Homemade Chinese five-spice powder with star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorn, fennel seeds, and cinnamon. Chinese five-spice powder (五香粉) is an incredibly popular ingredient that can be used to enhance a variety of Chinese dishes. It has a unique blend of sweet and savory flavors that can go well with pancakes, buns, and BBQs.
What's the Chinese spice powder
Chinese five spice powder is made up of a combination of five ingredients, which include star anise (八角), cinnamon stick (桂皮), Sichuan pepper (花椒), cloves（丁香）, and fennel seeds（小茴香）. Together, these spices create a unique flavor profile that is both sweet and savory. And while the exact measurements may vary from brand to brand.
The five components
Star anise (八角)- Star anise is a pretty eight-pointed star-shaped spice. Buried within star anise pods is a little pea-size seed. This spice comes from the fruit of the Chinese plant illicium verum. It is a very large tree widely cultivated in Southern China. Grown in China and Japan, star anise has a very specific anise or licorice flavor. The aromatic spice is used mainly in cooking and in many other applications.
Chinese cinnamon stick (桂皮) -Chinese cinnamon, also known as Cinnamomum cassia or Cortex Cassiae, is a species of cinnamon that is native to China. The bark of the Chinese cinnamon tree is used as a spice. Cinnamon sticks (quills) are made from the inner bark of the Chinese cinnamon tree. The bark is harvested from the tree, then the inner bark is peeled off and dried. Chinese cinnamon has a stronger flavor than Ceylon cinnamon, another type of cinnamon.
Sichuan peppercorn (花椒)- The Sichuan peppercorn (Hua Jiao), also known as the Chinese peppercorn, is a type of spice that is native to the Sichuan province of China. The spice gets its name from the fact that it is actually the dried berries of a plant in the prickly ash family. Sichuan peppercorns can create a numbing feeling that can further improve the flavor of hotness. So it is commonly used with chili peppers to create a mala flavor. It also has a strong aroma which can contribute a lot to the five-spice powder blend.
cloves (丁香)-cloves are the unopened flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. These cloves are harvested and dried, then used whole or ground into a powder to add flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. Cloves have a warm, sweet, and slightly bitter taste that can enhance the flavor of many foods.
Fennel seeds (小茴香) - Fennel seeds are the small, dried fruits of the fennel plant. The seeds are oval in shape and have a greenish-brown color. They are often used as a spice or herb, and they have a sweet, licorice-like flavor.
How to use Chinese five spice powder
Chinese five spice powder can be added to any dish that needs some extra flavor. But the most common usages include using in pancakes like scallion pancakes, and steamed buns, or for marinating chicken and pork including five spice chicken or Char Sui. You can also try adding it to marinades or sauces for extra depth of flavor. Make sure not to overuse the spices –a little goes a long way!
The advanced version- 13 Spices Mix (十三香)
Based on the five basic ingredients, other spices might also be added due to different recipes. In fact, there are more than 13 common Chinese spices used in Chinese dishes. You can adjust the amount according to the basic ratio or change certain ingredients accordingly. For example, you certainly reduce the amount of cinnamon if you do not strong cinnamon taste since it might cause some bitterness. That’s why I am always trying to make homemade versions of sauces, spices, and seasonings. We will have control of almost everything.
Five Spice Powder
- 20 g Sichuan Peppercorn
- 20 g star anise
- 10 g fennel seeds
- 10 g cinnamon or cinnamon powder
- 8 g cloves
- Break cinnamon and star anise. And then put the two ingredients in your grinder to ground them to powder.
- Mix with other ingredients and continue grind until all the ingredients are well grounded.
- Filter large particles out; and keep the filtered ground powder mixture in airtighter container until use.
Do not throw away the large particles, you can use them in stewing recipes.
Ni hao! I love all your publications! You're a very good photographer besides being a very good cooker 🙂 Keep up the good work! I just wanted to ask you if you could put the names of the spices in the second image, because there are some that I've never seen in my life! And i confess that i'm a little bit of as spice's collector 🙂 but i'm still on the beggining for what I can see... xièxie
Thanks for stopping by and leaving me this lovely comment.
I have updated the picture. Hope all this information is useful to you. I love to collect spices too.
Thank you! I'm really grateful! 😀 By the way, I already tried your recipe of mapo tofu and it's awesome! Keep up the good work... 🙂
Thanks Margarida for trying my recipe. I am so happy to heat you like it too. Ma po tofu has been always be one of my favorite tofu dishes. Happy cooking ahead.
Really love all your post.
I'm Eva, working for WithEating magazine in China. I wonder could we repost some of your articles and something about you on our website. If you're interested, would you please just drop me an e-mail?
Have a nice day!
Thanks for contacting me, I will drop you an email later.
Hi, Elaine. I've just made my own five-spice blend and I want to try it out. I have squid tubes: do you have a recipe for spicy five-spice squid or calamari?
I do not have a five spice squid on the blog so far. I will try to catch up one soon.Thanks for the inspiration. Five-spice squid should be delicious!
Hi, Elaine, I'm living in Holland and here is Sichuan Peppercorn not avalaible in stores, can I replace it for something else?
I am sorry but I have to say no. Sichuan peppercorn is quite essential to Chinese five spice powder. But depending on what you are going to cooking (like beef and lamb), you may substitute it with cumin.
Richard van Dorp
I'm living in Holland and here are not Sichuan Peppercorn avalaible in shops, can I replace it for someting else?