What is the Best Pernod Substitute When Cooking?

Published Categorized as Journal, Ingredients Tagged

Have you ever been following a French recipe and it’s called for Pernod as an ingredient? If so, that’s probably why you’re here as Pernod can be somewhat hard to come by. Worry not though, below we’ll explore the options at your disposal for the best Pernod substitute.

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What is Pernod?

Pernod is a famous star anise-flavored liqueur from France. Within French cuisine, Pernod is often used when cooking. It is particularly brilliant for seafood sauces and dishes. However it also great when cooking steak.

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Ever wondered how French seafood dishes are able to smell so amazing? Often that’s simply down to the inclusion of a little Pernod.

This is because the acidic nature of the alcohol neutralises much of that harsh fishy aroma. However, this is not the only reason for its inclusion as Pernod also enhances the existing flavours whilst adding notes of anise.

What is The Best Pernod Substitute?

Pernod is a staple of French seafood dishes. However, you may find yourself requiring a substitute for Pernod due to either having run out or simply not being able to find a bottle in the supermarket.

Pernod substitutes are for the most part alcoholic in nature and the high alcohol content of Pernod itself is replicated in most of these drinks. However, when it comes to replacing Pernod with another alcohol, they fall into two distinct categories.

The categories for these Pernod substitutes are anise flavoured Pernod substitutes and substitutes for Pernod that aren’t anise flavoured.

Which category of substitute for Pernod you choose will ultimately come down to whether the distinct star anise flavor is something desirable to you or not.

Anise Flavoured Pernod Substitutes

These anise flavored substitutes for Pernod will more closely replicate the flavoring that Pernod would add to a dish.

However, their implementation and overall taste may differ slightly due to the slightly different flavor profiles of each beverage along with their alcohol content.


Potentially the closest Pernod substitution you will find is Pastis. Pastis is an ideal substitute for Pernod in seafood recipes due to their flavors being very similar.

In fact, Pastis and Pernod are even made by the same company. The only real difference being the alcoholic content of one versus the other as Pastis is slightly stronger. However, this difference will not likely be noticeable as most of the alcoholic content will evaporate during cooking.

In addition though, whilst both Pernod and Pastis are both types of anise-flavored liqueur, Pastis is also slightly licorice flavored.

When using Pastis in seafood dishes such as paella only a few drops are required to get the distinct flavour.


The cousin liqueur of Pastis and Pernod is Absinthe. Absinthe is a green liqueur from Europe that often doubles up as a cooking ingredient in traditional European dishes.

Whilst absinthe is anise flavored, it gets its name from the artemisia absinthium flowers that are used in its distillation. In addition to these flavors though, absinthe also contains fennel and many other kinds of herbs. In fact, it is these herbs that result in the distinct green color of absinthe.


Like Pastis, absinthe has something of a licorice taste. However, absinthe typically has a much higher alcohol content level. As such it is often diluted in mixers or water when drank. When used in cooking, however, most of the alcohol content will evaporate.

When using absinthe as a substitute for Pernod you can suffice with only a few drops to get that coveted anise taste.


Ouzo is an anise flavored liquor of Greek origins. As a drink with the EU protected designation of origin, true ouzo can only be made in Greece.

Ouzo is made from grape must that is distilled in copper stills and seasoned with anise seeds and other ingredients such as fennel, mint, cardamom or coriander. These additional flavors make ouzo similar to absinthe in the sense that the two both have a slight licorice flavor.

Ouzo is also typically smoother and has a lower alcohol content than absinthe or Pastis. This means there’ll be less alcohol to be evaporated away when making seafood dishes with ouzo.

As such ouzo makes a good one to one alternative for Pernod as it can be added to dishes later in the cooking process. When cooking with ouzo as your Pernod substitute, adding a small amount towards the end of the cooking process is recommended.


Sambuca is a fairly sweet liqueur from Italy. The reason sambuca makes for a decent Pernod substitute is that – like ouzo, Pastis and absinthe – it has anise and licorice flavor.

Most commonly sambuca will be clear in color. However, black and red sambuca do also exist. It is the white sambuca you want, however. This is because the flavors of the black and red sambuca are slightly different with more of a focus on the ingredients other than anise.

One thing to remember with sambuca however is that by comparison to some of the other alternatives it is sweeter. As such your dish will variably have a sweeter flavor as well if you don’t compensate for it. For this reason, I would recommend that you only opt for sambuca if you either want that extra sweetness or don’t have another alternative.


