and rye, Apple Kuchen is a German dessert made with apples and caraway, and Knoppers is a waffle from the Netherlands made with caraway, currants, and almonds. When using an alternative to caraway seeds, it should be versatile enough to suit various cuisines.
Caraway seeds pair well with curries, soups, stews, sauerkraut, goulash, German potato salad, braised red cabbage, onion tart, fried potatoes, biscuits, cakes, pickles, Irish soda bread, British caraway seed cake, and Serbian salty scones. Additionally, this spice adds flavor to rye bread, rye beer, tea, and dairy products. When looking for a caraway seed replacement, it should go well with some of these foods.
The best substitutes for caraway seeds are fennel seeds, dill seeds, anise seeds, nigella seeds, coriander seeds, star anise, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried oregano, cloves, and rosemary. Check out detailed information about each one:
1. Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds are a fantastic substitute for caraway seeds since it shares the earthy flavor similar to licorice. This spice also has a sweet aroma. The two herbs are so similar in taste that caraway seeds can also replace fennel and fennel seeds.
Use fennel seeds to replace caraway seeds in Italian dishes, such as meatballs, sausages, pasta, pizza, and Italian seasoning. This spice also works well in curries, soups, stews, seafood, pork, and especially sauerkraut.
When using fennel seeds in place of caraway seeds, apply the 1:1 ratio. For example, use 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds for 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
2. Dill seeds
Dill seeds are a great substitute for caraway seeds, thanks to their potent flavor and slightly bitter, peppery taste. The aroma of dill seeds is a combination of anise and celery with a light licorice essence, and the aftertaste is imperceptible.
Use dill seeds to replace caraway seeds in pickles, salads, sauces, dips, dressings, vinaigrettes, fish, teas, bread, soups, and potato and other vegetable dishes.
When using dill seeds in place of caraway seeds, apply the 1:1 ratio. For example, use 1 tablespoon of dill seeds for 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
3. Anise seeds
Anise seeds are an excellent substitute for caraway seeds, thanks to their licorice-like flavor.
Use anise seeds to replace caraway seeds in Italian and French cuisine, such as pizza, pasta, chicken, and biscotti. Moreover, this spice adds flavor to alcoholic beverages like absinthe, anisette, or sambuca.
When using anise seeds in place of caraway seeds, apply the 1:2 ratio. For example, use ½ tablespoon of anise seeds for 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
4. Nigella seeds
Nigella seeds (black cumin) are a good substitute for caraway seeds, thanks to their slightly bitter taste, pungent aroma, and licorice notes. They have a herbaceous kick and taste like toasted onion, with a touch of cumin and oregano.
Black cumin is used in many Middle Eastern, North African, Indian, and Mediterranean dishes, such as mulligatawny soup, hummus, berbere, curry, falafel, baba ghanoush, shawarma, and tahini. Use nigella seeds to replace caraway seeds in salads, sauces, soups, curries, meats, and lentil dishes. For example, make braised beef with black cumin and honey, roasted cauliflower with black cumin and pomegranate, peanut stew, chicken tikka masala, bitter qizha paste, Syrian string cheese, Russian rye bread, Indian naan bread, or panch phoron spice blend. Toast nigella seeds to bring out their full flavor, or combine them with allspice, coriander, and thyme. On meats, use ground black cumin as a spice rub.
When using nigella seeds in place of caraway seeds, apply the 1:1 ratio. For example, use 1 tablespoon of nigella seeds for 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
5. Coriander seeds
Coriander seeds are a great substitute for caraway seeds, thanks to their citrusy, woodsy, earthy, and licorice-like taste. The aroma of this herb is somewhere between cumin and fennel seeds. However, coriander seeds have a sweeter, more delicate, and less potent flavor than caraway seeds, making them more versatile.
This spice is common in Middle Eastern, North African, Mexican, Indian, and Thai cuisine. Use coriander seeds to replace caraway seeds in chicken, duck, curried lentils, roasted carrots, quinoa salads, spicy sweet potato soup, chickpea stew, grilled salmon, shrimp tacos, and even desserts. To expand your culinary horizons to local foods around the world, use coriander seeds for Thai green curry, Vietnamese pho, Indian samosas, Moroccan chicken tagine, Mexican enchiladas, Peruvian ceviche, Colombian arepas, Ecuadorian humitas, or Brazilian feijoada.
It is possible to use ground or whole coriander seeds when replacing caraway seeds, depending on what you’re preparing. For example, ground coriander seeds are easy to incorporate into doughs, batters, and sauces. Whole coriander seeds aren’t as flavorful as the ground version, but they are better for meat rubs or blending with certain foods, such as chutney or gremolata.
When using coriander seeds in place of caraway seeds, apply the 1:1 ratio. For example, use 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds for 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
6. Star anise
Star anise is a great substitute for caraway seeds, thanks to its potent, distinct flavor with hints of anise seeds and licorice. This condiment is slightly peppery, bitter, and earthy. Compared to caraway seeds which work best in savory dishes, star anise can be added to both sweet and savory dishes.
This spice is common in Chinese, Indian, and Vietnamese cuisine. Use star anise to replace caraway seeds when preparing braised pork belly, glazed ham, pumpkin pie, gingerbread, soups, stews, stir-fries, garam masala, and masala chai. Additionally, star anise works well with Vietnamese pho, Chinese five-spice powder, Chinese fortune cookies, syrup for cocktails or desserts, duck confit, biscotti, pork tenderloin with anise sauce, or hot toddy.
