Chinese Five Spice is a unique spice mixture that combines all the five elements of Chinese cuisine. It is used as a seasoning and a spice rub over meats or fried foods.
Chinese Five Spice mixture has a flavor that incorporates the sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami flavors that are present in Chinese cuisine. But if you ever run out of this wonderful spice mix, you can opt for a Chinese Five Spice substitute available.
The closest substitute for Chinese Five Spice powder is star anise, as it is the primary ingredient of this mixture. Keep reading to know all the other replacements that you can use in place of the Chinese Five Spice powder.
Best Chinese Five Spice Substitutes
1) Star Anise
Star anise is a spice pod native to China that is extensively used in Chinese cuisine. It is the primary ingredient in Chinese Five Spice powder and the closest substitute. Note that you need to add one star anise for ½ teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice. Therefore, you need two star anise for 1 whole teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice.
Star anise pods cannot be used as a seasoning, but you can always add them to your dishes while cooking. Also, if you want to use it as a spice rub or as an ingredient in baked or fried foods, you can always get some star anise in powdered form.
However, while using it as a substitute, you should remember that star anise has a strong flavor and needs to be used sparingly.
2) Garam Masala
Garam masala is perhaps the most commonly used Chinese Five Spice powder replacement. It has a complex, slightly sweet taste that works as a good substitute for the intensity of Chinese Five Spice. One thing to note is that garam masala tends to be hotter than Chinese Five Spice powder.
If you don’t know already, garam masala is a spice mix from South Asia. When cooking, just substitute ½ tablespoon of garam masala for 1 tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice.
Not only this, but Chinese Five Spice and garam masala also share some ingredients in common, which gives them a similar flavor. Some of the spices used in these mixtures are star anise, cardamom pods, cloves, fennel seeds, etc.
Baharat is a spice mixture that originates from the Middle East. It is one of the most versatile and flavorful substitutes for Chinese Five Spice powder.
Baharat is typically prepared using a variety of spices like dried chili peppers, allspice, dried paprika, cloves, cardamom seeds, turmeric, ginger, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds. Variations of this spice mix include other ingredients like mint as well.
Baharat can be used as a seasoning, as a condiment, as a spice rub, a marinade, and more. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio. So, add one tablespoon of Baharat in place of one tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice.
There is no doubt that baharat can be used to replace the Chinese Five Spice in any dish you could desire.
Za’atar is a herb used as the primary ingredient in a spice mixture of the same name. This spice mixture contains other seasonings and spices like cumin, sesame seeds, salt, dried sumac, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds.
Although Za’atar is most commonly used as a condiment, you can substitute it as a seasoning in place of Chinese Five Spice powder. Just add ⅓ tablespoon of Za’atar for every 1 tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice. Like Chinese Five Spice, Za’atar is used as a seasoning for meat and baked goods.
When it comes to flavor, Za’atar is a good alternative for Chinese Five Spice powder as it has a complex earthy taste with a hint of sweetness.
5) Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are an essential ingredient in Chinese Five Spice powder and can be used as a substitute on their own. They have a warm, well-rounded flavor with a slight sweetness that will give your dishes the taste you desire in a Chinese Five Spice substitute.
Like Chinese Five Spice powder, fennel seeds are commonly added on top of baked goods to give them a boost in flavor. Moreover, you can use powdered fennel seeds as a seasoning or as an ingredient in dishes like soups, stews, fish, and other meats.
Keep in mind that you can substitute 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds for 1 tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice.
Allspice gets its name from the quality of combining the flavors of clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. With such a complex and intense flavor profile, allspice is easily one of the best Chinese Five Spice powder substitutes. You can substitute 1 tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice powder for ½ tablespoon of Allspice.
Similar to Chinese Five Spice powder, allspice is used as a seasoning over bread and desserts to give them a boost in flavor and aroma. It is also not uncommon to find allspice used as a glaze or seasoning over meat.
You can even replace Chinese Five Spice powder with allspice while cooking dishes like stews, soups, or preparing condiments.
7) Ras El Hanout
Ras El Hanout is an intense and versatile spice mix widely used in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria. Like Chinese Five Spice powder, Ras El Hanout is used as a seasoning over many dishes like soups, meats, and even baked goods.
There is technically no fixed recipe for this spice mix as it uses a large variety of ingredients to give it a complex and rich flavor. Just note that you can substitute 1 tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice for ½ tablespoon of Ras El Hanout.
Ingredients like chili pepper, paprika, cumin, nutmeg, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, coriander seed, turmeric, ginger, etc., are commonly used to make Ras El Hanout.
8) Dried Red Chili
Dried red chili is one of the most noticeable ingredients in Chinese Five Spice powder. It is also commonly used as a seasoning and provides an intensely spicy flavor.
So, you can easily use dried chili as an alternative for Chinese Five Spice powder. You can either use it as a powder or dried flakes to sprinkle onto meats, soups, vegetables, and other dishes.
This flavorful substitute can also be used while cooking any dish you can think of. The only problem that might arise is that dried red chili does not hint at the sweetness of Chinese Five Spice powder. Also, you will have to add the amount as per your preference.
9) Sichuan Pepper
Sichuan pepper is a unique pepper that is present in some Chinese cuisines. Having close ties to Chinese Five Spice powder, Sichuan pepper shares a similar flavor and can easily substitute dishes. So, you can add ½ tablespoon of ground fennel seeds and ½ tablespoon of Sichuan Peppercorn instead of 1 tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice.
