16 Best Chinese Five Spice Substitute To Try!

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The most common seasoning used in Asian cuisines is – Chinese five spices! If you are still looking for Chinese five spice at your nearest outlet, I have got you some of the best substitutes. 


Some of the best and closest Chinese five-spice substitutes are garam masala, star anise, cinnamon, and allspice. Mix garam masala with star anise or dill weed and cinnamon sticks. 

Chinese five spice is made by mixing star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan (Szechuan) peppercorns, and fennel seeds. It is an Asian seasoning that is used to marinate meats and fish. 

The seasoning is used to enhance the flavor of the dish. You can easily make Chinese five-spice seasoning at home if you have all the required ingredients, or try their possible substitutes. 

Let’s dig in without further stretch and try all the possible Chinese five-spice substitutes you can find at home. 

16 Best Chinese five spice Substitutes!

Here is a list of Chinese five spice substitutes that you can use instead.

1. Garam Masala

Garam masala

Garam masala is a magic seasoning that is popularly used in Indian cuisines. The flavors of garam masala are so tremendous and authentic that they are used in the USA and are readily available in supermarkets. 

Why garam masala? Simply because garam masala and Chinese five spice have the same flavors. They have some common ingredients, like fennel, cinnamon, and cloves.

Although garam masala also has caraway seeds and cardamom, it stands out from the five Chinese spices. You may miss the licorice flavor as there is no star anise in garam masala. 

However, you can easily substitute garam masala for Chinese five spice in a ratio of 1:1. If you have not tried garam masala before, it is suggested that you add a small amount at the start and gradually increase it as per your taste preference. 

2. Garam Masala + Star Anise

Garam masala

Above, we have discussed how garam masala is an excellent Chinese five-spice substitute. We also noted that garam masala and five Chinese spices have some common ingredients. 

However, the star anise is missing from the garam masala, and in case you want the licorice flavor, add the star anise along with the garam masala, and you are done. 

Go for ¼ teaspoons of star anise with ¾ of garam masala and substitute them for Chinese five spice in a ratio of 1:1. 

3. Star Anise

Star anise

If you are out of Chinese five spice and explicitly looking for the licorice flavor in the dish, then star anise is your match. Star anise is said to be the star ingredient in Chinese five spices. 

Many prefer to avoid star anise as it easily overpowers the dish’s flavors. That is why using star anise in smaller quantities is always suggested. 

The star-shaped spice has a sweet note as well. It would help if you did not confuse star anise with anise seeds, as it is milder in flavor. 

You can use the powdered star anise in place of Chinese five spice or add the pods to the soups or stews, and you are good to go!

4. Cinnamon


Cinnamon is another great spice that is added to the Chinese five herbs. Cinnamon brings warmness and sweet flavors to the seasoning. Now, if you only have some cinnamon, you can add it to your dish in place of Chinese five spice.

 You may miss the other flavor but enjoy the sweet notes of cinnamon. You can use the powdered cinnamon or add the sticks to any dish and let it leave its flavor. Start with a lesser quantity, and you can adjust according to your taste buds. 

5. Cinnamon, Black Pepper & Star Anise

Cinnamon, Black Pepper & Star Anise

Let’s upgrade the game of the Chinese five-spice substitute. If you have some cinnamon, black pepper, and star anise, you probably can mimic the flavors of the Chinese five spices in the dish.

 We all know that cinnamon and star anise is one of the main ingredients in Chinese five-spice seasoning. Adding some black pepper can add slight spiciness to the dish. 

This blend of three spices will differ from the Chinese five spices but will work well for you. You can ⅓ rd of each herb and substitute it for five Chinese spices in equal amounts. 

6. Chinese Cinnamon (Cassia)


What’s better than regular cinnamon – Chinese cinnamon? Try adding Chinese cinnamon, also known as cassia. 

The difference between regular cinnamon and Chinese cinnamon is the color and texture. Cassia has a dark brown color with a thicker stick and more rough texture when compared to cinnamon. 

