Celery seed has become a popular spice despite the fact that it does not have a very long history of use in North America. In fact, only in the 19th century did It become a popular ingredient for Americans. It was primarily used for pickling, which continues to be one of its applications in contemporary cuisine. Celery seed is also indispensable for soups and sauces as it provides the celery flavor without affecting texture.
In addition to the uses noted above, celery seeds are also excellent for use as in Asian cuisine, the most notable being Chinese and Southeastern Asian dishes.
While celery seeds have a unique flavor profile, you do have options if you need a substitute.
Your best bet: Celery leaves and stalks
The leaves, stalks and seeds of the celery plant have a similar flavor and aroma. The flavor in the seeds is much more concentrated when compared to that in the leaves and stalks, which means that you will have to include more when using them as a celery seed substitute. Note also that there is a difference with regard to bulk and texture. Celery leaves and stalks are very fibrous, which means that they are difficult to hide in dishes like soups and sauces. In order to replace a tablespoon of celery seeds in a recipe, you will need to use six tablespoons of chopped celery leaves and stalks. To make them less noticeable, experts recommend that you chop the leaves and stalks very finely.
A decent second choice: Celery salt
Celery salt is a great option because it actually contains ground celery seed. Of course, it also contains salt. It may also contain silicon dioxide or calcium silicate to keep it from caking. Celery salt has the benefit of being easy to find and will not add any unexpected flavor notes to your dish aside from salt. Reduce the amount of plain salt that the dish requires to compensate for the celery salt. Also, note that the celery seed flavor is diluted in celery salt, so you will need to add more of it to achieve the same level of flavor. Add two teaspoons of celery salt for every teaspoon of celery seed that your recipe requires.
In a pinch: Dill seed
Both dill and celery seed share some of the same flavor characteristics despite the fact that they are quite different in appearance. Dill seeds are wide and flat while celery seeds are smaller with a dark brown color and oblong shape. You can use dill seed in many of the same dishes that require celery seed, including in pickles. When using dill seed as a substitute for celery seed, use an equal amount of it as you would celery seed.
Caraway seeds are an effective substitute for celery seeds. Both spices can provide concentrated bursts of flavor and are perfect for coleslaw, potato salad and similar dishes. Nigella sativa is yet another spice that you can use as a replacement for celery seeds. Nigella sativa is also called kaloji or black cumin and is used in Indian dishes to provide a nutty bite. Note that it may not be easy to find this spice outside of Indian grocery stores.