Nothing can beat the umami flavors of the Chinese five spice when used in meat dressing or flavoring. Though if you cannot get hold of this spice to add to your recipe, consider using these wonderful substitutes for the Chinese five spice.
Chinese five spice is a blend of five components of Chinese cuisine including cloves, Chinese cinnamon, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds. It is popularly utilized in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese cooking.
A key ingredient in marinades and rubs for pork, fish, poultry, and seafood, Chinese five spice has five flavors that include salty, bitter, sweet, umami, and sour. Let’s talk about some of the best substitutes for the Chinese five spice that you can easily use in your next recipe.
13 Best Chinese Five Spice Substitutes
1. Garam Masala
A spice mix from South Asia, Garam Masala is a versatile ingredient that can easily replace the Chinese five spice. It is a frequently used ingredient in cooking that provides a sweet flavor to your dish with a hint of heat.
Garam masala can be used both as a powder and a paste. It can be added to several components, such as coconut milk or vinegar. To give it a little moisture, you merely need to combine it with water.
How to substitute: Use a half tablespoon of Garam Masala to replace one tablespoon of Chinese five spice.
2. Lebanese seven-spice (Baharat)
The most adaptable and tasty replacement for the Chinese five spice, baharat originates from the Middle Eastern region.
This spice blend is prepared with allspice, dried chili peppers, cloves, dry paprika, cardamom seeds, ginger, turmeric, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds. It is available in several variants with additional components including mint.
Garam masala and baharat have a comparable flavor. It has an earthy, sweet, and smokey taste with a fragrant mix of many spices. Baharat works magic when used in beef, lamb, fish, and chicken. You can also add it to other stews, soups, and rice dishes.
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace baharat for the Chinese five spice.
3. Star Anise
Native to China, star anise comes closest to replacing the Chinese five spice. It has a spicy-sweet taste, similar to clove, anise seed, licorice, and fennel seed.
Star anise pods give flavor to stews, soups, and braised foods. But once the food is cooked, you must take them out. On the other hand, star anise available in its ready-to-use powdered form tastes great in pie fillings, baked products, ground meat, and chicken.
Star anise can be used sparingly in recipes that call for onions, nutmeg, citrus, ginger, and cinnamon. If you flavor your food with star anise alone, the taste of the other spices is likely to be lost.
How to substitute: Use two pods of star anise to substitute one teaspoon of the Chinese five spice. However, when using its powdered form, replace it in a 1: 1 ratio.
Another excellent alternative to the Chinese five spice, allspice has a powerful and complex flavor profile. It is manufactured from dried berries and has notes of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper in addition to its sweet flavor.
Allspice is used as a flavoring over bread and sweets to enhance their aroma and taste. Additionally, it is not unusual to see allspice applied to meat as a topping or seasoning. You can also utilize it while making stews, soups, or condiments.
How to substitute: A half teaspoon of allspice can satisfactorily replace one teaspoon of Chinese five spice.
5. Ras El Hanout
Ras El Hanout with its rich flavors comes next on the list of substitutes for the Chinese five spice. It is a potent and adaptable spice blend, frequently employed in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria.
This spice blend uses a wide range of ingredients that provide a rich flavor to your recipe. It often contains a combination of several spices including cinnamon, anise, ginger, turmeric, mace, pepper, nutmeg, and cardamom.
Ras El Hanout can also be used as a condiment in several recipes, including stews, soups, meats, vegetable seasoning, and even baked goods.
How to substitute: To replace one teaspoon of the Chinese five spice, add half a teaspoon of Ras El Hanout to your recipe.
A concoction of herbs and spices, za’atar serves as a great substitute for the Chinese five spice. It is well-known for its lemony and nutty flavor that works wonders in dips, soups, sauces, marinades, vegetables, grains, meat, and other dishes.
Although you might find regional variations in za’atar recipes, sumac, oregano, sesame seeds, salt, and thyme are among its most often used components. Fennel seeds, cumin, and caraway seeds are a few additional possibilities.
How to substitute: Use one-third teaspoon of za’atar to replace one teaspoon of Chinese five spice.
7. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds, a crucial component of the Chinese five spice, can also serve as their replacement. They have a warm, well-rounded flavor and mild sweetness, reminiscent of the Chinese five spice.
