Believe it or not, dill and dill seed and not exactly the same. Though they both come from the same plant, they have different purposes in cooking and should be treated as different ingredients.
Dill and dill seed should not be used interchangeably, because their flavors are not the same.
It’s a good thing you asked yourself “is dill the same as dill seed?” and found this article before replacing one with the other!
Is Dill Seed the Same as Dill?
Dill and dill seed both come from the dill plant, a herbaceous plant that grows out of the ground and produces a plethora of branching stems and soft, fibrous leaves. It looks similar to fennel and belongs to the same family as celery.
The plant is annual, which means its lifespan is only one growing season. The dill plant usually grows in spring and at the beginning of summer. However, it’s also often found growing year-round in greenhouses.
The dill plant produces seeds, flowers, and leaves, but only the seeds and leaves are edible. Dill weed refers to the leaf, and is commonly just referred to as “dill.” It has a different flavor than dill seed.
Dill seed forms after the dill plant’s flowers die. It’s also used for cooking purposes.
While these two ingredients are from the same plant and both used for cooking, they aren’t the same. Let’s get into some of their growing differences, flavor differences, and different uses.
What is Dill?
Dill, or dill weed, refers to the majority of the dill plant itself, which is edible. It excludes the flowers and seeds.
The leaves are soft, spindly, and delicate. They can be consumed fresh or dried. The flavor of fresh dill weed is slightly brighter than dried dill weed and has a better use as a garnish.
Dill weed is a popular herb in Europe and Central Asia. It offers a lot of versatility. It’s often compared to chives or parsley, but has a tangier flavor. Most of us will think of pickle flavor when we think of dill weed.
The flavor of the dill weed by itself is reminiscent of grass and licorice. Think of star anise, but with an earthier tone. This does mean that dill weed is slightly sweet!
It can be overpowering if used too heavily. However, this can also work to its benefit, especially in something like a yogurt dipping sauce. Creamy bases can temper the strong dill flavor.
Dill weed also offers some nutritional benefits as an herb. Top any healthy meal with dill weed for some extra benefits.
The herb contains iron, Vitamin A, Manganese, a generous amount of Vitamin C, as well as folate. It’s definitely a healthy herb.
What is Dill Seed?
Dill seed is like the little brother of dill weed. Same parents, different personalities.
The dill seed appears on the dill plant towards late spring when the plant’s yellow flowers begin to die. They’re small and closely resemble the plat, oval shape of sunflower seeds.
Dill seeds can be eaten whole or crushed, as well as roasted or raw.
The dill seed flavor is slightly similar to dill weed, but contains a bitter citrus taste that isn’t in the plant. It maintains the licorice flavor but is not quite as sweet and fresh as dill weed.
Dill seed is often compared to caraway seed or celery seed. The flavor is camphorous, meaning it’s reminiscent of tree bark. It has a distinctly dark and earthy flavor that’s miles away from the freshness and brightness of dill weed.
It shouldn’t be used as a dill weed substitute, because the flavors are different. Rather than adding brightness to a dish, it will often weigh it down. Each seasoning can go on the same dishes. They’ll simply contribute different flavors, so if you’re looking for one, don’t opt for the other.
Dill seed is frequently used in Eastern European recipes. They originated here, before traveling to Asia and parts of the Mediterranean. They go well with Slavic staples like root vegetables.
Dill weed and dill seed can both be used in pickling but will create different effects.
Dill seed is even sometimes used as a sleep-inducer. When boiled in hot water, dill seeds release an essential oil that can cause drowsiness.
Dill seed contains as many nutritional benefits as dill weed, considering they come from the same source. One serving of dill seed contains 1 gram of protein, as well as Vitamins A, B, and C. It’s also high in Manganese, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
Dill and Dill Weed Overview
Now that we understand some of the differences and similarities between these two spices, let’s look further at their different uses and distinctly different flavors.
Dill weed has a fresh, light flavor that works better in bright dishes like salads and fish. Dill seed, on the other hand, has an earthiness that compliments richer dishes like bread and soups. Here’s how they fare in some different recipes.
Dill Seed Bread
Both dill seed and dill weed can technically be used in bread, but dill seed adds more flavor. The baking process will remove the freshness of dill weed, while the seeds will create a camphorous, aromatic quality to the bread.
Here’s a quick recipe for dill seed bread.
- Dissolve a packet of yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar in a mixing bowl filled with ¼ cup of warm water. Proof for 5 minutes.
- Add 8oz of cottage cheese to the yeast.
- Stir in one room-temperature egg and blend everything together.
- Add 2 teaspoons of grated onion, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 2 of teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to the yeast, cheese, and egg mixture.
- Stir in 1 cup of whole-wheat flour and 1 ½ cup of all-purpose flour, one cup at a time to make sure everything mixes thoroughly.
- Finally, add 2 teaspoons of dill seed.
- Knead this dough mixture on a floured board until it’s smooth and springy.
- Add the dough to a 9x5x3 inch bread tin, shape it to the pan, and cover. Leave it alone until it rises twice its size.
- Bake in an oven that’s been preheated to 375 degrees F for 35-40 minutes.
- You’ll know the bread’s done if it makes a hollow sound when tapped!
Both dill seed and dill weed can be used in the pickling process, even at the same time!
Here’s an easy recipe for making them in your refrigerator.
- Make a brine out of water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Heat everything until it dissolves.
- Gather a bunch of freshly cut cucumbers in a mason jar. Cut however you’d like: they could be wedges or coin-shaped.
- To your pickle jars, add garlic, fresh dill, dill seeds, and peppercorns.
- You can add whatever else you’d like here, including red pepper flakes or jalapeno for a bit of spice.
