The main difference between aniseed and star anise is that aniseed is a small brown-colored seed while star anise is a seed pod having a star shape.
Although the names aniseed and star anise are similar, these names refer to two different types of spices obtained from plants of different families. However, both aniseed and star anise have a pungent licorice flavor, owing to the presence of anethol. In western cooking, both spices are used to add to flavor baked goods and flavor liquor like sambuca and absinthe.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Aniseed
– Definition, Flavor, Appearance, Uses
2. What is Star Anise
– Definition, Flavor, Appearance, Uses
3. What is the Difference Between Aniseed and Star Anise
– Comparison of Key Differences
Aniseed, Anise, Star Anise
What is Aniseed
Aniseeds, also known as anise, are the seeds of the flowering plant Pimpinella anisum, which is native to Southwest Asia and Mediterranean region. This plant also has edible roots and leaves, but the most commonly used part is its small brown-colored seeds. Aniseeds look like fennel seeds but are much smaller. Moreover, they have a licorice flavor, which is sweet, very aromatic, and mildly spicy.
As a spice, aniseeds are used both in whole seed form and ground form. Their extracts and essential oils are also made from the seeds. They are predominantly used in Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, German, and Italian cuisine. Aniseed (ground form or whole seeds) can be added to ground meat before baking, to the dough for baked products and to fruit fillings for pies. Anise extract can also be used to flavor drinks such as coffee or to flavor baked goods. We can also brew aniseed to brew tea having a licorice flavor. In addition to these, aniseed also acts as the flavoring for various types of alcoholic beverages like ouzo, anisette, sambuca and absinthe.
What is Star Anise
Star anise is the seedpod of the small evergreen fruit Illicium verum, which is native to China and Vietnam. The pod is picked before it ripens and then dried in the sun until it turns a deep brown color. Star anise pod has a star-like shape (giving rise to its name). There are around eight points on the star, each containing a single seed, with the size of a pea. Both the pod and the seed are used in cooking. Moreover, star anise is available as whole pods or as the ground form.
Star anise has a sweet, potent flavor, similar to the licorice flavor of aniseed. This flavor comes from anethol, which is the same oil found in anise seed. This spice is mainly used in Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine. It is also used in the preparation of masala chai and biryani all over the Indian subcontinent. In Western cuisine, star anise is more often used to flavor alcoholic beverages like absinthe and sambuca. In addition to these, it is also used in baked goods like cookies and cakes.
Difference Between Aniseed and Star Anise
Aniseeds is the seed of the flowering plant Pimpinella anisum, which is native to Southwest Asia and Mediterranean region while star anise is the seedpod of the small evergreen fruit Illicium verum, which is native to China and Vietnam.
Aniseed is a small brown-colored seed while star anise is a seed pod having a star shape.
Although both have a pungent licorice taste, star anise has a much stronger flavor than aniseed.
Use in Cuisines
Aniseed is mainly used in Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, German, and Italian cuisine while star anise is mainly used in Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian cuisine, and Indian cuisine (mainly for masala chai and biryani).
The main difference between aniseed and star anise is that aniseed is a small brown-colored seed while star anise is a seed pod having a star shape. They can be used interchangeably, especially when using the ground form.
1. Alfaro, Danilo. “Using Anise Seed to Spice Your Baked Goods and More.” The Spruce Eats, Available here.
2. Mattison, Lindsay D. “What Is Star Anise-and Why Should I Buy It?” Taste of Home, Taste of Home, 1 Nov. 2019, Available here.