Best 10 Celery Seed Substitutes
Used in Asian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years, celery seeds have become widely available in the Western world. With a strong flavor resembling celery, they can be used in salads, dressings, brines, and dry marinades, and there are some dishes that absolutely need the added flavor.
The seeds come from wild celery. The plant is related to supermarket celery, but it has a stronger flavor so it is mainly used for the seeds alone.
The seeds, the dried fruit of the wild plant, are available as whole seeds and as ground. Ground celery seeds are easier to use in sauces and smoothies, as they easily blend into the liquid. But the grinding means the seeds lose some of their volatile oils and flavor, so it’s best to buy the seeds whole and grind them just before you need to use them.
Celery salt is another type of spice that can contain celery seeds. It is a mixture of two parts salt and one part celery seeds (or ground celery root and leaves).
Celery seeds tastes very similar to celery, and have the same flavor and astringent quality as raw celery stalks. The flavor is stronger than that of the celery root, but borrows its earthy tones from this part of the plant. The seeds also have a bitter flavor, which is enhanced when the seeds are ground.
Eaten in large amounts, celery seeds can cause a hot sensation – they must be doing you good. As far as food pairings go, celery seeds combine well with tomatoes, so they go great in classic recipes such as Bloody Marys, barbecue sauce, and homemade ketchup. The flavor is goes well in pickling spice blends, brine, and marinades, adding a certain nutty, warm flavor.
Ground celery seeds are preferred for liquid recipes, like ketchup, while the entire seeds are mostly used in dry marinades and dressings.
Celery Seed Substitutes
But what about those times when you want a Bloody Mary or any other recipe requiring celery seeds and don’t have any or what about those people who just can’t eat them? Well, check out below the most popular celery seed substitutes available.
1. Celery Stalk, Leaf, and Root
Several celery types are available worldwide and many recipes call for a certain kind. A few hundred years ago, celery was cultivated as a winter and early spring vegetable. It was used as a cleansing tonic, efficient in counterbalancing the deficiencies of a winter diet that lacked fresh vegetables. Later on, more varieties of the vegetable became available.
In North America, production is dominated by Pascal celery, grown for the stems. In Europe, the most popular variety is celeriac, grown for its bulb and leaves, while in Asia leaf celery is prevalent. Fresh celery stalks can be an excellent substitute for celery seeds.
You can find celery stalk, leaf and roots at your local market or on Amazon. The Tanimura & Antle celery is a very fresh product that has a vivid green color. It also lasts longer than other brands.
2. Celery Salt
A traditional ingredient in Bloody Mary and Cesar cocktail and rumored to be an ingredient in KFC’s secret spice mix, celery salt is a mixture of salt and ground seeds.
With a grassy, savory flavor, it is suitable for chicken, salads, coleslaw, sausages, seafood, and stews. McCormick celery salt (Amazon link) is an organic product made from sustainably farmed, herbicide and pesticide-free celery seeds. It is ideal for deviled eggs and potato salad, and it can be used in place of salt in soups, stew, and vegetables.
3. Dried Celery
Dried celery is an aromatic product made from dehydrated, chopped celery that can be added to food or consumed as it is. It can be added to stir-fries, salads, soups, and sauces.
Dried celery is especially useful for those who do not eat a lot of fresh vegetables and constantly have a problem with the fresh product going bad because it’s not eaten fast enough.
An aromatic herb widely used in Eurasian cooking, dill has been cultivated since 7th century BC in Egypt and Greece. It is used to flavor fish dishes, borscht and other soups, and pickles. It is a staple culinary herb in central and eastern Europe, along with chives and parsley.
Freshly cut dill leaves are used in soups or for flavoring fermented milk, a refreshing summer drink. It also pairs well with vegetables such as peas, beans, and cabbage. It is a spring vegetable, used in omelets, alongside spring onions. Reminiscent of caraway, dill pairs well with other herbs, such as basil, chervil, chives, garlic, and mint.
5. Dill Seeds
With a stronger taste compared to dill weed and a pungent, woody, and menthol flavor, dill seeds are a versatile and intense spice perfect for use in salads, dressings, bread, and seafood dishes. Dill seeds are used as a folk remedy to relieve colic pain in babies and to treat flatulence in young kids.
This effect is due to the essential oil in the seeds and its stimulating effect on the digestive system.