- Pour the brine over your herbs and cucumbers and leave for a week. Voila!
The freshness of dill weed makes it a great option in a lemon hummus dip. Here’s a recipe!
- To a large blender, add 1 cup of fresh dill, ¼ cup of basil, 2 cups of chickpeas, 1 cup of tahini, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 cloves of garlic, fresh squeezed lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of water, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Blend everything until it has a smooth consistency.
- Chill overnight so all the flavors meld together.
Dill weed pairs beautifully with salmon. Both have a bright, fresh flavor, and the dill weed adds a bit of depth to salmon’s fishiness.
Dill can be a great garnish on any type of salmon, but in our opinion, it’s best grilled. The grill adds a charred, smoky flavor that contrasts the fish and herb’s brightness.
If you’re not sure, check out our comprehensive article on salmon and you may be convinced.
Differences between Dill Weed and Dill Seed
|Bright, citrusy, and sweet like licorice.
|Earthy, slightly sweet, musky, bitter.
|Peak Growing Time
|Early to mid-spring. During the summer, dill weed turns bitter.
|Early summer, after the dill plant’s flowers have fallen off.
|Light and bright dishes like salads and salmon. Used as an herb.
|Rich foods like bread and soup. Used as a seasoning rather than a garnish.
|Fibrous and green.
|A hard, small seed.
|Part of Plant
|The majority of the dill plant is the dill weed, including stalk and leaves.
|The seeds are produced towards the end of the dill plant’s life.
Substitutes for Dill Weed and Dill Seed
Dill Weed Substitutes
- Basil is often used as a substitute because it also has a strong, sweet flavor. It won’t replace the dill flavor, but it will contribute one of equal strength.
- Chervil, a plant belonging to the parsley family, also has a licorice flavor that could work in place of dill weed.
- Fennel looks like the plant and also has a sweet, licorice flavor. It’s missing some of the tanginess of dill, though.
- Tarragon is a great substitute because it has a similar scent and flavor to dill. It has a great mixture of brightness and sweetness, and a stronger flavor than dill. If you’re planning to substitute, use 1 teaspoon of dried tarragon for 1 tablespoon of fresh dill.
- Dried dill weed is sometimes easier to find than fresh dill, and will have the closest flavor. Use 1 teaspoon of dried dill for every tablespoon of fresh dill.
Dill Seed Substitutes
- Caraway seeds are often recommended as a dill seed replacement. They have a highly similar flavor profile and are usually referenced when trying to explain the flavor of dill seeds. The main flavor in common is the camphorous woodiness.
- Celery seeds are also a good substitute if you’re out of dill seed. They’re from the same family and have a similar earthiness to dill seed.
Can I Use Dill Weed instead of Dill Seed?
Long story short, it depends on your purposes.
If you’re going to swap one for the other, we’d recommend using dill weed in place of dill seeds. This is because the flavor of dill weed is less likely to change the overall composition of a dish than dill seeds.
It’s like adding a pinch of white paint to red vs. adding a pinch of black paint. The black paint is more overpowering and hard to cover up, while the white paint adds just a bit of brightness.
Overall, though, we wouldn’t actually recommend swapping out either.
If a recipe calls for one, the flavor of the other won’t serve the same purpose. Consider using some of the herbs we listed above, because they’ll achieve the flavors proposed in the recipe more closely.
Even though these two ingredients are closely related, they’re too different to be used the same way. The bitterness of dill seed makes it distant in flavor from the freshness of dill weed.
Which is Better: Dill Weed or Dill Seed?
Both of these are great, but they’re for different things. They don’t have equal values in all recipes, but in terms of their potential uses, they’re both great.
Dill seed is better for cooking rich, savory dishes. Dill weed reigns superior when it comes to lightening a dish.
The one place they have equal value and really complement each other is when it comes to making pickles. We highly recommend adding both to your pickling mixture.
Dill weed can also be a great garnish for dishes that contain dill seed. A good example would be adding dill seed to a soup, then topping the finished product with dill weed. They’ll enhance each other’s flavors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use Dill Pickle Juice Instead of Dill Weed?
We wouldn’t recommend replacing dill weed with dill pickle juice.
The reason is, their flavors are not interchangeable. Dill pickle juice often contains other ingredients like garlic, pepper, and dill seed. Dill weed is an herb, so it inherently has brightness and sweetness. The vinegar of dill pickle juice would completely change the dish, and make it only taste like pickles.
Just because dill pickle juice has dill weed in it doesn’t mean that it’s very comparable to dill weed. Only do this if you want your salmon, hummus, etc to taste like pickles instead of dill.
What Tastes Similar to Dill?
Herbs like anise, fennel, and tarragon taste similar to dill because they all contain hints of licorice.
What Type of Dill is Sold in Stores?
Dill seed and dill weed are both sold in stores.
You’re more likely to come across dried dill weed, but some grocers carry the fresh herb in the produce section.
Because of greenhouses, this herb and spice are available year-round. Their growing season doesn’t impact their availability in the United States.
So, Are Dill Weed and Dill Seed the Same?
They are not!
They have the same plant, the same uses with pickles, and similar notes of licorice. Yet ultimately, their differences outweigh their similarities.
Dill seed is heavy, woody, earthy, and dark. Meanwhile, dill weed has a freshness and citrus quality that almost makes it the opposite of dill weed.
They both have great uses but don’t try to substitute them for each other. Otherwise, you might end up with some weird flavor pairings.
Tiffany McCauley is a celebrated food and travel journalist and cookbook author known for her engaging stories on culinary adventures and cultural insights. With a background featuring collaborations with notable brands and publications, Tiffany brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to Fanatically Food, where she champions taste, sustainability, and the art of cooking. Read More Here