Like Chinese Five Spice powder, Sichuan pepper will give you an exciting flavor that will make your mouth tingle and provide a hint of citrus. Although it does not have a savory umami flavor like Chinese Five Spice can still add an interesting and well-rounded taste to any dish you desire.
10) Anise Seed
Anise seed is a popular spice used in Egypt and surrounding countries. It is small in size, slightly curved, and has a brown color. Although the name might suggest otherwise, anise seeds and star anise are from two different families of spices.
However, both anise seeds and star anise can be used as substitutes for Chinese Five Spice powder. Anise seeds taste similar to licorice with a slight sweetness to it. You can use these seeds to season any foods like soups, meat, bread, and baked goods in place of Chinese Five Spice powder.
You can substitute ½ teaspoon of anise seed for ½ teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice.
11) Star Anise and Garam Masala
As mentioned earlier, Star Anise and Garam Masala are the closest substitutes for Chinese Five Spice powder. So, what better replacement can you use other than combining these two ingredients?
As it is the primary ingredient, star anise will give you the signature taste of Chinese Five Spice powder, whereas garam masala will provide hotness to the dish you use this substitute in. You can combine these two ingredients to make the best and most flavorful seasoning that you can use in place of Chinese Five Spice powder.
Note that for 1 tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice, you need to add ⅓ tablespoon of garam masala and ¼ tablespoon of powdered star anise.
12) Star Anise and Dried Red Chili
As you know already, star anise has a savory yet sweet taste, whereas dried red chili adds spice and hotness. When combined, these two ingredients can easily give you the all-encompassing flavor that Chinese 5 Spice powder has.
Umami, bitterness, saltiness, sweetness, and spice – this combination of two ingredients achieves all the five essences of Chinese cuisine. You need to use one star anise for every teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice, and then add dried red chili as per your taste. Then, grind these two into a fine powder and drizzle it on foods like stews, meats, soups, etc.
13) Star Anise and Fennel Seeds
Star Anise and Fennel Seeds is another combination that can serve as a good replacement for the complex flavors of Chinese Five Spice powder. As they are used to make Chinese Five Spice powder, there is no doubt that they can provide the same taste.
Star Anise and Fennel Seeds have an earthy, intense, and savory taste that can elevate any dish. Moreover, they both leave a slightly sweet and citrusy aftertaste similar to the flavor profile of Chinese Five Spice powder. So, you can use this combination of ingredients to season whichever foods you'd like some zing on your tongue.
14) Homemade Chinese Five Spice Powder
Of course, instead of looking for alternatives, you can always prepare some Chinese 5 Spice powder at home. Not only will this give you exactly the flavor you are looking for, but you probably have most of the ingredients right in your kitchen!
To make your homemade Chinese Five Spice powder, all you need to do is ground spices like Sichuan pepper, Chinese cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, turmeric, nutmeg, ginger root, cardamom pods, etc.
After gathering them, ensure that all your grounded ingredients have combined well into one fine powder. Voila! You now have precisely the zinger you were looking for.
Are you still mulling over which of these best Chinese Five Spice substitutes you can use best with your recipe? Check out their notes for each substitute below and see which one fits your needs.
|Star Anise||Star Anise is the main ingredient in Chinese Five Spice powder and the closest substitute.|
|Garam Masala||Garam Masala shares Chinese Five Spice powder ingredients, but it’s slightly hotter.|
|Baharat||Baharat has a similar complex flavor and is a versatile alternative for Chinese Five Spice powder.|
|Za'atar||Za’atar is a spice mix with a well-rounded flavor to season meats and baked foods.|
|Fennel Seeds||Fennel seeds have a warm flavor that can substitute for Chinese Five Spice powder in desserts and soups.|
|Allspice||Allspice combines the flavors of clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon and gives the richness of Chinese Five Spice.|
|Ras El Hanout||Ras El Hanout incorporates many rich spices, a great substitute for five-spice powder in dishes like soups, baked foods, meat.|
|Dried Red Chili||Dried Red Chili is a flavorful replacement for Chinese Five Spice powder used for seasoning, cooking, and flavoring.|
|Sichuan Pepper||Sichuan Pepper has a complex flavor that makes your mouth tingle and leaves a citrus taste when used in any dish.|
|Anise Seeds||Anise seeds have a savory taste with a slight sweetness to them.|
|Star Anise and Garam Masala||Star Anise and Garam Masala create a flavorful substitute for Chinese Five Spice powder to season any dish.|
|Star Anise and Dried Red Chili||Star Anise is savory and sweet, and Dried Red Chili is hot and spicy. Hence, combing them creates a delicious flavor profile.|
|Star Anise and Fennel Seeds||Star Anise and Fennel Seeds are present in Chinese Five Spice powder and are suitable substitutes for season meat, soups, and stews.|
|Homemade Chinese Five Spice Powder||Homemade Chinese Five Spice Powder is easy to make and gives you precisely the flavor you are looking for.|
Chinese Five Spice powder is usually made by combining Sichuan pepper, Chinese cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, and star anise. Some recipes also use turmeric, anise seed, nutmeg, ginger root, cardamom pods, licorice, etc.
The Chinese Five Spice powder incorporates the flavors of the traditional Chinese elements, which are spices sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami.
The Chinese Five Spice powder and garam masala are often interchanged in recipes. This is because these spices share ingredients like star anise, cardamom pods, cloves, fennel seeds and have a similar flavor.