How to use star anise

Written by cassie tweten
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How to use star anise
Star anise gets its name from its star-shaped pod. (étoile d'anis image by nosnop from

Star anise is a liquorice-flavoured, star-shaped fruit grown in China, Vietnam and Japan that is picked before ripening, then dried as a spice. The flavour has a slightly bitter quality and is more potent than the regular anise seed more often used in the West.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Star anise
  • Mortar and pestle, or spice grinder

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  1. 1

    Boil star anise whole when using in most broths and soups. The Gourmet website recommends using two whole star anise pods in French onion soup to add a subtle sweetness. The O Chef website suggests using whole star anise and cinnamon sticks to flavour a sweet, oriental beef stew.

  2. 2

    Crush or grind star anise using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to create a fine powder to season dishes such as roasted potatoes or vegetables. Since star anise isn't a widely used spice in the United States, it can add an unexpected hint of sweetness to everyday dishes.

  3. 3

    Use freshly ground or packaged star anise, or Chinese five-spice seasoning (a premixed seasoning which uses star anise as its primary ingredient) to flavour Asian and Asian-inspired cuisine. The O Chef website recommends adding a whole ground star anise to beef and mangetout stir-fry.

Tips and warnings

  • Only a small amount of ground star anise is required for most recipes, since the spice is very potent.
  • Star anise has natural stimulant and diuretic properties, so don't consume too much at once.

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