Infuse your favorite Asian-inspired recipes with authentic flavors with this Chinese five spice powder that’s simple to make at home!
This seasoning blend is perfect for sautés, roasted veggies and meats, and stir-fry recipes!
What is Chinese 5 Spice
Chinese 5 spice is an aromatic and flavorful combination of cinnamon, fennel, star anise, peppercorns, and cloves.
You may be thinking, these spices are what I used in baked goods and sweets! However, in a lot of Eastern cooking, these same spices are primarily used in savory dishes.
This particular blend is unique to Chinese cuisine, and if you’ve never cooked with it you’ve most certainly enjoyed its unique flavor in authentic recipes like Cantonese Pork, Peking Duck, and many more!
This is a great adaptation of the original flavors for your US-made recipes so you can enjoy your favorite Asian-inspired dishes at home.
Whether you use whole spices and grind them up or purchase the powdered form, to make this Chinese 5 spice powder, you’ll need:
- Star anise: comes in a dried star-shaped form, hence the name, and has a mild licorice flavor.
- Fennel seed: has a licorice-like flavor. Use whole or ground.
- Szechuan peppercorn: or regular black peppercorns.
- Cloves: have an intense, sweet and spicy flavor. Sold whole and ground.
- Ground cinnamon: a little more tame than whole clove. If available, use Chinese cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon.
*You’ll find the proper ratio of spices in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Fennel or Ginger
As previously mentioned, there are many variations of Chinese five spice powder. Some recipes use ground ginger vs. fennel seed, and both work great for this flavor profile.
Fennel yields a milder flavor of seasoning while ginger tends to be more pungent and noticeable. Some people use both in equal amounts and it becomes a 6th spice blend.
Making Your Own 5 Spice Powder
To make this 5 spice powder you can buy all the spices ground or whole. Either way, making it at home is easy by:
- Measure each spice
If you purchased the spices already ground, measure them directly inside a bowl. Otherwise, grind them first.
- Grind whole spices
If you’re using whole spices such as the star of anise or fennel in seed form, place each of them inside a spice grinder or coffee mill and grind them into a powdery consistency. Then, measure the amount needed in powdered form.
- Combine the spices
Combine all the spices well until the color blend is an even brown consistency so each spice is distributed evenly throughout.
Transfer the five spice mix inside a seasoning jar and keep it in the pantry for up to 6 months.
How to Use Five Spice
There are so many ways to cook with Chinese five spice! When mixed with a little olive oil and salt, it can be used as a terrific chicken marinade.
Of course, it’s also used in many Asian-inspired recipes which is perhaps the reason you found this post because you needed to make your own five spice and use it on a stir-fry.
It’s so good, you can even use it on your favorite veggie taco recipes -as I do in these Orange Mushroom Tacos, from my Taco Tuesday Cookbook. It’s sweet and savory flavor goes perfectly in a warmed tortilla topped with fresh cabbage slaw.
Storing Homemade Spices
Homemade spice blends are best stored in an airtight container or spice jar in the pantry for up to 6 months.
This recipe yields almost two tablespoons; which is enough for 1 to 2 recipes. If you want to make this in bulk, triple the recipe, and you’ll be set!
Is There a Substitute for 5 Spice Powder?
If you don’t have the ingredients to make this recipe but need it to get dinner on the table, you can use ground Allspice as a substitute in equal amounts. The flavor profile, while not the same, is similar in complexity and will bring those warm spices of cinnamon and cloves to the dish.
Chinese 5 Spice Powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground anise seed, about 3 whole stars
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds, about ½ teaspoon whole*
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper, about 6 peppercorns*
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, about 3 whole cloves
- If using whole spices, place them all in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder and grind to a powdery consistency.
- If already ground, mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
- Transfer the ground spice mix inside a spice jar and store it in your spice drawer or pantry for up to 6 months.