What Does Fennel Bulb Taste Like?

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In this article, we'll tell you everything you've ever wanted to know about fennel bulb, including what it tastes like, how to cook with it and what to do with every part of the vegetable. Waste not, want not!

Let's get started...

What Does Fennel Bulb Taste Like? 

The cold weather veggie known as fennel bulb has a distinctive flavor that's mildly sweet. Roasting it will make it taste much sweeter than the vegetable in its raw state. 

There is a light but defined anise flavor in fennel bulb. If you're not sure what anise tastes like but you've had black licorice or even licorice root, you know the sort of flavor that's most prominent in fennel bulb. 

Fennel Bulb Texture 

Because raw fennel bulb is crisp and crunchy like celery, it's often sliced and added to salads. In fact, some people prefer raw fennel bulb to celery for its sweeter flavor.

Lightly cooked fennel bulb will keep some of its crispness the way bok choy does, but it's such a light vegetable that it quickly becomes soft and tender. Roasted fennel bulb is particularly tender and dense.

What Part of the Fennel Bulb Do You Eat? 

You can use as much of the fennel bulb as you like. The whole vegetable is edible from top to bottom. For the most part, the white, rounded base is the prized part, delicate and sweet. If you're going to eat fennel bulb raw, stick with this section.

The green stalks are hard, so cooking them will be necessary, but they'll add flavor to soups and sauces (along with the feathered fronds at the top of the bulb). 

What Does Fennel Taste Like in Soup? 

Those who enjoy parsnips in soup might try fennel bulb instead. It adds the same sort of sweetness and slight anise taste parsnips are loved for.

Whether you're making soup or a roasted veggie dish, fennel bulb will not add any flavor that'll overwhelm the palate. Especially when cooked and mixed with other ingredients, it tends to add more of a natural, earthy sweetness than a strong herbal flavor.

What Is a Good Substitute for Fennel Bulb? 

Fresh fennel may be swapped for celery, especially for the crunch, but your salads will miss the sweetness of the fennel. Another veggie that would contribute a comparable texture is bok choy, which even looks similar.

If you're cooking, you might want to consider substituting fennel seed for the fresh stuff to get the right flavor. Otherwise, star anise or caraway seeds could work out nicely.

Fennel Bulb Serving Tips 

If you're wondering how to use fennel bulb in both raw and cooked form, we've linked some videos to help you. You'll see how to slice it up and add it to your lunch or dinner.

Let's start with the salad first. This video will teach you how to combine raw fennel bulb, apple, greens, fresh lemon juice, salt and olive oil in a simple but flavorful salad.

Watch this video to learn how to make a fennel and mushroom pasta that you'll crave on winter nights. Here are the ingredients for this delicious dish:

  • Fennel bulb
  • Pasta
  • Red onion
  • Garlic
  • Cremini mushrooms
  • Tomato puree
  • Vegan red wine
  • Salt and pepper

Wrap Up

Fennel bulb is a sweet fall and winter vegetable that tastes a lot like anise. It's delicious combined with carrots, potatoes and parsnips all roasted together. Complement the sweetness of fresh fennel bulb with apples and a zesty lemon vinaigrette or try it with a hearty pasta dish. The more you cook with it, the more you'll see that there's really nothing you can't do with fennel bulb.

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