Best Substitute for Caraway Seeds

Caraway is hard to replace, but there are a few options if you don’t have this spice on hand! Here’s our best substitute for caraway seeds.

Substitute for caraway seeds

Making a recipe that calls for caraway seeds and don’t have it? As two cookbook authors and recipe experts, we’ve got answers.

Caraway seeds have a very distinct flavor, with a licorice essence and light peppery notes. Really, there’s nothing quite like it! You’ll find it in German and Eastern European foods like rye bread and sauerkraut, and also in Asian and African dishes.

Caraway seeds are so unique that if at all possible, go to the store and buy some (especially if you’re making rye bread or sauerkraut). But if you’re in the middle of a recipe with no time to shop, here are the best substitutes for caraway seeds.

Best substitute for caraway seeds

Note that how these options work depend on the type of cuisine and how caraway is used.

1. Fennel seeds

The best substitute for caraway seeds is fennel seeds, which are in the carrot family like caraway. Fennel doesn’t taste quite like caraway, but it has licorice notes and a similar essence. You can substitute an equal amount of fennel for caraway seeds.

Keep in mind, fennel is often used in sausage, so using the seeds may evoke a meaty flavor. (We actually often use that trick in vegetarian and vegan recipes like vegan biscuits and gravy or breakfast pizza.)

2. Dill seed

Another substitute for caraway is dill seeds (not dried dill), also part of the carrot family. Dill seeds have a light licorice essence and are often used in pickling. They’re milder than caraway, but work in a pinch. Dill sees are often used in Eastern European cuisine, so they have a similar vibe. You can substitute an equal amount of fennel for caraway seeds.

3. Anise seeds

Anise seeds have a strong licorice flavor. Take care when using anise seeds as a substitute for caraway: they are very strong! Because of this, we recommend using half the amount of anise seeds to caraway seeds: (½ teaspoon of anise seeds for every 1 teaspoon caraway seeds).

Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring caraway:

Frequently asked questions

Which substitute is best for rye bread?

Fennel seeds are the most common substitute for caraway in rye bread, as they share a similar flavor profile and complement the rye’s natural taste.

Which substitute is best for sauerkraut?

Again, fennel seeds are a great option for sauerkraut, but dill seeds can also be used for a slightly different flavor nuance.

Can I use a combination of substitutes?

Yes, you can combine different substitutes to create a more complex flavor profile that resembles caraway. For example, you could mix fennel and dill seeds for a well-rounded taste.