Caraway seeds are a common ingredient in various Middle Eastern dishes. Their flavor is distinctive, sweet, slightly anise-like, and reminiscent of caraway seed bread.
Fennel seeds are smaller than caraway seeds, have a stronger flavor, and are often used in Italian dishes. Although they can be substituted for one another in many recipes because they have similar flavors, you’ll find that fennel’s more intense flavor may have a greater impact on the recipe’s overall taste. Consider the recipe’s ingredients list before making your decision.
What are caraway seeds?
Caraway seeds are small, hard, and have a sweet, slightly anise-like flavor. They’re often used in Middle Eastern dishes for their distinctive taste.
What are fennel seeds?
Fennel seeds are the dried seeds of the Foeniculum vulgare plant. They have a sweet, slightly anise-like flavor, and are often used in Italian dishes.
Although they can be substituted for caraway seeds in many recipes because they have similar flavors, you’ll find that fennel’s more intense flavor may have a greater impact on the recipe’s overall taste. Consider the recipe’s ingredients list before making your decision.
Some people even use fennel with salads, or to add a light flavor to lemonade or iced tea.
How can I substitute caraway seeds for fennel seeds?
If you are out of caraway seeds, or are not sure which seed is in the recipe, fennel is a good substitute. Fennel is simply more intense when it comes to flavor. If you are making a dish that has delicate flavors, using fennel might be too strong for the dish.
Fennel has a stronger anise flavor, while caraway seeds have a sweeter, slightly nutty flavor—making them perfect in recipes like rye bread or rye pie crusts. Both spices can also be used in Italian dishes, but caraway seeds are often added to traditional eastern European dishes.
When substituting these spices in recipes, use one teaspoon of ground fennel for every tablespoon of ground caraway. You can also replace 1 tablespoon of whole caraway seeds with 1 teaspoon of ground fennel seeds if the recipe calls for either type of seed.
The Difference Between Caraway Seeds and Fennel Seeds
Caraway seeds are long and narrow, while fennel seeds are dark green or brown in color. Caraway seeds have a strong, hardy flavor. Fennel seeds have a milder taste that is reminiscent of licorice. They both have medicinal benefits, but the main difference is that caraway seeds can be eaten raw or cooked.
Caraway seeds come from a plant called Carum carvi, which is native to Europe and Asia. Fennel seeds are from the plant called Foeniculum vulgare, which is native to North Africa and Europe. Both plants also have many other names, including dill seed and sweet cumin. However, they’re not the same kind of cumin!
What are these plants? They’re both members of the Umbelliferae family. The most common member of this family is celery!
Caraway and fennel can be used interchangeably, but you’ll find that the more intense flavor of fennel may have a greater impact on the recipe’s overall taste. Consider the recipe’s ingredients list before making your decision.