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10+ Best Chinese Five Spice Substitutes

Chinese Five Spice is a beautiful blend of five spices used in Chinese Cooking. Though its usage is limited to restaurants in China, it has become a staple household item in many Asian countries. The Chinese Five Spice powder makes the dish delicious and yummy. It can be used in all curries.

If you love Chinese duck or pork dishes, the Chinese Five Spice powder is a must in your kitchen cabinet. But what if you run out of the powder? There may be circumstances where you have invited a large gathering and then find out that the Chinese Five Spice powder is not available. What do you do?

Well, do not worry. We are here to brief you about some great alternatives that can replace the Chinese Five Spice powder. Let us get started.


What are the spices in the Chinese Five Spice?

The Chinese Five Spice powder consists of Chinese Cinnamon, Fennel Seeds, Star Anise, Cloves, and Sichuan peppercorn. The following table summarizes the flavor infused by each of the ingredients.

Chinese CinnamonSweet and Slight Spice
Fennel SeedsSweet and Warm Anise
Star AniseWarm, Sweet, and Spicy licorice
ClovesStrong, sweet-bitter, and astringent 
Sichuan PeppercornBitter Citrusy, lavender hint, and numbing sensation

They are all mixed into a single powder which gives an uplifting flavor to your food.

Chinese five Spice Powder Substitutes

There are certain substitutes to this Chinese Five Spice Powder. It may not give you the exact flavor. But, it can help you save your food flavorless. Let us look at each of them.

1. Garam Masala

Garam Masala is a common Indian Spice powder. It consists of Cumin, black pepper, Cloves, Coriander, nutmeg, Cardamom, and Cinnamon.

Though most of the garam masala ingredients are the same as the Chinese Five Spice powder, do not expect the same flavor.

You can feel the absence of licorice flavor of Star Anise and the warmth of fennel Seeds.

You can use the garam masala in all of your dishes either as a powder or as a paste. You can also mix them with coconut milk or vinegar. 

The ingredients used in preparing garam masala vary between places. Some people prefer adding ginger, mace, garlic, saffron, turmeric, bay leaves, star anise, fennel seeds, tamarind, mustard seeds, and fenugreek.

Use a small amount of Garam Masala. If you prefer more, you can always add them later.

2. Star Anise

If you are a great fan of Star Anise, you need not miss them in your food. You can use them either as a whole pod or in powder form in your dish.

Star Anise gives a warm, sweet, and spicy flavor to your dish. The whole pods are the best if used in soups, braised dishes, and stews. However, you need to remove them once the dish is ready to serve.

The Star Anise powder is well suited for baked items, fillings for pies, and in-ground meat.

Garam Masala and Star Anise

Blending the Garam Masala and Star Anise is a better option to get a similar Chinese Five Spice powder flavor.

You can mix ½ teaspoon of Garam Masala and ¼ teaspoon of Anise Powder for every one teaspoon of Five Spice Powder in your dish. It gives a whole lot of flavors to your dish.

3. Baharat

Baharat is translated as “Spices” in Arabic and is the main ingredient in Arabic countries. It is also called a Seven Spice Mixture.

It consists of Coriander, paprika, Cumin, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Cardamom, and black pepper.

Some people also try to include saffron, turmeric, sumac, mint, rosebuds, and Chilli peppers.

This can be the perfect seasoning for Beef, Chicken, and lamb. It can also be used to season soups and stews. 

It tastes similar to Garam Masala. It can give an aromatic flavor to your dish.

4. Zaatar

Zaatar is a combination of several herbs and spices. It includes sesame seeds, sumac, salt, Oregano, marjoram, and thyme.

You may also have fennel seeds, Coriander, and Cumin for a different flavor. 

The sweet and bitter combination pairs up well with meat, rice, and vegetables. It also gets along well with marinades, dips, and soups.

Try using this as a Chinese Five Spice powder substitute, and let us know how you like it.

