Home » Ingredient Substitutes » Top 7 Caraway Seed Substitute Options

Top 7 Caraway Seed Substitute Options

Next time your bread calls for caraway seeds, try one of our caraway seed substitute options from our list. 

Creating rye bread without delicious caraway seeds may seem challenging. Yet, plenty of alternatives can provide an excellent taste in their place.

table top with spilled dried brown seeds and glass jar with label "Caraway Seeds"

What Are Caraway Seeds?

Caraway seeds are not actually seeds. Instead, they are dried fruit from the parsley family.

This “seed” is commonly used in European-inspired meat recipes. It can also be an ingredient in bread and sauerkraut.

These seeds also act as a cheese flavoring agent.

Caraway seeds taste warm and spicy. Many liken them to anise seeds because of their licorice notes.

While these seeds are not as popular as other spices, they work well in many dishes. Caraway seeds also pair well with dill and cumin.

Caraway Seeds Varieties

There are two caraway plants, though they do not have separate names. The difference lies in the way each is grown.

Biennial Caraway Seed

Biennial caraway plants take two summers to create tasty caraway seeds. This version is available in stores as they are the most commonly used version in recipes.

Annual Caraway Seed

Annual caraway plants produce caraway seeds yearly. Compared to its biennial counterpart, it is sweeter. This variety is mainly used in the kitchens of those who grow it.

Best Substitutes for Caraway Seeds

Here is a list of the best alternatives for caraway seeds.

1. Ground Caraway Seeds

The best caraway seed alternative is ground caraway seeds.

As they are the same plant, they provide the same flavors as whole caraway seeds.

Ground caraway has a more robust flavor than whole seeds as a powdered version of the spice. This strong taste can easily overpower dishes.


Caraway powder provides a similar yet more robust flavor. It’s an excellent alternative if you want a more intense caraway taste in recipes.


Using ground caraway can take over the other milder flavors in recipes.

Plus, it is not easy to find in grocery stores. That said, you will likely need to grind caraway seeds at home. Also, this ground version will not produce the same aesthetic appeal as whole seeds.

Cooking Tip: Use ½ the amount required by the recipe and adjust to your taste preference.

2. Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are excellent caraway seeds substitutes. These seeds are in the same carrot family, so the taste does not differ much.

Fennel seeds also have a licorice flavor. This swap also provides intense aromatics in recipes. In fact, it is part of the Chinese five-spice blend.

While you can use fennel seeds whole, they are also delicious ground into a powder. Toasting them in the oven before use also enhances their flavor.


This substitution is easy to find in grocery stores. They are more versatile than caraway, as you can also use fennel seeds in savory dishes and desserts.


The fennel flavor is not an exact match for caraway. There will be a taste difference that will be more pronounced in some recipes.

Cooking Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace caraway with fennel seeds.

3. Anise Seeds

Next to Fennel seeds, Anise seeds are the next best substitute for caraway seeds. After all, the taste of caraway is often compared to anise as they both have a strong licorice flavor.

They are best used in sausages and as a seasoning for vegetables.


The taste of anise seeds does not differ that much from caraway seeds.


The taste of anise seeds provides mainly a strong licorice taste. It limits the number of recipes because this taste is not for everyone.

It’s best to consider who will consume the meal before reaching for this swap.

Cooking Tip: Use ½ the required amount to substitute caraway seeds with anise seeds.

4. Dill Seeds

Dill seeds are also in the same family, making them an excellent option as a caraway replacement.

They offer a licorice flavor to recipes. Plus, the dill taste is like caraway, including the slight bitterness.

These seeds are best when fresh, as they taste closer to caraway this way. Even the dried ones have the same flavor.

You’re more likely to find these seeds dried at the store as they have a longer shelf life.

Use dill seeds for any recipe that calls for caraway seeds, though keep in mind that the flavor is milder.

Dill is an excellent swap in bread, sausage, and European-inspired recipes.


This replacement has a flavor that mimics caraway seeds well. It’s easy to swap as you won’t have to worry about altering the taste of your dish.


Due to a milder taste, you may need to add more dill seeds to recipes. It may take some experimentation to find the exact amount required, adding time to the recipe.

Cooking Tip: Start with a 1:1 ratio to replace caraway with dill seeds. Add more for a bolder licorice flavor.

5. Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds provide an earthy, nutty, spicy flavor to dishes. They also offer a similar appearance to caraway seeds.

This makes them an excellent replacement for use in bread.

You can also use cumin seeds in curry, soups, and flavor vegetables.

Keep the seeds as-is, or toast them for a more complex taste before including them in dishes.


This can replace caraway seeds because it’s easy to find at grocery stores. They also look identical, so there will be no change in the appearance of your final dish.


Cumin seeds have a slightly different flavor. This limits the number of recipes where you may use them.

Cooking Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace caraway seeds with cumin seeds.

6. Star Anise

Star anise has a licorice taste accompanied by sweetness. Beyond these flavor offerings, it provides a similar earthy, slightly bitter taste.

It has a strong scent in cooking, like caraway seeds.

You’ll need to grind it up before use, as the star-shaped spice is challenging to chew as-is.

If you’re considering using star anise to flavor soups or marinades, you can leave it in whole. Ensure to remove it before consuming.


You can use anise for sweet and savory dishes, allowing it more versatility than anise seeds.


The flavor of star anise is much stronger and sweeter than caraway seeds. This spice can easily overpower other flavors in recipes. That said, it may not bode well with other certain seasonings.

Cooking Tip: Use ½ the amount required by the recipe when using star anise as a swap. Do a taste test, then adjust as needed.

7. Nigella Seeds

Nigella seeds are a less commonly used seasoning. Yet, they work well as caraway seed substitutes.

They offer the complex flavors of onion, oregano, and cumin with a slight licorice taste.

This delicious seasoning is best in savory recipes. But, you can use nigella seeds for stews and bread.

This swap is known by many names, including black caraway and black onion seeds.

When looking for these small seeds in the grocery store, look for tiny, black seeds. For reference, they look like black sesame seeds.

The size of nigella seeds is close to caraway seeds. Using them in recipes will create a similar appearance.


This replacement provides a delicious, complex recipe flavor. Plus, it mimics the licorice taste of caraway seeds.


Finding these seeds at local grocery stores may be challenging. You may need to order them online in advance. While they share some flavor similarities, nigella seeds offer many other flavor notes. These are not present in caraway seeds, so your dishes might taste different.

Cooking Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace caraway seeds with nigella seeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference Between Fennel and Caraway?

Many wonder what the difference is between fennel vs. caraway. While they both belong to the same plant family, they offer different flavors.

Fennel has a sweeter taste than caraway; it also lacks the earthy, nutty flavor. Caraway is excellent for use in savory dishes. On the other hand, fennel works well in sweet and savory recipes.

Despite their differences, they typically are suitable substitutes for each other.

Can I Omit Caraway Seeds?

Technically, you can omit caraway seeds. But, skipping them will leave your recipes lacking flavor. The better thing to do is opt for an alternative with a similar taste.

Can I Substitute Ground Cumin for Caraway Seeds?

Yes, you can use ground cumin as a ground caraway substitute. Both spices are in the same parsley family and even look similar. Cumin’s taste is bolder than caraway, so you must use ½ the amount in recipes.

What Alternative Can I Use Instead of Caraway In Sauerkraut?

Instead of reaching for caraway seeds, try using fennel seeds as an alternative. These aromatic seeds produce a warm, licorice-like flavor close to caraway seeds. They most closely mimic the taste of caraway, making them the top choice for this food.

What Does Caraway Seed Taste Like?

Caraway seeds offer a strong flavor and aroma. They offer a licorice flavor in combination with earthiness and nuttiness. Besides the mentioned flavor notes, they also provide a spicy and peppery taste. They also have a subtle mint flavor.


Caraway seeds provide a unique, complex flavor that livens up dishes. If you’ve run out while baking bread or making sauerkraut, use any of the above options as a replacement.

Ground caraway seeds provide the exact flavor. Fennel seeds and anise seeds are close seconds. For those looking for a milder flavor, dill seeds will be perfect. This caraway seed substitute is the best if you don’t enjoy a strong licorice taste.

More Ingredient Substitutes

Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
pinterest instagram instagram

Get new recipes and tips via email
when you subscribe!

Have a comment? I love hearing from you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.

As seen in:

Eating WellmashededibleWomans WorldTasting TableHomes and Gardens
Back to the Top