Best Star Anise Substitute in 2021
Star Anise is a kind of common spice that has been used for centuries in Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. It is also known as Dong Quai or chu-tze. The name “star” comes from the shape of its seeds which resemble stars when viewed under magnification.
Natural anise can be found at most grocery stores. Some are sold as star anise pods or ground anise seeds, but they may not always be fresh, so you should check to ensure it has not gone bad before using them. Otherwise, you can look for a good substitute for it. As such, we have listed down the best Star Anise substitute for your reference. Please read it below and know how each substitute affects the flavor of your food.
What Are The Best Substitutes For Star Anise
Common anise is usually used in many foods. This Chinese spice is a common ingredient in soups, stews, sauces, desserts, savory dishes, etc. It originates from an evergreen tree (Illicium verum) that has a licorice flavor. We looked for the close flavor of different spices that you can use as a substitute. Here are them:
1. Fennel Seed
Fennel seed is a very close alternative to star anise because they both come from the same plant family. They do, however, taste slightly different. You will notice that fennel has a sweeter flavor, with licorice taste than star anise. Meanwhile, star anise tends to be more pungent. However, if you want to try out this substitution, then go ahead with it. Just remember that there might be some slight differences between these two flavors. You should use at least 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds per 1 whole star anise. Fennel seed can be used in various dishes like salads, curries, fish, and soup. It contains fewer calories compared to other spices. This makes it one of our favorite substitutes for star anise.
In addition, fennel seeds are used for digestive issues such as indigestion, gas, bloating, and constipation. They also help with weight loss, and they are great for skin care. Fennel seeds contain essential oils that help cleanse the liver and kidneys, and they are known to be effective against colds and flu.
2. Chinese Five Spice Powder
Chinese five-spice powder is another excellent alternative for star anise. Like fennel, it also belongs to the same botanical family of evergreen trees. In fact, it is even closer to star anise since it shares similar properties, such as being sweet, spicy, and aromatic. If you do not mind having less sweetness in your dish, then you could definitely give this a shot. But if you prefer something stronger, then stick with the original recipe.
You can use the Chinese five-spice powder in chicken, seafood, and pork. When using this, pour at least 1 1/2 teaspoon per 2 teaspoons of ground star anise in your recipe.
3. Anise Seeds
Anise seeds are also a common substitute for star anise. These seeds belong to the same genus as star anise. Although they share similarities, they still differ in their aroma and flavor. Unlike star anise, anise seeds tend to smell much better. Also, they are often sold dried rather than ground into powder form. They are also used as sweeteners or flavor enhancers in pastries and drinks. So, if you cannot find any star anise, then you can just buy anise seeds instead. That being said, you can use 1/2 teaspoon of anise seeds for every 1 whole star anise.
Anise seeds have some good health benefits in the body like helping digestion, relieving stomach pain, reducing inflammation, improving blood circulation, and boosting energy levels. They also improve skin health by removing toxins and excess oil buildup on the face. So, if you suffer from acne problems, then you may want to consider adding anise seeds to your diet.
4. Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds are a popular spice that has been around for centuries. The caraway plant grows well in temperate climates all over Europe and Asia. Its leaves look somewhat like parsley’s but its flowers resemble dills. Caraway seeds are commonly found in pickles, sauerkraut, bread, cheese spreads, soups, stews, meatballs, and sauces. The best part about caraway seeds is that they are extremely versatile, hence, it is always used as a substitute for star anise. It gives a flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, peppermint, ginger, and cardamom.
When substituting caraway seeds, the most important thing is to make sure that you add enough amount of them so that the overall flavor remains intact. A half teaspoon of this is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of star anise. For instance, if you were making a stew, then you would need to double up the number of caraway seeds added. On top of that, you must ensure that you grind the seeds before adding them to the food. This will make the flavors blend together more effectively. You should only cook with freshly ground spices because old ones lose their potency quickly.
Allspice is one of everyone’s substitutes for star anise. It is composed of Szechuan peppercorns, star anise, clove, cassia bark powder, and fennel seeds. It smells and tastes really good! It is very close to star anise in terms of taste and scent. However, unlike star anise which comes from China, allspice originates from Jamaica. It was first introduced to European markets during the 17th century. Today, this common ground spice found in your spice rack is widely available throughout supermarkets and grocery stores. It is usually packaged in small glass jars containing brownish-red berries.
When using this as a substitute for star anise, you should be careful not to overcook it with a 1:1 ratio. If cooked too long, it loses its strong flavor. To avoid this problem, try cooking it at medium heat until slightly charred. From that, remove it from the stove and let it cool down completely. Once cooled off, store it in airtight containers away from direct sunlight.
6. Ground Cloves
Ground cloves are another option when substituting star anise flavor. It has a distinct flavor similar to vanilla bean extract. Like other spices, ground cloves come in different forms such as powders, granules, and even liquids. When buying these products, check out what kind of quality they offer. Some brands sell cheap versions while others provide high-quality extracts.
To get started, simply measure how many teaspoons of ground cloves you require per serving size. In case you do not know how much star anise you are going to use, just follow the 1:1 ratio into the recipe That way, you will end up getting the right quantity of cloves without having to guess.
Sambuca is also known as Campari or Amaro. It is an Italian liquor made by distilling wine with anise seeds. Although sambuca can be bought online, there are some local shops where you can buy it directly. It has a stronger flavor, giving a sweet, licorice-like flavor to the food. This alternative only requires a little amount, especially when used in beef stew or soup. Take note that it has a sweet flavor like wine with an alcohol percentage that warms up your throat when poured too much.
What is the flavor of star anise?
Star anise is a Chinese herb that resembles cinnamon sticks but looks like a star. The flavor of Chinese star anise is reminiscent of clove, nutmeg, and cardamom. Its color ranges between yellow and orange depending on the variety. You can buy several types of this such as, star anise extract, anise seed essential oil, star anise pod, star anise seeds, or ground star anise.
You can also get japanese star anise and these tend to have a more pungent licorice flavor . Especially if it is a star anise seed.
It also works well when added with tarragon and soy sauce.
What to consider when choosing the best substitute for star anise?
There are various options when replacing star anise. Other than the famous star anise substitutes listed above, you can also opt to have black pepper, bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon powder, paprika, saffron, thyme, turmeric, and white peppercorns. Each type offers unique characteristics that complement each dish differently. Here are the things to consider when choosing the suitable star anise substitutes:
- Flavor – Is the replacement flavorful enough? Does it have the same smell and flavor as star anise?
- Texture – How does the substitution affect the texture? For example, if you add more than half of the original ingredient, then you might need to adjust the consistency of the dish accordingly.
- Cost – Are the ingredients affordable? Do they cost less compared to purchasing star anise? But if you can afford some expensive spices for alternatives, then go for it.
Can I substitute ground anise for star anise?
Yes! Ground anise is one of the most common alternatives because it is easy to prepare and store. However, keep in mind that its flavor profile differs from star anise. If you plan to make a stew or soup, then using ground anise would work well. But if you prefer baking, then stick to star anise.
What are the benefits of star anise?
The health benefits of star anise are numerous. Some studies suggest that it helps lower cholesterol levels while others claim that it reduces blood pressure. There are even claims about its ability to prevent cancer. These findings were based on animal tests conducted over the years. It needs more research to be done before we can confirm these results. Nevertheless, it is still worth trying out since it contains antioxidants that help fight off free radicals.