What Are Caraway Seeds And How Do You Use It?

People have been using caraway seeds for centuries to add flavor to food. They are a type of spice that comes from the caraway plant. The seeds are small and round, and they have a slightly bitter taste.

Caraway seed (Carum carvi), also known as meridian fennel, Persian cumin, wild cumin, black cumin, Roman caraway, and Byzantine caraway, is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae, native to Europe and western Asia.

The plant is similar in appearance to other members of the carrot family, with finely divided, feathery leaves with thread-like divisions, growing on 20–30 cm (8–12 in) stems.

The main flower stem is 40–60 cm (16–24 in) tall, with white or pink flowers. Caraway fruits are crescent-shaped achenes, around 2 mm long and 1 mm wide, with five pale ridges.

What Are Black Caraway Seeds?

Nigella, or black caraway, is the unique, slightly bitter seed of an Asian annual blooming plant. Black Caraway seeds are not to be confused with regular caraway seeds. They are used in salads, cottage cheese, poultry, pickles, and lamb for their aroma and flavor.

What Does It Taste Like?

  • They have a nutty, bittersweet bitterness to them, along with a note of pepper, anise (mild licorice), and citrus taste.
  • They are often used in rye bread, but can also be used in other types of bread, as well as in cakes and pastries.
  • It has a sharp, anise-like flavor that is perfect for adding a hint of sweetness to savory dishes.

How To Toast

Toasting caraway seeds is a simple process that can be done in a few easy steps.

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool before using.

You can use toasted caraway seeds in a variety of recipes, such as bread, cakes, and cookies. They add a nutty flavor to baked goods and can also be used as a garnish for salads or main dishes. Give them a try the next time you’re in the kitchen!

Cumin Vs Caraway

  • Cumin seeds are lighter in color, larger, and have a more delicate flavor than caraway.
  • Caraway seeds have an earthier aroma than cumin seeds.
  • When used in cooking, cumin seeds are usually toasted to bring out their flavor.
  • Both Cumin and Caraway seeds can be used whole or ground.
  • Cumin is a key ingredient in many curries and chili powders, while Caraway is often used in rye bread and cabbage dishes.

Main Uses

  • Caraway has been used since ancient times as a spice, medicinal herb, and insect repellent.
  • The caraway plant is known to repel many garden pests, including cabbage white butterflies, and carrot root fly.
  • It is used as a spice in bread, cheeses, and other dishes. Caraway is also used in some liqueurs, such as Kummel.
  • This spice has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It was used to treat digestive disorders, flatulence, and colic in infants.
  • Caraway is also an effective anti-spasmodic agent and can be helpful in treating menstrual cramps and other types of abdominal pain.
  • It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.


Fennel seeds are the best substitute for caraway seeds. They have a similar flavor and essence but don’t taste quite like caraway. Fennel is a distinctive spice and has licorice notes. You can substitute an equal amount of fennel for caraway seeds in recipes.

How To Store

There are different ways to store.

  • You can put them in a container with a lid.
  • Another way is to put them in a jar.
  • You can also put them in a plastic bag.

People Also Ask [FAQs]

Are Caraway Seeds Good For You?

Caraway is a source of essential oils, including carvone, limonene, and anethole. These compounds give caraway its characteristic flavor and aroma. Caraway is also a good source of Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Where Do Caraway Seeds Come From?

Caraway seeds come from the Carum carvi plant, which is a member of the parsley family. The plant is native to Asia as well as northern and central Europe. Caraway has been cultivated in Europe since the Middle Ages, and evidence of its use in medieval times comes from seeds found in debris in lakes in Switzerland.

Where To Buy?

Caraway seeds can be found in most grocery stores. They are usually with the spices, or in the baking section. Look for a small, dark brown seed with a smooth surface. If you can’t find caraway seeds at your local store, you can buy them online.