6. Fennel Seeds
Similar in taste to star anise, fennel is a flowering plant species of the carrot family. It is highly aromatic and, alongside anise, it is one of the primary ingredients in absinthe. Fennel seeds are widely used in Indian cooking, but their use is not limited to that part of the world.
Ancient Greeks and Romans also used fennel seeds both for cooking and as a medicinal herb as they were considered good for improving vision and as an antidote to poison. Happy Belly fennel seeds are perfect for adding to casseroles, curries, stews, soups, and barbecue spice marinades.
7. Star Anise
Used for cooking, baking, and tea, star anise is a licorice tasting spice. It is a common flavor in the Chinese kitchen and features in several traditional dishes.
A widely used spice and folk medicine ingredient, ginger has a sharp taste and a strong flavor, and it represents one of the basic flavors in Asian cooking. It is used in a variety of forms, from young and juicy rhizomes, to mature and fibrous rhizomes, or ground ginger root, which substitutes fresh ginger with a ratio of six to one.
Often paired with ginger in many Asian-inspired dishes, turmeric is another rhizome spice that gives food a mustard-like, earthy, and pungent aroma. It also gives a golden yellow color to any dish.
Like ginger, it can be used both fresh and dried, and it is the principal ingredient in curry powder.
An herb complimentary to celery in central and eastern European cooking, parsley is often the garnish of choice for soups, salads, and other types of food. It is part of the Mediterranean bouquet garni, a combination of fresh herbs used in soups, stocks, and sauces.
Usage of celery seeds in folk medicine
Although Eastern healing traditions, such as Ayurveda, have used celery seeds for a long time for treating several medical conditions, Western medicine has only recently begun researching the effects of the plant. In Indian folk medicine and herbalist practices, celery seeds are used to treat high blood pressure, colds and flu, anxiety, gout, high cholesterol, and insomnia.
Scientific evidence has shown that celery seeds lower high blood pressure, slow down the development of liver and stomach cancer, and help with inflammatory conditions. But if you want to use celery seeds as a dietary supplement, take care, as ingesting large amount over a long time can have harmful side effects.
They may be harmful to people with kidney inflammation and they may interact with blood-thinning drugs, diuretics, lithium, and thyroid medicine. They are also harmful for anyone allergic to celery and could be unsafe for pregnant women, as they induce contractions.
Recipes with Celery Seeds
Start by preparing a tall glass, running a lemon wedge around the rim and dipping the rim in celery salt. For the next step, combine 1 teaspoon of horseradish, 2 dashes of Tabasco sauce, 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (1 teaspoon), salt, pepper, 2 ounces of vodka, and 4 ounces of tomato juice in a cocktail shaker, and squeeze in a little lemon juice.
Fill a second cocktail shaker with ice cubes and pour the liquid back and forth a few times from one shaker to the other. This will help to chill the liquid down and mix the flavors. Finally, pour the drink (ice cubes included) into the prepared tall glass. A Bloody Mary can be garnished with celery ribs, cooked shrimp, pickled green beans, lemon wedges, or cooked bacon.
Another recipe containing celery seeds comes from chef Lenny Russo at dailymeal.com.
The chef recommends preparing the Green Asparagus soup with celery seeds, sour cream and toasted hazelnuts when spring arrives, as it evokes the delicate, fresh, and minty taste of spring. As featured in the book “Heartland: Farm-Forward Dishes from the Great Midwest” by Chef Russo, the recipe starts with a large pot of boiling salted water and an ice bath.
Then, place 2 pounds of fresh asparagus, with the woody ends trimmed off, in the boiling water for about 3 minutes until tender. Drain the asparagus and transfer to the iced water bath until the vegetables are slightly chilled. Drain the asparagus on paper towels. For the cream, whisk together in a nonreactive bowl 1 cup of sour cream and 1 teaspoon of lightly toasted celery seeds, then season with salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate.
While the asparagus drains, prepare a bouillon from 2 cups of vegetable broth, 1 cup of fresh mint leaves, and 3 trimmed spring onions. Chop the drained asparagus into 1-inch pieces and place in a blender or food processor. Add the mint bouillon and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. If you like your soups richer, add 1 cup of heavy cream while the blender is still running.
To serve, pour into bowls, sprinkle over some celery seeds, pour on some sour cream, and garnish with toasted chopped hazelnuts and chopped fresh chives.