The Best 8 Fennel Substitutes

Fennel is a beautifully fragrant member of the carrot family, and this vegetable is a staple in many recipes.

But what if you don’t have fennel at hand? There are plenty of great fennel alternatives, such as celery, onion and dill.

Here are our most popular 8 fennel substitutes that are perfect for cooking.

Fennel Substitutes

Fennel has a distinctive flavor but if you don’t have any fennel for your recipe, then here are a few alternative ingredients.

1. Onion

One of the best fennel alternatives for cooked stews and soups is onion.

While fennel does add a special flavor to soups, you can easily work with onions.

If you have fennel seeds, then feel free to add a few of them in, together with the onions.

As a rule of thumb, you can use a medium to large onion as a substitute for one fennel bulb.

2. Celery

Instead of raw fennel, you can use celery. It may not have the same licorice flavor as fennel, but you can be sure that it has a similar crunch.

Slice the celery into thin slices for a salad or add it to your stew.

You can use up to 3 medium size celery sticks (see also ‘9 Celery Substitutes‘) as a replacement for one fennel bulb.

3. Leek

Another great cooked fennel substitute is leek. You can just chop up some leeks and put it into your soups for additional flavor.

If you find it a little bland, then it’s also a good idea to add a few fennel seeds.

You can replace one fennel bulb with one large leek (see also ‘The Very Best Substitutes To Use In Place Of Leeks‘).

4. Caraway Seeds

You may not always have fennel seeds available, so why not use caraway seeds (see also ‘4 Substitutes For Caraway Seeds‘)?

They have a very similar pepper taste to fennel seeds and they also have a mild licorice flavor.

That’s because both fennel and caraway belong to the carrot family.

You can just substitute fennel seeds and caraway seeds on a 1:1 ratio.

5. Anise Seeds

Anise seeds have a similar licorice taste to fennel but they are much stronger.

This means you should be using with half the amount of fennel seeds you would usually use.

It’s best to work carefully with anise seeds as they are so strong, and if you can use caraway seeds instead, then that’s best.

6. Bok Choy

Bok choy is a traditional, Chinese vegetable and it is often used for savory dishes.

Bok choy makes for an ideal fennel substitute because it has a very similar texture to fennel.

However, bok choy is more flavorful, so you will need to be careful with how much you add to your dish.

Bok choy, also known as white cabbage in China, can be added uncooked into different stir fries or soups.

You should use a pound of bok choy as a replacement for one pound of fennel.

7. Parsley

Although not as strong as fennel, parsley is one of the most available herbs and you can find it in almost any cupboard.

Make sure that when you use fresh parsley that you wash it, and then chop it into small pieces.

Fresh parsley is ideal for salad, and you just add a few chopped pieces to create a special flavor.

8. Artichoke Hearts

Artichoke hearts aren’t just a great fennel replacement but they are also extremely rich in antioxidants, making them a very healthy food.

You can bake, braise, boil or grill artichoke hearts but the best way to create the strong fennel flavor is to steam them gently.

Swap the same amount of fennel with artichoke hearts, and create a delicious dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There A Substitute For Ground Fennel?

You can use ground dill or dried dill as an excellent substitute for ground fennel and fennel seeds.

Both taste like anise and they will bring a vibrant flavor to every recipe.

What Is The Closest Herb To Fennel?

The herb closest to fennel in appearance as well as flavor is anise. Fennel has a strong anise taste, as they are both very similar.

The origins of the plants are equally close as they are members of the same vegetable family.

Is Fennel Similar To Caraway?

Fennel has a similar licorice flavor that you can also find in caraway.

However, fennel has a very distinctive flavor.

You can still substitute the same amount of fennel seeds with caraway seeds.

Final Thoughts

Fennel is a very popular herb that adds plenty odd special flavor to a dish, and even if you don’t have fennel, you can use any of the similar substitutes.

One of the best fennel substitutes is anise as they both taste and look very similar.

If you don’t have any fennel, then you can also use fennel seeds as an alternative for the whole plant. This will also add great flavor.

The Best 8 Fennel Substitutes

The Best 8 Fennel Substitutes

Recipe by Jenna

Fennel is a beautifully fragrant member of the carrot family. But what if you don’t have fennel at hand? Here are our most popular 8 fennel substitutes that are perfect for cooking.

Course: Substitutes
5 from 1 vote


  • Onion

  • Celery

  • Leek

  • Caraway Seeds

  • Anise Seeds

  • Bok Choy

  • Parsley

  • Artichoke Hearts


  • Decided on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy

Recipe Video

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