Celery seed is a spice consisting of dried, intact fruits from the wild celery plant called smallage. The spice has earthy, lemony, anise, and peppery flavors with floral notes — similar to but more intense than conventional celery.
Celery seed is used in soups, sauces, dry meat rubs, marinades, brines, pickling, salads, dressings, curries, casseroles, and some cocktails.
Foods that make good substitutes for celery seeds include fresh celery plants, celery, and parsley. Other seeds like caraway, fennel, star anise, anise seeds, dill, nigella, and fenugreek and spices like black pepper and panch phoron also make great substitutes.
Compared to celery seeds, these ingredients add similar peppery, lemony, and earthy flavors to dishes.
Best Celery Seed Substitute: Dried Celery Flakes
The best substitute for celery seeds is dried celery flakes, made from dehydrated and smashed celery stalks and leaves. Dried celery flakes can be used in the same way as celery seeds because this alternative ingredient has a similar but less intense celery flavor.
Substitute dried celery flakes for celery seeds in a 2:1 ratio — use 2 teaspoons of dried celery flakes for 1 teaspoon of celery seeds.
Other Celery Seed Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
From fresh celery to other kinds of seeds, here are the substitutes to use in place of celery seeds.
Fresh Celery Leaves and Stalks
The fresh leaves and stalks of conventional celery can be used in place of celery seeds, but use more of the fresh vegetable since its flavor isn’t as bitter and earthy as the spice.
Finely chop the celery leaves and stalks because they’re too fibrous and chunky in soups, sauces, and other dishes if left in larger pieces. For every 1 tablespoon of celery seeds the recipe calls for, substitute with 5–6 tablespoons of fresh celery.
Celery salt is a spice blend made of normal table salt and ground celery seeds. Sometimes, dehydrated and ground celery plant is also added.
Substitute celery salt for celery seeds in a 2:1 ratio, so use more celery salt than celery seeds. Note that celery salt has a high salt content, so consider reducing other salty ingredients in the dish.
Celery salt works well in soups, casseroles, stews, curries, sauces, over salads, and in cocktails like bloody marys.
Ground Celery Seeds
Ground celery seeds are another great substitute for celery seeds because both forms of the seed have the same flavor profile. Substitute ground celery seeds for celery seeds at a 1:1 ratio except when you need more texture in spice rubs or pickle brine — in that case, add more ground celery seeds.
Lovage is a relative of the celery plant and is often used to make celery seeds. Lovage seeds or fresh leaves and stems can be used as a celery seed replacement.
Substitute lovage seeds for celery seeds at a 1:1 ratio. If using lovage leaves and stems, substitute 3–4 teaspoons of chopped stems and leaves for every 1 teaspoon of celery seeds.
Coriander seeds are the small brown seeds of the cilantro plant. With their earthy, slightly citric, and sweet taste, these seeds are a good substitute for celery seeds.
Substitute coriander seeds for celery seeds at a 1:1 ratio. Coriander seeds work well in brining and pickling, and in beef, chicken, pork, and lentil dishes.
Dill seeds are brown, flat, tear-shaped dried fruits of the dill plant. Compared to celery seeds, dill seeds have a similar — but milder — flavor profile, making them a good substitute.
Substitute dill seeds for celery seeds in a 1:1 ratio, and use them in pickle recipes, curries, and stews, especially if fish is the main ingredient because the dill seed flavor pairs well with seafood.
Caraway seeds are the achenes, or dried fruits, of the caraway plant (also known as meridian fennel or Persian cumin). Compared to celery seeds, caraway seeds have a similar earthiness, but they’re zestier, with aniseed notes.
Swap ½ teaspoon of celery seeds with ½ teaspoon of caraway seeds. Caraway seeds work well in salad dressings, curries, and soups.
Fenugreek seeds are yellow-brownish angular seeds from the fenugreek plant. These seeds are slightly bitter and have a complex flavor profile. With nutty, sweet, earthy, and herbal tastes, these seeds are a great alternative to celery seeds.
