Chinese Five Spice or Five Spice Powder is an aromatic spice blend from China and Vietnam. It gets its name from using the five elements of flavor in Chinese cuisine: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and savory.
Chinese Five Spice blends often have five ingredients, but some blends have more. It adds a perfectly balanced flavor to many dishes.
This Chinese Five Spice recipe comes together quickly, with little effort and just five ingredients. It's a great versatile spice mix to keep on hand to add to all kinds of recipes.
What Are the Ingredients in Chinese Five Spice?
This Chinese Five Spice blend comes together by mixing five different spices. Here's what you'll need:
- Star anise - star anise can be found at most grocery stores in the spice aisle. It's important to note that star anise differs from anise seed, a different plant that will change the flavor.
- Ground cinnamon- regular cinnamon will work, but if you can find Vietnamese or Chinese cinnamon, usually found at Asian markets, you'll want to use that. Cinnamon sticks can also work - use about an inch and a half of the cinnamon stick.
- Fennel seeds
- Sichuan peppercorns (also known as Szechuan peppercorns or Chinese peppercorns) - we get our Sichuan peppercorns from The Spice House. We love their taste and quality. If you have an Asian market nearby, you should also be able to find Sichuan peppercorns there.
- Ground cloves - if you only have whole cloves, you can use two whole cloves in place of the ground cloves.
We use these five spices in this spice seasoning mix, but ginger is sometimes added. In Southern Chinese cooking, dried orange peel may also be added.
How to Make This Spice Blend
- Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the peppercorns to the dry skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until toasted.
- Add whole spices to a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or high-speed blender and blend to combine, then mix with the ground spices (if using any).
- Add the spices to a small sifter or sieve and shake to separate the larger pieces from the ground spices. Discard the leftover large pieces and keep the fine powder.
- Add to an airtight spice jar or container and store in a cool, dry place for up to three months.
How to Use Chinese Five Spice
Chinese Five Spice is commonly used in many Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. It's often used as a dry rub on meat - like chicken, fish, pork, and duck.
Because it has so much cinnamon, you could stir it into a cup of coffee or use it in baking. It makes an excellent topping for grilled vegetables and tofu. It's also delicious on noodles or in ramen.
Five Spice Powder can be used in a variety of ways. Here are a few of our favorite dishes you can make with this Chinese Five Spice recipe:
- Roasted Acorn Squash Soup
- Five Spice Banana Bread
- Add to Toasted Walnuts for a delicious snack.
- Roasted Acorn Squash
This classic blend of spices makes a great addition to your spice cabinet. When you're stuck on meal ideas, use spice blends to season meats or vegetables. Having spice mixes on hand makes cooking more accessible and is a way to get authentic flavor without making sauces.
Where to Buy Chinese Five Spice
If you don't want to make your own spice blend, you can purchase it online - we recommend this Chinese Five Spice Blend from The Spice House.
We recommend Frontier's Five Spice Blend if you'd like to buy five spice on Amazon.
Want More Spice Blends?
Check out our Spice Guides, where we feature unique spices and flavors from around the world. Here are some of our favorites:
Have other questions about Five Spice Powder? Let us know in the comments below!
With just a few ingredients, you can make your own delicious five spice blend. It makes your kitchen smell amazing!
- 6 star anise
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon*
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the peppercorns and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until they are toasted.
- Add the star anise, fennel seeds, and peppercorns to a spice grinder or high-speed blender and blend to combine.
- Add the blended star anise, fennel, and peppercorns to a small sifter or sieve and shake to separate the larger pieces from the ground spices. Discard the leftover, large pieces**
- Combine the star anise mix with the cinnamon and cloves. Stir to combine.
- Store for up to three months in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
*use Chinese or Vietnamese cinnamon if possible
**I had about a tablespoon and a half of larger pieces that would not blend further.