How to Make Five-Spice Powder

The Spruce
  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
Ratings (40)

Five-spice powder (五香粉) is a very commonly used ingredient in Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine. Five-spice powder encompasses all five flavors - sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and salty. Based on the name “five-spice”, you can probably guess there are five different spices in five-spice powder. These are commonly a mixture of  star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds. This isn’t definite though and five-spice powder can also include anise seeds, ginger root, nutmeg, turmeric, amomum villosum pods, cardamom pods, licorice, orange peel or galangal.

In Taiwan, we use five-spice powder quite often. Five-spice powder is a key seasoning for dishes including minced pork rice (魯肉飯), deep-fried fish and pork rolls (炸雞捲).

In southern China, five-spice powder usually uses Saigon Cinnamon and orange peel to replace Chinese cinnamon and cloves so the five-spice powder from southern China tastes a little bit different compared to other five-spice powder from other regions of China.

You can use five-spice powder in many different ways in Chinese and Taiwanese including. These include adding it to stew meat or poultry, marinade meat or poultry, use a spice rub for roasting foods, seasoning in red cooking recipes and add to the breading for fried foods.

Sometimes if I don’t have any five-spice powder at home, I will use a couple star anise and some cinnamon sticks instead. The flavor won’t be as good as five-spice powder but it’s ok.

Tips:

  1. Use five-spice powder sparingly, as it can be quite strong.
  2. If desired, you can substitute black peppercorns for Sichuan peppercorns and ground anise for the star anise. (8 star anise is about 4 teaspoons of ground anise.

What You'll Need

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 teaspoons of Sichuan peppercorns
  • 8-star anise
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds
  • Ingredients:
  • 20g Star anise
  • 10g Chinese cinnamon or Saigon cinnamon
  • 20g Sichuan peppercorn
  • 10g Cumin seed (or ground cumin)
  • 6g Cloves

How to Make It

Recipe 1

Procedure:

  1. In a dry skillet or wok, roast 2 teaspoons of Sichuan peppercorns by shaking the pan over a low to medium heat until the aroma of the peppercorns is released. This procedure will take around three minutes.
  2. Grind the roasted peppercorns and 8-star anise in a blender, pepper mill or spices grinder.
  3. Strain the blended seasonings.
  4. Mix in ½ teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of ground fennel seeds.
  1. Grind the seasonings until very fine.
  2. Store in an airtight container and keep it in a dark and cool space. 

Recipe 2

Procedure:

  1. In a dry skillet or wok, roast Sichuan peppercorns by shaking the pan over a low to medium heat until the aroma of the peppercorns is released.
  2. Put Sichuan peppercorns and star anise in a spice grinder first and grind them until it turned very finely.
  3. Add other spices in the grinder and grind it to very finely.
  4. Pass the ground spices through a sieve and discard the spices that are left on the sieve.
  5. Store the five-spice powder in a dry, clean and airtight container and store it in a dark and cool space.