  • Caraway seeds have been used for centuries to add flavor to food with a distinctive taste.
  • Caraway is often used in rye bread and cabbage dishes, but can also be found in many other types of cooking like cakes or pastries.
  • It has an earthy aroma that gives it a unique taste, which makes caraway perfect as a spice when combined with other spices.
  • They also have a long history of use in traditional medicine, as well as being an effective anti-spasmodic agent for menstrual cramps and other types of abdominal pain. Caraway is believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

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A poppy seed bagel is a bread-like bakery item that has a coating of poppy seeds on the surface. Shaped like an oversized donut, the bagel itself is made of a somewhat heavy, thick bread dough. Usually, the outside crust is sprinkled liberally with poppy seeds. The seeds look like tiny black pellets and give the bagel a unique, nutty flavor.

Harvested primarily from a plant known as the opium poppy, poppy seeds are very small oil seeds often used in cooking and baking. Opium poppies, also known by their more formal name, papaver somniferum, are flowering plants that have long stems and vibrant petals that bloom in a number of different colors. The petals are attached to a prominent bud, or seed pod, that contains a host of little black seeds. Once the petals fall away and the seed pod becomes dry and brittle, poppy farmers consider the seeds within ripe and ready to harvest.

Bagels, which are thick, chewy, donut-shaped bread rolls, are popular bakery items traditionally served for breakfast but are often eaten for other meals as well. Known also by the Yiddish name, beugal, bagels are considered Jewish in origin but can be found in various forms in many different countries. For instance, in the U.S., New York-style bagels, with soft, chewy crusts and dense middles, are very popular. In Canada, however, Montreal-style bagels, which are smaller and sweeter with a crunchier crust, are more common. Regardless of bagel style, many bakers add toppings, such as seeds, salt, or other spices, in order to give the bagel more flavor.

Poppyseeds come from the pods at the base of poppy flowers.

Poppy seeds are one of the most popular toppings for bagels. In order to properly make a poppy seed bagel, chefs must add the seeds prior to baking. For bagels that are boiled before baking, as is true for the New York style, bakers dip them into the seeds after boiling but before placing them in the oven. If the bagels are not boiled beforehand, chefs sprinkle the kernels liberally on top immediately prior to baking. In this way, a poppy seed bagel emerges from the oven with the tasty black pellets baked onto the crust so that they are less likely to fall off.

Smoked salmon pairs nicely with a poppy seed bagel.

Once cooked, a poppy seed bagel has a mild, nutty flavor. Many people find that the unique taste of a poppy seed bagel goes well with cream cheese and smoked salmon spreads. Others prefer the sweeter taste of honey or jam to complement the flavor. In some instances, poppy kernels are mixed with other toppings, such as salt, garlic, or sesame seeds.

Poppy seed bagels from the deli may be toasted at home and then spread with cream cheese.

Some people are concerned about the use of poppy seeds in cooking because of the relation to the drug opium, a derivative of the poppy plant. Opium, however, comes from immature seeds harvested from green seed pods, as opposed to the ones used in cooking, which are only taken once the pod is dried out and the seeds are fully matured. As a caveat, though, there is some evidence that poppy seeds, especially if eaten to excess, can cause a false positive reading on some types of drug screening tests. People who are concerned in that regard should therefore forgo indulging in poppy seed bagels or should at least limit their intake to only one.

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Breadfruit seeds are encased in a large football-sized, oval to oblong fruit. The fruits typically have a prickly, yellow-green to yellow-brown skin coloring, but their appearance may vary depending on the specific variety. Underneath the surface, the flesh ripens into a soft, creamy, and starchy consistency, containing many brown seeds. The seeds have an oval, oblong, to irregular shape with a slightly pointed end, averaging 5 to 10 centimeters in length, and are enveloped in a protective brown shell, sometimes with dark striping. Just below the hard outer surface, there is a thin, parchment paper-like covering, and the seeds have flattened sides, giving them an angular appearance. The central portion of the seed is cream-colored to ivory. Breadfruit seeds must be cooked to be considered edible, as the raw nuts will contain a bitter flavor, and once cooked, the seeds soften, developing a subtly sweet, nutty, and mild flavor.


Breadfruit seeds are available year-round, harvested from fruits that ripen multiple times a year in tropical climates worldwide.

