Caraway seeds are known for their complex flavor with a pleasant licorice note. It’s hard to leave out this spicy ingredient in recipes that require it. If you don’t have it in stock or are unable to procure it immediately, use a caraway seeds substitute that is easy to find and delivers somewhat of a similar flavor.
To your advantage, the substitutes that I bring to you in this article are very common spices. Most of them you might already have in your pantry or are easy to get.
What Are Caraway Seeds Anyway?
Caraway, the dried fruit, is commonly called the seed of Carum carvi, a biennial herb of the parsley family (Apiaceae, or Umbelliferae). It is an aromatic herb commonly used in European cooking.
The biennial caraway is scattered in the wild all over Europe and Asia. In many European countries, it is cultivated as an aromatic spice for flavoring dishes and as a medicinal ingredient.
Caraway fruits contain an essential oil (caraway seed oil) with mainly D-carvone and limonene; useful in making several herbal remedies. It’s commercially available as a drug that comes from farms in the Netherlands, Poland, and Egypt.
Use Of Caraway Seeds In Cooking
Caraway seed has a very unique aroma reminiscent of anise and a warm, somewhat sharp taste.
The aromatic caraway is a popular ingredient in many European, Asian, and African specialties. When used in sweet or savory dishes, it adds a complex flavor and depth to the final product.
Many chefs use it as a seasoning ingredient in bread, cheese, and meat dishes. You can’t imagine vegetable dishes like sauerkraut and coleslaw without a pinch of caraway in it.
Irish soda bread with caraway seeds is a popular type of bread in Ireland and England, especially during festive occasions like St. Patrick’s Day.
The Best Caraway Seeds Substitutes
If your recipe requires caraway seeds and you don’t have them, consider using any of the effective substitutes.
Note, how these alternatives work depends on the type of cuisine and how caraway is used.
Here are five good substitutes for caraway seeds:
Both anise and caraway seeds add a licorice note to your dishes. In addition, they both belong to the carrot family of plants.
Because of their very close similarity, anise seed is perhaps the best replacement for caraway seeds.
It works exceptionally well in bread and cookies recipes in place of caraway.
However, anise has a stronger licorice flavor than caraway. Thus use it in less quantity; about half a teaspoon of anise seeds may be enough to replace one teaspoon of caraway seeds.
Using anise seeds in recipes is a better option as it doesn’t turn bitter after high-heat baking, unlike caraway seeds.
Another worthy substitute for caraway seeds is fennel seeds as they both belong to the carrot family. In fact, Caraway is also known as meridian fennel.
There is no doubt that fennel and caraway can be used interchangeably with a subtle difference in flavor detectable to some extent. So basically, if you’re in a pinch, go for it.
The licorice flavor of fennel seeds is stronger than that of caraway. So for this reason, you may require to use only less quantity of fennel seeds to replace the caraway seeds. Some enjoy the strong flavor of fennel seeds and prefer to use them in the same quantity as caraway seeds.
When using fennel seeds as a substitute for caraway, it works best in stews, curries, and other gravy dishes.
Nigella seeds, used as spice and condiments, are an important ingredient in several Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Usually, dry-roasted nigella seeds add a smoky, nutty, and licorice-like flavor to curries, vegetables, and beans.
Nigella is also known in other names like kalonji, charnushka, or black onion in the Indian subcontinent. Some call it black caraway or black cumin.
It is a fine alternative to caraway seeds for the licorice note it renders to your dishes.
Kalonji seeds are a fantastic addition to gravy dishes such as curries and stews.
As a substitute, use it in a 1:1 ratio in place of caraway seeds.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a herb that’s found in many European and Asian cuisines. Like the caraway, it belongs to the carrot family of plants.
The taste of dill seed is crisp and slightly pungent with an aromatic flavor that is similar to caraway. The licorice flavor of dill seeds is a spicy addition to bread, soups, vegetable dishes, and pickles.
Just like the caraway, it goes well into gravy dishes like curries, stews, and cream-based soups. You shouldn’t miss out on dill seeds when you are preparing cabbage recipes.
So if you’re in search of a good caraway seeds substitute, dill seeds are a fine choice for you. Use it in the same quantity as you use the caraway seeds in your recipe.
The flavor of star anise, which is contained in both the seeds and the star itself, is very sweet and licorice-like, similar to aniseed and caraway seeds.
However, it is has a stronger flavor than caraway. Use it in a minimal amount or else the licorice note of star anise can overpower the flavor profile of your dish.
While using star anise in place of caraway seeds, use only less than half the portion of the caraway seeds required for your recipe.
The Bottom Line
So these are some of the best substitutes for caraway seeds I’ve found. Using any of these substitutes must comply with the overall flavor profile of your recipe.
In cooking, always start using a substitute in lesser quantity and if required add more towards the end of your cooking. Trial and error is the thump rule to follow while substituting an ingredient.
Related Stories About Spices:
- What is a good replacement for cumin?
- What can I use in place of carom seeds?
- Can I use caraway seeds as a substitute for juniper berries?