The 10 Best Substitutes for Fennel Seed in Lasagna

We’ve all been in a situation where we try to make a full lasagna from scratch, only to find out that one ingredient – fennel seeds – is missing from our pantry.

Thankfully, there are plenty of great substitutes for fennel seed in lasagna!

Fennel seed adds warm and aromatic flavor with subtle hints of licorice which make it the perfect addition for hearty Italian dishes like lasagna.

But when you’re out of this important ingredient what do you do?

Don’t fret; fortunately, there are a few delicious ingredients that can replace it easily.

In this article, I will share the 10 best substitutes for fennel seed in lasagna recipes so that you don’t have to worry about making your favorite dish without its signature herbs and spices.

From caraway seeds and aniseed to za’atar mix and cumin powder, each suggested substitute has unique characteristics that would go nicely together with other flavors present in Lasagne recipes — creating new combinations you never thought of before!

With these suggestions, all the flavors in your next lasagne won’t suffer because of unfindable or forgotten ingredients.

Read Also: 15 Best Cheeses for Lasagna Recipes

What Are Fennel Seeds?

Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds come from the fennel plant, an aromatic herb in the carrot family native to Southern Europe and Southwest Asia.

The dried seed has a sweet and slightly bitter taste, with a licorice-like aroma that can add depth to any dish.

Fennel seeds are often used as a spice or seasoning ingredient in Indian cuisine, but they have also become popular across many other cultures due to their unique flavor profile.

They can be added whole or ground into curries, stews, salads, soups, dressings or dips for extra flavor and texture.

Fennel seeds are also often used in baking recipes including breads and cakes for a subtle sweetness.

The 10 Best Substitutes for Fennel Seed in Lasagna

Lasagna is a classic Italian dish that relies on the unique flavor of fennel seed to make it truly special.

But if you don’t have access to fennel seed, there are plenty of substitutes out there that can give your lasagna a similar flavor.

Here are the 10 best substitutes for fennel seed in lasagna:

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1. Anise

Anise seeds

Anise is an aromatic spice that has a mild licorice flavor.

It is popularly used in cakes, cookies, confectionery items like Jell-O, and savory dishes such as lasagna.

Anise can be used instead of fennel seed in lasagna for a more subtle flavor.

Simply grind the anise seeds into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and add it to your sauce or filling mixture.

Alternatively, you can use pre-ground anise powder from most grocery stores or health food stores.

Be sure to adjust the amount of anise according to taste as too much can overpower other flavors in the dish.

2. Cumin


Cumin is an aromatic spice that comes from the seed of a plant in the parsley family.

It has a strong, earthy flavor and can be used to add depth and complexity to savory dishes.

Cumin is popular in Middle Eastern, Indian, Mexican, and North African cuisines.

In lasagna, cumin can be used as a substitute for fennel seed.

To use it instead of fennel seed, simply grind the cumin seeds into powder using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Then add 1 teaspoon of ground cumin per pound of meat used in your lasagna recipe.

The cumin will impart its unique flavor without overpowering the dish like fennel might.

3. Licorice root

Licorice root

Licorice root is a type of herb that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries.

It has a sweet, aromatic flavor, and it can be found in many forms, such as powder, liquid extract, or whole pieces.

Licorice root can be used to replace fennel seed in lasagna to add an extra layer of sweetness and complexity to the dish.

To do this, simply grind up the licorice root into a fine powder and sprinkle it over your lasagna before baking.

This will give the dish a subtle licorice flavor without overwhelming the other ingredients.

You can also use licorice root instead of fennel seed when making Italian-style sausage or meatballs.

Simply mix some ground licorice root into your ground beef mixture before forming them into patties or balls and cooking them on the stove top or grill.

The result will be sweet and savory Italian-style sausages with hints of licorice!

4. Caraway seeds

Caraway Seeds
Source: The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

Caraway seeds are a type of spice that come from the caraway plant.

They have an aromatic scent with a slightly bitter flavor, reminiscent of licorice.

Caraway seeds can be found in many different types of dishes, ranging from curries to baked goods.

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Caraway seeds can be used as an alternative to fennel seed when making lasagna.