Current Facts

Breadfruit seeds, botanically classified as Artocarpus altilis, are edible seeds embedded in the flesh of the well-known tropical breadfruit, belonging to the Moraceae family. There are several hundred varieties of breadfruit worldwide, and the trees are fast-growing, reaching up to 26 meters in height. Breadfruit trees are also highly productive. A single tree can generate approximately 204 kilograms of fruit annually. Breadfruit grows in an ultratropical climate, and almost all parts of the tree and fruits are used for medicinal, cultural, and culinary uses. The fruits can be seedless or seeded, depending on the variety, and the seeds are a secondary nutrition source as the flesh is the primary part of the fruit consumed. Breadfruit seeds are also known as Semilla Arbol de Pan, and once the seeds are cooked and prepared, they are popularly eaten as a snack, considered a delicacy worldwide.

Nutritional Value

Breadfruit seeds are a good source of carbohydrates to provide energy to the body and copper to maintain optimal nervous system functioning. The seeds also provide fiber to regulate the digestive tract, niacin to assist the body to process food into energy, vitamin B6 to maintain an active metabolism, and contains lower amounts of vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, thiamine, and folate.


Breadfruit seeds must be cooked before consumption and are well-suited for roasting, frying, boiling, steaming, or baking. Prepping and cooking the seeds is labor-intensive as the seeds must be cooked, cooled, and then peeled. The shell and membrane will easily come off, but it breaks apart into smaller pieces causing the process to be slow. The most popular method to prepare Breadfruit seeds is to boil the seeds for at least a half-hour or until the seeds can be easily pierced. Once cooled, the seeds can be peeled and sprinkled with salt as a savory snack, pan-fried in butter to develop richer, nutty flavors, or roasted over a fire for added depth. Breadfruit seeds can also be fried and consumed similarly to potatoes, cooked and tossed into soups and stews, blended into a puree, cooked, smashed, sprinkled in sugar, and then dried or boiled and tossed into salads. Beyond cooking and using the seeds whole, Breadfruit seeds can be processed into flour and baked into bread and pastries or mixed into pasta. Breadfruit seeds pair well with coconut milk, vanilla, cream, and salt. Whole Breadfruit seeds should be cooked immediately for the best quality and flavor. The seeds can also be processed into flour for extended use and stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry, and dark place.

Ethnic/Cultural Info

Breadfruit has been widely touted as a “wonder food.” The fruits are highly nutritious, fast-growing, and low maintenance, producing high fruit yields in just 3 to 5 years. Once established, breadfruit trees are also utilized for medicinal and household purposes, using many parts of the tree, including the leaves, fruit, latex, and bark. In Costa Rica, breadfruit is sometimes known as Fruta de Pan or Arbol de Pan and was introduced from the Caribbean in the late 1800s. Since its introduction, the tropical fruits grow abundantly along the country’s Caribbean coastline, and the trees are often found in backyards and home gardens. In the past few decades, there has been a movement to educate Costa Rican farmers on the importance of breadfruit cultivation as a regenerative crop, and several organizations are partnering with local growers to increase production. Most farmers used to view their breadfruit trees as a waste of space as the productive trees tend to drop fruits, creating a rotting layer of decomposing flesh around the tree’s base. As agroforestry organizations have visited these properties, they encourage the farmers to keep the fruits and sell them for use as a processed flour. Breadfruit flour can be shipped worldwide and requires an influx of fruit for processing, allowing the farmers to boost sales and plant more trees. In addition to drying the fruits, growers cook the seeds and sell them in local markets as a chestnut-like, on-the-go snack.


