Fennel is without a doubt a very versatile ingredient that gives a special flavor to our meals.
It is also known as sweet anise and is used both as a spice and as a vegetable. This ingredient is very popular among Italian and French cuisines.
In case you still didn’t know what fennel is but you have found it in the middle of a recipe, don’t lose hope as we will explain it to you.
Fennel is a perennial herb of the carrot family that has feathery leaves. Some varieties of this herb have a large fennel bulb which is what is used as a vegetable.
The best-known part of this plant is its seeds, which you can grind or add as a whole to culinary dishes.
Fennel has a mild, sweet flavor similar to licorice. This is possible because it has an active ingredient called estragole. Estragole is what gives licorice flavor.
This distinctive flavor can make it hard for you to perfectly imitate the effects of this herb but don’t worry, several fennel substitutes can help you complete your recipe.
As mentioned above, fennel is used as a vegetable or as a spice and your recipe may need one or the other.
But don’t worry, you will never be in a rush again because here we will tell you the substitutes for its two versions.
Are you making a salad, stir-fried vegetables or maybe a soup? Then, keep reading!
Celery is considered by many to be the best option when it comes to replacing fennel.
It has a very similar texture. It would be ideal to use it if what you are looking for is simply having the same texture without the particular flavor of fennel.
#2. Bok Choy
Bok choy is a very healthy option. It has vitamins C, A, and K, as well as excellent sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and iron.
It has a slightly stronger flavor than fennel but a very similar texture.
The onion has a shape that reminds us of the fennel bulb. It is a very cheap option and easy to get from supermarkets.
The advantages of this substitute are the following:
- It has a similar texture.
- It can offer you the sweet aroma that you were looking for when cooked.
- You can choose between a white onion and a red onion.
Leek is a plant native to Europe and Western Asia.
It is not the best option that most replaces fennel but it can save you from a hurry. It is a very good choice for soup recipes.
The preparation may take a little longer but when the leek is cooked it will give your dish a sweet flavor.
Do you want to marinate meat or make a dish with fish?
#5. Anise seeds
If what you want to replace are fennel seeds, this alternative will be your best ally.
Anise seed is the best option to double the flavor of fennel, as it has an active ingredient called anethole, as well as small amounts of estragole that gives fennel its unique flavor.
Like fennel, anise seeds can be added whole or ground on a plate as a substitute.
#6. Licorice root
This substitute can be a little more difficult to find but it tastes very similar.
Licorice root is characterized by having a high concentration of atenolol. The trick is to make sure you only use a small number of roots, as its flavor is very powerful and could spoil the recipe.
#7. Caraway seeds
Perhaps it is the first time for you to hear the name of this spice. The truth is, caraway is not well-known but you can give it a try.
The caraway plant is closely related to fennel and although they don’t have the same active ingredients, both seeds share a very similar aroma.
The good thing is that you can use it in sweet and salty dishes, providing a very charismatic flavor.
The only negative thing is that it is not usually sold in supermarkets, instead, you can easily find it in spice shops and among herbalists.
If you want to use it as a substitute for fennel, you can use it in equal portions.
#8. Dill seeds
Dill is an aromatic herb with multiple uses that you should have in the kitchen.
To give you an idea, it is made up of 86% water, and a source of protein, carbohydrates, fiber and has a low percentage of fat.
It has many health benefits, so it’s not a bad idea to use it as a substitute for fennel.
If you decide on using this alternative, you have to take into account that dill seeds have a milder flavor than fennel. You must add more than the amount indicated in the recipe.
In addition, you can also use dill seeds to make natural infusions.
What do you think of these fennel substitutes? Do you have a star recipe with this ingredient? Share it with us in the comments!
If you are looking for inspiration, we leave you a super simple and very quick recipe that you can make with our substitutes.
Fennel Orange Salad
Cut fennel into thin slices and combine with chopped orange slices. Drizzle with olive oil and one tablespoon each of lemon and orange juice. Season with salt to taste and add toasted pecans or walnuts.