What Can I Substitute For Chinese Five-Spice Powder

What Can I Substitute For Chinese Five-Spice Powder? Solved

Last Updated on November 17, 2022 by Shari Mason

Five-spice powder is a blend of five spices: star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds. 

It is used in many Chinese dishes to add flavor and aroma. But what can you substitute for Chinese five-spice powder?

If you cannot find five-spice powder or don’t have any on hand, don’t worry. There are plenty of other spices that you can use to create a similar flavor profile. 

Keep reading for some suggestions.

Top 7 Substitutes For Chinese Five-Spice Powder

1. Star Anise

hand holding a glass bowl with star anise

Star Anise is the key ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder. It has a strong, distinct flavor that is sweet and slightly spicy. Star anise is often used in savory dishes, such as stews and braised meats. 

If you don’t have any star anise, you can try substituting another spice with a similar flavor profile. For example, allspice or fennel seed would both be good choices.

You could also try a combination of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

2. Baharat

Baharat is a common substitution for Chinese five-spice powder. It is a blend of spices that is used in Middle Eastern cuisine. 

The spices in Baharat vary depending on the region, but they typically include black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cumin, and nutmeg. Baharat can be found in specialty grocery stores or online.

3. Dillweed and Cinnamon Sticks

Dillweed and cinnamon sticks can be used as a substitute for Chinese five-spice powder. Dillweed has a flavor similar to anise, one of the main ingredients in Chinese five-spice powder. 

Cinnamon sticks can be used to add sweetness and depth of flavor. Adding a little bit of ginger or cloves can also help to create a more authentic flavor.

4. Sichuan Peppercorn and Fennel Seeds

Sichuan Peppercorn on a wooden board

Sichuan peppercorn and fennel seeds can be used to create a similar flavor. To do this, grind the peppercorns and seeds together in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. 

Once they’re finely ground, mix them in a 1:1 ratio. This mixture can be a 1:1 substitute for Chinese five-spice powder. 

Another option is to combine allspice, cloves, and cinnamon. This will create a sweeter flavor profile, so it’s best used in dessert recipes. 

Mix these spices in a 1:1:1 ratio and use them as a substitute for Chinese five-spice powder.

5. Garam Masala

It is a mixture of ground spices that typically includes cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, and cumin. Garam Masala can be found in most grocery stores, either in the spice aisle or the international section. 

Although it doesn’t contain star anise, one of the key ingredients in Chinese five-spice powder, Garam Masala, still lends a similar flavor profile to dishes. 

When substituting Garam Masala [1] for Chinese five-spice powder, use a 1:1 ratio.

Remember that Garam Masala is generally more potent than Chinese five-spice powder, so you may want to start with a little less and add more to taste.

6. Ras El Hanout

Ras El Hanout is a spice blend that originates from Morocco. It typically includes a mixture of black pepper, cardamom, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

In many recipes, Ras El Hanout can be used as a substitute for Chinese five-spice powder. 

When substituting Ras El Hanout for Chinese five-spice powder, it is important to keep the ratio of spices the same. Ras El Hanout can be purchased online or at specialty spice stores.

7. Allspice

whole allspice

Allspice is a spice commonly used in place of Chinese five-spice powder. Allspice is made from the dried berries of the pimento tree and has a flavor similar to cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 

Allspice can be found in most grocery stores in the spice aisle. When substituting allspice for Chinese five-spice powder, use half as much as you would Chinese five-spice powder. 

Allspice is also a common ingredient in pumpkin pie spice and can be used in place of Chinese five-spice powder in recipes that call for pumpkin pie spice.


What does Chinese five-spice taste like?

It has a complex flavor that is a little sweet, spicy, and sour. It’s also got a slightly woodsy taste to it. Some people say it tastes like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper, all mixed.

How do you make Chinese five-spice?

Mix equal parts of ground star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and fennel seeds. Then add a small amount of Szechuan pepper (just a few pinches) to give it that extra “kick.” Store in an airtight container and use as needed.

Where can you buy Chinese five-spice powder?

Chinese five-spice powder can be found in most Asian grocery stores. You might also find it at some regular grocery stores or online.

Is mixed spice the same as Chinese five-spice?

Yes and no. They are both made of a blend of spices, but their flavor profiles differ. Mixed spice is typically a mix of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and sometimes coriander. 

Chinese five-spice mixes star anise, cloves, Szechuan pepper, fennel seeds, and cinnamon. So they are similar but not the same.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to substitutions, there is no perfect answer. The best course of action is to experiment until you find a combination you like. 

Remember that the substitution will change the dish’s flavor, so be prepared for something different. 

With a little trial and error, you should find a suitable substitute for Chinese five-spice powder that works well with your particular recipe.


Shari Mason

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