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What’s in Chinese 5 spice? What is Chinese five spice powder?

Spices are also a secret to creating tasty and unique recipes. In China, people have had a unique system of spices for a long time. That helps Chinese recipes not only delicious, famous throughout the country but also famous worldwide. So what is the most popular Chinese 5 spice substitute in China? Let’s take a look at these spices!

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The quintessence of Chinese cuisine 

What is in Chinese five spice?

Five spice is the secret to creating world famous cuisine – Chinese cuisine. Chinese five spice includes the following ingredients:

  • Cinnamon star anise
  • Fennel seeds
  • Sichuan peppercorns
  • Whole cloves
  • Cinnamon

1. Star anise

This is first on the list of five spices. An indispensable seasoning in Chinese is “star anise.”

The Chinese often pay great attention to the nutrition of their recipes. So they like to use it in stews and hot pot dishes. In particular, the Chinese often use anise a lot when the weather is cold.

Due to the essential oil in anise, it also has the effect of keeping the body warm. Besides, it helps to circulate blood very well. Furthermore, it has the effect of creating an aroma for recipes. It also has the effect of stimulating the flavor buds, helping people eat more delicious meals.

Cinnamon is also an essential seasoning of Asian people.

2. Fennel seeds

This seed is popular for seasoning due to its distinctive flavor. They are very popular in North African, Middle Eastern, western Chinese, Indian and Mexican cuisines.

The fennel seed has a characteristic bitter flavor. Besides, it also has a warm and robust flavor due to its high content of essential oils. Today, fennel seeds are popular with Indian cuisine and Chinese cuisine.

In traditional medicine, the seed is stimulants, laxatives, and antiseptics.

It has the effect of reducing the natural sweetness of these recipes. Usually, people add it to Middle Eastern, Indian, Cuban, and Mexican recipes.

The flavor of fennel seeds plays a significant role in Mexican, Thai, Chinese, and Indian cuisine.

3. Sichuan peppercorns

Sichuan peppercorns are the most common seasoning of famous Chinese cuisine. This kind of peppercorns originates from the Sichuan region – the capital of spices.

Pepper will bring a strong spicy feeling, numbing the oral cavity. Sichuan peppercorn is one of the crucial ingredients in spicy Chinese recipes.

The Chinese usually prefer to use white peppercorns over black pepper. If black peppercorns, when enjoying, you will immediately feel the pungent taste. Then, when enjoying white peppercorns, you will first feel the faint aroma. Besides, peppercorns also bring warmth and then a spicy flavor to the mouth.

In addition to using whole pepper, ground pepper is also very popular with Chinese people. It makes the soups hotter and more fragrant. The spiciness of dried or ground peppercorn is usually more pungent. Meanwhile, ground peppercorn has a milder spiciness but does not lose the balance of the dish.

View more: Does Coconut Oil Go Bad

4. Whole cloves

They are one of the oldest spices. It appeared thousands of years ago. People use them a lot, and they quickly spread all over the world.

They are native to Indonesia. They are dried flower buds of a plant. People usually pack and store them at cold temperatures, away from light.

There are many different uses of this spice. In France, people use it in chicken soups. In the UK, chefs often mash it up in apple salad. In China, Japan, people use a lot in the processing of flavorings.

It is an easy-to-find ingredient in curry spice mixes, BBQ marinade. Sometimes you even see it in the components of some sauces.

This is strange but familiar. It can appear anywhere in recipes. 

It is very suitable for sugary dishes and desserts. They come in primary forms: whole cloves, ground cloves, powder cloves, and essential oils. The scent of this one is strong and seductive. Depending on the dish, people use it in whole or powdered form. 

However, people still prefer the original form. The “destructive” power of cloves is considerable. So you should only give a moderate amount to create the smell when cooking.

5. Cinnamon

It is a product produced from the cinnamon tree or stick in traditional medicine. Cinnamon has a strong aroma and a sweet, warm taste. Therefore, it is suitable as an ingredient for flavoring dishes and cakes.

Cinnamon is one of the four precious herbs of traditional Chinese medicine. Cinnamon grows well in a humid tropical climate with lots of sunshine and lots of rain.