Like the prior anise flavored alcohol substitutes, Anisette is made with anise. Anisette is used in many different Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Malta and Spain as both a drink and cooking ingredient.

However, anisette is produced from distilling anise seeds in a similar way to sambuca. But whilst sambuca is rather sweet, anisette is even sweeter with some describing it as being almost syrup-like.

As a result, like with sambuca, you should be very careful when using anisette as a Parnod replacement. When using it, ensure that you are regularly tasting the dish to confirm whether the flavour is how you desire it to be.

Pernod Substitutes Without Anise

Can you not be able to find any Pernod substitutes containing anise or do you simply not wish to use them? Don’t worry, you still have options.

The following beverage options won’t replicate the anise taste of Pernod. However, will replicate its other effects on your recipes whilst providing their own unique tastes.


A surprising alternative to Pernod is whiskey. Whiskey is often used in Russia and Europe when cooking red meat. Typically when the meat is being slow-cooked.

Despite being commonly used with red meat, whiskey can also be used when cooking seafood recipes.

whiskey in glasses

The use of whiskey when cooking will give your recipes a distinct flavor and aroma that is both sweet and smokey. This will not produce results similar to Pernod. However, your recipes will still taste uniquely delicious.

When using whiskey in a recipe there are two methods you can employ. Adding it towards the beginning of cooking will allow the alcohol to evaporate whilst still maintaining the flavor and aroma. However, adding it later will allow the alcoholic taste to remain. Whichever method you prefer, however, a few drops of whiskey should be sufficient for any dishes or cream sauces.

White Wine

White wine is a core component of many a French dish whether it be a seafood dish or a dessert. As such when replacing Pernod in French recipes, white wine is your safest bet.

When cooking with seafood especially, white wine is an excellent choice because the two pair together incredibly well. However, like whiskey, the wine will not be able to replicate the same anise flavor of Pernod.

Whether you decide to use a dry, sweet or smooth white wine is entirely up to your own preferences. White wine with higher alcohol content is also recommended. The extra acidity of these wines will help mitigate a foul odor more effectively.

When using white wine, use one teaspoon when cooking none seafood dishes such as a risotto or pasta recipe. However, you should instead use two teaspoons when you are making a seafood recipe.


Like whiskey, another surprising alternative to many will be vodka. Vodka can make an excellent addition to many a recipe, whether from grains or potatoes. As such vodka is commonly used all over Europe. This is including Italy where some people swear by putting a few drops in their pasta.

Whilst not a perfect replication of Pernod, vodka will provide a sweet taste and aroma that is the perfect accompaniment to all kinds of seafood including scallops and prawns.

When using vodka, add a teaspoon or two to any fishy sauces, along with some herbs and spices. This will help eliminate any unpleasant odors whilst simultaneously enhancing the overall flavor of the recipe.

Is There An Alcohol-Free Pernod Substitute?

For an alcohol-free and convenient substitute for Pernod, then lemon juice is what you’ll need. Lemon juice won’t be able to replicate the anise and liquorice flavour Parnod and or its anise flavoured alternatives.

However, what lemon juice will do is neutralize the unpleasant aroma of fish or other foods. Additionally, lemon adds a zesty, sweet and sour taste to any dish that it is used in.

Whilst lemon is a good choice, it ultimately cannot replicate anise flavoring. However, using anise seeds in conjunction with lemon juice can somewhat replicate the effects Pernod has on a dish.


Some other alcohol-free alternatives include ginger, laurel leaves or other citrus fruits such as lime.

The benefit of each of these Pernod substitutes is that they can all easily be found in most homes, whether in the fridge or your spice cupboard.

Which Pernod Substitute Should I Use?

Which Pernod substitute you should go for will come down to a few different factors.

Firstly, many of the Pernod substitutes containing anise may be hard to track down.

This is because certain ones like absinthe are banned in some countries due to their high alcohol content. Additionally, authentic ouzo may also be tricky to come by due to its protected status.

If unable to find any anise flavoured alcohol substitutes, an alcoholic alternative not containing anise will be required.

Another factor, however, maybe that you or someone eating your dish may not be able to consume alcohol. In which case you’ll need to use one of the non-alcoholic options.

Ultimately, which one you go for will depend on these factors, along with your own personal preferences. Whichever option you choose though, be assured that the dish will be significantly enhanced by their inclusion.

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind CooksDream.com, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

1 comment

  1. Hey Anna, as a recovering alcoholic I’m thinking there must be a way to use “star anise” in boulabase, maybe with lemon juice?

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