10 Best Nigella Seeds Substitutes For You

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You came here to know the best nigella seed substitutes, which tells me that you are a spice nerd like me. Nigella seeds are like the underdogs of the culinary world. Want to impress your friends by cooking a Middle Eastern dish? Add in a few nigella seeds and see what magic it does to your food.

Nigella Seeds

Nigella seeds are something that you wouldn’t normally have in your spice cabinet. These seeds are fragrant and are a delight for your nose, mouth, and physical health. It is very versatile, and incorporating it into your recipe would enhance the overall flavor of the dish.

But what if you run out of nigella seeds? Do you know the ingredients which can replace nigella seeds in your recipes? Well, some of the best nigella seeds substitutes are black sesame seeds, cumin seeds, white sesame seeds, celery seeds, caraway seeds, and oregano.

So, now with your curiosity piqued, you’re probably looking forward to knowing more about nigella seeds. I’ve got you sorted. In this article, I’ll tell you all there is to nigella seeds and what you can substitute them with. So, pace yourselves for a not-so-seedy ride to the Middle East!

Quick Peek: Nigella Seeds

Nigella Seeds

The following scribbles tell you what nigella seeds are, their flavor, texture, culinary uses, and health benefits.

What Are Nigella Seeds?

Nigella seeds are seeds obtained from the Nigella Sativa plant. These are mainly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. They are also known as black cumin, Roman coriander, etc. They can be used both as a spice and a condiment in various recipes. 

Describing Nigella Seeds: Flavor and Texture

Nigella seeds have pointed ends like a triangle and are matte-black colored. Nigella seeds have a dense flavor and are crunchy in texture. They might not be the most aromatic of spices but are rich in flavor. 

Uses of Nigella Seeds

Nigella seeds come under the category of the oldest spices in the world. They can also be used for medicinal purposes. They have a unique and delicate taste. They provide a certain kick of flavor when used in dishes. They have an earthy, herbaceous undertone of flavor. They can also taste a bit smokey and peppery, which is perfect when used in savory dishes.

They work well in curries, stir-fries, lentil dishes, etc. They add depth to the overall spice profile of a dish. They also do well when paired with root vegetables. They are also used in salads and pickles. You can also use them to garnish food items like naans, bread, etc.

Nigella Seeds On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Nigella seeds are a good source of antioxidants that protect against certain chronic diseases. These seeds can lower the level of cholesterol and have the ability to fight against cancer.

Nigella seeds can reduce the risk of inflammation and protect us from harmful bacteria. These are good for the proper functioning of the liver and can help prevent the attack of stomach ulcers.

Why Should We Substitute Nigella Seeds?

Unless you have an Indian or Middle Eastern grocery store nearby, it is incredibly hard to spot nigella seeds in local grocery stores. This is the major reason why we should be aware and ready with the best nigella seed substitutes.

Also, if you are a fan of experimentation, you might want to try various ingredients which can emulate the flavor of nigella seeds. All these reasons make it necessary to find the best nigella seed substitutes. So, shall we talk about them right away?

Other Food Substitutes You Can Try

10 Best Nigella Seeds Substitutes

From curries to bread, this spice/condiment can be used in almost anything. Nigella seeds are a versatile ingredient, and running out of them in your pantry is a matter of great concern. A number of possible substitutes can be used in place of nigella seeds. Given below is a list of the ten best substitutes for nigella seeds.

1. Black Sesame Seeds

Black Sesame Seeds

The physical similarity between black sesame seeds and nigella seeds is uncanny. Also known as benne, black sesame seeds are nutty and earthy in flavor. They are similar to nigella seeds in flavor as well as texture. 

Just like nigella seeds, these are also typically used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine. You can use it in the same amount as asked of nigella seeds in the recipe. You can easily substitute nigella with black sesame seeds without feeling a difference

2. Cumin Seeds

Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds are an important ingredient in many cuisines. It has a very specific aroma and flavor. Similar to nigella seeds, cumin seeds provide an earthy flavor to the dish. It has an overall warm flavor and also has a herby, spicy kick to them like nigella seeds do.

Cumin seeds also have several health benefits like maintaining blood sugar levels, rich in antioxidants, etc. These can be used to replace nigella seeds in curries, bread, etc.

3. White Sesame Seeds

White Sesame Seeds

White sesame seeds provide a warm flavor to the dishes they’re used in. You might’ve seen them being used on top of burger buns. They have a mild nutty, bitter flavor. These are an excellent source of magnesium and calcium.

White sesame seeds taste almost similar to nigella seeds. While replacing nigella seeds, these can be best used in bread, lentil dishes, etc.

4. Celery Seeds

Celery Seeds

Celery seeds are a versatile spice. They have a warm flavor but are a bit bitter in taste. Using half the amount of celery seeds than that required of nigella seeds in the recipe works better. 