Enjoy the flavor of ½ teaspoon of cassia or Chinese cinnamon in your dish.

7. Fennel Seeds 

fennel seeds

Fennel seeds are one of the five Chinese spices, and in case you are out of the seasoning, you know what to do. 

Add some tablespoons of fennel seeds, and you can enjoy their warmth. Fennel seeds can be added to soups and stews in half the quantity of five Chinese spices. Add only if you are out of all the other ingredients.

8. Sichuan Peppercorn

Sichuan peppercorn

Another ingredient in Chinese five seasoning is Sichuan peppercorns; if you have some of it, add it to your dish. 

This spice will help you to get the peppery note in the dish. You may add some cinnamon and cloves to add a similar flavor to the Chinese five spices. 

Go for small amounts of Sichuan peppercorns, as they are strong and may overpower the dish’s overall flavor. 

9. Sichuan Peppercorn and Fennel Seeds

Now if fennel seeds are not enough for your dish and you have some Sichuan Peppercorn, why not add some?

 As we know, fennel seeds and Sichuan Peppercorn are ingredients in Chinese five spices. The combination will resemble some of the flavors of Chinese five spices. 

Grind the Sichuan peppercorn and fennel seeds and substitute them for Chinese five spice in a ratio of 1:1. 

10. Baharat


If I say to substitute Chinese five spice with baharat, you might wonder what exactly it is. Baharat is a Lebanese spice, and there are fewer chances you might have it at home. 

If you are fond of Lebanese cuisine and have some baharat, you can easily substitute it with Chinese five spices. Baharat is a blend of 7 spices. Most combinations of baharat have cinnamon, ginger, allspice, black peppercorns, and cloves. 

The other two spices include cardamom, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, fenugreek, or mahlab. As some of the spices are the same as the Chinese five spices, adding a little star anise can do magic for you.

Substitute baharat with five Chinese herbs in proportionately and enjoy your flavorful dish. 

11. Cloves


Cloves are responsible for bringing a refreshing and cooling sensation to your dish, which is why it is one of the key ingredients in Chinese five spice.

You can add cloves to your dish if you don’t have five Chinese herbs. 2 to 3 cloves are enough to add flavor to the recipe. Please don’t go crazy while adding cloves, as it may spoil the other flavors in the dish.  

12. Dill Weed and Cinnamon Sticks

Dill weed

We all know that dill is a great herb, and if you add it with some cinnamon stocks, it can do wonders. Dill weed has a similar flavor as star anise, whereas cinnamon is already a part of the Chinese five spices.

Therefore, the combination is top-notch. You can add depth to your dish through this combination.

 Go for ½ teaspoon of dill weed and one stick of cinnamon and substitute the combination with Chinese five bars in a ratio of 1:1. 

13. Ras El Hanout


The combination of cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, ground ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet or hot paprika, fenugreek, and turmeric is Ras EL Hanout.

Depending on the map, there can be some differences, but it has almost the same story. 

So many spices make Ras EL Hanout a complex seasoning, but it still needs the anise flavor. Anywho, if not Chinese five herb, then better add Ras EL hanout. 

Make sure to use the same quantity of Ras EL handout as Chinese five spice, and you are good to go.

14. Allspice


Made with dried berries of the pimento tree, allspice resembles the flavor of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 

You can easily substitute allspice for Chinese five spice and enjoy the depth of your dish. You can easily find allspice at your nearest store. Go for half the amount of allspice instead of Chinese five spice, as allspice is more pungent and flavorful. 

15. Za’atar


Za’atar may not be the best option for a Chinese five spice, but if you have some, add it to your dish. 

It is a combination of herbs and not spaces, so it is not the best recommended Chinese five-spice substitute. 

Zaatar has oregano, thyme, nutty sesame, and acidic berry flavors from the sumac. This combination is excellent only if you want some or other seasoning for your dish. 

