12 Nigella Seeds Substitutes You Didn’t Know Existed

Nigella seeds have several different names. Others call them black cumin, while others name them black onion seeds, fennel flower, black caraway, or kalonji in Hindi. Whatever we name them, nigella seeds have been used in traditional cookery for centuries since they are one of the oldest spices known to man.

You may think that since nigella seeds have such a unique taste, you won’t be able to substitute them. But there are many of alternatives, so don’t be dismayed if your nigella seed supply has gone out.

  1. Black sesame seeds
  2. White sesame seeds
  3. Celery seeds
  4. Oregano
  5. Cumin seeds
  6. Caraway seeds
  7. Fenugreek seeds

Before we get into the entire list of alternatives, let’s learn a little more about this popular spice in India and the Mediterranean area.

12 Best Substitute For Nigella Seeds 

Nigella seeds are small black seeds with a somewhat bitter flavor with hints of cumin, oregano, and burnt onion.

They are often used to season Indian cuisine and other Mediterranean meals like as bread, soups, stews, pastries, and curries.

Because of their powerful perfume and taste, nigella seeds may be utilized in a number of cuisines. You may cook with them or sprinkle them on top of your cuisine for added crunch and texture.

Cumin seeds and white sesame seeds are two of the greatest nigella seed alternatives in terms of taste and scent. Of course, you may still explore with the other options listed below.

Black sesame seeds


Black sesame seeds have an earthy, somewhat bitter taste. However, unlike nigella seeds, they have a unique somewhat tasty scent. They may be crushed or whole and used in the same manner as nigella seeds.

In terms of look, black sesame seeds and nigella seeds share a strong physical similarity, so aesthetics will not be an issue if that is your goal.

Black sesame seeds, like nigella seeds, are widely used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. Your meal will not only look the same when used as a replacement, but it will also have the same peppery and nutty taste.

Black sesame seeds are now widely used in a range of cuisines across the globe, not only for their appealing look but also for their unique taste and health advantages.

Black sesame seeds are an excellent alternative for naan bread on top of a curry, but they are also delicious in prepared recipes. Simply replace the nigella seeds in your recipe with equal quantities of black sesame seeds.

White sesame seeds

White sesame seeds should suffice if you don’t mind using a different color of seed in your meal. White sesame seeds, like nigella seeds and black sesame seeds, will provide the same flavor, fragrance, and crunch to your food, but they are white.

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White sesame seeds provide a toasted taste to the dishes that employ them. They are often sprinkled on top of bread and buns, but they may also be used to maintain the nuttiness in a variety of other baked goods. They are used to create a white-on-dark contrast in various dishes.

White sesame seed kernels have a sweeter and nuttier taste than black sesame seed kernels. However, they taste quite similar to nigella seeds, so you won’t have to worry about radically altering the flavor of a specific meal you want to prepare. As a result, they may be substituted for nigella seeds in bread, pastries, lentil dishes, and other recipes.

Celery Seeds


Celery seeds are small, brown seeds formed from the seeds of wild celery, which thrives in marshy and muddy places. You may believe that all celery tastes the same, but these seeds have a stronger flavor than the ones you usually get in grocery shops.

Celery seeds have a strong, earthy taste with a little sense of bitterness that is enhanced when pulverized. As a result, it is ideal for use in marinades, sauces, dry rubs, and savory foods.

You may also make celery seeds taste practically similar to nigella seeds by combining a little lemon juice with onion powder. Keep in mind that powdered celery seeds have a more intense flavor, so if you want to use them for garnishing, use just a tiny quantity to avoid dominating the overall flavor of the meal.


Oregano is a fragrant herb with a strong taste that is widely used in a variety of savory dishes. It works well in boosting the tastes of your cuisine because to its powerful pungent scent.

Oregano has a similar flavor to nigella seeds, making it an excellent replacement for cooking and baking. Notably, it imparts an earthy and peppery taste to any dish in which it is used, notably Middle Eastern food.

Oregano tastes may be enjoyed in a number of ways. However, if you want to get the most out of it, use fresh oregano instead of dried since it has a more concentrated taste and scent. Furthermore, fresh oregano has antibacterial and antioxidant qualities that may aid in the healing of some inflammatory diseases.

Cumin seeds


Cumin seeds have the greatest taste in common with nigella seeds. And, thankfully, it’s frequently available in grocery shops and even in our spice cabinets. Cumin, like Nigella, has an earthy taste with a spicy sting and fragrant undertones.

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Cumin is a versatile ingredient that may be used in both savory and sweet dishes. It is often used as a spice in Indian and Mexican cookery. Significantly, it will enhance the taste and depth of your dish regardless of where and how you utilize it.

To replace nigella with cumin seeds, dry roast them in a skillet before adding them to your recipe. After that, gently crush them to bring out the flavors.

Many meals that call for nigellas benefit from the use of cumin seeds, including curries, bread, vegetables, and meats. Not only because of the taste, but also because cumin seeds provide various health advantages, such as blood sugar management components, antioxidant content, and so on.

Caraway seeds

Caraway seeds are aromatic and have a faint anise taste that adds a subtle licorice flavour to a variety of dishes. Their taste is earthy and spicy, with a citrus undertone.

Caraway seeds have a similar flavor to nigella seeds and other spices, making them an excellent replacement for bread, salads, pickles, curries, and meat preparations. Although it will not have the same flavor as nigella seeds, caraway seeds will provide a distinct flavor to your food.

Caraway seeds are an excellent option for topping pastry meals, especially rye bread. Caraway seeds work especially well with roasted vegetables, sauces, marinades, and baked products.

