The 6 Best Substitutes For Ajwain

What can I use instead of Ajwain? Dried thyme is the best Ajwain substitute, offering similar flavors and health properties. In addition, marjoram and Mexican oregano have reasonably similar tastes to Ajwain seeds. However, depending on the recipe requirements, you can also use caraway, anise, or dried tarragon.

Ajwain, also known as carom seeds, is a popular Indian spice with a slightly sweet taste that you can enjoy raw or use in cooking. Ajwain offers an unmatched, authentic flavor and excellent anti-inflammatory properties. However, consider the following substitutes if you can’t find Ajwain seeds.

The Best Ajwain Substitutes

Dried Thyme

Common dried thyme is the best replacement for Ajwain seeds, offering strikingly similar flavors and health properties.

Ajwain and dried thyme share a similar minty and woodsy note, and both herbs are jam-packed with thymol, an essential oil.

In addition, thyme contains carvacrol, giving it anti-inflammatory properties like Ajwain.

Use equal amounts of dried thyme when replacing Ajwain seeds in a recipe. However, ensure you use common thyme, as there are numerous variations.


Marjoram is another well-known substitute for Ajwain due to its similar flavor profile. However, marjoram lacks the bitter taste and tastes slightly sweeter.

If you use marjoram as an Ajwain substitute, note that it has a mild flavor and does not hold up with longer cooking times. In addition, marjoram isn’t ideal for curries as other flavors quickly overpower it.

Use equal amounts of marjoram when replacing Ajwain in your recipe; you can increase the amount if necessary.

In addition, consider making a test batch with your baked goods to identify the ideal amount of marjoram to use.

Mexican Oregano

Mexican oregano is a decent substitute for Ajwain seeds, offering a similar aroma, slightly sweet taste, and anti-inflammatory health benefits.

Mexican oregano is a slight misnomer. Mediterranean oregano, the “true oregano,” is part of the mint family, whereas Mexican oregano belongs to the verbena family.

Mexican oregano lends a bright flavor with citrus, floral notes, and a hint of anise.

You can find Mexican oregano dried or fresh.

If you’re using fresh leaves, a tablespoon is the equivalent of one teaspoon dried Mexican oregano.

Mexican oregano is quite overpowering, so limit Mexican oregano to half the amount when substituting it for Ajwain in recipes.

Caraway Seeds

You can use both whole and ground caraway seeds to replace Ajwain seeds. Caraway seeds also offer anti-inflammatory properties similar to Ajwain.

Although referred to as seeds, caraway seeds are dried fruit. Nevertheless, caraway seeds impart a distinctive earthy flavor and aroma with subtle anise, citrus, pepper, and licorice notes.

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting caraway seeds for Ajwain seeds. However, ground caraway is more potent, so use ¾ teaspoon of ground caraway for every teaspoon in Ajwain.

Anise Seeds

You can also utilize anise seeds as an Ajwain substitute. Anise lends a similar but more potent taste to dishes.

Anise boasts a sweet, mildly spicy, and aromatic licorice flavor. The seeds are

You can use anise in sweet and savory dishes. However, use fewer anise seeds to replicate the flavors closely when replacing Ajwain.

Dried Tarragon

Dried tarragon is a common substitute for dried thyme, making it a suitable replacement for Ajwain seeds.

However, tarragon has pungent licorice or anise taste that might only work in some recipes that require Ajwain seeds.

Tarragon is a highly aromatic leafy green herb with a subtle licorice flavor. This culinary herb is sold fresh and dried year-round.

You can use a 1:1 ratio when substituting dried tarragon with Ajwain seeds if you prefer using fresh tarragon leaves, double the amount.