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Chinese Five Spice Substitute (top 11 options)

You may think it’s challenging to find a Chinese five-spice substitute. However, there are quite a few solutions that you can choose when hunting for a replacement.

The list of our Chinese five-spice alternatives below will provide an ample selection for you to choose from.

small wooden spoon filled with bright red-orange powdered spice with small glass bottle nearby labeled "five spice"

What Is the Chinese Five-Spice?

Chinese Five-Spice is a spice blend that offers a balance of sweet, savory, and aromatic flavors. This spice is a fantastic addition to various cuisines beyond just Chinese dishes.

The spice is named after the five elements connected to Chinese medicine. This connection has encouraged a changing recipe throughout the years, which likely accounts for the multiple versions available throughout China.

This powerful spice offers a strong flavor and is used in many dishes like Chinese char siu (barbecued pork), Pekin duck, marinades, meat dishes, braised dishes, and recipes with seafood. You can use it in sweet dishes as well for a more complex flavor.

This spice is well-known for its spicy tingling and simultaneous cooling effect when eaten.

What is Chinese five-spice powder made of?

The powder is made with five main flavors!

  • The base includes four ground spices: ground cinnamon, ground cloves, star anise, and fennel seeds.
  • An additional fifth ingredient that adds to the spice is often Sichuan peppercorns.
  • Some spice mixes include other spices such as ginger root, orange peel, white pepper, and black pepper.

Best Chinese five-Spice Substitutes

Here is a list of the 11 best Substitutes for Chinese five-Spice.

1. Star Anise

Close up shot of the star anise on top of the table.

Since star anise is part of the Chinese 5-spice blend, it works well as five spice powder substitute.

This spice offers a similar licorice-like flavor. However, in star anise, the licorice taste is much bolder.

This replacement provides warmth and sweetness to dishes. It’s best used in small doses since it offers a bitter taste when used too much.


Star anise is commonly used in Asian recipes, so you can use this swap in all dishes that call for Chinese 5 spice. Use whole star anise for liquid-based recipes like soups and sauces. Ground star anise is best in sweet dishes and for seasoning meat/poultry.

2. Ground Fennel Seeds + Sichuan Peppercorns

Close up shot of the fennel seeds mixed with ground spice.

These two spices are also part of the Chinese 5-spice; this combination is an excellent option for replacing the five-spice blend in dishes.

Both of the ingredients offer two key flavors. Fennel seeds provide the same licorice flavor found in Chinese five spice, while peppercorns offer the familiar heat and tingling effect.

Sichuan peppercorns may be challenging to find at the local grocery store. Instead, you can use black peppercorns though the final dish might lack the spiciness.


Combine ground Sichuan peppercorns and ground fennel seeds in equal parts. Then, use this mixture in a 1:1 ratio to replace Chinese five-spice seasoning. Use this combination for any savory recipe.

3. Garam Masala

Silver tray with garam masala spice.

Garam masala is another excellent option that works as a substitute for Chinese 5 spice.

This blend also offers a similar combination of slightly hot hints and sweet and warm flavors.

The mixture varies depending on the region it is from. Some mixtures have a closer ingredient list to the Chinese five-spice than others.


This option is the most common replacement for the Chinese five-spice, and you can use it in nearly most recipes. Start with ½ the required amount and adjust as needed.

4. Baharat

Bowl filled with bright Baharat spice on top of wooden tabletop.

Baharat is another good substitute that you can use to replace Chinese five-spice in recipes.

This spice blend shares some of the same ingredients, and you can expect a similar warm taste. It also presents a smoky, earthy flavor which will create a noticeable taste difference in recipes.

This tasty blend works well for seasoning various proteins like beef, pork, and poultry. You can also use Baharat for rice dishes and soups.


Like garam masala and Chinese five-spice, this spice mixture changes based on the region it’s sourced from. The color of Baharat is a bright red, which will create a different appearance when used in recipes. Start with ½ the required amount and adjust as needed.

5. Garam Masala plus Star Anise

While garam masala works well as a replacement for Chinese five-spice powder by itself, you can better mimic the licorice flavor by including ground star anise. This blend will add a flavor similar to what the Chinese five-spice mixture offers.

You’ll need to source these separately and create a homemade blend, as garam masala and star anise are not sold together.


Combine garam masala with ground star anise in a 2:1 ratio. Then, use ¾ teaspoon of this mixture to replace one teaspoon of Chinese five-spice.

6. Allspice

Measuring spoon filled with allspice blend.

While allspice is a single spice and not a combination of spices like the Chinese five-spice, it still offers similar flavor notes in recipes. When using this substitute, expect a sweet, slightly spicy flavor.

This substitute for Chinese five spice is one option that you can use ground or whole (like star anise). Use whole allspice berries for soups and liquid-based recipes. Ground allspice is excellent in marinades and as a seasoning for various proteins.

There is no exact ratio when using this replacement, as it will depend on the recipe you intend to make.


Use this swap for sweet and savory dishes. This spice is readily available in grocery stores. Start with ½ the required amount and adjust as needed.

7. Cinnamon + Anise Seeds

Measuring scoop with cinnamon on the table.

Both of these spices are in Chinese five-spice, so they work well in combination as a replacement.

This star anise cinnamon blend will recreate the warmth, licorice taste, and sweetness of Chinese five-spice blends.


