Star anise also known as Chinese star anise is a spice that comes from the evergreen tree native to southwest China and northeast Vietnam.

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The seed pods of this tree have a star shape and contain 6-8 seeds. The seeds and pods are with strong anise flavor and enhance the flavor of meals. Star anise has a strong, sweet, warm, and spicy flavor which reminds of anise seed, clove, licorice, and fennel seed.

This specific flavor pairs well with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, beef, poultry, or citrus onions. But you should use it in a small amount not to overpower the other flavors. Star anise is also used to add flavor to liqueurs, cookies, cakes, and other baked goods.

Consuming star anise also has health benefits thanks to vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help with certain health problems.

However, what if you don’t have this spice at hand and your recipe calls for it? Luckily, you can use some other spices as a substitute.

Spices that can replace the distinctive flavor of star anise are anise seed, Chinese five-spice powder, caraway seeds, allspice, anise extract, tarragon, chervil, cinnamon, or some of the following substitutes.

Star Anise Substitutes

This spice can be found as a whole and ground. And in each form, it is used differently in cooking. Whole star anise pods work well in many sauces, stews, marinades, soups, and braised dishes to add flavor and they are removed after cooking, whereas ground star anise is added to dishes like other ground spices.

If you want to have a stronger flavor in your dish you can ground the star anise seeds and pods at home and use them when needed.

Ground star anise is also common in sweet dishes like pies, muffins, sweet bread, or baked fruits, and as an ingredient in some spice mixtures like Chinese five-spice powder, and Garam masala.

Few spices can be used as a substitute for star anise. However, if you want to reach a similar flavor, you will have to use the right substitute in the right amount in your dish.

1. Anise seed


Cinnamon is made from the inner bark of a tree Cinnamomum. There are two main types of cinnamon used cassia and Ceylon cinnamon who is also known as real cinnamon.

It has a sweet, spicy, and woody flavor with a slightly citrusy note. You can use this spice in sweet and savory dishes like bread, cookies, pies, soups, lamb, and chicken meat.

If you have cinnamon at home, you can use it as a substitute for star anise in hot drinks, cookies, cakes, or baked goods. Substitute 1 teaspoon of star anise with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.


Can I substitute anise for star anise?

Yes, anise is one of the spices you can substitute for star anise. They both have the same licorice flavor. However, star anise flavor is stronger than anise flavor.

Is there a difference between anise and star anise?

Star anise and anise came from two different plants. Anise seed is a small seed with brown color, while star anise has 6-8 seeds in a star-shaped pod.

Final Thoughts

These substitutes have similar licorice flavor like star anise and you can use them in your sweet and savory dishes to improve their flavor.

However, if you have never used some of these spices to flavor your dishes you can use a small amount, and if you like it add extra.

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The flavor of your dish depends on the spices you are using.