10 Best Fennel Substitutes You Should Try!

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Are you planning to make a recipe that calls for fennel but are out of it? Don’t toss away the recipe just yet. There are many substitutes for fennel that you can use successfully.


Fennel is a versatile ingredient that can be eaten raw or cooked. This quality makes finding substitutes for fennel easy. Some of the best fennel substitutes include anise, cumin, celery, tarragon, Thai basil, fennel seeds, and dill.

Before we find out about the best substitutes for fennel, you should know that all parts of fennel are edible. Each part of the fennel has a different texture and use. 

The bulb and stalks of fennel are used as vegetables; its leaves are used as a garnish, whereas the seeds are used as an herb. The flavor of fennel is unique. It is often described as anise-like. It has a sharp and subtly sweet flavor. 

With such a flavor profile, fennel is often used in many ways in different dishes. To learn about the fennel substitutes, continue to read the article below. 

10 Best Fennel Substitutes

Here is the list of the 10 best fennel substitutes that you can use when you’re out of the ingredient. You can find the best suited substitute along with the substitution ratios.

1. Anise 


The closest substitute to fennel in terms of flavor is anise. Fennel seeds and anise seeds have a similar appearance. 

In terms of flavor, anise has a slightly more intensely sweet, licorice-like flavor. Therefore, when substituting anise seeds for fennel seeds, use half the amount of anise seeds to achieve the desirable results. 

Anise makes a good substitute for fennel seeds in baked goods like biscotti. If your recipe calls for a fennel bulb, you should substitute it for celery or bok choy. 

2. Licorice Root

Licorice Root

Licorice root is also a good fennel substitute. It has a sweet anise-like flavor, just like fennel. However, if you opt for licorice root as a fennel replacement, use it sparingly, as licorice root has a more intense flavor.

You can use licorice root as a substitute for fennel in sweet items like teas or other beverages, baked goods, or desserts. But it may not be the best substitute for savory dishes as it may overpower the overall flavor.

3. Caraway Seeds

Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds are a good option to use instead of fennel seeds. Both have similar appearance, texture, and taste. Caraway seeds can be used as an alternative to fennel in meat dishes, sauerkraut, or rye bread. 

You can start by using caraway seeds in small quantities and adjust the recipe accordingly.

4. Celery 


If your recipe calls for fresh fennel and you are out of it, you can easily substitute it with celery. This substitute has sweet and herbal notes similar to fennel but milder in taste. Moreover, celery has a similar texture to fennel. 

So, you can replace fennel with celery in salads, stir-fries, or slaws. It can also be used in recipes that require fennel bulbs. 

5. Tarragon 


If you don’t have fennel but have tarragon, you’ve got a good substitute for fennel at hand. Tarragon has a similar anise-like flavor to fennel. 

However, as compared to fennel, tarragon has a much stronger flavor. Hence, while using it as a substitute, make sure to use tarragon sparingly, as it has overpowering flavors.

Tarragon can be used in place of fennel in sauces, dressings, and marinades. It can also be used in meat or fish recipes.

6. Thai Basil

Thai Basil

When thinking of fennel substitutes, basil may not come to mind. However, among the wide varieties available in the market, Thai basil is a good substitute for fennel. 

Thai basil has an anise and licorice-like flavor profile with peppery notes. It also has an earthy and sweet flavor. These notes are quite matching to the flavors of fennel, which makes Thai basil a wonderful alternative for fennel. 

You can use Thai basil as a fennel substitute in salads, marinades, and rubs, where the anise-like flavor may complement the other ingredients.

7. Bok Choy

Bok Choy

If you are looking for a raw substitute for fennel, bok choy can do justice to your dish. Although bok choy doesn’t have fennel’s licorice flavor, it has slightly earthy and bitter notes and spicy flavors similar to fennel. 

Therefore, you can replace fresh fennel with equal amounts of bok choy to add freshness to your dish. Bok choy, as an alternative to fennel, can be used in stir-fries, roasts, braises, soups, and salads.

8. Leeks


Leeks can also be a great choice to use in place of fennel in your recipes. Leeks have a mild, onion-like flavor with a slightly sweet and delicate taste. 

They can be sliced or chopped into dishes for crunch and can also be added to soups, stews, roasted vegetables, and casseroles. 

Leeks can be replaced for fennel in the same quantity. You can adjust the seasoning as needed to balance the flavors.

9. Dill


Dill and fennel are often confused with each other because of their similar looks. But dill also has an anise-like flavor like fennel. 

Thus, dill can be used as a substitute in recipes that call for fennel. Dill works particularly well in seafood dishes in place of fennel.

You can start with a 1:1 substitution ratio while using dill for fennel and increase the quantity of dill as it has a milder flavor. 

Dill, as an alternative to fennel, is great for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. You can also use it as a fennel replacement in sauces and dressings.

10. Hoja Santa Leaves

Hoja Santa Leaves

Hoja santa leaves are native to South America and are used extensively in Mexican cuisine. They have a unique flavor and aroma, with hints of mint, pepper, and cinnamon.

You can use Hoja santa leaves instead of fennel in a 1:1 ratio.

Short Recap Of The Best Fennel Substitutes

I hope you are happy to find out quite a few substitutes for fennel. But if you are still a little confused about what substitute to use instead of fennel, here’s what you need to know.

Most Suitable Fennel Substitutes:

  • Anise
  • Dill
  • Thai Basil
  • Licorice Root
  • Celery

Substitute Options To Consider Last:

  • Hoja Santa Leaves
  • Bok Choy
  • Leeks

How To Use Fennel Substitutes In Recipes


10 Substitutes For Fennel You Should Try!

Anise, cumin, celery, tarragon, Thai basil, fennel seeds, and dill are some of the best fennel substitutes.
5 from 1 vote


  • Anise
  • Licorice Root
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Celery
  • Tarragon
  • Thai Basil
  • Bok Choy
  • Leeks
  • Dill
  • Hoja Santa Leaves


  • 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 proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Final Words 

Fennel is a great herb to add to your dishes in both raw and cooked form. It gives a unique characteristic to a dish with its sweet, earthy, and fresh flavors.

But if you are out of it, you can take the help of some other ingredients that can match up to its flavor with some adjustments.

Do try out the fennel substitutes mentioned above and come back to tell me what worked for you in the comments section below. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does fennel taste like?

Fennel has a sweet, herbaceous, and slightly licorice-like flavor.

What can we substitute for fennel?

Fennel can be substituted for dill, tarragon, anise, leeks, caraway seeds, bok choy, Thai basil, hoja santa leaves, and licorice root.

What is the best substitute for fennel?

The best substitute for fennel is anise.

Where can I use fennel?

Fennel can be added to salads, soups, curries, dressings, marinades, slaws, casserole dishes, pasta, roasted vegetables, and more.

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