Fennel seeds are frequently sprinkled on top of baked foods to enhance their flavor. Additionally, you can season foods like stews, soups, and fish, using powdered fennel seeds.
To increase the efficiency of fennel seeds as a substitute, you can combine its grounded form with Sichuan peppercorn. This mixture has a flavor starkly similar to the Chinese five spice that is lemony, sweet, and bitter.
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to substitute fennel seeds for Chinese five spice.
However, when combining it with Sichuan peppercorn, use a half tablespoon of grounded fennel seeds and half a tablespoon of Sichuan peppercorn to replace one tablespoon of Chinese five spice.
8. Dried Red Chili
Red chili is one of those ingredients that are endlessly present in your kitchen pantry. Easily accessible and can be used in various dishes, dried red chili is a notable replacement for the Chinese five spice.
It frequently serves as a condiment and adds a fiery flavor to vegetables, meats, soups, and other dishes. You can either use this as a powder or dry flakes when preparing a recipe.
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to substitute dried red chili for Chinese five spice.
9. Dillweed And Cinnamon Sticks
Another ingredient of the Chinese five spice that can be used as its substitute is cinnamon. It has a sweet, woody flavor and citrusy undertones which when combined with dillweed work wonders as a replacement.
You should not add fresh dillweed directly to your dish as it gets limp and ruins the flavor. Instead, chop dillweed and gradually add it to your recipe. You can then add one or two cinnamon sticks to give it an earthy, woodsy flavor.
This blend is usually added to the liquids used for stewing, braising, and soups. Remember to take out the cinnamon sticks before serving your dish.
How to substitute: A half tablespoon of chopped dillweed combined with one to two cinnamon sticks can satisfactorily replace one tablespoon of Chinese five spice.
10. Star Anise And Cinnamon
Star anise and cinnamon work fantastically as a substitute for Chinese five-spice. Although having different flavor profiles, they complement each other when used together.
Cinnamon has a little spicy flavor, but it is primarily sweet, whereas star anise has its peculiar aniseed taste. The best part of using this combination as a substitute is that you get to taste both the sweet, licorice-like flavor and the warm, spicy overtones in a single gulp.
Remember to take out the star anise pods and cinnamon sticks before serving as they do not have a pleasant taste individually.
How to substitute: Use ground cinnamon and star anise in a 1:1 ratio to replace the Chinese five spice.
Alternatively, you can use three entire star anise pods and a cinnamon stick.
11.Star Anise and Garam Masala
Although these two ingredients work sufficiently well as a substitute for the Chinese five spice when used individually, their magic increases when they are added together in a recipe.
Since it is the main ingredient, star anise gives your dish the distinct flavor of the Chinese five spice, while garam masala makes it hotter. You may expect your food to have mouthwateringly fiery, licorice flavors if you are using this combination as a substitute.
How to substitute: One tablespoon of Chinese five spice can be replaced with a combination of one-third tablespoon of garam masala and one-fourth tablespoon of star anise.
12. Star anise and fennel seeds
Another combination that can be used as an excellent substitute for the Chinese five spice is that of fennel seeds and star anise. Since they are the main components of the Chinese five spice, they have a similar flavor profile.
Any recipe can be improved by the earthy, strong, and savory taste of fennel seeds and star anise. Additionally, they both have a citrusy and sweet aftertaste, resembling the flavor of the Chinese five spice.
How to substitute: Use grounded fennel seeds and star anise in a 1:1 ratio to replace the Chinese five spice.
13. Homemade Five Spice
What could be a better substitute than your own homemade Chinese five spice powder? The ingredients used to prepare it are probably already in your home and will give you the exact flavor you have been craving.
All you require is ground spices such as Sichuan pepper, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, star anise, and fennel seeds.
Lightly toast Sichuan peppercorns over low heat for three minutes. The other ingredients should be added after grinding with the star anise. Mix these ingredients thoroughly into a fine powder, and boom! You have your very own homemade Chinese five spice.
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace homemade five spice for Chinese five spice.
Now, with these substitutes for the Chinese five spice, you will never have to panic about encountering it as a main ingredient in any recipe. Just choose the ideal substitute according to your preference and requirement, use it in your dish, and you are all set to relish its appealing umami flavors.