Celery seed is the seed of the wild variety of the herb celery. Wild celery is sometimes called lovage or smallage. It’s a spice that offers a pure and concentrated version of the celery flavor, which can be described as being intensely savory and herbaceous. With celery seed, you get an easy way to add the celery flavor to dishes without any of the fiber and moisture that you would get if you used celery leaves and stalks. Here are some of the ways to use celery seed for the best flavor.
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As a salad dressing spice
The celery seed flavor is a perfect complement to salads. You can use celery seeds in dressings for leafy salads including both creamy dressings like ranch and vinaigrettes. Celery seed is one of the key flavors in the sweet and tart Russian dressing as well as in the dressing for German potato salad, which has a similar flavor profile as Russian dressing. Celery seeds also work in the mayonnaise-based dressings for coleslaw and potato salad.
As a pickle spice
Celery seed is a natural fit for pickles. The umami grassiness of celery seed pairs well with the flavor of most — if not all — pickled vegetables, as well as of the acidic brine. Use celery seed when pickling everything from cucumbers to radishes.
As a celery salt spice
Ground celery seed and salt are the two ingredients in celery salt. Make homemade celery salt by grinding celery seeds and adding them to table or sea salt. The homemade version is likely to be more flavorful than the premade spice.
As a dry rub or marinade spice
Celery seed is naturally suited to dry rubs, since it allows you to add the celery flavor while keeping the blend dry. Celery seeds are tiny enough that you could get away with using them whole in the rub mix, but you will get more of their flavor if you grind them to powder first. If you prefer a marinade instead of a dry rub, whole, or ground celery seeds will work there as well. The celery seed flavor goes well with most proteins, especially fatty ones; celery seed is good on pork, poultry, and salmon.
As a Bloody Mary spice
The celery seed flavor complements tomatoes, which is why the tomato-based bloody Mary cocktail is often served with a stick of celery. Celery seeds are another way that you add the celery flavor to a bloody Mary. Add celery seed in the form of celery powder to your bloody Mary mix, or try dusting the rim of the glass with celery salt the way you might salt a margarita glass.
As a Chicago dog spice
You will find celery seed among the key ingredients in traditional Chicago-style hotdogs. Sometimes the celery seed flavor comes in the form of celery salt, but it is arguably the main factor that separates Chicago dogs from other regional variations. Typically, the seeds are mixed into the relish or sprinkled onto the assembled sandwich.
As a bread spice
The celery seed flavor goes great with bread, whether you bake the seeds into the dough or use them as a topping. If you are making hotdog buns for Chicago-style hotdogs, try mixing celery seeds into the dough. Alternatively, you can use celery seeds on their own as a topping for bagels or as one component of an everything bagel seasoning.