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11 BEST Pernod Substitutes + 5 To Avoid

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of Pernod substitutes to find the best one.

Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured I’ve got you covered.

Other anise-flavored alcohols like Ouzo or Absinthe are a no-brainer alternative for Pernod. If you’re making a dessert, try the sweeter Anisette. And for non-alcoholic options, try anise extract or ground anise seeds. You can also make your own version with star anise and vodka.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The experiment

I infused batches of basic cream sauce with different Pernod substitutes and paired it with sauteed shrimp. 

Pernod is a brand of anise-flavored liqueur that originated from France. It boasts a punchy black licorice flavor with subtle bittersweet and herbal notes. It has about 40% ABV (alcohol by volume) – similar to hard liquors like whiskey or rum. 

I was looking for a substitute that could deliver a similar flavor, and I wasn’t disappointed! 

Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:

SubstitutesSubstitute directionsVerdict
PastisReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
AbsintheUse half the amount10/10
Anise extractReplace 1 tbsp of Pernod with 1 tsp of anise extract + 1 tbsp of water (if necessary)9/10
Ground anise seedsReplace 1 tbsp of Pernod with ½ tsp ground anise seeds + 1 tbsp of water8/10
Star aniseReplace 1 tbsp of Pernod with a whole star anise8/10
OuzoReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
AnisetteReplace in a 1:1 ratio7/10

Common uses of Pernod

Here are some popular ways to use Pernod and the best substitutes for those situations:

  • For cocktails: Try using Pastis, Absinthe, Ouzo, or any anise-flavored liquid to achieve that cloudy effect. 
  • For sauces and dressings: Try using Pastis, anise extract, or ground anise seeds. Star anise also works, but you must take it out before serving because it’s a potential choking hazard. 
  • For soups and stews: Try using Pastis, anise extract, ground anise seeds, or star anise. Absinthe also works, but it has a stark green color that may affect your dish’s final look if you use it in large amounts. 
  • For desserts and baked goods: Try using Pastis, anise extract, or ground anise seeds. Star anise also works if you’re using it for infusions. 


Pastis is essentially the same liqueur as Pernod, just with a different name. You can use them interchangeably.

Some would disagree with me saying they’re essentially the same, but Pastis tastes so similar!

It’s typically served as an aperitif in France, but it worked seamlessly with my cream sauce. 

I used the brand Ricard, but Henri Bardouin is another popular brand you can try. 

How to substitute: replace Pernod in a 1:1 ratio with Pastis.


Did you know that Pernod was originally developed as a substitute for Absinthe when it was banned? It’s made without wormwood, which was the troubling ingredient in the original recipe.

All this means it’s a fantastic substitute!

In terms of flavor they both focus heavily on anise, but Pernod uses star anise while absinthe uses green anise.

This gives Pernod a slightly sweeter flavor – you can add a dash of simple syrup to the absinthe if you want it sweeter.

Pssst… absinthe is boozier than Pernod, so don’t use too much! It’s also more expensive.

How to substitute: replace Pernod with half the amount of Absinthe.

Anise extract

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic substitute, anise extract is your best bet. 

It’s packs potent punch of licorice flavor like Pernod, but it’s missing the subtle herbal notes.

I used about a teaspoon for my cream sauce and could clearly taste it.

But if your recipe requires a considerable amount of Pernod, you’ll need to compensate for the missing liquid volume with water (or similar).

Because it’s so strong, it’s better to add a small amount at first and then add more if you need. You can always add more, but it’s impossible to take out!

How to substitute: Replace 1 tbsp of Pernod with 1 tsp of anise extract + 1 tbsp of water (if necessary). 

Ground anise seeds

Anise seeds are another non-alcoholic alternative you can use instead of Pernod. 

They won’t work as a replacement in cocktails, but they worked well to infuse my cream sauce with the aniseed flavor I was after.

The seeds obviously won’t add any liquid to your dish, but normally you’ll be using so little Pernod that this won’t matter.

I added them into my cream sauce near the beginning and it was delicious.

