Caraway seeds are familiar ingredients to every home cook as it is commonly used in rye bread, mulled wine punch and sauerkraut. With its distinctive taste, the seeds create a unique touch to the normal dishes. If you seem to be at the stage where you’ve run out of these seeds, and there is no time to rush to the market, we have the solution for you!
So, what is the best substitute for caraway seeds for your recipe? You can use cumin seeds to replace caraway seeds because they are almost the same texture, flavor, and equivalent usage quantity, especially in curry dishes. How about other alternatives?
We will show the 7 best-fit replacements that you can try at home now.
What Are Caraway Seeds?
Caraway seeds are dried fruit of the caraway plant, which is popularly used to add flavor in soups, curries, sausages, vegetables, and even liqueurs, especially the Scandinavian spirit aquavit. It is combined well in some recipes, including pork, garlic, and cabbage.
Additionally, caraway seeds are an indispensable ingredient in the baking instruction of rye, soda bread, and traditional British seed cake.
Caraway seeds usually have an earthy hint of citrus and pepper taste. They are also highly aromatic with a combination of mild anise smell and subtle licorice hint. All the flavors of caraway seeds make your dishes delicate and irresistible.
9 Best Alternatives Used As A Substitute For Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds are a versatile seed that can be used in many types of dishes. With its signature strong licorice flavor enhancing the dishes’ tastes, you might think it is hard to find a replacement for such tasty ingredients.
Such common questions we often encounter are: “what can I use instead of caraway seeds in goulash?” or “can you substitute cumin for caraway seeds?”
As all cooking ingredients, caraway seeds can be replaced by other types of seeds which have similar tastes and texture.
1. Cumin Seeds – The Best Choice
Cumin seed is one of the best caraway seeds substitutes, especially in curry recipes. Cumin seeds come from dried seeds of Cumin plants. It is most popular in Indian, American, and Middle Eastern cuisine in the whole seeds or ground form.
Cumin has a similar small oval shape like caraway seeds, but they have various colors such as brown-yellow, black, green, or white. They are commonly used in some dishes such as chili, garam masala, achiote blends, or curry powder.
As with all cooking ingredients, caraway seeds can be replaced by some types of seeds that have a similar taste and texture, you can use the cumin substitute for caraway seeds for curry dishes to improve the taste of sweetness and bitterness in your dishes.
2. Anise Seeds
Another alternative for you to choose is Anise seeds. This seed is commonly used in Italian, Indian, German, and Middle Eastern cuisine for enhancing the licorice flavor of the whole dish. Anise seeds can be used for dessert, Italian biscotti, and charcuterie.
As Anise and Caraway all come from the carrot family, they also have some resemblances in flavors. However, Anise has a stronger taste of licorice and dryness with a gray color and curve shape.
Therefore, it is recommended that you only use the anise seeds to replace caraway seeds in bread and cookies. When baking bread, you can take half a teaspoon of anise seeds, equal to a teaspoon of caraway seeds.
3. Dill Seeds
Another cousin of the Carrot family can act as a substitute for Caraway seeds in rye bread – Dill seeds. These seeds are used widely in Eastern Europe with licorice signature dishes such as rye pieces of bread, cakes, or cookies.
The seeds are easily recognized through their oval shape, brown line, and dark in the center.
As Dill and Caraway seeds are part of a family, you can notice similar tastes. Nevertheless, Dill seeds have an earthy and softer taste that balances the dishes. If you’re working on a soup based or bread, you must try out Dill seeds.
4. Nigella Seeds
If you run out of caraway seeds for your stew recipes, you might want to check out the Nigella seeds for an alternative option. These seeds can also be called black onion seeds, kalonji, or Charnushka.
As you can tell from the name, the seeds are most popular in Indian, Egyptian, and European cuisine for stew or curry recipes and even bread.
The seeds give a licorice taste similar to caraway seeds, making it a potential substitute choice. To use these seeds, you need to toast them first and pair them with allspice, thyme, or coriander.
If you would love a stronger and more noticeable sense of licorice, make sure you use these seeds for your dishes.
5. Celery Seeds
A popular option that you can use to substitute caraway seeds is celery seeds. Although it is not part of the caraway family, celery seeds are commonly spotted in most family kitchens. That’s why many people also wonder: “Can I substitute celery seed for caraway seeds?”
Celery seeds are taken from the wild celery and produce a taste of earthy and slight bitterness to your dishes. You can use the seeds with tomatoes to create homemade ketchup or combine it with rye slices of bread.
The seeds are also popular with their health benefits, such as a diuretic method to lower blood pressure and treat flu.
6. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are a great substitute for caraway seeds due to their same root. The fennel seeds appear mostly in Italian and Indian cuisine in some of the most popular dishes, such as Italian sausages or vegan recipes.
With the same oval shape as caraway seeds, fennel seeds also have a carrot family’s signature licorice taste.
However, these seeds have some slight differences with the green-brownish color and meaty flavor. Therefore, using this as a caraway seed substitute helps the dish retain the taste and adds a meaty note.