Breadfruit is native to tropical regions spanning from the Malay Archipelago to Oceania. The fruits have been growing wild since ancient times and were extensively cultivated by civilizations for improved fruit characteristics. Over time, the trees were spread throughout the Pacific to Polynesia through explorers, and experts believe the fruits were introduced from Samoa into Hawaii sometime in the 12th century. In the late 18th century, breadfruit was brought to the New World from the South Pacific through British explorers as a potential food source in the Caribbean. The fruits were seen as an inexpensive source of nutrients with high-energy content to feed the slaves working on plantations throughout the Caribbean islands. Breadfruit was eventually carried to South and Central America through migrating peoples, where the trees were planted and naturalized throughout warm, humid regions. Today breadfruit is only cultivated in tropical climates and cannot tolerate cold weather or frost. The fruits are grown in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, Australia, Africa, and Southeast Asia. When in season, breadfruit is typically sold through local markets, specialty distributors, select grocers, and grown in home gardens. Some breadfruit is also exported to colder countries as a specialty fruit, including Europe, Canada, and the United States.

The short answer is pepitas are pumpkin seeds without the shells, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Pepitas are pumpkin based seeds, but they are not from the same pumpkins most of us are used to. Pepitas come from a specific type of pumpkin, and are naturally shell free. But the word, which is Spanish for nugget, is often used interchangeably for unshelled pumpkin seed. Considered to be a Mexican staple, dating all the way back to the time of the Aztecs, the idea of including the seeds from the gourds comes from the propensity to use as much of the pumpkin as possible. Pepitas offer high natural nutritional value and are packed with flavor

Pepitas vs. Pumpkin Seeds

All pepitas are pumpkin seeds, but not all pumpkin seeds are pepitas. Pepitas are green seeds, while the seeds with the shells of pumpkin seeds are white. Pepitas come from specific varieties of pumpkins known as oilseed pumpkins, more specifically Styrian pumpkins. True pepitas have a much more robust flavor than regular pumpkin seeds, and why they look different than the inside seeds of other pumpkin seeds when you remove the shell.

But the differences are small when it comes to the health benefits. Larger when it comes to flavor.

Health Benefits of Pepitas

Considered a superfood, pepitas and pumpkin seeds are powerhouses of nutrition, including protein, Omega-3s and Omega-6s and loaded with antioxidants, offering benefits for heart health and boosting energy. They are an excellent source of magnesium, and the combination of zinc and copper is effective in improving your sleep. Check out out article about the health and nutritional benefits of pepitas.

What Can you Do with Pepitas?

So now that we know pepitas are healthy, what can you do with them? Eat them, first off. Whether you eat them as roasted pepitas or prefer raw pepitas, they have a nutty flavor, so they are great alternatives for baking and snacking when you need a nut flavor but want to avoid the risk of allergy. They are also a great source of protein. When cooking with them, pepitas are often preferred because they are not in shells and offer a more flavorful addition to your dishes.

Snacks and Sides

Pepitas are great as stand-alone snacks, but can also easily be added to other mixes as well. Add in a few to humus dishes or trail mix, sprinkle them on a traditional or fruit salad, or make seed or granola bars more flavorful by adding them as additional seasoning. If you’re just looking to snack on them alone, which is always a perfect option, you can choose to eat raw pepitas or bake, roast, and season them.

Garnishes and Marinades

Marinades and sauces are a great opportunity to add in extra healthy options while also combing flavors in creative and innovative ways. Add a handful of pumpkin seeds into your existing favorite braise, or mix it up with curry powder or garlic powder with a bit of olive oil or coconut oil and some black pepper to add extra zest to the naturally nutty flavor and create your own masterpiece.


The nutty slightly oily flavor adds a distinctive texture and taste to baked dishes, like lasagna or even to cookies, and with the added protein, are perfect for those on vegetarian or vegan diets. Also an added boost to multi-grain breads or making your own pumpkin seed butter and using it for all types of recipes. You can also take a regular cinnamon sugar mixture, add in a few seeds, and you have a whole new flavor, and favorite.

They are perfect for adding to soups and salads, but also used in breads, and as a staple of many Mexican dishes, offer an international flair to any dish, from soups to seafood. They’re easy to toss a handful into a bowl of breakfast cereal for an added energy and health boost to start the day.


Smoothies are favorites because they tend to be fast, easy, and delicious, on top of being packed with vitamins and other nutrients. But imagine adding these nutrient-dense powerhouses to create an even healthier superfood. You can add in raw pepitas or blend in a pepita butter for a thicker option.

