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The 5 Best Substitutes for Chinese Five Spice

Do you have a bottle of Chinese five-spice powder in your spice cabinet? If not, you may wonder what it is and how to use it.

Chinese five-spice powder is a blend of five spices – cloves, cinnamon, fennel, star anise, and Sichuan pepper.

It is often used in savory dishes, such as marinades, braised meats, and stir-fries.

While the exact proportions of the spices vary depending on the brand, Chinese five-spice powder is typically a balanced blend of sweet and savory flavors.

If you’re looking for a Chinese five-spice powder substitute, there are several options that can be used in their place.

These substitutes include garam masala, star anise, allspice, baharat, and za’atar.

When substituting for Chinese five-spice powder, start with less than called for in the recipe and add more to taste.

What is the Chinese Five Spice?

what is the chinese five spice

Chinese Five Spice is a spice blend that is used in Chinese cuisine.

It typically contains cloves, cinnamon, fennel seed, Sichuan pepper, and star anise.

The flavors of the spices vary depending on the region where the blend is used, but they are typically chosen for their ability to provide a balance of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty flavors.

Five spice is often used to season meat dishes but can also be used to flavor vegetables or rice.

When used in cooking, it is important to remember that a little goes a long way.

Too much Five Spice can result in an overwhelmingly spicy dish.

Instead, it is best to start with a small amount and add more if needed.

With its deep flavor and versatility, Chinese Five Spice is a spice blend that every home cook should have in their pantry.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Chinese Five Spice

If you find yourself in a pinch and without Chinese five spices, there are a few common spices that can be used as a substitute.

These substitutes won’t give you an exact replica of the original spice blend, but they will add a similar flavor to your dish.

1 – Garam Masala

garam masala

Garam Masala is a spice blend originating from India.

It typically includes a mix of coriander, cumin, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg.

While the exact ingredients can vary depending on regional preferences and personal taste, these spices are often used in garam masala recipes.

The name itself translates to “hot spice mixture,” which adds heat to dishes.

However, it also imparts a complex range of flavors, with each spice’s unique taste and aroma.

As such, garam masala is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes.

Whether making a curry or simply spicing up some rice, a little garam masala can go a long way.

2 – Star Anise

star anise

Star anise is a type of spice that comes from the fruit of an evergreen tree.

The tree is native to China, and the spice has been used in Chinese cooking for centuries.

Star anise has a strong, distinctive flavor that is similar to licorice or fennel.

It is often used to flavor meats, soups, and sauces.

In recent years, star anise has also become popular in Western cooking.

It is a common ingredient in gingerbread and other holiday baked goods.

You can also find it in some savory dishes, such as curries and stir-fries.

If you’re looking for a way to add a unique flavor to your cooking, consider trying star anise.

3 – Baharat


A Baharat is a spice blend from the Middle East that is used to flavor various dishes.

The word “Baharat” means “spice” in Arabic, and the blend typically includes black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, and paprika.

This spice blend is used in many different cuisines, including Egyptian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Turkish.

Each culture has its own version of Baharat, and the spices can be adjusted to suit individual tastes.

While it is commonly used to flavor meat dishes, Baharat can also be used to season vegetables, stews, and soups.

For a simple way to add flavor to your cooking, try using Baharat in your next dish.

4 – Za’atar


If you’re looking for a new spice to add to your collection, Za’atar is a great option.

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that typically includes oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac.

It has a mild earthy flavor with a hint of citrus, making it versatile enough to use in various dishes.

Za’atar is often used as a seasoning for grilled meats or vegetables, stirred into hummus or yogurt, or sprinkled over flatbreads.

It can also be used to make a simple dipping sauce by mixing it with olive oil and water.

Whether you use it in cooking or as a table condiment, Za’atar is sure to add some zest to your meals.

5 – Allspice


Allspice is a spice that originates from the Caribbean.

Its name comes from the fact that it tastes like a combination of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Allspice is often used in baking, as well as in savory dishes such as jerk chicken.

While the flavor of allspice is unique, it can be tricky to use in recipes.

Too much allspice can make a dish taste bitter, so it’s important to add it sparingly.

Fortunately, a little allspice goes a long way, so even a small pinch can add a lot of flavor to your cooking.

If you’re looking for a way to spice up your kitchen repertoire, give allspice a try.


In conclusion, these five substitutes for the Chinese Five Spice can easily be used in any dish that calls for the traditional spice.

By using a combination of these spices, you can create a flavor that is similar to the original while still allowing your dish to stand out.

With a little creativity, you can find the perfect balance of flavors that will satisfy your taste buds and leave you wanting more.

The next time you are in the mood for something a little different, give one of these substitutes a try.

You may be surprised at just how delicious your dish can be.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Chinese Five Spice

The 5 Best Substitutes for Chinese Five Spice
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Garam Masala
  • Star Anise
  • Baharat
  • Za’atar
  • Allspice


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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