True anise, with its distinctive licorice taste and aroma, is an herb used in biscuits, cookies, and other sweet goods. It's also a a great garnish for fish and poultry.

There is no mistaking the flavor and aroma of anise – its oils are used for making licorice-flavored candies. The plant, related to parsley and carrots, is native to the Mediterranean region, but is now grown in many parts of the world. Some alcoholic beverages (ouzo, sambuca, anisette) are flavored with anise extract, and ground seeds are frequently added to sweetbreads and desserts.

In Europe, it is often used as an after-dinner breath freshener and digestive aid.


• True anise is known botanically as Pimpinella anisum and is classified as an herb. The seeds come from a bushy, low-growing annual.

• Most commercial anise is grown in Mexico. Spain, however, produces what many believe to be a “premium” seed.

• Also called aniseed, sweet Alice, sweet cumin, and anis (but not sweet anise or Florence fennel).

• Anise and star anise are not the same, but are similar in taste.

Buying Tips

Anise is available whole, ground, or as an extract. When purchasing ground, buy in the smallest quantity available as flavor fades quickly.

Storage Tips

Keep seeds in an airtight container, dry, and away from heat. They will be good for about twelve months.

Usage Tips

• Roasted seeds will impart stronger flavors.

• Garnish fish and chicken with anise.

• Include small amounts when baking root vegetables.

Substitution Tips

• Star anise (reduce quantity as the seeds from this species are stronger).

• Fennel or tarragon (may need to increase quantity, as these are milder).

Try one of our favorite anise recipes:
Wine Fruit Cup