The Chinese often use cinnamon powder to marinate with meat, fish, and shrimp to eliminate the fishy smell. At the same time, it makes the food more attractive, stimulating the taste. 

In addition, cinnamon powder in recipe processing will help prevent the growth and proliferation of bacteria. That helps food stay fresh longer.

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The basic composition of the five-spice

What is Chinese five spice powder?

Chinese five spice powder is a familiar powdered spice. It appears in the cuisine of many countries such as Vietnam, Japan, China, especially Cantonese.

This spice is a combination of 5 primary flavors in cuisine. They include salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter. The flavor blends to create a different character when it comes to the five flavors.

Five spice powder recipe

5 spice powder used in daily cooking is to enhance the yummy taste. The combination of this spice and other ingredients will create beautiful recipes. Let’s take a look at some related meals for the family as below:

1. Fried pork belly with five spice powder

The pork has a strong five-spice flavor. The outside is soft, and the inside is so flavorful it’s hard to resist. The recipe to prepare the dish is straightforward. So what are you waiting for? Go to the kitchen right away!

2. Grilled chicken wings with Chinese five spice powder

Grilled chicken wings are fragrant with the typical flavor of five-spice spices. This will be an irresistible dish for the whole family.

3. Fried pork liver with five spice powder recipe

The combination of fried pork liver with five flavors sounds strange, but the truth is beautiful. So refreshing the taste of dishes made from pork liver with five savors is not a bad idea. You only need 1 tablespoon to 2 tablespoons of five spice powder in the recipe.

4. Grilled stomach with Chinese five spice powder

Stomach combined with the scents of the five-spice package, crispy and crispy, is a highly flavorful dish. The combination of the stomach and five flavors will make you love to eat forever.

5. Grilled geese with five spice powder recipe

Five scents combined with marinated swan meat will create a dish that is hard to resist. The skin is crispy, and the geese are sweet and fragrant. This recipe is beautiful.

Frequently Asked Questions 

chinese 5 spice

Chinese whole spices FAQ 

1. How to store the five spice powder?

  • You need to prepare a sealed container that you can buy at the grocery store
  • Use tablespoons to scoop five spice powder into the prepared container
  • Close the lid of the container carefully
  • Store it in a dry place and avoid direct sunlight

2. How to make the five spice at home?

Making your own five flavors will help ensure food hygiene and safety. The grocery store sells a lot of five flavors. However, if you like, you can also make your own. 

You can manually adjust the content of ingredients in the five flavors according to your preferences. For example, the way to make five-spice powder is straightforward.


  • 20g pepper
  • 20 g anise
  • 10 g fennel seeds 
  • 10g cinnamon powder
  • 8 g cloves


  • Step 1: Grind cinnamon and star anise in the spice grinder. Then put these two ingredients in the blender for grinding them into powder.
  • Step 2: Put the remaining ingredients in the blender. You continue to grind until all the elements form a powder and mix or blend well.

3. What is the substitution for Chinese five spice?

  • Garam masala

Garam masala is a spice quite similar to the Chinese five spice powder. Their ingredients all include cumin seeds, cinnamon, and cloves. However, garam masala can be cardamom and caraway.

Since they are so similar, you can use garam masala as a five spice powder substitute. Please replace them with a 1:1 ratio.

  • Garam Masala combining with star anise

You can add some ground star anise to the garam masala. This will give the garam masala more consistency.

The recipe is: 1/4 teaspoon ground anise + 3/4 teaspoon garam masala = 1 teaspoon five spice powder.

  • Star anise

This is the spice that makes up most of the five spice powders. So you can also use it as a Chinese five spice substitute. However, it would be best if you reduced it a bit. That will make the dish not hot.

  • Cinnamon

Cinnamon is similar to star anise. It is one of the indispensable spices in this mixture. 

You should use it less if using it as a Chinese 5 spice powder substitute.

  • Baharat

Baharat has the main ingredients of paprika and cumin seeds. It will feel different. But you can also use it as a substitute for Chinese five spice.


Chinese five spice is the critical secret of Asian meals. It originated in China and has existed for a long time to this day. Hopefully, with the above sharing, you have gained more valuable knowledge about this spice.

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