Use this combination to replace the Chinese five-spice in nearly any dish, from seasoning meat to sweet recipes. Creating the correct flavor combination requires experimentation as it will vary based on personal preference.

8. Ras El Hanout

Wooden bowl filled with Ras El Hanout spice.

Ras El Hanout is a good swap for a Chinese five-spice blend when you’re seeking a complex flavor.

It contains some of the same ingredients. Most ras el hanout also includes flowers and exotic spices, creating a noticeable flavor difference in dishes.

This spice blend can be challenging to find in stores, and it’s not easy to recreate at home due to some of the exotic ingredients.


Use Ras El Hanout for soups, stews, marinades, and seasoning for protein. Start with ½ the required amount and add more if needed.

9. Fennel + Ginger

This combination creates flavors that mimic the Chinese five spices taste well.

Fennel adds flavor, while ginger provides warmth and a slight heat.

These ingredients are readily available in the spice aisle of the grocery store.

Avoid using too much ginger, as it can make the dish overly spicy and overpower other flavors. You may need to experiment with this combination to create a taste that appeals to you.


Combine ½ tablespoon fennel and ¼ tablespoon ginger. Use this combo to replace one tablespoon Chinese five-spice.

10. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Bowl filled with pumpkin spice with whole pumpkin in the background.

You can use Pumpkin Pie Spice as a substitute for the Chinese five Spice blend.

It typically contains Chinese cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, which share some flavor components with Chinese Five Spice.

While the flavor profile may not be exactly the same, it can still provide a pleasant and aromatic blend for your dishes.


When substituting Pumpkin Pie Spice for Chinese Five Spice, use it as a 1:1 replacement. However, keep in mind that Pumpkin Pie Spice lacks the distinct flavor of star anise, which is a key component of Chinese Five Spice.

11. Homemade Chinese Five Spice Powder

When creating a homemade version of the Chinese five-spice, you can alter the flavor to your preference allowing for a dish that better fits your tastebuds.

Here’s a simple recipe for a Chinese Five Spice substitute.


  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground star anise
  • 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns


  1. In a small bowl, combine all the spices: cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns.
  2. Mix well until all the spices are evenly blended together.
  3. Taste the mixture and adjust the proportions if desired. Add more of any particular spice to suit your preference.
  4. Transfer the spice blend to an airtight container or a spice jar.
  5. Store it in a cool, dark place to preserve its freshness and flavor.


If you don’t have powdered ingredients to make Chinese 5 spice, you can use a spice grinder to grind the whole spices into a powder. Grind the spices in small batches, pulsing the grinder until you achieve a fine powder. Transfer the freshly ground spices to an airtight container.

Chinese Five-Spice Varieties

There can be slight variations in the ingredients used for Chinese Five Spice depending on regional preferences and the personal preferences of individuals.

While the core ingredients typically include star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and Sichuan peppercorns, some variations may also include additional spices or adjust the proportions of the existing ones.

For example, some recipes may include ginger, nutmeg, or cardamom as additional ingredients to add more complexity to the blend. Others may adjust the amounts of each spice to suit their desired flavor balance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference Between Allspice and Five-Spice?

Five-spice generally contains five (or more spices), while allspice is made from one type of berry, despite what its name insinuates.

Allspice offers a peppery, nutty flavor, slightly sweet flavor, while five-spice has a sweet, warm, peppery, and anise-like taste. As they share some flavor similarities, you can use allspice as a five-spice alternative.

Is Garam Masala The Same As Chinese 5-Spice?

No, garam masala is not the same as Chinese 5-spice. These spice blends are used in different cuisines, though they have a similar flavor. They share fennel, cinnamon, and cloves though the remaining ingredients are different. Garam masala is typically used in northern India, while Chinese 5-spice is used in Chinese recipes.

Where To Buy Chinese five spice?

Chinese 5 spice powder is widely available in many grocery stores, specialty spice shops, and online marketplaces.

How to store Chinese five-spice powder?

Transfer Chinese 5 spice to an airtight container. A glass jar with a tight-fitting lid or a food-grade plastic container with a secure seal works well. Make sure the container is clean and dry before adding the spice. Keep it in a cool and dark place away from strong odors.


Next time you require a Chinese five-spice alternative, reach for one of the above options. Create a homemade version as the top option. If you’re short on time and can find garam masala in stores, use it in combination with star anise for the next closest replacement flavorwise.

vertical shot of the measuring spoon filled with ground red spice and spice bottle with label "five spice"

Chinese Five Spice Substitute

Natalia-Flavorful Home
It’s fairly easy to create a homemade version as a replacement. You’ll need to use a spice grinder or a similar instrument to create a similar powder consistency.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course spice blend
Cuisine American


  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp ground star anise
  • 2 tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns


  • In a small bowl, combine all the spices: cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns.
  • Mix well until all the spices are thoroughly combined.
  • Taste the mixture and adjust the proportions if desired. You can add more of any specific spice to suit your preference.
  • Once mixed, transfer the Chinese Five Spice blend to an airtight container or a spice jar.


Store it in a cool, dark place to preserve its flavor and potency.


Calories: 90kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 4gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.01gSodium: 18mgPotassium: 387mgFiber: 9gSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 103IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 217mgIron: 6mg
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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!
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