caraway seeds

Top 6 Flavorful Spices To Substitute Caraway Seeds

Though you may not actively use caraway seeds, you have had them before. These seeds are traditional in many European dishes, and they add a very specific flavor. However, there are times when finding caraway seeds can be hard. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that caraway seeds aren’t for everyone, as the flavor can be strong.

If they are included in your recipe though, the reason must be because they add aroma and flavor. That’s why knowing what alternatives to use can be key in making a tasty dish. 

What Are Caraway Seeds?

Let’s discuss what are caraway seeds first. 

Caraway seeds are the fruit of an herb in the parsley family. The seeds are usually dried, and they have a nutty aroma, but a strong licorice taste. It has been cultivated for centuries, thanks to its medicinal uses, such as aiding in digestion, as well as acting as an antibiotic. 

There is an essential oil present in caraway seeds, which is also responsible for the strong anise or licorice flavor. These seeds are essential in making rye bread, sausages, and sauerkraut. 

What Can I Replace Caraway Seeds With?

So now that you know this information, it’s time to talk about the substitutes for caraway seeds that work best:

#1. Anise Seeds

Because these seeds also have a strong licorice flavor and aroma, they are used in very similar dishes. These seeds are big, so they work best if added on baking goods, like bread and cookies.

You can use half the required amount if you choose to go with anise seeds, as the flavor is a bit stronger than caraway seeds. 

Buying anise seeds shouldn’t be a big problem, as you can usually find them in any grocery store or organic supermarket. Make sure you taste these first, as the flavor can be too strong for some.

#2. Dill Seeds

These dry seeds come from the dill weed, and they are widely used in European foods, such as cheese, bread, and meats.

The flavor is a bit less strong as caraway seeds, but it still has a licorice taste to it, as well as a citrus aroma. While finding these seeds may not be as easy as buying the herb, you can still try organic grocery stores. 

To use dill seeds in place of caraway seeds, make sure you use the same amount, but consider that the flavor may also change a bit because of the citrus scent. Keep in mind that dill seeds also have great anti-inflammatory and digestive properties.

#3. Fennel Seeds

These seeds are also part of the carrot family, as are caraway seeds and anise seeds. Fennel seeds also taste like licorice, though not as strong.

They are also commonly used in Italian dishes, such as Italian sausage and meatballs. You can find fennel seeds in any spice rack at any grocery store, but you can try the organic store as well.

Because they are strongly aromatic, these seeds go well in curry dishes, sauces, and stews. If you decide to substitute caraway seeds with this choice, use the same amount as the recipe indicates.

#4. Nigella Seeds

Also called black onion seeds, Nigella seeds are used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines.

However, they should be toasted or fried to release more aroma and flavor, which is similar to licorice too. You can find nigella seeds in organic stores, and some specialty stores, but they aren’t as easy to come by.

Nigella seeds can be added to stews, rye bread, meat dishes, and other baked goods. To substitute for caraway seeds, use the same amount, but remember to toast them first.

#5. Cumin

While this spice may seem out of place, the truth is that cumin has a strong peppery and citrus aroma, which can blend well instead of caraway seeds.

This choice is used in curry dishes, sauces, stews, and is now commonly found across the world, not just in traditional Indian or Middle Eastern dishes. 

You can find cumin in the spice section of any grocery store, but for more options check out your local farmer’s market.

If you choose to use cumin in place of caraway seeds, make sure you add ½ teaspoon for every one tablespoon of the seeds. You should always taste as you go and add more if needed. 

Also check these cumin substitutes you can use.

#6. Dried Oregano

Using dried oregano means adding a strong peppery aroma and pungent flavor to your meals, which is why it is common in Italian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern dishes. You can find dried oregano in most grocery stores but also try your organic supermarket.

To replace caraway seeds, we recommend you use half the recommended amount, as dried oregano can be too strong if used in excess. Make sure you try it first and reserve it for meat, sauces, stews, and some soups.


Are fennel and caraway seeds the same?

Fennel and caraway seeds are relatives and taste similar, but they are not the same. Fennel seeds are primarily licorice, and they are very large and dry. Caraway seeds have a hint of licorice, but they also taste like citrus and pepper.

What is the flavor of caraway seeds?

While it is hard to exactly describe the flavor, caraway seeds do taste like licorice, with an aroma of citrus and pepper. They can be toasted, and the flavor will be a bit nuttier. That’s why they are traditionally used in bread and baked goods.

Can I substitute celery seed for caraway seed?

Yes, caraway seeds can be used as a replacement for celery seed in many dishes. Some flavors are similar but make sure you taste the caraway seeds first to see if you like it. You can add caraway seeds in place of celery seeds to dishes like potato salad, coleslaw, and dips.


Even though caraway seeds seem to be common, they can be hard to find at times, and the flavor can change completely if you don’t find a similar option.

Try one of these substitutes, or mix them up, for a very flavorful final dish. Most of these are right near you, at a local grocery store!

caraway seeds substitute

*Photo by chasbrutlag/depositphotos

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