Difference Between Anise and Fennel

Cooking has a lot more to it than just ingredients and presentation. The aroma is one of the most important features since it stimulates the brain cells to develop a liking for a particular food item. A lot of flavonoids find their place in common eateries around the world. Anise and fennel are two commonly confused condiments. Their usage and quantity vary as per the predecided purpose of cooking the dish and desired results. Inclusion in large quantities might have a detrimental effect on the whole dish.

Anise vs Fennel

The main difference between Anise and Fennel is that the former is categorized as a spice while the latter belongs to the subset of vegetables. Both of these are used as condiments for further enhancing the flavor of dishes. The time of addition determines the intensity of taste. Aroma is the main attraction of anise as well as fennel. The visible differences make them hard to distinguish while cooking something in the kitchen. It is a common notion to name the containers for avoiding any confusion.

Anise vs Fennel

Anise is the seed of Star Anise that comes from a bushy plant. At times, it might be light green but still looks dull in comparison to the fennel seeds. The normal appearance is that of cumin only but a bit longer and less hard.

Fennel is a condiment that is derived from the fennel bulb. It is used in raw form, cooked form, and as a means of garnish too. The common storage forms include a powder, paste, or the original variant.

Comparison Table Between Anise And Fennel

Parameters of ComparisonAniseFennel
AppearanceIt looks like a yellowish-green cumin-like elongated seed. It is a bright green counterpart of the spice family.
Origin The botanical name of the anise plant is Pimpinella Anisum. The botanical name of the fennel plant is Foeniculum Vulgare.
UsageIt is used in the preparation of sweet dishes and sweet plus salty combos. It is used as a mouth freshener and acts as a base for gravies.
TasteAnise is licorice and sweet, a bit pungent too. Fennel is minty in taste, with a touch of characteristic sweetness attached to it.
Common Inclusive DishesOlive salads and some wines. French dishes and bakery products.

What is Anise?

Anise is defined as a condiment having a characteristic taste. It is highly aromatic and the taste buds perceive it as sweet. There is another variant too – known by the name of star anise. It is scientifically regarded as Illicium Verum. It is used in the form of a complete seedpod with eight ends. Chinese cuisine makes apt use of the same in almost all savory dishes. These are most commonly found in the Mediterranean region. Southeast Asia is rich in anise production, in addition to some nearby areas.

The raw form has a star-like look and the deducible forms look like flat fennel. It is held in high spirits due to the earthiness attaches to the flavor. The texture is presumed to be woody thanks to the brown appearance but it is much delicate. In comparison with star anise, it tastes mild. The spark added to the dish is due to the sweet and soft aroma.

Dishes in Italy, Germany, Mexico, India, and Middle Eastern Nations have included anise in their richness since times immemorial. Extraction of the seed from the pod is a difficult task but the tastefulness of the seed makes it worth all the cumbersome effort.

What is Fennel?

Fennel is less powerful than anise and lacks a nutty flavor. It is a herbaceous spice. It is sweeter than caraway and this pungent taste is quite far from the appeal of cumin. The aroma is a bit minty too, based on the usage. The economical quotient is high since the whole of it can be consumed easily. This implies that the edible portion of a fennel seed exceeds that of anise.

Fennel is also believed to be a derivative of the parsley family. More specifically, the botanical family is regarded as Apiaceae. Almost all the culinary purposes are met by the intermingling of fennel with other spices and condiments. It acts as a good base for some sweet dishes too. In India, it is used as a mouth freshener too. In most eateries, it can be found easily as it is served as a refreshment after the meal is complete.

It looks similar to cumin and these two condiments are difficult to distinguish in pantries. The aroma helps in recognizing them in most cases. Flat-tasting condiments like fennel have been included in cuisines to make simple dishes taste appealing. Slices of bread and sauces are also made using it.

Main Differences Between Anise And Fennel

  1. Anise is yellowish-brown while fennel is green.
  2. The original plant of anise is Pimpinella Anisum while fennel has been derived from Foeniculum Vulgare.
  3. Anise is used in sweet dishes while fennel is a refreshment.
  4. The taste buds perceive anise as sweet but fennel is more minty.
  5. Some of the most common dishes that compulsorily include anise are olive salad while fennel is used in breads.


The balance of acidic and basic tastes makes a dish complete. Adding anise and fennel adds that much-needed spark to the dish. They go well with each other but the predominance of a single taste might cut down on the essence of the other. To choose the best quality spices and condiments, the packaging date should be checked. They can be stored in the refrigerator too, for increasing the shelf life.

Once the condiments have been added, their aroma is sure to fill the surroundings in a short period. This is because they are composed of complex flavors in a small amount. At times, inclusion in large quantities leads to a flat taste and the dish might lose its actual base. Leaving such condiments in the open might lead to spoilage due to moisture. They should be stored in air-tight containers and the cap should be sealed immediately after usage.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/fsn3.1161
  2. https://search.proquest.com/openview/72477f299b92441caa842b69467c5671/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=32528
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