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Anise vs. Fennel Seeds: What Is The Difference?

  • Amy 

Are Anise & Fennel Seeds The Same? – Our Comparison

If you’ve ever had a recipe calling for anise seeds and you’ve only got fennel seeds on hand instead, you might be curious as to if you can use these seeds interchangeably? 

Are Anise & Fennel Seeds The Same?

Anise seeds and Fennel seeds both belong to the same liquorice plant family and have a similar taste due to them having both anethole compounds, which is why they are often confused.

We’ve composed a short informational guide down below which will take you through what anise seeds are, how they differ to start anise, what fennel seeds are and the similarities plus differences between each spice.

What Are Anise Seeds?

Anise seeds come from the Anise plant, they have a nutty, sweet and liquorice aroma and are often confused with anise starts. You can find anise seeds as whole seeds or as ground anise seeds for baking. 

They can be added to savory dishes like chicken for flavour, or even mixed into ground meat like burgers for a spice boost. You can also find anise seeds that are often used in Italian desserts. 

What’s The Difference Between Anise Seeds & Star Anise? 

Most people assume that anise seeds and star anise can be switched out for each other in the kitchen, but truth be told these spices are very different, with start anise belonging to the Chinese spices. 

The main difference between anise and anise stars is that anise seeds have a stronger spicier taste than black licorice while the stars are much milder and have a difference in taste.

What Are Fennel Seeds? 

Many people mistake anise for fennel seeds. Fennel seeds come from the Apiaceae family in the Mediterranean region, these seeds come from drying the anise plant out. 

What Are Fennel Seeds?

In Nothern American stores you will often find that these spices are known as anise since they have a similar flavor profile. Fennel is often used to add flavour to savory dishes like anise, we would not suggest substituting anise for fennel in sweet dishes however since the taste of anise is quite distinctive in sweet foods.

Differences & Similarities Between Fennel & Anise Seeds 

If you can swap anise for fennel and vice versa in some dishes, you might be curious as to what the big difference is between these two seeds. 

We’ve listed the similarities and differences between the two down below. 


  • Flavor – Both seeds produce a compound in their flavor profile called anethole which gives the seeds their licorice taste.
  • Fruit size – Fennel and anise seeds have a small seed-like structure which is dried after harvesting and sold in grocery stores. 
  • Both are used as spices – To bring a distinct black licorice flavour to dishes, both spices are used in savory recipes and sweet desserts.


  • Flavor profiles – Although anise and fennel seeds have a very similar taste, fennel is less sweet than ainise and mild. Anise has a more powerful licorice flavor.
  • Cultural uses – Fennel seeds are very popular in India and the Middle East and are often seen the most in blends like garam masala. Anise on the other hand is used more widespread, found in liquors and Italian biscotti.
  • Consumption of the plant – The primary use of anise is as a seed, however, for fennel, both the fennel bulbs and seeds can be put to use in the kitchen making them more useful for consumption.

Final Words

Overall, anise and fennel seeds are very similar and both have a black liquorice taste, they are often used to flavour savory dishes, anise seeds and anise stars are different despite them also having a similar taste.

Differences & Similarities Between Fennel & Anise Seeds

It is important to note that despite their similarities, anise and fennel do have slightly different tastes, with anise tasting better in sweet dishes than fennel, the bulb of fennel is also consumed.

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Amy Toliver

Hey'all I'm Amy, a born foodie and diagnosed with celiac disease 7 years ago. I refused to cave into tasteless, boring gulten free food and create my own! On my blog you'll find info & cool facts along with recipes, all on gluten free foods!