Ways & How

How to Cook Anise

How to Cook Anise

Anise (also aniseed), a cultivated species that goes as far back as ancient Egypt, is the dried, crescent-shaped seed of the herb Pimpinella anisum. Because its flavor is reminiscent of licorice, anise seeds, either whole or powdered, are used in a wide variety of culinary concoctions. Anise is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. It’s a highly prized spice due to its distinctive flavor, which can be improved by roasting. Traditionally, the largest producer of anise was Spain, but today it includes Turkey and Egypt. For a bolder appearance, more volatile oil, and better flavor, however, the Spanish variety scores the most points. It’s not just Mediterranean cooking that benefits from aniseed’s flavor. The culinary application of anise ranges from confection to curry, stews to sausages, and seafood to meat dishes. If you would like to add this versatile spice to your cooking repertoire, here are a few tips on how to cook anise.

  1. Bring out the flavor of shellfish. Add more zing to oysters with anise-flavored liqueur when preparing Oysters Rockefeller.

    ise works well with green onions, chopped parsley, hot pepper sauce, extra virgin olive oil, bacon, and spinach, working culinary wonders with baked oysters.

  2. Spice up your muffins. Early Romans served “mustaceus,” a spice cake baked in bay leaves, at the end of every feast to help with digestion (a tradition that continues today when cakes are served at the end of weddings). A modern twist to that can be found in spiced apple muffins flavored with 1/2 teaspoon aniseed. To make the muffins, you would also need diced apples, applesauce, milk, baking powder, cinnamon, all-purpose flour, ground ginger, sugar, and salt to taste.

  3. Make your glazed ribs tastier. Anise can be combined with onions, soy sauce, and pepper; this mixture is used to bring the ribs to a boil. Anise infuses aroma to the dish and makes the meat easy to digest later.

  4. Add zest to sausage. Italian-style sausage makes use of crushed anise seeds, paprika, minced onion, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and garlic powder to mask the odor of the pork and fully bring out its flavor. Italian sausage can be enjoyed as is or used as a topping on pizza.

  5. Cook it with your cookie. Pizelles are thin, traditional, anise-flavored cookies made with only a few ingredients such as anise extract, all-purpose flour, baking powder, melted butter, white sugar, and eggs. You can also taste the licorice-flavor in anise biscotti, which uses the seed along with other ingredients like brandy, vanilla, almonds, flour, eggs, butter, salt, and sugar to taste.

  6. Mix it up with soups. Vietnamese beef pho gets more kick with anise pods stirred into the soup stock. Pho, which can also be made with pork, is a filling soup that comes complete with different food groups: meat (beef and oxtail), vegetables (bean sprouts and radish), herbs (cilantro, basil) spices (anise, cinnamon, ginger, garlic), and grains (rice).

  7. Spice up your condiments. Make commercial-quality ketchup with anise in the ingredients, along with vinegar, molasses, and bulb fennel. The anise pods are used in making this ketchup.

As you can see from this list, anise is rather a versatile spice that cuts across various cultures and culinary uses. But anise is more than just a kitchen staple—it has plenty of medicinal uses as well: as a diuretic, a carminative agent (prevents formation of gas), an expectorant, a soporific, and an antispasmodic. As a culinary character, anise imparts minty, fruity, and piny flavor notes to any dish, easily distinguished by its licorice-like flavour and aroma. Get to know more of this wonder spice—learn how to cook anise and go on a sensory adventure around the world right in your own kitchen.


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