Celery seed is a great herb to always have on hand as it is an excellent flavoring agent. But no matter how well-stocked your pantry is, you might run into a situation where a recipe calls for celery seed and you don’t have any. If that’s the case, you might find yourself looking for celery seed substitutes. If you’re a frequent celery seed user, then you probably know that celery seed has numerous benefits: everything from being an excellent ingredient in pickling recipes to supporting liver health and maintaining blood pressure already within the normal range.
Still, whether you’re simply out of celery seed, or you’re cooking for someone who doesn’t prefer it, there are options if you need to use celery seed substitutes.
Celery Seed Substitutes for Flavor
Fine Cooking describes celery seed’s appearance and flavor like this: “Derived from an ancient, hardy plant called smallage (wild celery), celery seeds are light brown in color, with a scent that resembles grass or hay. The seeds have a strong, warm, bitter, and astringent flavor and go well with tomatoes and vegetable juices.”
These are the attributes that you’ll be looking for replicate with a celery seed substitute.
One basic substitute that works is celery itself. If you’re out of celery seed, but have some extra celery stalks lying around, you can mince the tops of the celery stalks. Two tablespoons of minced celery stalk is about the equivalent of one teaspoon of celery seed.
A related trick is to sub in celery salt for celery seed. Of course, if you do this, make sure to reduce the sodium elsewhere in your recipe.
Don’t Forget the Dill
If you don’t have any type of celery around for your recipe, dill seed is an excellent celery seed substitute. Both celery seed and dill seeds are important in the flavoring of pickling brine, which is why dill can work in a pinch if you’re out of celery seed. While the seeds differ slightly in appearance (dill is flatter, wider, and slightly bigger), dill provides a lot of flavors similar to celery seed: dill is also has an earthy, acidic flavor profile. You can substitute one teaspoon of dill seed for one teaspoon of celery seed.
While not as common as celery stalks, celery salt, or dill salt, some cooks will use caraway seeds as a celery seed substitute because, according to Spiceography, “both spices can provide concentrated bursts of flavor and are perfect for coleslaw, potato salad, and similar dishes.”
Spiceography also recommends Nigella sativa, or black cumin, to provide the nutty, spicy note that celery seed often helps add to Indian dishes.
It’s important to remember that celery seeds are more flavorful than you may think. While celery stalks have a relatively mild flavor, celery seeds have a deep, rich, complex flavor, one some describe as “a harsh, penetrating, spicy aroma and a warm bitter taste that leaves a burning sensation.” So while you may successfully substitute one herb in for celery seed, it may be helpful to think about all of the flavors that celery seed provides. If you’ve found a substitute that takes care of the warm and bitter notes that celery seed brings, it might be a good idea to add another herb, spice, or ingredient that will add a spicy element to the profile.
If you want to access the many potential health benefits of celery seed substitutes, you have even more options. An easy way to ingest celery seed is through celery seed extract capsules, which are available in the Natural Healthy Concepts store. You can also purchase capsules containing celery seed extract plus horse chestnut.
Have you found any other spices or herbs that worked well as a celery seed substitute? Let us know in the comments!