It is possible to use whole or ground star anise when replacing caraway seeds. The ground version is easier to incorporate into dishes than whole star anise. Be sure to grind the spice right before use because star anise starts losing its flavor quickly.
When using star anise in place of caraway seeds, apply the 4:1 ratio. For example, use 1⁄4 tablespoon of star anise to replace 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
7. Mustard seeds
Mustard seeds are a great substitute for caraway seeds, regardless of which type you use: white, black, or brown. White mustard seeds are nutty, mild, and add warmth to dishes during the cooking process. Black mustard seeds are bitter with a hint of spicy. Brown mustard seeds have a taste that balances the white and black types. The bitterness and spiciness develop only when the seeds get in contact with a liquid.
Use mustard seeds to replace caraway seeds in stews, sauces, soups, stir-fries, curries, vinaigrettes, marinades, sausages, salads, schnitzels, sauerkraut, and masala dosa. It is possible to use mustard seeds whole or ground. In powder form, mustard seeds are less potent and spicy.
When using mustard seeds in place of caraway seeds, apply the 1:1 ratio. For example, use 1 tablespoon of mustard seeds for 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
8. Cumin seeds
Cumin seeds are a great substitute for caraway seeds, thanks to their warm, earthy aroma with sweet, spicy, and bitter notes. The other way is applicable, too, since caraway seeds are a substitute for cumin seeds.
Cumin seeds are common in Indian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Use cumin seeds to replace caraway seeds when preparing curries, soups, stews, curries, sauces, chili con carne, tacos, fajitas, hummus, falafel, chicken tikka masala, pumpkin pie, spiced apples, or dishes with lentils, beans, or tomatoes.
Caraway seeds and cumin seeds have a similar appearance since they are both small, dark brown, and oblong. As such, use the two condiments interchangeably when coating bread or other baked goods.
Both whole or ground cumin seeds are suited for cooking, depending on what you’re making. For example, whole cumin seeds are common in Indian cuisine since they infuse frying oil and other ingredients. Meanwhile, powered cumin seeds are better for meat rubs or sauces. To enhance the flavor of ground cumin seeds, toast the whole seeds before grinding them.
When using cumin seeds in place of caraway seeds, apply the 1:1 ratio. For example, use 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds instead of 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
9. Dried oregano
Dried oregano makes a great substitute for caraway seeds, thanks to its warm, strong peppery flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste. This herb does not have the anise or licorice hues of caraway seeds, it is slightly more floral, and adds depth to dishes.
Compared to fresh oregano, dried oregano is a better replacement for caraway seeds since it is not as sharp and peppery. This herb is prominent in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Use dried oregano to replace caraway seeds in marinades, meat rubs, dressings, soups, sauces, salads, stews, casseroles, braised meats, and rye bread. This herb pairs well with chicken, beef, and lamb.
When using dried oregano in place of caraway seeds, apply the 1:2 ratio. For example, use ½ tablespoon of dried oregano to substitute 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
Cloves are a decent substitute for caraway seeds, although the two have different flavors. Cloves are strong, sweet, and spicy, due to the eugenol compound, and they do not have the anise or licorice vibe of caraway seeds. This spice is suited for sweet and savory recipes.
Cloves are common in Indian, Thai, and Malaysian cuisine. Use cloves to replace caraway seeds in soups, sauces like béchamel, curries, stews, rice like Indian biryani, garam masala, mulled wine, cider, or chai. Mixing cloves with other spices like cinnamon and nutmeg creates a pumpkin pie blend for sweet desserts and drinks, like gingerbread cookies and eggnog.
Cloves have a powerful, overwhelming flavor, which is why many people choose to not use them in food and beverages. Use cloves sparingly in your meals when replacing caraway seeds by applying the 1:4 ratio. For example, use 1⁄4 tablespoon of cloves instead of 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
Rosemary is a decent substitute for caraway seeds when there is no other better replacement available. This herb has a citrusy and peppery flavor like caraway seeds as well as notes of mint, pine, and sage. The other way applies, too, since caraway seeds are a great alternative to rosemary.
Use rosemary to replace caraway seeds in roasts, stews, soups, vegetables, meats, fish, sauces, bread, and Italian seasoning. For example, add this herb to roasted potatoes, grilled chicken, salmon, vegetable soup, tomato sauce, pork loin, garlic bread, braised lamb shanks, garlic potato soup, or quinoa salad.
Both fresh and dried rosemary are suitable for cooking. The key difference between the two is that dried rosemary has a more potent flavor.
When using rosemary in place of caraway seeds, apply the 2:1 ratio. For example, use 2 tablespoons of rosemary to replace 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
Find out more useful information about caraway seeds.
What do caraway seeds look like?
Caraway seeds are small, dark brown, and slightly curved with ridges running down the length of them.
Can dogs eat caraway seeds?
Yes, it’s safe for dogs to eat caraway seeds. In fact, this can improve their digestive system.
Are caraway seeds good for you?
Yes, caraway seeds have many health benefits. They’re a rich source of Vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, niacin, and folate.
With so many alternatives to caraway seeds, you can easily find one that fits your preferences. Whether you want a flavor similar to caraway or something entirely different, there’s an option out there for you.
What’s your favorite substitute for caraway seeds? Share your thoughts in the comments below!