Fennel seeds are used in cooking for various recipes, including fish dishes and Italian food. These seeds taste similar to liquorice and are believed to have numerous health benefits. Some individuals cannot consume fennel seeds, either because of allergies or certain medications, and a substitute either for the spice or the health benefits may be necessary.
In recipes that call for fennel seed, you can easily substitute aniseed instead. The flavour and scent of fennel and aniseed are similar. Aniseed is slightly stronger than fennel, so some tastes might prefer using less aniseed than fennel in cooking. Aniseed is especially good for seasoning fish.
Cumin seeds are another alternative to fennel seeds which can be used in cooking. Cumin has an earthy scent, rather different from aniseed, and the flavour is also different, but it is a good substitute in recipes. Cumin seed makes the flavour slightly spicier and more earthy.
Fennel seed tastes very similar to liquorice, which means liquorice is a good alternative to fennel seeds. When substituting liquorice in a recipe, use slightly less than you would with fennel. The liquorice taste is stronger than that of fennel seeds.
Dill is another good substitute for fennel seeds. It has a milder flavour so using slightly more than the recipe calls for will approximate the taste of fennel. Dill seeds are especially good for Italian cooking substitutions.