5. All Spice

The Allspice is made of dried berries, giving us a nostalgic sweet flavor of nutmeg, pepper, Cloves, and Cinnamon.

If you have Allspice at home, you can use it for a variety of dishes.

You can also use the whole or grounded berries in soups, stews, baked goods, marinades, and desserts.

Though the flavor varies widely with the Chinese Five Spice, it gives a wonderful taste to your dish.

6. Ras el hanout

Ras Elhanout yet another chinese five spice subsitute that is widely used in Moroccan dishes. It predominantly consists of ginger, cinnamon, Anise, nutmeg, Cardamom, pepper, mace, and turmeric.

But, it has wide variations depending upon the spices used. Some mixes are made with thirty to eighty different spices. 

It gives a woody-bitter taste and sweet-spicy combo at the same time. It can be best used as a rub for meat or added to soups, stews, and vegetables.

7. Fennel Seeds, Sichuan peppercorn

Ground the fennel seeds and the Sichuan Peppercorn separately. Then mix them to get this spice mixture.

It gives a sweet-bitter flavor that reminds us of Chinese Five Spice powder.

You can also use black peppercorns instead of Sichuan Peppercorns. They are a little less spicy than the Sichuan Peppercorn. They might give less spiciness to your dish. But the flavors will be delicious. 

8. Cinnamon, star anise

You can mix the Cinnamon and Star Anise mixture. Cinnamon gives us a sweet flavor and spicy hint.

Star Anise gives us tastes similar to fennel seed, Anise seed, clove, and licorice.

Since the Chinese Five Spice powder contains both, this is a perfect substitute for Chinese Five Spice powder.

9. Fresh Chervil

Chervil gives us a similar flavor to Chinese Five Spice and is a perfect substitute for Chinese Five Spice powder.

It is best if used fresh. It can be used for garnishing or tossing through as a side dish. You can give your stir fry a layer of fresh flavor.

10. Sambuca or Ouzo

The Aniseed flavor of Sambuca or Ouzo is considered one of the best substitutes for the Chinese Five Spice powder.

It mainly compliments rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. You can cook it off a little to get rid of the alcoholic content. Well, do not worry about the flavor. It retains.

11. Dillweed and Cinnamon 

Dill Weed is dill leaves and compliments well with Cinnamon powder. They both together make a perfect substitute for the Chinese Five Spice powder. Dillweed is best if used as fresh. 

You can use it for liquid dishes and juices. Make sure to chop it finely to avoid limps and unappealing looks. 

The Dill leaves combined with the Cinnamon powder give a woodiness and earthiness flavor to your dish.

12. Rice Wine Vinegar, Anise and Cinnamon

The Rice Wine Vinegar, Anise, and Cinnamon are the best when used for the Vietnamese beef stew.

It gives a sour, sweet, and bitter flavor. It also complements well with the celery leaves to add saltiness to your food.

It does not replace the Chinese Five Spice Powder but puts your dish a spot-on flavor and does not fail to hit your taste buds.

13. Turmeric, Cardamom, and Anise

Turmeric, Cardamom, and Anise give you the same flavor as the Chinese Five Spice Powder. So, it can easily replace the Chinese Five Spice Powder.

The Savory but bitter turmeric, the sweetness of the Cardamom, and the sourness of the Anise try to infuse in all the flavors of the Chinese Five Spice powder. 

Final Words

The Chinese Five Spice powder is not a standard mix powder. You can use your creativity to include any of the spices that you have at home.

There are no restrictions about adding fresh herbs, spirits, and vinegar to your mix. 

There are many more flavors that you can prepare as a substitute for Chinese Five Spice powder.

Susan Wilson

My name is Susan and I am the person behind this blog. My mission is to help you become a better cook and start cooking like a pro! Here we talk about our kitchen adventures – good or bad- so you can laugh or two about it. So let the journey of mastering the ART OF COOKING begin.