Pepitas and Animals

Not all seeds or even foods are good for animals, so it’s always best to check to see what is safe for your furry or feathered friends. It’s also important to ensure that you feed only the raw versions of the seeds or nuts, not the roasted or salted versions.

Seeds are always worth a second look when considering feeding them to animals because there are so many that are potentially dangerous, even to different animals. Pepitas and pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients and are an ideal treat for our pets. They are one of the few seeds that are safe for them, but in small quantities.

And not only are they safe, the packed flavor and nutrition is healthy for them, too! So feel comfort in knowing you can mix in raw pepitas to their food, sprinkle them on top of their food, or even use them as treats and rewards in training, or just when they look adorable and deserve a reward!
Raw pepitas and pumpkin seeds are safe and a great treat for:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Birds (including parrots, finches, domesticated or wild)
  • Rabbits and other small animals


Pepitas and pumpkin seeds are incredibly versatile and robustly flavorful making them an ideal option for adding to your pantry to ensure healthy diets for your entire family, including your furry and feathered friends, either by including them as part of the meals and dishes or as treats and snacks. You can use them either as a staple in your existing dishes by adding new flavor combinations or expand your taste buds by creating entirely new ones. Either way, make sure you have a ready supply of bulk pepitas on hand because they are an invaluable source of health benefits that taste great no matter how you choose to enjoy them.

Many people think about seeds as things you plant to grow other items but neglect that you can eat some seeds themselves.

Seeds might not seem to be doing much in your smoothie or salad bowl, but they pack a nutritional punch. Many carry omega-3 and fiber to keep your heart and digestive system healthy, respectively.

Additionally, seeds are a great source of protein, making them an easy way to add more energy to your diet, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan and need meat substitutes. They’re easy to carry around as a snack, so they’re also great for hiking.

In this article, I’ll discuss the best types of seeds you can eat, why I enjoy them, and how you can add them to your diet.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are originally from Mexico and were a staple in the diet of the Aztecs. They’re small, black and white seeds from the Salvia hispanica plant.

They’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Due to their major health benefits, chia seeds have gained massive popularity over the last decade.

I like putting chia seeds in my smoothies or on top of oatmeal and yogurt. You can also use them to make chia pudding by mixing them with milk and letting them sit overnight in the fridge.

If you enjoy adding texture to your food while gaining health benefits, chia seeds are a great way to do so.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds come from the Sesamum indicum plant and are small, brown, or black seeds with a nutty taste.

You may be most familiar with sesame seeds on hamburger buns, but they are prevalent in many cuisines around the world.

For example, they’re a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine and are used in dishes such as sushi, stir-fries, and grilled meats.

Sesame seeds are a fantastic choice if you want more magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, and zinc in your diet.

Additionally, they contain phytosterols, compounds that can help lower cholesterol levels.

I usually add sesame seeds to my stir-fries or on top of salads. You can also use them to make tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds often used in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, come from the Cucurbita maxima plant. They’re small, green seeds that have a nutty taste.

I love the taste of raw pumpkin seeds because it is so mild, making them an ideal and convenient snack for any time of the day. I also enjoy roasting and salting them to bring out the nuttiness.

I usually eat pumpkin seeds alone to appreciate their chewy consistency, but they also go well in cereal and green smoothies. You can also try blending them into pesto or guacamole for a unique flavor.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds come from the Helianthus annuus plant and are small, brown seeds with a black-and-white striped shell.

Sunflower seeds are an exceptional choice for boosting your vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, and phosphorus, and they have many other health benefits as well.

Given their high protein content, this is one of the best types of seeds you can eat while on an adventure.

Whether hiking, biking, kayaking, or other activities, I know I can grab a bag of sunflower seeds for an extra energy boost.

In addition to snacking on them alone, sunflower seeds go well in trail mix, stir fry, and oatmeal.

I also like turning it into butter if I want a healthier alternative to peanut butter.

