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Savory Tweaks: 5 BEST Fennel Pollen Substitutes

Are you looking for the perfect spice to add flavor to your recipes, yet can’t find fennel pollen?

Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

In this article, you’ll learn the five best substitutes for fennel pollen so that your dishes have a delightful taste.

What’s Fennel Pollen?

Fennel Pollen is a highly aromatic and flavorful spice which originates from the flowers of certain varieties of fennel plants.

It’s one of the staple ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine, and its unique flavor profile can often be hard to find elsewhere.

Fennel Pollen has a licorice-like flavor and is often used for adding flavor to fish, poultry, vegetables, soups, salads, and cheeses.

Fennel pollen has subtle but powerful flavors – it’s a combination of sweet anise flavors with delicate floral notes.

Its complex taste works best in small amounts and adds nuance to an otherwise ordinary dish.

It’s also used as a rub on poultry or pork before roasting; mixed into pasta sauces; mashed into potatoes; combined with butter and garlic to make compound butter; blended into olive oils to make flavored oil; combined with orange marmalade, basil & chili flakes for vinaigrette; or added to breadcrumbs for coating fish or vegetables before baking.

Fennel pollen can also be used in desserts like cakes or cupcakes for an extra hint of sweetness.

5 Best Fennel Pollen Substitutes to Consider

If you’re looking to replace an ingredient or just don’t have access to this expensive spice blend, there are several alternatives on the market that you can use in place of it.

Here are some of the best substitutes for fennel pollen that you should consider when cooking with it:

1 – Ground Fennel Seeds

Ground fennel seeds offer many of the flavor notes that you get from fennel pollen.

The texture of these ground seeds is more like a coarse powder and its flavor is only slightly anise-like, with a hint of licorice.

It’s much less expensive than actual fennel pollen so it makes a great option for cooking.

You can buy it pre-ground or for the best flavor, grind your own with a mortar and pestle.

A little goes a long way in creating an incredible depth of flavor in foods from soups to dressings and sandwiches.

Just add it to any dish you’re making that calls for fennel pollen as your main substitute ingredient.

2 – Anise Seeds

Anise seeds, sometimes called aniseed, are small, sweet-smelling seeds that have a flavor similar to licorice.

These seeds can easily be used as a substitute for fennel pollen if you don’t have any on hand.

Anise seeds are usually easily found in grocery stores or supermarkets and are also readily available online in both seed form or ground up into a powder form.

When using anise seeds instead of fennel pollen, add them to your dish just before serving—the high heat of cooking can make the anise taste too strong.

If using the powdered form, you will need about half the amount of fennel pollen called for.

3 – Fennel Fronds

Fennel Fronds are the feathery, frond-like leaves of the fennel plant that come off the stalk and shoot up like little flowers.

They have a mild anise flavor — similar to licorice — and are often used as a garnish or to top a fish dish.

The fennel frond is also used in salads, soups, sauces, and as an herb in savory recipes.

When you buy fresh fennel at the grocery store, you’ll get a bundle of large fronds with some small white bulbs attached.

Don’t throw away those green stalks.

It’s possible to use them just like you would use fennel pollen.

Fennel fronds can be used as a direct replacement for fennel pollen when it’s not available.

To substitute for one teaspoon of ground fennel pollen, use two tablespoons of chopped (fresh) or one tablespoon of dried/powdered fennel fronds.

Keep in mind that it won’t have the same level of sweetness nor will it has as much depth as true fennel pollen.

4 – Dill Seeds

The fourth substitute for fennel pollen is dill seeds.

While not as strong as the fennel pollen, dill seeds are a great alternative for those seeking a flavorsome substitute.

This annual herb has an assertive and intense flavor, which makes it an excellent addition to fish dishes, salads, and vegetable-based soups.

When substituting fennel pollen with dill seeds, use two tablespoons of dill seeds for one tablespoon of fennel pollen.

The dill seed’s flavor is milder and more subtle than the more powerful flavor of the fennel pollen.

5 – Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds are a great substitute for fennel pollen, both in terms of taste and aroma.

They are also used to flavor rye bread and Sauerkraut, as well as to flavor soups and stews.

Caraway seeds have a mild, sweet anise or licorice-like flavor.

As with any spice or herb, using fresh caraway seeds is the best way to experience their full flavor.

Start by toasting the caraway seeds in a dry skillet over low heat until they become aromatic, before crushing them with a mortar and pestle or grinding them into a powder in an electric grinder or coffee mill.

Use potentially less than you’d use when opting for fennel pollen due to the intensity of its flavor profile.


Fennel pollen is a deliciously fragrant spice with a warm, delicate anise flavor.

While it can be expensive to purchase and hard to find in some areas, there are a number of great substitutes that offer similar flavor profiles.

Whether used on their own or combined in creative ways, these alternatives can help get creative in the kitchen while adding a unique complexity and depth of flavor to your recipes.

5 Best Fennel Pollen Substitutes to Consider

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes


  • 1 – Ground Fennel Seeds
  • 2 – Anise Seeds
  • 3 – Fennel Fronds
  • 4 – Dill Seeds
  • 5 – Caraway Seeds


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.
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