To do this, simply grind up the caraway seeds until they form a powder and add it to your lasagna filling mixture before baking.

The caraway will offer a unique flavor profile to your dish and provide some additional texture as well!

5. Celery

Celery Sticks

Celery is a crunchy vegetable with a distinctive flavor.

It is commonly used as an ingredient in soups and salads, but it can also be cooked and served as a side dish.

Celery has a milder flavor than fennel seed and will not overpower the taste of other ingredients in your lasagna.

To use celery instead of fennel seed, simply chop up one stalk of celery and add it to your lasagna mix before baking.

The celery will soften during the cooking process and provide an extra layer of flavor to the lasagna.

6. Parsley


Parsley is a herb commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.

It has bright green leaves and a mild, slightly sweet flavor.

Parsley can be used to add flavor to dishes such as soups, salads, sauces, and stews.

It can also be chopped or pureed and added to pestos or dressings for extra flavor.

When substituting parsley for fennel seed in lasagna, use one tablespoon of finely chopped fresh parsley for every teaspoon of fennel seed called for in the recipe.

This will give your lasagna an earthy, herbal flavor without overpowering it with the strong licorice taste of fennel seed.

7. Onion

Diced Onion

Onion is a common ingredient used in many recipes.

It has a mild, sweet flavor and adds complexity to dishes.

Onion can be used instead of fennel seed in lasagna for an added layer of flavor.

To use onion instead of fennel seed, simply mince the onion into small pieces or grate it into a paste.

Then add it to your lasagna sauce or sprinkle it on top of each layer before baking.

The onion will bring out the sweetness in the dish and enhance the overall flavor profile.

8. Artichoke

Artichoke Hearts

Artichokes are a type of vegetable related to the sunflower family.

They have a distinctive flavor that is slightly sweet and nutty.

Artichoke can be enjoyed raw or cooked, and they are often used in salads, pastas, pizzas, soups, stews, and other dishes.

When used in place of fennel seed in lasagna recipes, artichoke will add an earthy flavor with hints of sweetness.

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It will also give the dish a unique texture due to its small size.

Artichoke can be added directly to the lasagna before baking or it can be sautéed first for extra flavor.

9. Dill


Dill is an aromatic herb that is used in many different cuisines.

It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor with a hint of anise and citrus notes.

Dill can be used fresh or dried.

When using dill as a substitute for fennel seed in lasagna, use about half the amount called for in the recipe.

Dried dill should be added to your dish at the beginning of cooking so it has time to release its flavors.

Fresh dill should be added towards the end of cooking to retain flavor and aroma.

In lasagna, you could sprinkle some dried dill on top before baking or add fresh chopped dill into the sauce mixture when layering all ingredients together before baking it off.

10. Mahlab


Mahlab is a spice made from the seeds of Prunus mahaleb, a type of cherry tree.

Mahlab has an aroma reminiscent of sweet almonds and cherries, with notes of vanilla and cardamom.

Its flavor is slightly bitter but distinctly aromatic.

Mahlab can be used in baking or as an ingredient in savory dishes like lasagna.

When substituting mahlab for fennel seed in lasagna, you should use about half the amount that would have been called for if using fennel seed.

This will give your dish a similar flavor to what it would have had with the fennel seed but without being too overpowering.

Mahlab also pairs nicely with garlic, onion, oregano, thyme, rosemary and other herbs commonly found in Italian cuisine.

Fennel Seed

10 Substitutes for Fennel Seed in Lasagna

What if you're out of fennel seed and you need it for a lasagna recipe? Don't worry, I've got you covered. In this article, I'm sharing 10 substitutes for fennel seed that you can use to make your lasagna taste just as delicious as ever. From spicy chili flakes to fragrant garlic powder, I'll explain how to use each one and how it will affect the flavor of your lasagna. No matter what you have in your pantry, you'll find something here to help you make the perfect dish!
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 6 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 357 kcal


  • Anise
  • Cumin
  • Licorice root
  • Caraway seeds
  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Onion
  • Artichoke
  • Dill
  • Mahlab


  • Pick your favorite substitute from this list to use in your lasagna recipe.
  • Prepare the rest of your tasty meal.
  • Enjoy in no time!