7. Star Anise
Star anise seems like a new seed type, but it has been widely known to the Chinese as a spice and medicine. The shape of star anise shapes a star with eight cloves and has a brownish-green color.
Many people describe that the taste of star anise is similar to anise and fennel seeds, which are earthy, licorice, and slightly bitter if you cook a large amount of star anise. You can use the star anise seeds as a caraway seeds substitute in cakes and bread.
8. Nigella seeds
Nigella seeds, also known as black onion, or kalonji, are black, thinner, and smaller than regular cumin, herbaceous, drop-shaped seeds with the same leaf as oregano. Nigella has origin from the Middle East and Western Asia, belongs to the family of Ranunculaceae.
This spice is known from age-old, found in the Mediterranean region, North Africa, and India, and used widely from ancient Egyptian times.
When used in a seed or powder form, it often has a spicy, nutty taste, a slight bitterness, and a warm toasted-onion flavor.
Nigella seeds can also be ground into small powder and used in spice rubs to marinate. They also associate well all ground up and blend when mixed with other spices like coriander, thyme, and allspice.
Mainly, you can mix them in a dash in some bread-making recipes to get any flavorful like Russian rye bread and Indian naan!
Just like caraway, nigella seeds deliver licorice notes that are a reason to make it become a worthy substitute. They are sweeter with pungent notes similar to caraway.
As usual, I like to put them into sauces, salads, and even soups a few minutes before being served. Nevertheless, I want to give you another interesting way to use them: toasting and frying before adding to your cooking to bring out the full flavor.
They are an excellent caraway seed alternative in dishes like stews, curries, bread to make a perfect dish for your family. It also can be replaced with some spice recipes for caraway in equal volume.
Coriander is an annual herb that belongs to the same Apiaceae family as caraway, fennel, and parsley. All of this family contains the same oils and is incredibly aromatic.
The fundamental parts of coriander are edible, but its fresh leaves and dried seeds are used most of all and often cooked in many traditional cuisines worldwide, from Mexico to China.
Coriander is often described with a tart, citrusy, refreshing, earthy, and peppery taste. Some varieties also have notes of lemon zest that go with a floral aroma that releases when toasted.
Coriander has a taste that stands in well for caraway’s citrus taste. Therefore, if you are looking for an intense flavor to replace caraway, coriander is also a perfect substitute because they are a close relative.
There is a little bit of difference in that coriander can’t copy the licorice flavor of caraway. Even so, it still has some nice floral notes that will be combined well in certain dishes. If you substitute the coriander in your recipe, you should use the same with an equal amount of caraway seeds.
Facts About Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds are a flexible ingredient for cooking and treating illnesses. These slight bitter, licorice and earthy seeds might be utilized as a ground or whole seed for various dishes such as rye bread, curries, stews, and pastries.
You may not know that caraway seeds can also be cooked into a medicinal tea or essential oil for applying on the skin.
They first appeared in ancient Arab as a medical herb as a digestive aid. Then the seeds were exported to England and changed into a culinary ingredient.
These seeds are popular because they have many health benefits such as inflammation reduction, healthier digestion, antioxidants, and even weight loss as they have a lot of nutrients for diets such as iron, calcium, fiber, and zinc.
Other notable nutrients are limonene, pinene that boosts the metabolism, and vitamins such as vitamin A, E, and B-complex to strengthen the body’s immune system.
Due to its great benefits, people tend to combine them in bread and pastries to promote a healthier option. The seeds are commonly used to substitute for caraway seeds in Irish soda bread, biscuits, croutons, French toasts, or muffins.
What Does Caraway Seed Taste Like?
Caraway seeds are popular in Asia, Europe, and African cuisine. Its flavor was described as a sharp and strong sense of licorice, bitter and nutty taste. As the seeds have such a sophisticated taste, it is used in a wide range of dishes from sour to sweet ones, especially in bread recipes.
It is also a must-have ingredient in Tunisian harissa, Polish sausage, cabbage stir-fries, or soup. However, you might find yourself in an odd favor where there are no caraway seeds left.
Instead of going amok, you can use other seeds with similar taste to caraway seeds for an alternative.
Caraway vs. Cumin vs. Fennel: Which One Is Better?
As these seeds are part of the carrot family, it might not be easy to compare them. All these seeds have licorice, earthy, and bitter taste.
However, each one has a different taste level and can be more suitable in some dishes than others. For example, cumin has a dry and peppery flavor, which works better with curry than caraway and fennel seeds.
How To Store Caraway Seeds?
Caraway seeds are not permanent ingredients, and they can last to 3-4 years with proper storage. It would be best if you kept the caraway seeds in an airtight container and put it in a cool-temperature place.
The environment should not be humid as well to retain the seeds’ usage. We recommend that you can store it in the fridge for many future caraway seeds recipes.
As all home cooks, we want to retain the fresh taste of ingredients for our dishes. Sometimes, we might lack some ingredients for a recipe and need to find different options such as cream sherry substitute.
In this post, we hope you have found the best substitute for caraway seeds for your recipe. Cooking is a great experimental process, and your dish shouldn’t be ruined if there is a missing ingredient.