What are the five-spice powder substitutes?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “What are the five-spice powder substitutes?”. We will also discuss these spices in detail and also describe how we can make five-spice powder at home.

What are the five-spice powder substitutes?

Spices like Allspice, Star anise, Garam masala, peppercorns, and fennel seeds can be used as substitutes for the five-spice powder. 

Five-spice powder is a unique spice blend that consists of mainly five spices namely cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel, and Sichuan peppercorns. This means that it combines all five tastes -sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami from these 5 different spices. 

Although you won’t be able to replicate the exact flavors and aromas, you can substitute them with spices or spice mix having similar flavors. The spices that can be used as substitutes for five-spice powder are as follows:


It is one of the most popular alternatives to the Chinese five-spice powder. It is made from the dried berries of the allspice tree and can be used in ground form or whole. Once ground, allspice can quickly lose its flavors and aroma, so usually, it is used in its whole form while making stews, soups, and pickles. 

Since allspice combines the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper, it brings out layers of flavors into your dishes. It works well in most dishes but it is particularly good when used in meat, soups, stews, and marinades.

Star anise

Star anise is also the main ingredient and the largest spice used in five-spice powder. This star-shaped spice is similar to anise, fennel, or licorice in taste. This makes it a great substitute for five-spice powder. It has a very strong, distinct warm, sweet, and spicy flavor. 

The flavor of star anise is generally considered sweet, but it is commonly used in savory dishes. Use 1 Tbsp of Star Anise for each tbsp of Chinese five-spice powder.

Garam masala

Five-spice powder is also considered the Chinese equivalent of garam masala due to some common spices used in both spice blends. Garam Masala is a traditional Indian spice that is a blend of different spices like coriander seeds, cumin, cardamom, black peppercorns, nutmeg, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, etc. 

These are the most commonly used ingredients while making garam masala, but you can also use more spices according to your preference. So each garam masala blend is different. 

Sichuan peppercorns and fennel seeds

You can prepare a spice blend from ground Sichuan peppercorns and ground fennel for the perfect five-spice powder substitute. The Sichuan peppercorns give a tingling effect to the tongue to enhance the hotness. At first, the flavor on the tongue is bitter, followed by numbing heat and tangy flavors. 

Likewise, fennels are known for their licorice and mild anise-like flavors.

When you mix these two, you get a sweet, lemony, and slightly bitter flavor that is very similar to that of five-spice.

Dill Weed and cinnamon sticks

The combination of dill weed and cinnamon sticks can also be a great substitute for five-spice powder. Use  ½ Tbsp of Chopped Dill Weed and 1 or 2 Cinnamon Sticks for every 1 Tbsp of Chinese five-spice.


Baharat is a spice blend that is popular in Middle Eastern cooking. Baharat is made up of seven major spices: cumin, paprika, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, cardamom, and black pepper. You can use 1 tbsp of Baharat for each tbsp of Chinese five-spice powder.

Cinnamon and star anise

Star anise can also be combined with star anise to create a substitute for five-spice powder. Cinnamon brings more sweet and spicy flavors to the table while star anise is similar to anise, fennel, or licorice in taste. The mixture of these two spices makes a pretty good alternative for five-spice powder.

How to make five-spice powder?

You only need five ingredients to make this easy homemade five-spice blend.


  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 5 to 6 whole star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground Chinese cinnamon or cassia
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds


  • In a dry skillet, toast the Sichuan peppercorns and star anise separately by tossing the pan continuously over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the aroma is released.
  • Let it cool for a while and grind it in a spice blender.
  • Pass the ground peppercorns through a fine-mesh strainer to separate any rough covers.
  • Mix it with ground fennel seeds, ground cloves, and ground cinnamon.
  • Add all of the ingredients to the spice blender again for a finer texture.
  • Store in an airtight container 

Find readymade Chinese five-spice powder here.


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “What are the five-spice powder substitutes?” We have also discussed these spices in detail and also described how we can make five-spice powder at home.


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