Chinese Five-Spice Substitute – Are you getting ready to try a delicious recipe you found on Pinterest, and there’s no Chinese Five Spice in sight? We’ve collected the BEST Chinese 5 Spice Substitute spices and recipes for when you don’t have any in your pantry.
WHAT IS CHINESE FIVE SPICE MADE OF?
Chinese Five Spice is a traditional blend of spices used in Chinese cuisine; its aptly named because it typically consists of five key ingredients. The classic combination of spices includes:
The amount of each ingredient differs from recipe to recipe, but the preparation is always the same. Measure the whole spices, toast them in a pan, and grind them into a fine powder. Some variations may include ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, or dried tangerine peel.
CHINESE FIVE-SPICE INGREDIENTS
- Fennel Seeds: The seeds offer a mild, sweet, and slightly minty flavor.
- Sichuan Peppercorns: The peppercorns provide a unique numbing and citrusy taste.
- Chinese Cinnamon: I use a small cinnamon stick, but replace it with one tablespoon of ground cinnamon to add a sweet and woody flavor.
- Star Anise: Star anise provides a dominant licorice-like flavor.
- Black Cloves: Warm and woody, the black cloves subtly sweeten the spice blend.
- Ginger Powder: Not always included in Chinese Five Spice, ginger powder balances the other flavors.
HOW TO MAKE CHINESE FIVE SPICE AT HOME
Break down the cinnamon stick, then combine it with the other ingredients in a skillet. Dry roast the whole spices in a small skillet for 2-3 minutes over medium heat to draw out the flavor and aroma of the whole spices.
Stir in the ground ginger and add the Homemade Chinese 5 Spice Powder to an airtight container.
THE BEST CHINESE 5 SPICE SUBSTITUTES
Have you found yourself asking, what can I use instead of Chinese 5 Spice? Here are the top five alternatives and your secret weapon for whipping up mouthwatering meals even when you don’t have access to the tasty spice blend.
1. Homemade Chinese Five-Spice
The BEST Chinese 5 Spice Substitute is one you make at home. Homemade Five-Spice is the ultimate substitute for store-bought versions because it allows you to experiment with the amount of each spice until you find the perfect balance for your taste buds; be sure to check out our homemade recipe below.
Allspice is an easy Chinese 5 Spice Substitute. The sweet and savory spice is a suitable single-powder substitute due to its complex flavor profile. It offers a balanced taste that’s warm and sweet, adding depth to your meal without the hassle of using different spices. Don’t believe me? Try our Roasted Jerk Chicken or Jamaican Chicken Fricassee, and see for yourself!
3. Garam Masala
Garam masala is like a distant cousin of Five Spice. While it’s not an exact match, garam masala brings a warm and unique flavor. It’s a fragrant blend of spices used in Indian cuisine that features cloves, cardamom, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cumin seeds- some of which are found in the Chinese spice blend.
4. Ras El Hanout
Ras el Hanout is a fantastic alternative to Chinese Five Spice. Hailing from North Africa- it’s a vibrant spice blend with a lot of flavor; cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, cumin – it’s got it all! While it may reproduce the exact flavor as it’s Chinese counterpart, Ras el Hanout comes pretty close.
Baharat does a great job mimicking Chinese Five Spice with its rich blend of warm spices. You’ll notice ingredients like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper, making it a great replacement in recipes that call for 5-Spice.
- Achieve the best flavor using fresh, whole spices instead of pre-ground ones. Whole spices retain their aroma and flavor longer.
- Toasting the spices before grinding them draws out more of their natural flavor. Toast them in a dry pan over low heat until they become fragrant and slightly darker.
- Grind the whole spices into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Process the whole spices in small batches to ensure they are evenly ground. Then, stir in the ginger.
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HOW TO USE CHINESE FIVE SPICE
Use the versatile spice blend to season various Chinese dishes, including meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, and dessert.
- Use Chinese Five Spice as a rub for seafood, pork, or poultry like duck or chicken; it would be a great addition to fried chicken or Crispy Baked Chicken Wings.
- Stir fry meat and vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, and snap peas in a hot wok with a drizzle of oil. Add a sprinkle of Chinese Five Spice with other ingredients for a fragrant and flavorful vegetable dish.
- Replace BBQ rub with Chinese Five Spice to make Beef Ribs or Grilled Chicken Drumsticks.
- Toss nuts for chickpeas with the spice for a tasty and flavorful snack.
- Create a rich broth by simmering beef bones with the spice blend, ginger, garlic, and onions.
- Add 5-Spice to apple crumble or Keto Apple Crisp for a warmly spiced dessert.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS
- Storage – After you grind the spices, store them in an airtight container to maintain their freshness and flavor. Keep the container in a cool, dry place for the best results; this preserves the flavor and aroma of the spices; use the spice blend within 4-6 weeks of preparation.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What does Chinese Five Spice taste like?
Chinese Five Spice has a unique taste that combines sweet, savory, and aromatic flavors. Star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel creates a balanced spice blend that’s sweet and savory with a touch of spice and warmth.
Where to buy Chinese 5 Spice?
This flavorful spice blend is available in many mainstream grocery stores and specialty shops. You can find it readily available at your local Asian market. Look for small jars or packets labeled “Chinese Five Spice” or “5-Spice Powder.”
Is Chinese 5 Spice powder the same as allspice?
They are two distinct spice/spice blends with different flavor profiles. Although, allspice is a decent Chinese 5 Spice Substitute.
Traditional Five Spice consists of fennel, Sichuan peppercorns, Chinese cinnamon, star anise, and black cloves; my recipe also has ginger powder. These spices create a unique and complex flavor combination that is savory, slightly sweet, and aromatic.
On the other hand, allspice is from the dried berries of the Pimento tree; it tastes like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, making it a fitting replacement for the spice blend.On the other hand, allspice is made with the dried berries of the Pimento tree; it tastes like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, making it a fitting replacement for the spice blend.
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Chinese 5 Spice Substitute
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 2-inch Chinese cinnamon stick
- 4 star anise
- 1 teaspoon black cloves
- 1 tablespoon ginger powder
- Break down the cinnamon stick, then combine it with the other ingredients in a skillet. Dry roast the whole spices in a small skillet for 2-3 minutes over medium heat to draw out the flavor and aroma of the whole spices.
- Stir in the ground ginger and add the Homemade Chinese 5 Spice Powder to an airtight container.