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds come from the Linum usitatissimum plant and are small, brown, or golden seeds. They have a nutty taste and a slightly chewy texture.

Flax seeds are an excellent plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating these seeds is also an excellent way to get more fiber, magnesium, and potassium.

I like to add flax seeds to my smoothies or on top of oatmeal and yogurt. They also go swimmingly in salads or mixed in with salad dressings.

You can also use them to make flaxseed meal, which is a fine powder made from ground flax seeds.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds — from the Cannabis sativa plant — are small, greenish-brown seeds.

They have a nutty taste, some describing it as in between pine nuts and sunflower seeds.

Hemp seeds are a great source of protein, essential fatty acids, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. They can help boost immunity, improve heart health, and reduce stress.

Seeing that they’re from the Cannabis sativa plant might make you wonder if it’s similar to the drug marijuana.

Although related, as they are from the same plant, hemp seeds do not contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. They are also legal to import into the U.S.

I enjoy hemp seeds as a snack because you don’t have to worry about peeling or cracking them, but you can just eat them whole.

Pine Nuts

Pine nuts come from the Pinus species plant and are small, edible seeds with a slightly sweet taste that I love.

They’re a good source of copper, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese. Additionally, they contain pinolenic acid, which has been shown to help control appetite.

I think pine nuts are underrated because there are so many ways to use them. Pine nuts make a great topping for salads, pasta dishes, or any dish that could use a little extra flavor.

You can also use pine nuts to make pesto or try them with avocado toast.

More specifically, here are some of the dishes I think pine nuts go best in:

  • tilapia
  • roasted mushrooms
  • zucchini salad
  • basmati rice
  • spaghetti with spinach and parmesan
  • green beans
  • ice cream
  • lemon arugula salad
  • and much more

Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds are seeds from the Papaver somniferum plant and are tiny, blue-black seeds.

They have a nutty taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Poppy seeds provide ample calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. They seem to carry plenty of health benefits, from promoting digestion to treating headaches.

Although the number of studies is lacking and more research needs to be done, there is a lot of potential for poppy seeds.

In any case, I love poppy seeds on bread, cakes, and pastries. You can also add them to savory dishes like rice or noodles. One of my favorite ways to use poppy seeds is a poppy seed salad dressing.

Wild Rice

Last but not least is wild rice, which you might have assumed is rice given its name. Wild rice is a seed from four different species of aquatic grass.

It’s a good source of fiber, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. Wild rice also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

I love pairing wild rice with roasted vegetables or using it as a base for salads.

You can also stuff it inside of chicken or mix it with mushrooms, olive oil, and chicken broth for a tasty soup.

Types of Seeds

  • Chia Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Pine Nuts
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Wild Rice

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a list of seeds that are not only delicious but nutritious as well.

Now that you know all about different types of seeds you can eat, I hope that you will try out some interesting recipes, mix them in your morning smoothies or yogurt, or simply eat some of them alone as a power-food snack.

So next time you’re in the store wondering what healthy snack you can pick up, skip over the chips and crackers and get some healthy seeds you can eat instead!

Learn about other food on our blog, like different pasta shapes or types of legumes to eat.

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This dried, licorice-like seasoning might be a bit under the radar, but it’s distinctively flavorful and has health benefits to boot.

Spices and herbs like fennel seeds offer flavor, aroma and potential health benefits. Whether you use fennel seeds for pickling vegetables, seasoning sausage or making a crust for fish or beef, you’ll soon realize that these aromatic seeds can elevate the most basic recipes. Fennel seeds also offer vitamins, minerals and fiber, so you can feel good about working them into your weekly meal plan. Read on to find out what fennel seeds are, their benefits and how you can use them in your dishes.

What Are Fennel Seeds?

Fennel seeds are harvested from the fennel plant’s flowers and then dried. They tend to be pale green to tan in color with an oval shape. Like the fennel bulb, they have a sweet, licorice-like flavor that can lend an earthy, sweet taste to dishes, and they pair especially well with seafood and pork.

Are Anise and Fennel the Same Thing?

