Recognized for its subtly sweet flavor reminiscent of licorice and anise, fennel is absolutely delicious. It's also an incredibly versatile vegetable, with every part—crunchy bulb, fibrous stalk, feathery fronds, flavorful seeds, and even the pollen—is edible. As a result, fennel can be used in many different preparations. Soups, salads, sandwiches, and more—we've rounded up our favorite fennel recipes.
We love incorporating fennel into salads. For a wintery salad, toss thinly sliced fennel bulb with arugula and radicchio. Our summery tomato-cucumber salad takes a different approach to incorporating fennel. Rather than tossing in sliced fennel, the bulbs are baked until golden and then blended with the seeds and pollen to make a thick dressing for the crunchy salad.
Fennel is also great in soups. It lightens up our vegetarian caramelized onion soup. It can also be play a leading role, though. Our rich cream of fennel soup pairs the vegetable with oniony leeks, spices like clove and cardamom, and bracing Pernod to double up the anise flavor.
A rich, hearty steak takes well to the lightness of fennel. To make a multi-purpse rub that is especially great for steak, combine fennel seeds, black peppercorns, and red chile flakes in a 1:1:2 ratio. Or if you'd prefer, grill up a flank steak with plain salt and pepper and serve it with a salad of dill, mint, watercress, and fennel.
Find all of these dishes and more in our collection of fennel recipes.
When making this elegant seafood appetizer from Franklin restaurant in Tasmania, make sure you wash the octopus thoroughly to remove any grit. Get the recipe for Seared Octopus with Fennel Pollen and Smoked Paprika »
Ras el hanout, the North African spice blend, along with fresh orange zest and juice, mint, and cilantro, give Israeli cous cous a fresh feel and flavor in this simple weeknight meal. Get the recipe for Israeli Cous Cous with Ras el Hanout, Fennel and Carrot »
Walnuts and parmesan add richness to this crunchy salad from The Yellow Table’s Anna Watson Carl. Get the recipe for Arugula, Radicchio, and Fennel Salad »
This warm salad, from Elise Kornack of the Brooklyn restaurant Take Root, is a satisfying main course thanks to chewy, protein-packed wheat berries topped with fennel. Get the recipe for Warm Wheat Berry Salad with Fava Beans and Trout Roe »
This steak is seasoned simply with salt and pepper and served with a light herb salad with a whole grain mustard and honey dressing. Get the recipe for Grilled Skirt Steak with Herb Salad »
This T-bone steak is grilled with a simple rub of ground fennel seeds, black peppercorns, and red chile flakes. Get the recipe for Giant Fennel-Chile-Rubbed Steak »
In this Umbrian ragù, fennel pollen adds a sweet aroma and a flavor similar to that of the fennel-laced sausages found in Italian butcher shops. Get the recipe for Farro Gnocchi with Pork Ragù »
Ginger, lemongrass, and maple vinegar add a warm base note to this dish, which is packed with root vegetables, and topped with a crisp greens and a poached egg.
We like to serve this pasta topped with a little shaved bottarga, the dried salted roe of tuna or gray mullet; a sprinkle adds a briny, salty note that beautifully offsets sweet, oven roasted plum tomatoes. Get the recipe for Spaghetti with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Caramelized Fennel »
Light enough for a summer dish, this terrific soup is also delicious in the winter months made with Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) mussels instead.
Conquistador Gin and Tonic
In this recipe trout is poached in a court bouillon, a fragrant broth of white wine, fennel seeds, and lots of onions.
Grilled Vegetable Salad
This simple, understated appetizer is a combination of preserved lemon, tarragon, olive oil, and lobster. Get the recipe for Lobster Cocktail »
Grapefruit supremes (segments of pulp separated from the membrane) and aged balsamic vinegar brighten this classic Italian salad from author Dana Bowen. Get the recipe for Tricolore Salad with Grapefruit Saba Vinaigrette »
Meaty butter-basted grouper fillets are topped with a butter-rich, citrusy crab sauce and served over wilted kale and quinoa. Pickled fennel adds a dose of herby flavor that brings the dish together. Get the recipe for Grouper in Crab Sauce with Black Quinoa and Pickled Fennel »
Meaty crab legs are cooked in their shells in a fragrant tomato-based broth in this robust, flavorful stew.
This richly spiced chicken dish is adapted from a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s classic Flavors of India (West 175 Publishing, 1995). According to Jaffrey, “What gives this a very special southern flavor is the use of fennel seeds, curry leaves, and, of course, the pulse (legume) urad dal. This is definitely a dish you will want to make very frequently.” We couldn’t agree more. Get the recipe for Chettinad Pepper Chicken »
Tuna salad gets a sophisticated makeover with crème fraîche and fennel brightened by both orange zest and juice.
Braise the sardines with fennel, chiles, celery, onions, and carrots for a slightly spicy flavor
Kale Tarts with Fennel and Olives
Kale and fennel lend a unique sweetness to briny puff pastry tarts. They’re perfect as appetizers, savory breakfasts, or as an accompaniment to a bowl of warm, wintry soup. See the recipe for Kale Tarts with Fennel and Olives »
Cream of Fennel Soup
This rich, smooth soup highlights and balances the gentle flavors of fennel and leek with spices and a bracing addition of Pernod. See the recipe for Cream of Fennel Soup »
Bacon, parmesan, and pine nuts combine with a medley of cooked and raw vegetables to make a satisfying salad from The Canal House’s Christopher Hirsheimer. Get the recipe for Cooked and Raw Winter Salad »
Whole Roasted Branzino with Fennel and Onions
Onions and fennel provide a flavorful base for whole roasted fish. Get the recipe for Whole Roasted Branzino with Fennel and Onions »
The squid-ink pasta in this striking dish from Manhattan’s Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria can be substituted by regular fresh spaghetti.
The vegetal sweetness of licorice-like fennel pairs beautifully with tart grapefruit and smoky mescal in this cocktail from the Manhattan restaurant Perla. Get the recipe for Fennel Delight »
Fennel is not only for cooking. Try combining fennel-syrup with apple juice for a decidedly sophisticated nonalcoholic sparkler.
Grilled trout is lacquered in a glaze that is fragrant with fennel and thyme in this adaptation of a recipe from the Grey Plume in Omaha.
The tangy flavors of tarragon-chive salsa verde combine well with a zesty lemon and fennel salad in this marinated sardine crostini from Chef Tony Mantuano of Chicago’s Spiaggia.
Rich lamb meat and bacon are natural matches for spicy, fragrant wine, and the wine’s bright fruit complements the dish’s parsnips and fennel.
Apples and fennel are cooked alongside lamb for an aromatic, perfectly sweet roast.