4 Substitutes For Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds are a popular ingredient to use in a variety of different dishes, from baking for loaves of bread to being used in desserts across the world.

They can even be used in liqueur production, they are so versatile.

4 Substitutes For Caraway Seeds

However, if you have suddenly run out of caraway seeds for a recipe that you’re making, or you are in an area where it is difficult to source caraway seeds for whatever reason, you may find yourself without a vital ingredient.

Don’t worry though. While caraway seeds do have a pretty distinct character, it is possible to find and use other ingredients to substitute for your needs.

In this guide, we are going to show you some of the best alternatives that you can use instead of caraway seeds, if necessary.

Profile Of Caraway Seeds

Before we go any further into this topic, we should probably first explain what qualities caraway seeds have that make them so useful. This way, you know what you should be looking for in a substitute.

Generally speaking, caraway seeds have the following qualities:

  • Caraway seeds, thanks to the oil inside them, often carry a subtle sweetness to them, not unlike licorice.
  • This type of seed also has a somewhat mild nutty bitterness to it, which helps offset the licorice flavor.
  • Hints of pepper can also be found in caraway seeds, as well as even citrus in some instances.

1. Fennel Seeds

When it comes to substitutes for caraway seeds, fennel seeds are generally considered to be some of the best substitutes that you can find out there.

With both plants and the seeds they produce being a part of the carrot family of vegetables, these comparisons do make a lot of sense.

Both seeds (which are technically the dried fruits of their respective plants) contain the compound anethole, which gives both of them their distinctive licorice-like subtle sweetness to them.

However, generally speaking, fennel is slightly sweeter to taste, as well as contains noticeably less bitterness than caraway seeds do.

Overall, this is a great substitute that you can rely on to produce a relatively sweeter result in whatever you are cooking.

2. Aniseed

Also known as anise seeds, these seeds are yet another member of the same family as carrots, which are known for containing a relatively sweet compound that gives them a licorice-like flavor to them.

Like fennel (see also ‘The Best 8 Fennel Substitutes‘) and caraway seeds, the ‘seeds’ are technical to the fruit of the plant that has just been dried out.

Because of their similarities, aniseed is often used as a great substitute for caraway, especially when it is used in recipes for desserts and liqueurs.

However, one important difference to note is that aniseed tend to be noticeably sweeter and more intense in their flavor than caraway seeds.

This has the result of aniseed not having the same subtle aromatic flavors that caraway seeds do.

However, if you’re looking for a sweeter seed to use, then aniseed is a great option.

3. Dill Seeds

Going in the opposite direction when it comes to flavors, dill seeds are also considered a suitable substitute for caraway seeds.

They have very similar tones when it comes to the subtle citrus flavor to them.

However, they also lack the more licorice undertones that caraway and the other options we have covered do, instead having a more grassy taste to them.

While you’ll probably struggle to use these to produce a sweet flavor in your recipes, they do still function very nicely as substitutes for more savory foods and meals that you may be preparing.

4. Nigella Seeds

This particular substitute has several names that have been given to it, including, black onions, chamushka, and kalonji.

This seed has been used in recipes for thousands of years and contains many of the same sweet licorice undertones that many of these other substitutes have.

These are a very popular substitute for caraways in recipes for foods like curries and stews, especially when they have been roasted before being put in a recipe.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of options available for you if you are looking to capture a similar taste to caraways, even if some of these replacements lean a little more towards sweet or savory flavors.

4 Substitutes For Caraway Seeds

4 Substitutes For Caraway Seeds

Recipe by Jenna

Fresh out of caraway seeds, and need to know if anything else in your pantry can substitute them? This guide has plenty of examples that you can use instead!

Course: Substitutes
5 from 1 vote


  • Fennel Seeds

  • Aniseed

  • Dill Seeds

  • Nigella Seeds


  • 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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