Learn About Star Anise

Author: Chef Toby

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Star anise is an Asian spice that comes from the fruit of a Chinese evergreen tree. Before it ripens, the fruit is harvested and is dried until it becomes hard and brown. The pods have a star-like shape, with anywhere from 6 to 10 points on each pod. 

What Does Star Anise Taste Like?

Star anise has a licorice flavor and has a warming mouth-feel, similar to cinnamon and cloves. 

How Can You Use Star Anise?

You can use star anise by grinding it and adding it to cookies, baked goods, sauces, meats, and more. You can also add star anise flavor by adding the whole pod to soups, broths, and beverages. If you use the entire pod, make sure to remove it after cooking; it is not edible when it is whole!

The star-shaped spice is an ingredient in Chinese five-spice, which is used in traditional savory dishes like roasted duck. It is also a primary spice in other popular Asian dishes like Vietnamese Pho soup and Indian chai tea. 

Learn About Star Anise

Where Can You Buy Star Anise?

You can find star anise at most grocery stores in the spice aisle, but you might have to look for it in a specialty store if you are looking for whole pods. 

How Do You Store Star Anise?

Star anise should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, away from sunlight. Ground star anise will last up to one year, and whole pods can last up to two years. 

Fun Fact About Star Anise:

Star anise isn’t just for cooking! The star-shaped pods have also been used as medicine. People have used star anise as a treatment for viruses, bacteria, and fungal infections for thousands of years.

Did You Know?

The oils that are extracted from star anise are sometimes used by manufacturers to make perfumes, soaps, and toothpaste!

Recipes Using Star Anise

Cinnamon Star Anise Green Tea

Spice up your green tea with star anise and cinnamon for an added boost of warm flavor. Serve it hot or let it cool and pour over ice for a refreshing drink.

Simple Pho With Star Anise

Create a simplified version of this Vietnamese soup with beef broth, star anise, cinnamon, basil, and fish sauce. Serve the enhanced broth with rice noodles, your favorite protein, and garnish with onion. Don’t have beef broth handy? Use beef bullion and water to create a substitute!

Star Anise and Ginger Chicken

Use star anise in combination with soy sauce, brown sugar, and ginger to create a sweet, aromatic sauce for chicken. It’s like having take out at home!

Star Anise Snickerdoodles

Add some flair to your favorite sugar cookie recipe by making star anise snickerdoodle cookies. Replace the cinnamon for one tablespoon of ground star anise to add a warm licorice flavor the cookies. Bake the balls of dough on a nonstick or aluminum sheet pan for a twist on these classic cookies.

Star Anise Milk

Combine star anise, molasses, and milk in a saucepan and bring it up to a simmer, for about seven minutes. Serve in a mug as a sweet and creamy spiced tea. If you don’t have molasses, try using maple syrup!


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