Psst… if you’ve had the ground anise for a while, it will have lost some of its potency so you’ll have to use more.

How to substitute: replace 1 tbsp of Pernod with ½ tsp ground anise seeds

Star anise

Star anise is a star in Chinese cooking (no pun intended!), and as I mentioned earlier, it’s what gives Pernod its liquorice flavor.

The fun-shaped spice packs a pretty intense flavor. 

I added one ‘star’ to my cream sauce as it cooked to steep and release all it’s delicious bittersweet flavors. 

You can also use star anise to make homemade anise-flavored liqueur (like in the video below).

The process is easy and mostly hands-off, but it takes a long time because you need to soak the star anise and other spices in vodka for about two weeks. 

But it’s a fun DIY project if you have the time to spare! 

How to substitute: replace 1 tbsp of Pernod with a whole star anise or an equal amount of homemade anise liqueur.


Ouzo is another anise-flavored liqueur you can use in place of Pernod. 

It comes from the sunny shores of Greece and is produced from grape must (a by-product of winemaking). It will give you a more robust and aromatic bittersweet flavor than Pernod. 

And here’s a fun fact – Ouzo has a protected designation of origin, meaning a bottle can only use the name ‘Ouzo’ if it was made in Greece.

Greeks traditionally enjoy it as a standalone drink, but Ouzo also worked superbly with my cream sauce. 

How to substitute: replace Pernod in a 1:1 ratio with Ouzo.


Still fancy alcohol but want something less strong? Swap Pernod for its Italian cousin, Anisette, which has around 25% ABV.

The name should give you a clue it’s made from anise seeds, so it has the same bittersweet notes as Pernod. 

And I found it a tad sweeter than Pernod, so I added a spritz of lemon juice to my cream sauce to balance the flavors.

But it would work brilliantly in desserts or sweeter cocktails.

Psst.. because its less alcoholic, it’s also cheaper. Yay!

How to substitute: replace Pernod in a 1:1 ratio with Anisette.

Other substitutes to consider

The suggestions above are my top picks for Pernod substitutes, but here are some other options you can explore: 

  • Sambuca – Sambuca can be an effective substitute for Pernod given its anise-based flavor profile. However, it’s generally sweeter and more syrupy than Pernod, with a slightly stronger licorice note.
  • Absinthe essence – a cheaper alternative to Pernod that’s flavored with wormwood and anise to replicate the notes of absinthe. You’ll need to dilute it with a neutral-flavored alcohol like vodka before using it. 
  • Other anise-flavored liqueurs – Herbsaint is another option with a higher alcohol content than Pernod and is mainly used in cocktails. Arak and raki are of Middle Eastern origins and boast a more pronounced anise flavor than Pernod. These liqueurs wont be easy to find though!
  • Fennel seeds – these are by no means a perfect substitute and won’t work for cocktails, but you can use them if you need to infuse a dish with a pop of anise flavor. The taste is quite mild comapred to Pernod though.

Substitutes to avoid 

Lots of suggestions came up while searching for Pernod substitutes, and a few of them didn’t work.

Alcoholic drinks like Lillet Blanc, dry vermouth, white wine, and whiskey are all great for cocktails, desserts, and cooking but won’t give you a black licorice flavor like Pernod. 

And using lemon juice will only bring citrusy, acidic notes to your dish. 

11 Best Pernod Substitutes + 5 To Avoid

I tested loads of Pernod substitutes to find the best one. I also provided a homemade version if you want to give it a shot.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: French
Keyword: pernod substitutes, substitutes for pernod
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 14 days
Total Time: 14 days 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 75kcal


  • 2 cups vodka
  • 3 pieces star anise
  • 5 pods cardamom
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 5 pieces peppercorns, freshly crushed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar


  • Transfer the vodka into a jug. Add in all the spices and leave the jug in a cool, dry place to infuse for 2 weeks.
  • After 2 weeks, the mixture should turn a warm, brown color. Combine the sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Let the simple syrup cool down.
  • Once fully cooled, strain the infused vodka and mix it with the simple syrup.


Serving: 1tbsp | Calories: 75kcal

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