Fenugreek Substitutes

The seeds and leaves of the fenugreek plant have been used in cooking and medicine for thousands of years. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the use of fenugreek is documented in an ancient Egyptian papyrus scroll dated to 1500 B.C.E. In modern cuisine, fenugreek is widely used as a spice, digestive aid and table vegetable. Depending on your recipe, any of several ingredients may stand in place of fenugreek.

Fenugreek (or methi) is used as a spice and to aid in digestion. (Image: Madeleine_Steinbach/iStock/GettyImages)

What Can Be Used Instead of Fenugreek?

Maple Syrup

Both maple syrup and fenugreek contain the fragrant compound sotolone. (Image: bhofack2/iStock/GettyImages)

Fenugreek contains the fragrant compound sotolone, which is also found in maple syrup. Because of its similarity in taste and flavor, trace amounts of maple syrup may be used in place of fenugreek in certain recipes. Be careful to use only a small amount; too much could cause the dish to be overwhelmingly sweet.


Mustard seeds, mustard greens and honey-dijon mustard all work as a substitute for fenugreek leaves and fenugreek seed. (Image: JohnnyMad/E+/GettyImages)

Depending on the dish, mustard may impart the combination of flavors necessary to give a fenugreek-like flair. Substitute an equivalent amount of mustard seed in lieu of fenugreek seed, or use mustard greens in place of fenugreek leaves. A teaspoon of honey-dijon mustard can also work instead of an equivalent amount of fenugreek seed.


Both fennel bulb and fennel seed give food an aroma similar to maple or licorice, so they can be great swaps for fenugreek. (Image: MarkSkalny/iStock/GettyImages)

Fennel bulb and fennel seed both grant food an aroma similar to maple or licorice, so they can be ideal substitutes for fenugreek. Use dried fennel seed when a recipe calls for fenugreek seed, or chop fennel bulb and use it in place of fenugreek leaves.

Celery Leaf

Celery leaf is an ideal substitute for fresh fenugreek leaves. (Image: anna1311/iStock/GettyImages)

In some recipes, celery leaf may work as a substitute for dried or fresh fenugreek leaves. Although celery does not offer the maple-like flavor associated with its exotic counterpart, it does give food a sweet and slightly bitter flavor. Celery leaf's similar texture and appearance also make it a viable substitute for fresh fenugreek leaves.

Health Benefits of Fenugreek

Fenugreek may lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, according to a few small studies. And some studies suggest that fenugreek may stimulate milk production in women who are breastfeeding. Aside from these potential benefits, fenugreek is used widely as a digestive aid.

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