10 Substitutes for Nigella Seeds (and How to Use)


Wondering what substitutes can be used to replace Nigella Seeds? 

Then you’re in the right place because this article is a well-researched, personally curated, and verified list that will give you the same. 

So without further ado, let’s get rolling. 

Best Substitutes for Nigella Seeds

1. Black sesame seeds

Sesame seeds have become increasingly popular these days, but most people remain unaware of black sesame seeds, which in turn, make for a great substitute for Nigella Seeds. 

It lacks some of the buttery taste that Nigella has but does work just as fine to replace the texture. 

How to Substitute

You can use equal parts for replacement. This is best used in a baking recipe, though you need to make sure not to overuse it.

Here’s how to cook with Black Sesame Seeds –

2. Cumin Seeds 

This is a spice that is ubiquitous in Indian cuisine and can be found easily at your local store.  

Cumin Seeds have an earthy and somewhat bitter taste which is a better match for Nigella.   

How to Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio for replacement in recipes that can benefit from the course texture of whole seeds or add it in as a powder when you want a stronger flavor in recipes like soups or stews.  

Here’s how to cook with Rice Vinegar –

3. Caraway Seeds

Although these aren’t as popular in our local kitchens, they’re quite commonly used in baking goods like rye bread.  

Caraway seeds have a sweeter and more peppery flavour compared to nigella seeds.  

How to Substitute

You may use a 1:1 ratio for this substitution. Though caraway seeds can be used as a substitute, they would taste better when used in combination with nigella seeds. 

Here’s how to cook with Caraway Seeds:

4. Celery Seeds

Commonly confused for being seeds of the celery we actually use, these belong to the wild kind and look more like poppy seeds.

They’re more earthy and savory in taste but can be pungent in greater amounts.

How to Substitute

Equal amounts can be used to make the replacement but make sure to not add too much. These seeds go great with any recipe using tomatoes for flavor. 

Here’s how to cook with Celery Seeds:

5. Oregano

This spice, though popular in Italian cuisine, is the one we all know and love.    

This is an easily accessible alternative to Nigella Seeds because it carries the same aroma as them. 

How to Substitute

You can make this substitution in a 1:1 ratio. Oregano is an easy spice to use and can be paired with a lot of different flavors. 

Here’s how to cook with Oregano:

6. Fennel Seeds

These are the seeds that are dried from the fennel herb and are often similar in appearance to cumin seeds. 

These are slightly bitter in taste which can be compared to celery seeds as well. 

How to Substitute

Because fennel seeds have a slightly stronger taste, it’s recommended that you use only half the amount of the initial content needed to replace nigella seeds.  

Here’s how to cook with Fennel Seeds:

7. Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek Seeds are an extremely easy and healthy substitute for nigella seeds. 

They have somewhat of a nutty, bitter, and sweet flavour that works really well in most dishes.

How to Substitute

Because these seeds can have an intense pungent taste, it’s suggested that you use half the amount of nigella seeds needed. This might not pair well in every recipe so choose wisely. 

8. Onion Flakes

Because Nigella Seeds have a subtle undertone of an onion’s taste, this substitute is an extremely natural alternative.   

Onion Flakes work better to achieve the same mild taste and crunchy texture that we see in seeds. 

How to Substitute

Toasting your onion flakes will make them match the taste of Nigella Seeds much better. After this, you can use it in a 1:1 ratio.

Here’s how to cook with Onion Flakes:

9. White Sesame Seeds

You might have seen these on countless burger buns and bread, but these are a great replacement for Nigella seeds as well. 

High in magnesium and calcium content, these have a mild, nutty, and bitter taste that goes well in dishes using Nigella. 

How to Substitute

These work great in a 1:1 ratio and are better suited to bread and baking recipes.     

Here’s how to use White Sesame Seeds: 

10. Mustard Seeds

These are tiny little round seeds that are black in colour and extremely famous in Indian cooking.

You might not find mustard seeds easily, but you can use the yellow or brown version of them as well. Online stores will be your best bet.   

How to Substitute

Mustard seeds have an extremely strong flavor so add only a little, regardless of how much Nigella the recipe calls for.  

Here’s how to cook with Mustard Seeds:


Can I use black onion seeds instead of Nigella?

Absolutely. Do you know what? Because these two are the exact same thing. Some chefs actually refer to Nigella seeds as Black Onion Seeds. However, they do not actually come from Onions. Their flavor profile remains the same as mentioned above.

Are Nigella Seeds the same as Black Sesame?

Bottom Line

I hope this article has helped you choose the right substitute for Nigella Seeds, be it for flavour, cost, or simply unavailability. 

Please feel free to leave a comment below for any feedback or suggestion you might have. 

And lastly, do share this article with your family and friends as I’m sure it’ll help them if it has helped you! 

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About Tammy J

Tammy is currently studying in college. While attending, she has broadened her horizons by experimenting with food from all over the world, but she has a special love for Mexican and Indian cuisine. She loves traveling with her friends, and enjoys nothing more than packing up a few backpacks and hitting the open road to explore natural beauty.

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