Chinese Five Spice

5 from 4 votes

This recipe for Chinese five spice is aromatic, bold and brimming with authentic Chinese flavor. This intensely tasty traditional spice blend is easy to make and perfect for jazzing up any Asian-themed meal. Make this five spice powder in less than 10 minutes with just a handful of simple ingredients!

overhead closeup: cinnamon sticks, star anise, fennel seeds, cloves, and peppercorns in a spice grinder for chinese five spice

Chinese five spice is a blend like no other. It has a complex yet harmonious profile with sweet, savory, and aromatic overtones. That’s not all, though! Woven throughout this blend, you’ll also find each of the 5 culinary flavors represented. Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami all show up in varying degrees. 

This balanced combination of tastes makes this Chinese five spice recipe incredibly versatile. You’ll find it no surprise that five spice powder is a must-have pantry staple in both Chinese and Taiwanese kitchens. 

You can find premade Chinese five spice at your local Asian market, but you’ll get way more bang for your buck crafting your own blend. The flavor will be far fresher, and you’ll end up with a nice amount to store. Plus, there is something so empowering about stocking your own pantry from scratch.

detailed map of china and surrounding countries

To try your hand at more spice blends, check out this Szechuan Seasoning, Lebanese 7 Spice, or go ahead and check out my full collection of Spice Blends.

overhead: whole spices in skillet for chinese five spice recipe

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Cinnamon – Choosing cinnamon sticks will give you the most potent flavor but, in a pinch, ground cinnamon can do the trick. 
  • Fennel Seeds Add a sweet, earthy, licorice-like flavor to the blend. 
  • Sichuan Peppercorns These zesty berries of the prickly ash shrub add a numbing, tingling sensation and boost the flavor of the other spices. They have about the same heat as black peppercorns which can be used as a substitute. 
  • Cloves – Gives the Chinese five spice recipe an intense, penetrating flavor and sweet, aromatic heat. 
  • Star Anise Adds another layer of warm, sweet, and spicy flavor with a hint of licorice.

Tip From Kevin

Do I need to toast the spices?

Toasting spices is a game-changer! It intensifies their flavors by awakening essential oils and releasing aromatic compounds, elevating their taste profile. This process not only deepens their flavors but also adds complexity and richness to the spice blend.

overhead: Chinese 5 Spice in a spice grinder

How to Make Chinese Five Spice

  1. Toast the Spices. Place a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the spices and toast until fragrant. If you are using ground cinnamon, leave that out of the saute pan. Once toasted, transfer the spices to a small bowl and set aside to cool. 
  2. Blend the Spice. Once the spices have cooled down enough, blitz them together with the ground cinnamon (if using) in a coffee or spice grinder. Continue to blitz until your five spice powder is finely ground. Transfer to an airtight container for storage.
overhead: small white bowl on a counter with five spice powder and a small metal spoon
  • Small saute pan
  • Coffee or spice grinder

Storing and Reheating

Store your Chinese 5 spice in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. To maintain the best quality, I recommend storing it in a sealed glass jar, preferably opaque, and keeping the jar out of direct sunlight. Avoid stashing it in the refrigerator where moisture can cause the blend to clump. 

For the best flavor and potency, try to use your Chinese five spice recipe within a month. It is still perfectly safe to enjoy after that, but will start to decline in quality. Luckily, you can whip up a new batch in no time!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of Chinese five spice?

Chinese five spice is a simple spice blend with a rich history. Famous throughout all regions of China, this balanced blend has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It has been around, in one form or another, for at least 3,000 years! 

While the precise origin is unknown, the common belief is that ancient Chinese were trying to craft a spice blend that incorporated the main 5 flavors that are essential to Chinese cuisine including sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. The spices used were chosen both for their flavors and how they related to the 5 elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. 

The rest is history, as they say! Chinese five spice became popular across the whole of China with different communities adding their own unique spin.

What is five spice powder made of?

For this Chinese five spice recipe, I chose the most traditional lineup of cinnamon, fennel, star anise, cloves, and Sichuan peppercorns. However, you can also find versions with orange peel, turmeric, ginger root, nutmeg, or cardamom.

How do I use this Chinese five spice recipe?

This Chinese 5 spice recipe can be used in a wide variety of ways. Add a dash to any of your favorite condiments, side dishes, and entrees. Here is a short list of some ideas to get you inspired:
– Stir into soups like Hot and Sour or Sizzling Rice Soup.
– Sprinkle some over a Chinese Cucumber Salad or other fresh salad. 
– Add a dash to Sweet and Sour Sauce, Peanut Sauce, or any of your favorite sauces. 
– Jazz up stir fry dishes like this Szechuan Pork and Mongolian Beef Stir Fry
– Use as a spice rub for Chinese Five Spice Ribs and other meats or veggies.

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This recipe post, originally published on Silk Road Recipes July 30, 2020 was updated with new content, photos and/or video in December 2023.

close up of cinnamon sticks, star anise, fennel seeds, cloves, and peppercorns in a spice grinder

Chinese Five Spice

5 from 4 votes
Chinese five spice is a traditional Chinese spice blend made with cinnamon, fennel, cloves, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns.
Servings: 16
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 2 minutes
Total: 7 minutes



  • Add the spices to a small saute pan (except ground cinnamon if using). Toast over medium heat until fragrant. Transfer the spices into a small bowl to cool.
  • Once cooled, transfer toasted spices and ground cinnamon (if using) to a coffee or spice grinder. Blitz to a fine powder. Transfer to an airtight jar.



Calories: 3kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 12mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Pantry Staples
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): chinese five spice spice blend


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I will make this later today and THANK YOU! I have looked at a number of stores, but not found it. I make many other spice blends myself and always find it better to do myself than buy it. It’s fresher and less expensive!

  2. 5 stars
    I found many recipes that require 5 spice and I can’t find it in any of the stores I have looked for it…so glad I found the recipe to make it here…now I can make it myself and start enjoying the recipes the call for it…thanks for sharing

  3. 5 stars
    This is such an easy and flavorful recipe. We make a lot of Asian inspired food at home so this spice is PERFECT!

  4. 5 stars
    This is not only a delicious recipe but it is so pretty when you are making it! Your photos are amazing! love the capture of the star anise! Be using it a lot!

  5. 5 stars
    So this is how to make it. Thanks for taking the time to share these spice blends. I always thought it would be harder to make. I add more cinnamon, but this base is PERFECT.

  6. Good Afternoon

    Is your blog and the recipes related in anyway to the Silk Road spice company, which started in Missoula, Montana? Just curious. It was a great restaurant that closed to focus on its spices.