Everything You Need to Know About Star Anise

Star anise is a distinctive spice that can add depth to a variety of dishes. With its unique flavor profile and star-shaped appearance, star anise can be used whole or ground to bring warmth and richness into your cooking. Learn more about why this aromatic spice is beloved in kitchens around the world.

Everything You Need to Know About Star Anise

What is Star Anise?

Star anise is a spice named for its unique star shape that is derived from the fruit of the evergreen Illicium verum tree, known for its aromatic seeds. Originating in Southeast Asia, star anise is dark brown in color and is now found in spice cabinets worldwide. The spice has a strong and sweet black licorice-like flavor, and it is often used in desserts, beverages, and even medicinally.

4 Ways to Use Star Anise

1. Baked Goods

Star anise has a strong sweet and bitter taste, making it easy to use in baked goods recipes, as long as it is ground up. Add the aromatic spice to cookies, cakes, and pastries.

2. Hot Drinks

Star anise can be used in full form in hot beverages like chai tea and mulled wine. Simply place it in the bottom of the pot and gently boil the beverage to infuse the warm and spicy yet sweet flavor of the anise.

3. Soup

Besides beverages and desserts, star anise goes well in some soups, typically those made during the fall season, like squash or pumpkin soup. Star anise brings a unique savory flavor to the broth like no other spice is capable of.

4. Pasta Sauce

Although it is less common, star anise can be used to spice up pasta sauce and add a bit of sweetness. Either place it whole or ground into the pan and allow the sauce to simmer to enhance the overall flavor.

Are Star Anise and Anise Seed the Same?

Even though they share a portion of a name, star anise and anise seed are not the same and come from different plants and have distinct shapes. Anise seed is a member of the parsley family, and thus it grows on green plants with white flowers—and the portion of anise that is consumed is the seed from inside these flowers.

Star anise, on the other hand, comes from a tree, and grows in a star shape with brown seeds inside.

Star Anise Spice Substitutes

  • Chinese five spices: one of the 5 spices is star anise, use on a 1:1 ratio
  • Fennel seeds: similar in taste, use on a 1:4 ratio (1/4 of the star anise called for)
  • Anise seed: similar in flavor, use on a 3:4 ratio (3/4 of the star anise called for)
  • Cinnamon, clove, allspice, mixed: Take the amount of star anise required and divide by 3, adding these three spices in equal amounts. The taste won’t be the same, but similar.

Author: Baba

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