Fenugreek seeds


Because of the substantial flavor they provide to dishes, fenugreek seeds are a prominent component in Indian cuisine. The seeds (also known as methi) are quite bitter when eaten raw, but when combined with other ingredients and spices, they provide sweetness and depth of flavor to savory dishes.

Their flavor may be similar to that of caramelized sugar.

Fenugreek seeds have a licorice-like taste and are often mistaken for anise. Fenugreek is undeniably a fragrant and tasty seed, which is why it should be handled with caution, particularly when used as a substitute for nigella seeds.

As a result, it is recommended that you use half the quantity to balance the overall taste of the food.

Mustard seeds 

When you think of mustard seeds, the first thing that comes to mind is probably yellow mustard seeds. But did you know there are also black and brown varieties?

In terms of spicy and bitter taste, black mustard seeds are the most comparable to nigella seeds. Black mustard seeds are more often available in Asian shops and Indian marketplaces and are used to add flavor and fragrance to toasted foods and stir-fries.

If you can’t get these seeds, you may substitute yellow or brown mustard seeds.

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The number of mustard seeds to use should be adjusted depending on the kind of mustard seeds used. Yellow ones have a milder taste, therefore you may need to use twice as much as nigella seeds to have the same flavor.


This may not be the ideal substitution for your food. However, if you don’t have any other choices and you really need to add a bit of nigella seeds to your recipe, an onion might come in handy.

If you don’t have nigella seeds but still want the taste, replace onion. Surprisingly, onion has a distinct tanginess that, when combined with certain recipes, might taste similar to nigella seeds.

To extract the juice from the onions, grate or purée them first, then add them to your favorite warm meals or salads.

Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds are green, pungent seeds that resemble cumin seeds in appearance. They are a good alternative for nigella, but only in a few meals.

Fennel seeds have a licorice-like flavor that can be stronger to that of nigella, which may dominate the other ingredients of your dish. As a result, you should use them sparingly.

Fennel seeds go well with salads, handmade pastries, curries, and roasted vegetables. Furthermore, they are very nutrient-dense and may give a variety of health benefits.

Fennel seeds are abundant in natural compounds that may keep you energetic while also preserving your cells from damage. They may help you prevent cardiovascular disease, inflammation, lack of appetite, and perhaps cancer cells if you include them in your diet.

Dill seeds


Dill seeds may be little, but they pack a punch. Because of their strong taste and adaptability as a replacement for nigella seeds, they are perfect for bread and meats.

Dill seeds, which have a taste similar to black and white sesame seeds, may be finely crushed and used in recipes in place of nigella seeds. They may be even better since they are high in vitamins, iron, fiber, and calcium.

Coriander seeds

Coriander seeds are a healthy and zesty spice to have on hand. They are not only great for a variety of recipes, but they also provide health advantages.

Coriander seeds have a somewhat sweet, warm, pungent taste with a hint of citrus and spice, but not as intense as cilantro.

When coriander seeds are paired with other dishes containing nigella seeds, such as cumin or curry spice, the tastes are enhanced, not only enhancing their flavor but also helps in reproducing the flavors of nigella seeds even when they are not utilized.


What is the closest thing to nigella seeds?

Cumin seeds, black sesame seeds, caraway seeds, and celery seeds are excellent alternatives for nigella seeds. Fennel seeds, poppy seeds, fenugreek seeds, and oregano are all good substitutes for nigella seeds.

What are alternative names for nigella seeds?

Here are a few more names for nigella seeds: black caraway, black cumin, fennel flower, black fennel, nigella, nutmeg flower, roman coriander, and black seeds.

What is Nigella sativa alternative names?

Black cumin (Nigella sativa), also known as black seed, black caraway, Roman coriander, kalonji, or fennel flower, is an annual plant in the Ranunculaceae family cultivated for its spicy seeds, which are used as a spice and in herbal medicine.

What does nigella seeds do to your body?

Its many applications have earned Nigella the Arabic title ‘Habbatul barakah,’ which translates to “seed of blessing.” A tincture made from the seeds may help with indigestion, lack of appetite, diarrhoea, dropsy, amenorrhoea, and dysmenorrhoea, as well as worms and skin rashes.

Is black cumin the same as nigella seeds?

The fact that nigella seeds have so many various names indicates how widely they have been utilized throughout time: nigella sativa, black cumin, blackseed, kaljoni, fennel flower, nutmeg flower, Roman coriander, black caraway, black onion seed, love-in-a-mist seeds, and devil-in-a-bush seeds…The list goes on and on!

Are caraway seeds and nigella seeds the same?

Nigella, or black caraway, is the unique, somewhat bitter seed of an annual blooming plant native to Asia. This somewhat bitter, spicy spice seed is not to be mistaken with typical caraway seed. It is a separate species.

What is nigella seeds American name?

Nigella sativa and its seed are also known as black caraway, black seed, black cumin, fennel flower, nigella, nutmeg flower, Roman coriander, and kalonji in English. Elwendia persica, commonly known as Bunium persicum, is another name for blackseed and black caraway.

What tastes like nigella seeds?

Black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, and celery seeds are among the replacements. Because each of these alternatives has a similar taste profile to nigella seeds, they may be used in recipes that call for nigella seeds without altering the flavor of the dish.

Is Nigella sativa an opioid?

The participants’ appetites rise, but there is no substantial weight gain. Conclusion: Nigella sativa, a nonopioid medication, is beneficial in the long-term treatment of opioid dependency.

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