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18 Easy Star Anise Substitutes That You Should Use Once In A While

Star anise is a spice that acts as a natural antidepressant. However, it is not always easy to find in the grocery store. So here is a list of 6 great alternatives for star anise that you can use to satisfy your recipe needs. They’re both easily found and relatively inexpensive.

Star anise substitutes have a more pungent and more licorice-like herb taste making them well-suited for dishes like soups and stews with other ingredients that can complement the flavor. So, what are some of the options you can use? 

Quick Table: Star Anise Substitutes

Cassia Cinnamon6.42
Mace (Also Known As “Nutmeg”)8.1
Caraway Seeds7
Ceylon Cinnamon6
Ground Fennel Seeds20
Black Peppercorns6
Red Chili Peppers40
Anise Seeds337
Fennel Seeds31
Cassia Bark Powder250
Anise Extract0
Licorice Root350
Licorice Liqueur700
Chinese Five-Spice295

Substitutes For Star Anise

Here’s a list of some substitutes that you can use for this fragrant spice:

1. Allspice

Allspice is a very close substitute for star anise. It’s very easy to find, and you can use it in anything from your desserts to your sweet and savory dishes. The flavor is strong, so only a little is needed per recipe.

The leaves also make a tasty tea, and the seed oil has a rich aroma that can be used for aromatherapy. Allspice is a great natural replacement for star anise if you’re looking for something with unique flavor notes but not too intense in taste.

How To Substitute

Use 1 tsp. of allspice per 1 Tbsp. of star anise, used in the recipe.

2. Cassia Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a strong and flavorful spice with a fantastic fragrance that can be used in many dishes. It’s easily found and can be used anywhere from entrées to your desserts and drinks.

This spice has its unique taste, but if you’re trying to replace star anise products or recipes from other food preparation methods, then cinnamon might work (especially if you’re looking for a subtle flavor change but don’t want to give up the flavor overall).

How To Substitute

Use ¼ tsp. of cinnamon used in the recipe.

3. Cloves

Cloves are little gems of flavor that have been used since ancient times as a natural alternative to the star anise you can cook with.

They’re very easy to find and are an excellent way to spice up your food without just adding another strong flavor like cinnamon or nutmeg.

They’re best when added to your desserts, but they also make a wonderful addition to your savory dishes. If you’re looking for something perfect for Asian dishes, then cloves are a great alternative to star anise.

How To Substitute

Use ¼ tsp. of cloves used in the recipe.

4. Mace (Also Known As “Nutmeg”)

Mace is a spice that is often used in some of the same flavors as cinnamon, but it also has a unique taste that you won’t be able to find in cinnamon.

It’s earthy and has a strong aroma that makes it perfect for desserts and other savory dishes where you want more flavor than just a cinnamon-type flavor could provide. However, it’s a strong spice, so you don’t want to use too much in any given recipe.

How To Substitute

Use ¼ tsp. of mace used in the recipe.

5. Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds are flowers that are often used as a garnish on top of foods, but they’re also used for cooking and baking in many similar ways to other ingredients, such as other seeds and nuts.

They’re entirely different from star anise, but they can be used in similar ways. If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy your recipes, then caraway seeds could be just what you need to change up your routine!

How To Substitute

Use ¼ tsp. dried caraway seeds, used in the recipe.

6. Ceylon Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the most versatile spices out there. It has been used since ancient times, and its popularity has never wavered since then. It’s a spice that is commonly used to flavor many food dishes, including cinnamon rolls, crème brûlée, pancakes, and apple pie.

How To Substitute

Add 2 tsp. of cinnamon, used in the recipe.

7. Ground Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds can be used as a substitute for star anise because the flavors are very similar, though not identical. Ground fennel seeds are great for use in a variety of recipes. They are used as a spice but can also be used to thicken soups and stews.

Fennel seeds are small, oval-shaped seeds that come from the flower of the Mediterranean herb fennel. Sometimes they are called “sweet cumin.” Fennel is a biennial plant that grows up to six feet tall.

The seeds can be stored for up to 6 months and ground just before use. Fennel seed is used as an aromatic in Indian curry dishes and is sometimes found in Italian sausages and pickles.

How To Substitute

To substitute 1 teaspoon of ground fennel seed per 8 crushed whole stars, add 0.25 of a teaspoon more to compensate for the difference between fresh and dry spices.

