Learn how to make Chinese five spice at home; it’s less expensive than buying it! The blend adds incredible flavor to many Asian dishes.
Five spice powder is a unique blend that is supposedly based on the five elements found on Earth.
However, it’s more commonly known for containing all five culinary tastes - sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. This makes it a staple in any cook’s kitchen.
Make your own from scratch for rich flavor without the preservatives and other additives.
Chinese Five Spice uses
This spice blend is very common in both Chinese and Taiwanese cooking. It adds plenty of heat and flavor to my Shrimp and Pork Shumai recipe.
While it can be used in almost anything, not just Asian cuisine, here are some of the most popular uses:
- Stews and broths
- Marinades and sauces
- In breading for fried foods
- Rub for meat or vegetables
- Glaze with honey or molasses
- In salad dressings
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Note: This is just a partial list of ingredients. For the full ingredient list, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Cinnamon stick - In order to toast cinnamon with the other spices, it needs to be in its stick form. Ground cinnamon can be substituted if needed, but the flavor won’t be as strong in the spice blend.
- Sichuan peppercorns - These come from the seeds of the prickly ash shrub and aren’t considered any hotter than regular black peppercorns. However, the spice has a tingly, mouth-numbing effect that can enhance the spiciness and any flavors it’s combined with. If you can’t find these, black peppercorns can be used instead.
How to make Chinese Five Spice
All you need to make this recipe is a small skillet and a spice grinder. Then toast and grind the spices for a homemade spice blend in just a few minutes!
- Toast the spices: Add everything to a dry pan and toast over medium heat until fragrant. This will enhance the flavors and release any oils.
- Cool: Transfer the spices to a small bowl or dish and allow them to cool completely to preserve their aromas.
- Grind: Use a coffee or spice grinder to combine the spices into a fine powder.
- Storage - Keep the spice blend in a sealed jar for up to 1 month. While it won’t go bad after that, it will lose its potency over time.
- Larger batch - If you use a lot of Chinese Five Spice, feel free to double or triple the recipe so you always have enough on hand.
- Save time - Toasting the spices is not required and can be skipped if you’re in a hurry.
- Different varieties - The blend of ingredients can vary based on region and even household. While this recipe uses the five most common spices, other blends may contain orange peel, ginger root, nutmeg, turmeric, or cardamom.
Chinese 5 Spice Substitutes
For a similar blend, combine the cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. Then replace the fennel seeds and peppercorns with ground ginger instead.
Or, try one of these other spice blends instead. None of them will have the same combination of flavors, but they will add the necessary spice and heat.
- Cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and ground cloves
- Allspice with a pinch of ginger
- Garam masala with star anise
- Splash of sambuca liqueur
Chinese Five Spice Blend
- 3 inch cinnamon stick See Note 1
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 tsp cloves
- 2 star anise
- 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.
- You can substitute a 3 inch cinnamon stick with ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.