Native to China, this star-shaped pod is a commonly used spice and tea flavoring in Asian cuisines. Although its flavor is derived from anethol, the same essential oil in anise seed, the two spices are unrelated. Star anise, a member of the magnolia (not parsley) family, imparts a stronger, slightly more bitter, licorice taste.
Star anise is a ground ingredient in the traditional Chinese five-spice powder, which also contains cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed and Szechuan peppercorns. In Western cultures, star anise is widely used to flavor liqueurs (most notably Galliano) and baked goods.
Star anise was not known in the United States until 1971, the year the government lifted the ban on imported spices from Mainland China.
Star anise is available at Asian markets and some specialty stores. The stars are available whole or ground to a delicate red-brown powder. For optimal flavor, it's best to buy star anise in small quantities and grind it yourself as needed.
Store whole in an airtight container for up to one year. When ground, it should be kept for no more than three months.
Try one of our favorite star anise recipes
View BigOven's star-anise recipes