Top 5 Substitutes for Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds, or Shahi Jeera, as they are known popularly, are a constant presence in our spice cabinet. These seeds have a robust flavour with plenty of benefits. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of relishing Indian cuisines, then you are most definitely acquainted with their culinary influence. But, unfortunately, those who live in distant regions can not use it as generously.

So when my friend contacted me asking for a possible caraway seeds alternative, I had to do a few experiments. But the trial and error phase is over. And I have found some excellent substitutes for these flavorful seeds.

Now, continuing the tradition as we have been, let’s do a customary overview on Caraway seeds before we begin.

What are Caraway seeds?

Caraway seeds are cultivated from a Mediterranean plant, carraway. It is native to Asia and Northern and central Europe.

Caraway seeds taste sweet with a liquorice-like flavour that some define as minty or peppery. In addition, they have an anise scent. It is why many people use them to sweeten their breath.

Nutritional Value Per serving (1 tsp or 2 g)
Sodium 0.4 mg
Potassium 28 mg
Calcium 1.1 %
Iron 1.9 %

What are caraway seeds used for?

We have an endless list of all possible caraway seed uses. However, it is most commonly used for extracting oil and for cooking stews, meat, or potatoes. Moreover, it is also used for baking bread, biscuits and cakes etc.

Are caraway seeds good for you?

Yes, apart from their taste, caraway seeds are also very beneficial for human health. Let me stress on human health because you don’t want these seeds near your pet cat or dog. Some of the caraway seeds benefits are:

  • It helps relieve digestive disorders, such as heartburn, gas, and lack of appetite.
  • Cures constipation and bloating
  • It helps ease mild spasms of the stomach or intestines
  • Its oil helps people cough up phlegm
  • Improves urine control
  • kills bacteria in your body

Top 5 Substitutes for Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds have a distinct flavour. It lends your dish a refreshing aroma and taste. Now while these traits are special, they are not unique. So if you are wondering: what can I substitute for caraway seeds in cooking? Read on as this article will answer all your questions.

1. Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are easily the best substitute for caraway seeds I used. Although, the taste will not be precisely the same. Fennel seeds also possess the same notes of liquorice and essence. So it should be simple enough for you to get a similar feel. 

Even though it is not as potent as caraway seeds. Fennel seeds will add depth to your dish. This is why it makes a perfect substitute. You can also add fennel seeds as a substitute for caraway seeds in beef stew. It is also the best substitute for caraway seeds in Sauerkraut.

Sr. no Substitute Unit Sodium (mg) Potassium(mg) Calcium (%) Iron (%)
1 Fennel Seeds 1 tsp or 2 g 1.8 34 1.8 2.1
2 Dill Seeds 1 tsp or 2.1 g 0.4 25 2 2
3 Anise Seeds 1 tsp or 2 g 0.3 30 1 4.3
4 Nigella Seeds 1 tsp or 2 g 1.8 33.9 2 2
5 Star Anise (10 pods or 2 g) 0.3 29 1 4.1


2. Dill Seeds

Dill seeds are even milder than fennel seeds. And they are commonly used in eastern European recipes.

Dill seeds possess the same liquorice and essence. Thus, they have a similar flavour profile to caraway seeds. You can also use Dill seeds to replace caraway seeds if you do not like their sharp flavour. 

This is especially great when you are catering to picky eaters or children. Besides, dill seeds have a taste you can build on. So if you want to match the intensity of caraway seeds, keep adding until it is equally flavorful. Therefore, it is the best substitute for caraway seeds in soup.


3. Anise Seeds

Anise seeds make an excellent substitute for caraway seeds in rye bread.

However, you can also use it in cooking as per your taste. Anise seeds are very similar to caraway seeds and fennel seeds in taste and appearance. 

Although, people most commonly relate it with star anise. However, they do not have any relation whatsoever. Anise seeds are rather common, so you can easily buy them from any nearby store.

Anise seeds are known for their characteristic sweetness and distinct licorice zest. This caraway seed alternative has a similar aroma and flavor profile to licorice root, fennel, star anise, and caraway seeds.


4. Nigella Seeds

Nigella seeds are known by a lot of names, such as charnushka, black onion seeds, and kalonji. The use of this caraway seed substitute goes back to the time of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen. 

Furthermore, these seeds lend an undertone of licorice – the main reason why I put this ingredient on the list of substitutes for caraway seeds. It would be best to get the ideal results if you fry or toast them prior to use.

This caraway seed substitute is best, not only for dishes like stews or curries but also for different kinds of bread, including the aromatic Russian rye bread and Indian naans. In addition, Nigella seeds form a great pair with most household herbs and spices like coriander, parsley, thyme, and even allspice. 

As a replacement, you can replace nigella seeds for caraway in a 1:1 ratio.


5. Star Anise

Star anise is the final substitute for caraway seeds. The best thing about this substitute is that star anise is an excellent option when it comes to giving your meal an intense flavor. Unlike all of the other alternatives, you can rely on star anise to increase the intensity of your dish.

One of the most obvious tastes one registers in caraway seeds is its licorice. This quality is one of the biggest reasons why we love adding caraway seeds to our meal. Knowing star anise can replicate this quality is what makes it so important in the spice cabinet. 

This caraway seed alternative is a spice that possesses an almost overwhelming level of licorice. Therefore, you can ensure quite a bit of the desired licorice punch by adding it to your dish.

Star anise is a pretty unique spice in a number of ways. One of its most novel qualities is its shape. This caraway seed replacement has a star-like shape.

Regardless of how you incorporate the spice, stay assured that you will be adding quite a bit of licorice flavor to the meal. While this may or may not be your goal, you will still have to be extremely careful with how much you add it. Overly potent spices like star anise are prone to ruin the flavor of your dish with their overpowering flavor profiles.

Final Note

Because it is a lot easier to add spices than to take them out, remember that whenever you are cooking with intense spices, always make sure you taste the dish as you go. Ignoring this step will most likely result in a nasty and tummy upsetting meal for the entire family.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are cumin and caraway seeds the same?
Although they look similar, cumin and caraway seeds are not the same. Cumin is less bitter and has a coarser texture. Moreover, caraway seeds are slightly round while cumin is straight.
Is caraway seed a herb or spice?
Caraway is actually a dried fruit that we usually call a seed. It is a biennial herb from the parsley family. People often confuse it for a spice since it is usually placed in that section of the supermarkets.
Is onion seed called kalonji?
Yes! Kalonji belongs to the same family as black cumin and has a lot of names. It is known as onion seed, black onion seed, or black caraway in different regions of the world.
Can you use dill seeds in cooking?
Dill seeds are a versatile herb. We use it in plenty of dishes, including soups, fish, potato salad etc. Also, you can use dill seeds as a substitute for caraway seeds in dressing salads etc.

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