Pernod is an anise-flavored French liqueur that’s commonly used in cocktails and cooking, or sipped with a little water. People usually need a Pernod substitute because they don’t want to buy a whole bottle for one recipe. If that’s you, or you can’t find Pernod in your town, then check out these popular alternatives for any application.
What can I use to replace Pernod?
The best alcoholic substitutes that provide similar flavors to Pernod are Pastis, Herbsaint, Anisette, or Absinthe. If you don't like the taste of aniseed, use whiskey or vodka instead. For a non-alcoholic backup in cooking, try using fresh fennel. Aniseed extract is great for desserts, baked goods, and mocktails.
Pernod is a type of pastis, so finding another variety makes sense as a replacement. Ricard Pastis is made by the same producer, Pernod Ricard. They both have a characteristic anise aroma and a prominent licorice flavor.
You’ll find that Pernod is a vibrant green color while Ricard is yellow, thanks to the addition of licorice. Not a deal-breaker if you’re cooking, but a mixologist seeking perfection may not like the result.
If you’re looking for a replacement to drink, Ricard and Pernod are both unsuitable for drinking neat. The high ABV and punchy flavor are too intense for most palates. A mix of one part spirit to five parts water is a good starting point.
For cocktails like Perroquet, Ricard Pastis is a great choice. It’ll also work well in any food recipes like Bouillabaisse, red meat, seafood dishes, and cream sauces. Try using ¾ of the amount and then taste test if possible. You can always add more if needed.
Note: Other pastis brands you could use include Henri Bardouin and Hurdle Creek Still.
If you can’t find a bottle of Pernod or Pastis at your liquor store, Herbsaint is another good option. Made by a U.S company, Sazerac, it’s like a super-dry type of Pernod.
With its neon green color, it makes for an eye-catching cocktail. You may want to add a little simple syrup, honey, or sweetener to allow for Herbsaint’s relatively low levels of sweetness.
In cooking, Herbsaint provides a delicious anise flavor and aroma. Like any alcohol, it loses its intensity as it is cooked so don’t add it too early if you’re slow-cooking food.
Hint: Herbsaint also makes a tasty Galliano replacement.
Anisette is a clear anise-flavored liqueur that is excellent for mixing into drinks like Marie Julep, Mojito, or French Mule.
In the kitchen, splash it into soups for extra depth of flavor. Seafood dishes like Oysters Rockerfeller, escargot, or mussels all benefit from this licorice liqueur.
Anisette is noticeably sweeter than Pernod and contains a lower alcohol content. Be careful not to overpower beverages and food with sweetness when using Anisette as a replacement for Pernod. It’s a good option in sweet desserts and baked goods like cakes and cookies.
If you’ve got a bottle of absinthe in the liquor cabinet, then you can use it to replace Pernod. Both drinks have a similar kind of flavor so if you’re only using them in small quantities in cooking the difference will be minimal. Use half the amount of absinthe and taste test before adding more.
In cocktails, seasoned mixologists will find absinthe easily overwhelms a cocktail. A dash is all that’s needed for most drinks.
Pernod is a liqueur that gets its licorice taste from mild-tasting star anise. Its flavor is well-rounded and subtle. On the other hand, absinthe is a distilled spirit with a higher proof. It contains a melange of herbs and spices that are complex.
If you want a cheaper alternative to Pernod, then absinthe won’t be your best choice. You’re better searching for a cheaper bottle of pastis.
Another versatile anise-flavored liquor is ouzo. It’s ideal for cooking with seafood like fish, escargot, crawfish, and oysters. Sauces, soups, vinaigrettes, and marinades also benefit from ouzo. It adds a warming, licorice flavor that helps offset any fishy aroma.
Ouzo provides a strong burst of sweetness - much more than Pernod. It’s best to start by using half the amount the recipe calls for. You may want to try diluting the liquor with a little water or stock to counter the sweetness.
Similar sweet liquors you want to try include raki, arak, or white sambuca. All should be used in moderation.
For something completely different, use whiskey in your cooking or cocktails. It adds a smokey flavor to food with a subtle hint of vanilla. Pour it into cream sauces, mash it into potatoes, or sauté it with seafood or red meat.
To retain the whisky flavor in your food, add it towards the end of cooking. For a more subtle taste of alcohol, add it at the start to allow the alcohol to cook out.
7. Vodka and Anise Seed
If you’re not in a hurry, a cheap way to make a Pernod is to combine one cup of vodka with a tablespoon of anise seeds. Allow the mixture to infuse in a jar or bottle for 2-3 days and the end result will work as a replacement for Pernod.
As you’d expect, this liquor will have none of the complexity you get from Pernod. For anyone that wants something in the ballpark that is less expensive, this is a feasible option.
8. White Wine
In many cooking recipes where you don’t care about the licorice flavor, the acidity of white wine makes a delicious alternative. While most white wine varieties will work, Chardonnay is a good choice.
White wine is another great choice for chicken fricassee, soups, or seafood dishes. Classics like risotto or paella are excellent with half a cup of wine added.
Handy tip: If you don’t drink a lot of wine and you’re worried the rest of the bottle will spoil, freeze it! Simply pour the wine into ice cube trays and once frozen, pop them into a ziplock bag for the next time you cook with alcohol.
In cooking recipes, fennel is a useful non-alcoholic Pernod replacement. Chop the bulb and stalks into suitably sized pieces and cook it with the other ingredients to add aniseed flavor to your meal. The fronds make a delicate garnish for adding during serving.
You’ll need to replace the liquid in the dish or it may be too dry. Water or stock are good no-alcohol options. A squeeze of lime or lemon juice will add freshness and acidity to the meal. Citrus is especially tasty added to seafood.
10. Aniseed Extract
While we wouldn’t recommend aniseed extract in savory cooked dishes, it’s excellent in baking and for adding a few drops to mocktails. A small bottle goes a long way and doesn’t take up much room in the pantry; it's also a much more affordable way to add aniseed flavor to food.
Summary table of suggested Pernod alternatives
|Pastis||Cocktails and savory cooking||Closest option for any application; a different color|
|Herbsaint||Cocktails and savory cooking||A less sweet, super-dry alternative|
|Anisette||Cocktails and savory cooking||Sweeter and less alcohol content|
|Absinthe||Cocktails and savory cooking||Stronger, more complex flavor; will quickly overwhelm other ingredients|
|Ouzo||Cocktails and savory cooking||Much sweeter; use in moderation|
|Whiskey||Cooking||Best for those who don’t enjoy licorice-tasting food|
|Vodka & anise seed||Cooking||For those who aren’t in a hurry and want a cheap replacement.|
|White wine||Cooking||A good all-round alternative for savory cooking|
|Fennel||Cooking||An alcohol-free way to get aniseed flavor into food.|
|Aniseed extract||Cooking or mocktails||Quick and easy choice for desserts and mocktails.|
If you’re okay with drinking alcohol, choose a related product like Pastis, Herbsaint, or Anisette. Each of these brings a boozy, licorice flavor to cocktails and food. If you trying to avoid the taste of aniseed, use whiskey, vodka, or white wine.
People looking for an alcohol-free option can use fresh fennel or aniseed extract.