Cooking fenugreek seeds causes them to lose their bitterness, so substitute these seeds for celery seeds at a 1:1 ratio in curries, stews, soups, and casseroles. Avoid using them in salads, dressings, pickling, and brines.
Nigella seeds — also called black cumin, black caraway, Roman coriander, or black onion seeds — are black, drop-like dehydrated fruits from the flowering Nigella sativa plant.
These seeds are bitter like celery seeds, but nigella seeds also have an herbal, toasted onion flavor similar to oregano. Substitute nigella seeds for celery seeds in recipes at a 1:1 ratio.
Fresh parsley leaves — harvested from a garden or store-bought — are a good celery seed alternative because the leaves have a similar earthy bitterness. Substitute 3 tablespoons of chopped or minced parsley leaves for 1 tablespoon of celery seeds in sauces or salads.
Panch phoron is an Indian spice mix of mustard, fennel, fenugreek, nigella, and cumin. Adding panch phoron to stews, meat rubs, and salads gives these dishes the same earthy and bitter taste as celery seeds. Substitute this spice blend for celery seeds in a 1:1 ratio.
Fennel seeds are the small, aromatic dried seeds of the fennel herb. These seeds have a sweet anise taste and work well as a replacement for celery seeds. Substitute fennel seeds for celery seeds at a 1:1 ratio in pickling, salads, chutneys, and meat, fish, and poultry-based dishes.
Star anise is the dried, star-shaped seed pod (or fruit) of Illicium verum, an evergreen tree native to Southwest Asia. The star and seeds held in the pod have a sweet, licorice-like taste, making this spice a good substitute for celery seeds.
However, star anise has a stronger flavor, so use ½ teaspoon of this spice for every 1 teaspoon of celery seeds. Add some lemon or black pepper to better match the flavor of celery seeds.
When using star anise in stews, soups, and curries, grind the star anise or place it in a mesh spice bag to flavor the dish.
Anise seeds are the mature greenish-gray or pale-brown, ridged, crescent-shaped fruit of the anise (or aniseed) herb plant.
These seeds have a flavor profile that’s similar to celery seeds, but a bit stronger, so substitute anise seeds at a 1:1 ratio for a punchy taste, or at a ½:1 ratio for a milder taste closer to celery seed.
Use anise seed in soups, stews, broths, and meat or seafood dishes.
Another great substitute for celery seed is fresh dill, or dill weed, which has a fresh, citrusy, mild aniseed, grassy flavor, much like a milder version of caraway seeds.
Add chopped fresh dill to dips and dressings, or over a salad. When cooking soups, stews, and other dishes, add fresh dill fronds at the last minute because the longer the dill is cooked, the less flavor it retains.
Substitute fresh dill fronds for celery seed at a 1:1 ratio, or substitute ¾ teaspoon of fresh dill with ¼ teaspoon of caraway seeds per 1 teaspoon of celery seed for more flavor.
Turmeric spice is made from dehydrated and ground Curcuma longa root, but you can also use the underground stem.
Turmeric has the same earthy, bitter, and citric undertones as celery seeds, making this ingredient a decent alternative.
Adding turmeric spice to your dish in place of celery seeds turns the dish a yellowish-orange. Avoid this coloring by adding the underground turmeric stem to rice dishes, soups, curries, and more.
Substitute turmeric spice in a ratio of 2:1, or add the whole 3-inch underground stem to a recipe to substitute a teaspoon of celery seed.
Ginger spice and root have the same warm, peppery notes as celery seeds. Use the ginger substitute in stir-fries, marinades, sauces, soups, and curries.
If the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of celery seeds, replace the ingredient with ½ teaspoon of grated ginger root or 1 teaspoon of ginger spice.
Black pepper is a spice made from ground dried berries, or peppercorns, from a vine called Piper nigrum. This spice shares the peppery notes and bitter bite of celery seed, making it a good alternative ingredient.
Black pepper works well in any recipe that originally calls for celery seed and can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio.
Dandelion seeds are the mature fruit of the dandelion plant. These seeds have a bitter, peppery, and earthy taste quite similar to celery seeds. Because of the similar flavor profile, dandelion seeds can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio in any recipe that calls for celery seed.