11 Anise Extract Substitutes That Have the Same Licorice Flavor

The purpose of an extract is to add a deeper, often more sweet, flavor to foods. When thinking of flavoring desserts like cookies and chocolate, anise extract is likely one of the first that comes to mind.

Anise extract is one of the most popular extracts out there. And for good reason, it can be a part of great frostings and many types of cooked and baked dishes. But what if you don’t have any anise extract?

So maybe you’ve come across the perfect recipe, and gathered all of your ingredients, except one–the anise extract. If you can’t find any anise extract, fortunately there are plenty of other ingredients that offer the same sweet licorice taste.

Instead of anise extract, you can use anise oil, anise liqueur, anise spirits, anise seed, star anise, licorice liqueur, licorice extract, vanilla extract, pernod, sambuca, or absinthe.

What is Anise Extract?

Anise is most commonly used to add licorice flavoring to dishes. It gets its signature pungent flavor from anethole, which is a compound that occurs naturally. This compound is also found in licorice root, fennel, and star anise, which all have a similar licorice taste.

What is Anise Extract Good for?

Anise extract, made from anise seeds, is a popular flavoring for adding an extra sweetness to baked goods such as cakes and cookies. On top of having a very sweet flavor, anise seeds have various health benefits when eaten on their own.

For hundreds of years, anise has been used to treat many health problems like indigestion, runny noses, an appetite stimulant, and as a diuretic. The anise seed is packed with nutrients and can also lessen symptoms of depression.

What Can You Substitute for Anise Extract?

If you don’t have any anise extract, there are many other flavoring agents that can add the same taste anise extract is used for. Below are some of the most popular and effective ones.

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1. Anise Oil

Anise oil is either completely colorless or has a very pale yellow color. Like anise extract, it is derived from anise seeds. Most often, it is used as a flavoring agent for cough drops, baked goods, and candy.

When substituting for anise extract, use ¼ teaspoon of anise oil for every one teaspoon of anise extract that your recipe calls for.

2. Anise Liqueur

Any type of anise liqueur can be a substitute for anise extract. It has the unmistakable licorice flavor that anise extract is esteemed for. It’s been used for centuries for both baking and for medicinal purposes.

Unlike anise extract, anise liqueur, as you can assume from its name, does contain alcohol. Using a small amount for baked goods shouldn’t make a huge difference, but it is something to take into consideration when deciding on a substitute for anise extract.

3. Anise Spirits

Some of the most common anise spirits include Arak, Raki, and Oghi. They are all similar in flavor and have the licorice element that we look for in anise extract. Arak, for instance, is made out of grapes and anise seeds.

Anise spirits like Arak are the best anise extract substitute for things like marinades, soups, and rubs. When substituting for anise extract, use one or two tablespoons of anise spirits per every one teaspoon of anise extract.

4. Anise Seed

Anise seeds, the base of anise extract and any other anise-based ingredient, are also a popular flavoring agent. Like anise extract, the anise seed is used for savory foods and baked goods. Anise seeds also have a very strong flavor. It’s best to use powdered ones if you can find them.

When using anise seeds as a replacement for anise extract, use two teaspoons of powdered anise seeds for every one teaspoon of anise extract that the recipe calls for.

5. Star Anise

Star anise is used for a wide variety of recipes. It is a pod that contains seeds which come from a type of evergreen tree. It is mainly used as a spice, but also comes in an oil form which can be used in place of anise extract.

6. Licorice Liqueur

There are many different types of licorice liqueur. Perhaps the most popular is Anisette. It is a very popular flavoring agent in Mediterranean countries especially. Its taste is strong and rich, and the licorice flavor is prominent.

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Anisette can be used for baking, as well as for adding flavor to poultry or creamy sauces. It also makes for a good salad dressing or to enhance the taste of fruits and ice cream. Anisette is usually colorless and pairs best with savory foods.

7. Licorice Extract

The use of licorice extract dates back many years. Originally, it was used to treat health conditions like kidney, circulatory, lung, and liver diseases. In modern times it can help with a cough, digestive issues, and both viral and bacterial infections.

Along with its long list of health benefits, licorice extract can be used as an anise extract substitute for baking. It is very aromatic and has the same licorice flavor that you look for in anise extract.

8. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is surely the easiest substitute for anise extract. If you like to bake, even occasionally, you likely have some in your cabinet. If not, it can easily be found at any grocery store in the baking section. 

Of course, it doesn’t have the signature licorice flavor that anise extract does. But still, it is very rich and pungent in its sweetness. If the licorice element of flavoring in your recipe isn’t particularly important to you, try using equal parts vanilla extract as an anise extract substitute.

9. Pernod

Pernod is one of the most ideal replacements for anise extract. It is a beverage that uses anise for flavoring, produced by a French company. It is an alcoholic beverage, but this can be an optimal choice as most extracts contain alcohol as well.

Its flavor is sweet and will ultimately give your desserts the same result that they would have with anise extract. The difference in the end is hardly noticeable, if at all.

10. Sambuca

Sambuca is a very popular type of Italian liqueur which has the unmistakable anise flavor and scent. It can be used as an anise extract substitute for most purposes, including for beverages and baked goods. 

When using Sambuca as a replacement for anise extract, use one to two tablespoons for every one teaspoon of anise extract.

11. Absinthe

Absinthe is a type of French spirit which also uses anise flavoring. In addition to drinking, it can also be used for cooking and baking purposes. When using as a substitute for anise extract, use one to two tablespoons of absinthe for every one teaspoon of anise extract.

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12. Homemade Anise Extract

If you’re up for it, you can make anise extract from home. It’s not super time-consuming either, the longest part is waiting for it to fertilize. You’ll need anise seeds and a half cup of vodka.

How Do You Make Anise Extract At Home?

To make anise extract at home, first make sure you have a clean, sterile jar. A four-ounce jar will work best for this purpose. First add one teaspoon of anise seeds to your jar, followed by the ½ cup of vodka.

After this, make sure you seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dark, place for two to three months. Once the couple of months have passed, you can strain out the seeds by pouring it into another jar, through cheesecloth or something similar. Your homemade anise extract should stay good for up to five years.

FAQs

Can you use anise oil for baking?

Anise oil is a popular flavoring agent for baked goods. It works well in both savory and sweet foods. The licorice taste is prominent but not overwhelming.

Is anise extract safe to drink?

Anise extract is generally considered safe to drink. The only people who should be wary of it are those who have allergies to foods in the same family, such as fennel, parsley, dill, and celery. It can help with digestive and menopausal issues, amongst other things.

Is anise a herb or spice?

Anise is both a herb and spice. The plant, anise, is a flowering plant of which the seeds are used to make foods and drinks. Anise seed on its own can be found under that name, or in leaf form.

Final Thoughts

Anise extract is a popular flavoring agent for many types of food, including baked goods and liqueur. If a recipe you’ve come across calls for anise extract but you can’t find any and don’t have it on hand, there are many viable substitutes that you can use instead.