You can use the same quantity of Zaatar instead of Chinese five spice and enjoy something different than regular. 

16. Homemade Five-Spice

chinese five spice homemade

Homemade five-spice is your best Chinese five-spice substitute. It has the same ingredients and flavors; everything is exactly like the store-bought Chinese five-spice seasoning. 

The only difference is that the homemade is more flavorful and fresh. I am sure you know how to make the Chinese five spice at home, but for your convenience, I will give a quick recipe for the same. 

You only need star anise, cloves, Chinese or regular cinnamon, Sichuan (Szechuan) peppercorns, and fennel seeds. Blend the spices using a blender or a coffee grinder, whichever suits you best.

 You can roast them for a few minutes and then grind them for enhanced flavors and aroma. You may also use the powdered version of all the spices and mix them in a bowl. It is suggested to store the seasoning in an airtight container and consume it within three months. 

Short Recap Of The Best Substitutes For Chinese Five Spice

Below is a short recap of the best substitute options for Chinese five spice

Best Chinese Five Spice Substitutes In Terms Of Flavor – 

  • Garam Masala
  • Cinnamon, Black Pepper & Star Anise

Best Chinese Five Spice Substitutes That Are Easily Available –

  • Homemade five spice
  • Cinnamon
  • Star Anise

Chinese Five Spice Substitutes That Should Be Least Considered –

  • Cloves

How To Use Chinese Five Spice Substitutes In A Recipe

16 Best Chinese Five Spice Substitute To Try!

Chinese five spice is made by mixing star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan (Szechuan) peppercorns, and fennel seeds. It is an Asian seasoning that is used to marinate meats and fish. The herb is used to enhance the flavor of the dish. You can easily make Chinese five-spice seasoning at home if you have all the required ingredients, or try their possible substitutes.
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  • Garam Masala
  • Garam Masala + Star Anise
  • Star Anise
  • Cinnamon
  • Baharat
  • Chinese Cinnamon Cassia
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Sichuan Peppercorn
  • Cloves
  • Dill Weed And Cinnamon Sticks
  • Sichuan Peppercorn And Fennel Seeds
  • Ras El Hanout
  • Allspice
  • Za’atar
  • Cinnamon, Black Pepper & Star Anise
  • Fennel Seeds & Szechuan Peppercorns
  • Homemade Five-spice


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and make the dish according to the recipe.
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Finally, our dishes would still have the same taste and flavor despite being out of five Chinese spices. Chinese five spice can be prepared at home very quickly, and even if you don’t have all the ingredients, some mix-and-match options can mimic the same flavors.

I am sure you had a great time knowing the best possible Chinese five-spice substitutes. I will be back with much more interesting conversations. Until then, add some five Chinese spices to roasted chicken and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is Chinese five spice made up of?

Chinese five spice is a blend of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan (Szechuan) peppercorns, and fennel seeds.

Is Chinese five spice and garam masala the same? 

No, Chinese five spice and garam masala are not the same. However, they share the same f; favors because of fennel, cinnamon, and cloves. 

Can we substitute allspice for Chinese five spice? 

Yes, you can easily substitute allspice for Chinese five spice. Allspice is made with cinnamon, star anise, fennel, cloves, ginger, or pepper. As Chinese five spice also has a few common ingredients, they have the same flavors. 

What is the flavor of Chinese five spices? 

Chinese five spice has an umami flavor and sweet, salty, and bitter notes. As Chinese five spice contains star anise, it has a licorice flavor. The addition of cinnamon and fennel gives warmth along with some sweet notes. Szechuan peppercorns are used for peppery flavor, whereas cloves are responsible for the cooling sensation in the seasoning. 

Can we make Chinese five spice at home? 

Yes, you can easily make Chinese five spice at home. You will need the five essential ingredients – star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan (Szechuan) peppercorns, and fennel seeds. The blend of these spices will make a tremendous Chinese five spice for you quickly at home. You can store the seasoning in a jar in a dry and cool place, away from the sunlight.

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