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5 Great Substitutes for Caraway Seeds in Pantry

Caraway seeds are known for their aromatic presence in various recipes, enhancing dishes like rye bread and cabbage soup.

These tiny seeds pack a significant personality, with flavors that echo the tang of licorice, a hint of citrus, and the distinct warmth of pepper.

However, a pantry may run out of this flavorful ingredient, or it may not be a fan favorite. If you find yourself in a pinch without caraway seeds, try one of these five substitutes to add depth and complexity to your dishes.

5 Great Substitutes for Caraway Seeds in Pantry

1 – Fennel Seeds

The first contender in our substitution showdown is none other than the versatile and fragrant fennel seed. Renowned for its slight licorice flavor, fennel seeds bring an essence that is as comforting as it is bold.

When it comes to the role of a caraway seed doppelgänger, fennel is your best bet due to the striking similarity in taste. Fennel’s licorice profile is slightly sweeter than caraway’s, enhancing the finished dish with a subtle note of honey-like warmth.

Substitute ground or whole fennel seeds for caraway to impart a similar herbaceous sweetness and a satisfying crunch, particularly in baked goods like breads or biscuits.

In most recipes, you can mirror caraway seeds with fennel seeds on a one-to-one basis. However, if the recipe’s caraway notes are prominent, a 1.5 to 2-to-one adjustment in favor of fennel may be necessary to maintain the intended flavors.

2 – Aniseeds

Aniseeds, with their intense licorice flavor and slight sweetness, embody another strong contender in the quest for the perfect caraway substitute.

Similar to caraway seeds, aniseeds possess that characteristic licorice flavor, albeit a bit more pronounced, making them a compelling choice for recipes that require caraway’s distinctive taste.

Anise seeds work well in both savory and sweet cuisines. Their sweet-spicy taste brings depth to soups and stews, and their affinity for dairy makes them a standout in custards and cheese-based dishes.

When it comes to substituting caraway with aniseed, a one-to-one ratio will generally suffice. An adjustment to taste might involve using slightly less anise in comparison to caraway to avoid overpowering the dish.

3 – Coriander Seeds

Coriander seeds, the dried form of cilantro’s aromatic herbs, are often the unsung heroes in the spice rack offering a perfect foil to caraway when needed.

An earthy and slightly citrus undertone characterize the flavor of coriander seeds, which distinguishes them from the warmth of caraway’s pepper-like notes. The subtle tang is reminiscent of orange or violet petals, offering sophistication to their profile.

Coriander’s subtle sweet-tang is a wonder in pickling and when crafting savory spice blends. It goes well with vegetables, grains, and meat, adding a pleasant, tangy kick that mirrors caraway’s complexity.

To replace caraway with coriander, consider using a gram-for-gram substitution. Chances are you’ll be delighted with the nuance and brightness coriander brings to your dish.

4 – Cumin Seeds

Cumin—a staple in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Mexican cuisines—presents an intriguing option as a caraway surrogate with its robust and deeply earthy tones.

While cumin shares caraway’s peppery nuance, it is notably stronger and more pungent. Expect smoky notes that are inviting and can add a depth to your recipes that caraway sometimes can’t.

Cumin shines in savory dishes such as meats, chilies, and curries where its bold profile complements rather than mimics caraway. Use it sparingly and adjust to taste.

In most cases, a one-to-one substitution of cumin for caraway is sufficient. However, due to cumin’s potency, you may want to use slightly less than the amount of caraway called for in the recipe for a more delicate cumin flavor.

5 – Dill Seeds

Commonly overshadowed by its leafy green counterpart, dill seed boasts a surprisingly robust flavor profile that can easily hold its own against the complex nature of caraway.

A mingling of caraway and anise notes is found in dill seed, offering a milder licorice profile with a slightly grassy essence that is fresh yet savory. It’s a subtle yet satisfying substitute.

Incorporate dill seeds in pickling recipes, marinades, and with roasted vegetables where they can provide a gentle herbed warmth that echoes caraway’s more assertive profile.

For most recipes, a gram-for-gram replacement of caraway seeds with dill seeds will maintain the intended flavors. However, if you prefer a bolder note or if you’re using dillseed in chilis or stews, consider a 1.5 to 2-to-one ratio.


Diving into the world of cooking experiments usually means getting creative when you’re missing an ingredient. Caraway seeds, with their unique taste, are no different. Whether you’re trying to bake the perfect rye bread that needs caraway or you want to add some depth to a savory stew, don’t worry.

The spice world is huge and full of great alternatives that can step in for caraway seeds and you won’t even notice they’re gone.

To recap, here are the five great substitutes we’ve explored:

  • Fennel Seeds – Perfect for a sweeter, licorice-like flavor.
  • Aniseeds – Intensely licorice and slightly sweet, a bold alternative.
  • Coriander Seeds – Earthy with a hint of citrus, for when you want a subtle twist.
  • Cumin Seeds – Robust and pungent, ideal for adding depth to savory dishes.
  • Dill Seeds – Mildly licorice with a grassy note, for a gentle yet flavorful swap.