This Chinese five spice recipe is pungent and vibrant, essential for many classic Chinese dishes and perfect for spicy food lovers seeking bold flavors. Learn how to make it and how to use it.
Today we are making homemade Chinese Five Spice powder in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen. If you have not used Chinese five spice, this is a seasoning I highly recommend.
What is Chinese Five Spice?
Chinese five spice is a traditional Chinese spice blend used in many Chinese and Sichuan dishes. It is a bold and flavorful mixture that spicy food lovers are sure to love.
You can buy good a good quality spice mix from the grocery store or online, but when you make it at home, you'll get the fullest, most pungent flavor, and you can adjust the ratios to make it your own.
Let's talk about how to make Chinese 5 spice powder, shall we?
What is in Chinese Five Spice? The Ingredients
Chinese five spice is made primarily from the following 5 ingredients: fennel, star anise, Chinese cinnamon, clove and Sichuan peppercorns. However, there are other possible combinations and substitutions for the Sichuan peppercorns.
I use the following ingredients:
- Star Anise seeds
- Fennel Seeds
- Szechuan Peppercorns. Aka Sichuan Peppercorns. You can use white peppercorns or a milder flavor.
- Chinese Cinnamon.
How to Make Chinese Five Spice - the Recipe Method
FOR WHOLE SPICES
Toast the Spices. Heat a small skillet to medium-high heat. Add the whole seasonings - cinnamon, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds - and lightly toast them in the dry skillet, 1-2 minutes.
Stir part way through. Be sure to not let the spices burn. This lets the flavors of the spices bloom.
Grind the Spices. Remove from heat and transfer toasted spices to a spice grinder. Grind until well blended. You can also use a mortar and pestle to pulverize the ingredients by hand.
A coffee grinder works well for this.
Store the Chinese 5 Spice Powder. Use as desired. Store in a sealed container in a cool, dark place.
FOR GROUND SPICES
Mix and Use. Mix the ingredients together until well combined. Use as desired. Store in a sealed container in a cool, dark place.
Boom! Done! Your fresh Chinese five spice powder is ready to use. Smells wonderful, doesn't it? Pungent! Unlike any other seasoning you'll encounter.
Using Chinese Five Spice
Chinese 5 spice is used to season many different Chinese and Szechuan dishes, including classic stir fries, rice and noodle dishes. It can be used to season meats for grilling or sautéing, or vegetables to give them a little zing.
Try some of these Chinese recipes that use Chinese 5 spice:
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Other Possible Ingredients. In reviewing other Chinese five spice recipes and products that I have purchased, I've seen other ingredients used to make the blend. Some use licorice root, ginger, orange peel, or white peppercorns in lieu of the szechuan peppercorns, which have a slight numbing effect on the lips and tongue. It is a very unique flavor.
- Taste and Adjust. When making any seasoning blend, it is best to give it a taste and adjust the ratios to your own preference. I like extra szechuan peppercorns in mine, for instance, and a bit less cinnamon. Adjust to your own palate.
Chinese 5 spice should be stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool, dark place. Use within 6 months, as the spice can lose potency.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this Chinese 5 spice recipe. Let me know if you make it and how you use it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!
If you love spicy and bold Chinese cuisine, I highly recommend this cookbook, which highlights Chinese food from the Sichuan province. I'm learning very much from this book.
- The Food of Sichuan, by Fuchsia Dunlop (affiliate link, my friends!)
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Chinese Five Spice Recipe
- 6-10 star anise or use 2 tablespoons star anise powder
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds or use 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1-2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns or use 1 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper - use white peppercorns for milder flavor
- 1 6- inch stick Chinese cinnamon you can sub for other cinnamon - or use 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 10 whole cloves or use 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
FOR WHOLE SPICES
- Heat a large pan to medium-high heat. Add the whole seasonings and lightly toast them over dry heat, 1-2 minutes. Stir part way through. Be sure to not let the spices burn.
- Remove from heat and transfer toasted spices to a spice grinder. Grind until well blended. You can also use a mortar and pestle to pulverize the ingredients by hand.
- Use as desired. Store in a sealed container in a cool, dark place.
FOR GROUND SPICES
- Mix the ingredients together until well combined. Use as desired. Store in a sealed container in a cool, dark place.
NOTE: This post was updated on 10/28/22 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 7/26/21.