8. Black Peppercorns

Peppercorns are the dried fruit of a tropical shrub that grows in several parts of the world. This group includes black pepper, green pepper, red chili peppers, and white pepper (they can be used interchangeably in recipes).

They’re very common in cuisines around the world because they add a nice kick of flavor while being very versatile and affordable.

How To Substitute

You can substitute up to half of your star anise with ground black peppercorns. However, don’t go beyond that unless you want your dish to be too spicy to suit your tastes. You can find whole peppercorns at most stores and grind them yourself with a mortar and pestle or your favorite grinder.

9. Red Chili Peppers 

Red chili peppers are used to make chili powder that’s popular for adding flavor to dishes such as stews, soups, and tacos. The red pepper fruit is harvested when ripe, then dried and ground into powder.

To substitute star anise in your recipe, you just need to replace the latter with the former, but remember that the two ingredients taste very different. Red chili peppers have a very distinct, slightly spicy taste, and they have a spicier aroma than star anise.

How To Substitute

You can substitute up to half of your star anise with red chili peppers.

10. Cumin 

Cumin is one of the most popular spices in the world, and it’s perfect for enhancing the flavor of dishes in Mexican, Indian and Mediterranean cuisines.

It has a warm, earthy taste that enhances the flavor of any dish you cook. When you can’t use star anise, cumin can be the best option to go for.  

You can also use cumin instead of allspice to make mulled wine and punch bowls; it will still taste delicious. Cumin is the seed of a tropical plant that grows in several parts of the world.

Ground cumin is usually used as a spice in cooking sauces, seasonings, soups, and stews, whereas whole seeds are used for pickling vegetables such as cucumbers.

How To Substitute

If you’re using the whole seeds, substitute up to half of your star anise with ground cumin.

11. Oregano

Oregano is a world-renowned herb with a long history of culinary use. It’s sometimes used as an antiseptic and has some medicinal properties, but the main purpose of its usage is to impart flavor and aroma to dishes.

Oregano is one of the most popular herbs in Italian, Spanish, and Greek dishes, so it’s perfect to use if you don’t have any star anise at home.

You can also use oregano instead of allspice if you have no other alternatives on hand. You can also try using oregano in place of basil in dishes that call for basil.

How To Substitute

If you’re adding oregano to Italian, Spanish, or Greek dishes, substitute up to half of your star anise with fresh oregano leaves.

12. Anise Seeds

Regarding star anise, anise seeds are one of the popular choices. Although the appearance and taste of star anise and anise seeds are entirely different, anise seeds still make the perfect substitute.

Anise seeds are a competitive price, too, and work great in baked recipes. Anise seeds are sweet, spicy, and aromatic in taste, which significantly enhances the flavor of your recipe.

How To Substitute

Replace star anise with anise seeds in a 3:4 ratio. However, it would be best if you tasted it to match the taste you are trying to acquire.

13. Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are another essential ingredient for Chinese five spice, and it is one of the best substitutes for star anise. 

Fennel seeds have a similar flavor to licorice. With a sweet and pungent taste, the fennel seeds will do great. However, various recipes call for star anise, and fennel seeds will substitute it perfectly.

Use fennel seeds in pasta, soups, and many other dishes.

How To Substitute

For one teaspoon of star anise, use ¼ teaspoon of fennel seeds.

14. Cassia Bark Powder

Cassia bark powder is a form of cinnamon that is typically used in Chinese cuisine. Therefore, it is sometimes known as Chinese cinnamon or cinnamon bark. It is often preferred over other types of cinnamon because it has a more delicate flavor and aroma.

It would help if you tried substituting star anise with cassia bark powder in various recipes, but they will work exceptionally in meat-based foods. The cassia bark powder contains medicinal properties, too, and helps with stomach and headaches.

How To Substitute

Use cassia bark powder to replace star anise equally.

15. Anise Extract

You may use anise extract to substitute for star anise. It is easily available in most spice stores. It comes with a robust licorice-like flavor and aroma.

It is usually used in baked goods, such as cookies, bread, and pastries, to add flavor and a slightly bitter, licorice-like taste.

How To Substitute

Use two teaspoons of anise extract to replace one teaspoon of star anise.

