How to use Ground fennel: 5 recipe ideas

ground fennel
Ground fennel is a versatile spice made from the seeds of the fennel plant, which is native to the Mediterranean region but is now grown in many parts of the world. Its distinctive aroma and flavor are slightly sweet and licorice-like, with hints of anise and mint, ideal for sausages, meatballs, curries, and soups.

What is ground fennel?

Ground fennel is a spice made from grinding the fennel plant seeds (Foeniculum vulgare). The spice is a fine powder that ranges in color from a light yellow-brown to a deep brown.

OriginThe Mediterranean region
AppearanceA fine, yellowish-brown powder
Flavor profileHas a sweet and mild licorice taste with a hint of bitterness and an anise flavor


Originating in the Mediterranean region, fennel has been used in various cuisines for centuries, including Italian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisine.


Ground fennel is a fine, yellowish-brown powder with a slightly sweet and licorice-like aroma. The color depends on the roasting degree.

Flavor profile

Ground fennel has a sweet and mild licorice taste with a hint of bitterness and an anise flavor. It’s commonly used as a seasoning in sausages, marinades, soups, stews, and curries and can also be added to bread, pastries, and desserts.

Nutritional Benefits of ground fennel

Fennel bulbs and seeds contain nutrients essential for good health. Vitamin C in the fennel bulb is vital for the immune system, tissue repair, and protection against cell damage.

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Fennel and its seeds contain minerals like manganese, potassium, magnesium, and calcium necessary for enzyme activation, metabolism, cellular protection, bone development, blood sugar regulation, and wound healing.

The fennel plant contains potent antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid, limonene, and quercetin in all its parts, which could improve health. Fennel seeds have also been suggested to curb appetite. Studies revealed that anethole in fennel might possess anticancer characteristics.

Is ground fennel the same as ground fennel seed?

Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds

Ground fennel and ground fennel seed refer to the same thing: the powdered form of the dried fennel seeds. 

However, ground fennel and fennel seeds vary primarily in flavor intensity. Grounding the seeds accentuates their natural flavor, producing a more concentrated taste. Even a tiny amount of ground fennel can provide more flavor than an equivalent quantity of whole fennel seeds.

How to use ground fennel – best ground fennel recipes

Here are a few exciting recipes that incorporate ground fennel:

Lamb Chops With Fennel: A delicious and easy-to-make dish that combines the rich flavor of lamb with the distinct taste of fennel. The rocket, figs, and walnuts add a sweet and nutty complement to the dish while providing a refreshing crunch.

Aubergine Chips With Fennel Yogurt: a healthy and flavorful appetizer perfect for vegetarians or vegans. Combining crispy aubergine chips and creamy fennel yogurt creates a perfect balance of textures and flavors.

Torta al Finnochio (fennel cake): a unique and tasty dessert that highlights the subtle sweetness of ground fennel. This cake can be served as a sweet treat for breakfast or as a dessert after dinner.

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Fennel and Coriander Crusted Salmon with Fennel Citrus Salad: The combination of fennel and coriander gives the salmon a unique and complex flavor that is both savory and slightly sweet. The addition of citrus in the fennel salad provides a refreshing contrast to the richness of the salmon.

Fennel-Crusted Pork Tenderloin: This delectable dish features a mouthwatering blend of aromatic fennel seeds, fiery chili flakes, spicy garlic, and rich olive oil, which is then delicately coated onto the tenderloin before being slow-roasted in the oven.

Top 8 substitutes for ground fennel

If you don’t have ground fennel on hand, you can try substituting it with one of the following:

  1. Anise seeds
  2. Caraway seeds
  3. Coriander seeds
  4. Cumin seeds
  5. Star anise
  6. Dill seeds
  7. Celery seeds
  8. Cardamom
Anise seedsSimilar flavor to fennel, with a slightly sweeter taste
Caraway seedsSimilar earthy flavor to fennel, with a slightly nutty taste
Coriander seedsCitrusy, slightly sweet flavor
Cumin seedsWarm, earthy flavor and a slightly bitter aftertaste
Star aniseStrong licorice flavor similar to fennel
Dill seedsSimilar flavor to fennel but are milder and sweeter
Celery seedsSlightly bitter and earthy taste
CardamomWarm, aromatic, and slightly sweet flavor with notes of citrus and mint

Anise seeds are commonly used in baking and can be used as a substitute for ground fennel in savory dishes.

Caraway seeds are commonly used in European cuisine and can substitute for ground fennel in soups, stews, and roasted meats.

Coriander seeds are commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine and can substitute for ground fennel in curries and spice blends.

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Cumin seeds are commonly used in Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine and can substitute for ground fennel in spice blends and chili recipes.

Star anise is commonly used in Chinese cuisine and can be used as a substitute for ground fennel in stir-fries and braised dishes.

Dill seeds are a common substitute due to their milder and sweeter flavor.

Celery seeds are a good substitute for ground fennel in dishes where the anise-like flavor of fennel is not the main attraction, such as in salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.

Although cardamom does not have the licorice-like taste of fennel, it can still be a good substitute in some recipes, such as curries and stews, to add a complex and flavorful dimension.


Alexandra is a passionate writer with a deep appreciation for food - not just as nourishment but as an expression of culture, a reflection of history, and a celebration of life. She knows that everything in life requires a little spice - and gets a kick (get it?) every time she achieves the perfect combination of heat and depth.

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