Fennel is sometimes confused with anise and although both are part of the parsley family, anise is a separate species entirely. Anise is grown mainly for its seeds, while fennel has the bulb, fronds and seeds to offer. Anise also has a stronger, sharper licorice flavor compared to fennel. And just to make things a bit more complicated, the strong, distinctive-tasting star anise—a main ingredient in many Chinese dishes—is from a completely different plant family than both fennel and anise.

What’s a Good Substitute for Fennel Seeds?

If you need a swap for fennel seed, you can use anise seed since their tastes are similar. But remember, you will want to use less anise, as it tends to be more pungent. Depending on your preferences, other seeds will work as well, such as dill, caraway, cumin or coriander.

Spicy Coriander-Cumin Chicken Thighs

Fennel Seeds Nutrition

  • Calories: 7 kcal
  • Protein: 0.3 g
  • Fat: 0.3 g
  • Carbohydrate: 1 g
  • Fiber: 0.8 g
  • Potassium: 34 mg
  • Calcium: 24 mg
  • Iron: 0.37 mg
  • Magnesium: 7.7 mg
  • Manganese: 0.13 mg

Health Benefits of Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are tiny but mighty—they contain minerals like calcium that play a role in building bones and maintaining nerve and muscle function. They also have iron, an essential nutrient for growth and development, and magnesium which also supports muscle and nerve functions. Fennel seeds also contain manganese, a mineral that is important for bone health and supporting the immune system.

Where to Buy Fennel Seeds

Whole fennel seeds are sold in the dried spices section of most supermarkets. Ground fennel is also an option, but for maximum freshness and flavor it’s best to buy whole seeds and grind them yourself at home. From there, enjoy them on their own or combine them with other spices to make your own unique spice blend. You can also check out our ideas for seasoning blends and herb mixes for inspiration.

How to Cook with Fennel Seeds

With a flavor profile that’s distinctive and herbaceous, fennel seed is a versatile spice that can be used as a seasoning for fish fillets, like our Poached Salmon with Fennel & Lemon, and for pizzas, like our Garlic, Sausage & Kale Naan Pizzas. Add them to salad dressings, main dishes like pork tenderloin, desserts and more!

Bottom Line

Now that you know what fennel seeds are, it is time to grind them up and use them in a variety of savory dishes and desserts. Enjoy!

Here’s what you should know about the autumn treats that add crunch to snacks, salads, and desserts.

Photo: Getty Images

Pepitas and pumpkin seeds seem so similar, you might think they are the same thing. But while they are not exactly the same, they are closely related. Pumpkin seeds are whole seeds with their shells still on, whereas pepitas are found in shell-less, or hulless pumpkin varieties. Just as we were taught in grade school that a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square, the same concept applies to pepitas and pumpkin seeds. While all pepitas are a type of pumpkin seed, not all pumpkin seeds are pepitas. Both are essential to fall menus, but are not completely interchangeable in the kitchen. Here’s how to know when and how to use them.

What are pumpkin seeds?

Pumpkin seeds are oval-shaped with cream-colored husks. Their shells are edible, and they have a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. Unlike pepitas, pumpkin seeds need to be cooked before eaten; they are commonly pan-toasted or roasted as in this Rosemary-Brown Sugar Pumpkin Seeds recipe.

What are pepitas?

Yes, with some limitations. Pumpkin seeds must be roasted before eaten, while pepitas can be eaten raw. As well, pumpkin seeds and pepitas have different textures and flavors. The smoother texture of pepitas makes them better suited to adding to a salad or sprinkling on top of a pasta or soup. The thick hull on pumpkin seeds makes them crunchier and chewier, and requires that they be roasted before eating. But once they are roasted, you can use either when snacking.

