Famed for its eight-point star-shaped pods which are harvested from a type of small flowering evergreen shrub known as the Illicium verum tree, star anise has a strong, distinct flavor that is sweet, licorice-like, and slightly spicy.
Star anise can be used in two different ways — either whole or ground into a powder. To use the spice whole, consider adding it to a favorite warm drink like hot chocolate, hot tea, coffee or even spiced cider. Star anise is also a key ingredient in many holiday mulled wines.
In powder form, the uses for star anise are even more varied. Sprinkle it over pork chops, pork belly or even a roast or steak before putting the meat on to cook — it tastes especially mouthwatering on smokey, charred and grilled meats. Braising some chicken or salmon? Add a little star anise powder to your spice blend to give the meat a delicate licorice-like twist.
Star anise is a perfect addition to cookie doughs, spice cakes, and fruit pies. Just add it with any other spices you’re including in your dessert — it pairs perfectly with warm flavors like cinnamon or nutmeg.
Use it as part of a spice blend. Star anise is a common ingredient in both Chinese five spice and garam masala.