16. Licorice Root Powder

Star anise is an essential ingredient in many dishes and is usually used to flavor meat, vegetables, and soups. However, it can be challenging to find and can be pricey. In this case, you may use licorice root to substitute star anise.

You may use licorice root powder in a variety of dishes, and it is much cheaper. For example, if your recipe calls for star anise, you can use licorice root, and you will get a delicious outcome.

How To Substitute

If you are new to this substitution, use a half teaspoon of licorice root powder to replace one teaspoon of star anise and increase the quantity per recipe.

17. Licorice Liqueur

Licorice liqueur has a similar flavor to anise seeds, making it a great alternative to star anise. So when you are cooking, substitute star anise with licorice liqueur. Licorice liqueur has a sweet taste that will make any dish taste better.

Although, choose your licorice liqueur wisely since not every licorice liqueur will have the anise seeds flavor and might differ the taste.

How To Substitute

Use licorice liqueur in half quantity, then it calls for star anise, and add more if you don’t get the desired taste.

18. Chinese Five-Spice

Regarding substitute star anise, the Chinese five-spice is a must-try. Since star anise is one of the ingredients used in preparing the Chinese-five spices, you must try it in your recipe.

The Chinese five-spices will give you a spicy and sweet flavor with the warm flavor that star anise contains. The Chinese five spices will do great in braising or meat-based recipes.

Especially if you are preparing a Chinese dish, then it must have ingredients.

How To Substitute

Use ½ teaspoon of Chinese five spice to replace one teaspoon of star anise.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Effects Of Star Anise Substitutes?

A common substitute for star anise would be cinnamon. More specifically, cinnamon can decrease blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. It is also a great antioxidant and has been used to treat many different health conditions.

Cinnamon can also help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels, which is why it’s such a great substitute for star anise.

However, please note that while cinnamon can have some benefits, it should not be taken as your only source of health care if you are experiencing severe health complications like diabetes or high blood pressure. Cinnamon can be very dangerous in overdose.

What Is Star Anise?

Star anise is a spice with a flavor similar to licorice or anise with strong undertones of cinnamon. It is used in cooking as well as for medicinal purposes. The spice looks similar to elongated cloves and features prominently in Chinese five-spice powder.

Where Does Star Anise Come From?

Star anise is native to southern China, especially the Fujian region. The spice has been used in the south of the country for over a thousand years. It is also grown in Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam and is used in those countries as well as in Europe and America.

What Are The “Alternative” Forms Of Star Anise Substitutes?

Alternative forms of anise include extract, roasted and herbed, roasted and savory, and roasted and sturdy. The main difference between the alternatives and star anise is that some contain actual anise seeds.

For example, the alternative to anise seeds contains actual seeds that have been cultivated to resemble anise seed qualities.

So, in this case, there would be no need to use a mortar and pestle as you would with anise seed. The main advantage of using spice like this is that you can use a spice grinder if it contains actual seeds rather than just the flavoring oil (e.g., “Coriander seed”).

Are Star Anise Substitutes Gluten-Free?

Yes. Many substitute products are low in, or completely free of, gluten. An entire aisle at most grocery stores is dedicated to gluten-free and vegan products nowadays.

“Poppy seed” is another commonly used substitute for anise seed and will work as a spice as anise powder would.

What Are The Active Compounds Of Star Anise?

The main active compound of anise is p-anisaldehyde. Anisaldehyde has a burning sensation in the stomach and can cause nausea and stomach upset. This chemical may have some analgesic properties as well.

Another chemical, nerolidol, has also been found in star anise and may help with inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

As per Medline, “Anise (Pimpinella anisum) contains 2-phenyl ethanol, which is believed to be responsible for the pain-killing properties of Star Anise.

18 Easy Star Anise Substitutes To Use

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A good substitute for star anise is one with a flavor profile similar to that of the original spice.


  • Allspice

  • Cassia Cinnamon

  • Cloves

  • Mace (Also Known As “Nutmeg”)

  • Caraway Seeds

  • Ceylon Cinnamon

  • Ground Fennel Seeds

  • Black Peppercorns

  • Red Chili Peppers 

  • Cumin 

  • Oregano

  • Anise Seeds

  • Fennel Seeds

  • Cassia Bark Powder

  • Anise Extract

  • Licorice Root Powder

  • Licorice Liqueur

  • Chinese Five-Spice


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith