Caraway seed is a spice that is widely used in many different dishes from a diverse range of culinary cultures. 

Many European, Asian, and African delicacies are blessed with this unique spice’s exotic flavor. Polish sausages, sauerkraut, and Tunisian harissa are the most famous foods that feature the authentic taste of caraway

But at times people find the flavor of caraway too strong for their palate, or simply can’t find it in the local grocery shop. 

Finding out the right substitute is the way to go in cases like these. Caraway seed has some brilliant, easy-to-find substitutes that deliver accurate flavors and similar nutrients.

Here are the best caraway seed substitutes out there!

1.    Aniseeds

Aniseed comes closest to caraway seeds in terms of the flavor profile. As it has licorice notes similar to caraway seeds, aniseeds can work just fine in almost all the dishes that require caraway. Interestingly, aniseed also belongs to the carrot family. 

You can use aniseeds in bread and cookies instead of caraway without any doubt due to the abundant licorice flavor. Make sure to apply the right amount of anise if used as a substitute to caraway, as the former of the two is much stronger in flavor.

2.    Fennel Seeds

Like aniseeds, fennel seeds also belong to the carrot family and works just as fine as a caraway substitute. 

Many Italian, Indian, and Middle Eastern dishes consider fennel seeds as a regular spice. Dishes and curries that require caraway would taste just the same with fennel seeds as a substitute because it has strong licorice notes too


More importantly, the flavor in aniseeds is almost as strong as regular caraway. As a result, you won’t have to worry about ruining the taste of the dish by using a substitute.

3.  Cumin

Cumin is a quite popular spice on its own and can fit in as a caraway substitute. Being a bit different from caraway, cumin is not one of the best replacements when it comes to baking recipes. However, for stews and spicy curries, it is an excellent alternative to caraway.

For getting the best out of this spice, take some fresh cumin and roast properly before grinding. This power can be applied in soups, curries, stews, and other spicy recipes instead of caraway seeds. 

4.    Nigella Seeds

Nigella Seeds are also widely known as Charnushka, Kalonji, or Black Onion. This spice is being used in traditional cuisines since the ancient Egyptian age. Nigella seeds also deliver strong licorice notes just like anise, fennel, and caraway.

For getting the best out of nigella seeds, try to toast and fry the seeds carefully before adding them to your cooking. 

They work best as add-ons for stews and curries, but feel free to use them in bread such as Indian Naan or the Russian Rye! Nigella seeds also pair quite brilliantly with spices like thyme, coriander, and allspice.

5.    Star Anise

Star anise is an even stronger spice than regular anise, so you need to be very careful while using this spice as a substitute to caraway. If used too much, licorice notes the spice will most likely overpower all the other notes in the dish.


Regardless of the overwhelming strength of its flavor, star anise is a really good substitute to caraway when in intelligent cooks’ hands.

6.    Dill Seeds

The last entry into this list is another decorated member of the carrot family. Probably it’s not a substitute that can be used in every single dish containing caraway, but it’s just perfect for the lighter dishes like cream-based soups or cabbage recipes. 

As it’s not too strong, you’ll have to use it more in proportion compared to caraway seeds while applied as a substitute.

Final Thoughts

Finding an identical substitute for any spice is not that easy. Your best bet is to use alternatives that have similar flavor and properties. The entries into these lists might not be twin siblings of caraway seeds, but they sure can get the job done when caraway seeds are off-limits.

You can also try a combination of other spices to cover up the absence of caraway seeds. For instance, using a bit of cumin with mustard seeds tastes like cheesy cauliflower soup. Likewise, a combination of thyme, juniper berries, and celery seeds can easily replace caraway seeds in quite a few soups.

You can also do some experiments with different spices to figure out your own secret recipe. Just be sure to try only those spices that are rich in licorice notes

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