How to enjoy pepitas and pumpkin seeds

Both pumpkin seeds and pepitas alike contain healthy fats, fiber, protein, and a range of vitamins and minerals. And both can be used in a variety of recipes. You can eat them simply roasted like this Sesame-Soy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds recipe or these Jalepeño-Lime Pepitas, in dips like this Mayan Sikil Pak or this Pepita-Sesame Salsa Macha, mix them into breakfast or snack bars, sprinkle them atop bowls, salads or soups like this Winter Squash Soup with Pumpkin Seeds. And don’t forget to use them in all kinds of fun recipes like our Mayan Pepita-Chicken Stew recipe or a dessert like this Chocolate Panna Cotta with Spiced Pepita Brittle recipe.

Anise seeds lend a licorice flavor to baked goods and more. This spice is widely used in Middle Eastern, Italian, German, Indian, and Mexican cooking. Anise seed is used in Italian biscotti, desserts, and charcuterie. Its extract flavors alcohol including anisette and ouzo.

What Is Anise?

Anise seed is used as a spice, either ground or whole. Anise essential oil and extract are also made from the seeds. The seeds are produced by the Pimpinella anisum plant, which has been cultivated in Egypt, the Middle East, and Europe for many centuries. The seeds are small, brownish-gray, and slightly curved, with an aroma of licorice. The plant also has aromatic leaves and stems that can be used as an herb, tasting like licorice, fennel or tarragon.

Anise vs. Star Anise vs. Fennel

Despite its similar name, anise is not related to star anise (Illicium verum), which is another spice from a different family of plants. Either can be used to make anise extract as both contain anethole, which produces the characteristic anise flavor. Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is the source of the extract and seeds used in European, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisine. The star anise is native to China. As star anise is cheaper to produce, today much of the essential oil of anise is from star anise rather than anise.

Anise is not the same thing as fennel, although the two do have a similar flavor, and the plants are somewhat similar looking. Anise and fennel are from the same family of plants (along with caraway, parsley, cilantro, and others), but they are different species. In general, fennel is served as a vegetable, while anise is used as a spice in seed form, either whole or ground.

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Anise has a licorice flavor that is sweet, mildly spicy, and very aromatic. This flavor is produced by anethole, an organic compound related to estragole, which produces flavors in tarragon and basil. One key characteristic of anethole is that it is very soluble in alcohol but only slightly soluble in water. As a result, when you add water to liqueurs that contain anise extract, the drink turns cloudy. This is known as the ouzo effect after one of the characteristic anise-flavored liqueurs.

Anise seed (whole or ground) can be added to the dough for baked goods, fruit fillings for pies, and ground meat before baking. Anise extract can be used in baked goods and to flavor drinks such as coffee or hot chocolate. The seeds can also be used to brew a licorice-flavored tea.

Anise seed is the flavoring for a number of alcoholic beverages, including anisette, ouzo, sambuca, and absinthe. The slight candy-like flavor has made them popular as after dinner or dessert drinks. They can also be used to add flavor to coffee.

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You will find anise seed and its extract used in baked goods, savory dishes, and drinks in both the Old World and the New World. A few good ones are Pan Chuta sweet anise bread, double anise biscotti, and anise cinnamon sugar cookies.

If you don’t have anise seed available for a recipe, the best substitution would be fennel seed, a few drops of anise extract, or star anise. Any of these would add the licorice flavor. If you have whole star anise, it should be ground before using if it’s going to remain in the finished food, as it is woody and can’t be chewed.

Buying Tips

Look for ground and whole anise seed in the spice section of the supermarket. It is sold in small jars similarly to nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Anise extract may be found in the baking section, sold in small bottles.

How to Make Your Own Anise Extract

If you have anise seeds, vodka, and a small jar, you can make anise extract. Then you can use it for making biscotti or add it to a shot of espresso for some extra gusto.

  • Sterilize a 4-ounce jar.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of anise seeds to the jar, then 1/2 cup of vodka.
  • Seal the jar tightly and store it someplace cool and dark for two to three months.
  • Then strain out the seeds by pouring it through cheesecloth into another bottle or jar.
  • Store in a cool, dark place. The extract should be good for up to five years.


Whole or ground anise seed should be stored in a cool, dark place for the best shelf life. The whole seeds will be of the best quality for three to four years. Ground anise seed will lose its potency faster but still be good to use.

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