Also, you can make celery seeds taste almost the same as nigella seeds by adding a bit of lemon juice along with onion powder. Celery seeds can be easily found and used in place of nigella seeds.

5. Caraway Seeds

Caraway Seeds

You can call caraway seeds meridian fennel and Persian cumin. They are moon-shaped with long ridges. These are earthy flavored spices with a kick of pepper and citrus to them. These seeds can be a valuable addition to your spice cabinet because of the flavor and texture they provide to the dish.

Nigella seeds and caraway seeds are majorly alike in flavor. Recipes, for example, pickles, curries, etc., are great for adding caraway seeds in place of nigella seeds. 

6. Oregano


Oregano is a seasoning herb that is also known as Spanish thyme or wild marjoram. Its flavor is deemed to be similar to that of camphor. It has an intense earthy flavor with slight undertones of bitterness. 

Oregano can be a great replacement for nigella seeds in terms of the earthy and peppery flavor it provides to the recipe. It also carries a similar aroma to that of nigella seeds. They are best used as a substitute for nigella seeds in baked goods.

7. Fenugreek


Fenugreek seeds are a variety of aromatic seeds with a sweet, nutty, and bitter flavor. Its flavor can be compared to that of maple syrup. Even though they have a prominent bitter taste when tasted raw, they render a brilliant aromatic flavor when used in dishes.

Fenugreek seeds can be a good nigella seed substitute, considering the flavor and availability factor. But their intense pungent flavor should be kept in mind – use half the amount of these seeds to replace nigella seeds.

8. Fennel Seeds

Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are the seeds of fennel plants. These seeds have a sweet, potent and aromatic, licorice-like flavor and are a major ingredient used in Italian cuisine. They act as a powerful flavor-enhancing agent in bread, chutney, and dishes of vegetables as well as meat.

Fennel seeds can be considered a nigella seed substitute only in certain dishes due to their intense licorice-like flavor. This flavor may alter the entire flavor profile of the recipe you are cooking.

9. Onion Flakes

Onion flakes refer to the chopped onions which are dehydrated. They are not the same as minced onions. Minced onions have a chunky texture, unlike flakes which are much finer in texture.

Onion flakes are worthy alternatives for nigella seeds due to the fact that nigella seeds taste more or less similar to a toasted onion. They work as good seasoning agents and can be used to replace nigella seeds in soups, stews, and marinades.

10. Cumin Powder

Cumin Powder

Cumin is a seasoning spice that has a sweet, nutty, savory flavor. It is a prominently used seasoning agent in Indian cuisine but now has been used globally for the same. 

Cumin powder is the ground version of cumin seeds. Cumin powder can be used as a last resort to replace nigella seeds owing to its sweet, savory flavor. If you are not bothered by the fact that it is a powdered form of substitute, cumin powder is an option worth trying to substitute for nigella seeds.

Short Recap For Best Nigella Seeds Substitutes

That must have been an exhaustive read on the best nigella seed substitutes, right? Let me make it easy for you to remember the details with the help of some points.

Seed-based Substitutes: Black sesame seeds, cumin seeds, white sesame seeds, celery seeds, caraway seeds, fenugreek seeds, and fennel seeds are the best nigella seed substitutes which are seeds.

Other Substitutes: Oregano, onion flakes, and cumin powder are non-seed, best nigella seed substitutes.

Final Musings

Having a unique flavor, nigella seeds are almost an irreplaceable ingredient. The above list of the best possible substitutes for nigella seeds is as close to its flavor as you can get. Remember to test the number of required nigella seeds while using substitutes to avoid making the flavors too strong.

So, cook and spice up your food with this versatile ingredient or its substitutes! Tell me in the comments how well you liked this article and how helpful you found it. I’ll see you next time. Happy eating!

How To Use Nigella Seeds In A Recipe

Nigella Seeds

Nigella Seeds Substitutes

Nigella seeds are something that you wouldn’t normally have in your spice cabinet. These seeds are fragrant and are a delight for your nose, mouth, and physical health. It is very versatile, and incorporating it into your recipe would enhance the overall flavor of the dish. Thus, finding its substitutes is worth it!
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  • Black Sesame Seeds
  • Cumin Seeds
  • White Sesame Seeds
  • Celery Seeds
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Oregano
  • Fenugreek
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Onion Flakes
  • Cumin Powder


  • 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.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the English name for kalonji?

Kalonji is nigella in English. 

Can I substitute poppy seeds for nigella seeds?

Poppy seeds can be used to substitute for nigella seeds on an equal ratio.

What does nigella seed taste like?

Nigella seeds have an intense flavor and aroma which can be deemed to be a mix of onion, oregano and black pepper.

What is another name for nigella seeds?

Nigella seeds are also known as black cumin.

How to use nigella seeds?

Nigella seeds are slightly toasted before adding them as such or grinding them. 

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