Licorice Powder Uses

Licorice powder is a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Licorice Powder Uses

Derived from the roots of the licorice plant, licorice powder has a distinctive bittersweet, anise flavor that enhances many recipes.

What is Licorice Powder?

Licorice powder comes from the dried roots of the licorice plant, native to parts of Europe and Asia. The powder has a sweet yet sharp flavor reminiscent of anise or fennel, with slight bitter notes.

The main flavor compound is glycyrrhizin, which gives licorice its signature taste. But glycyrrhizin is also responsible for licorice's potential health benefits — it may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties.

Licorice powder can be used similarly to other spices. Its sweet-bitter punch works well at bringing a subtle depth and contrast to both sweet and savory dishes.

Buying and Storing Licorice Powder

You can find licorice powder at some grocery stores, especially health food stores. It's also widely available online.

When shopping for licorice powder, look for products sourced from Calabria, Italy. This region's mineral-rich soils help produce licorice with more glycyrrhizin than licorice from other parts of the world.

Store licorice powder in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Kept properly, it will maintain its flavor for up to a year.

Key Takeaway: Source licorice powder from Calabria, Italy whenever possible for the best flavor. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Cooking with Licorice Powder

Let's look at some of the most popular uses for licorice powder in the kitchen.

Enhancing Desserts

Perhaps the most well-known use of licorice is in candy and other sweets. But licorice powder can also upgrade desserts like:

  • Ice creams and sorbets: Add a spoonful of licorice powder to vanilla or chocolate ice creams. It also pairs well with fruit sorbet flavors like raspberry, pineapple, or lemon.
  • Custards and puddings: Stir some licorice powder into the milk or cream before cooking custards like crème brûlée, flan, or rice pudding.
  • Cakes and cookies: Replace 1-2 tablespoons of flour in cake, cookie or muffin batters with licorice powder. It works well in chocolate, spice, and citrus-flavored baked goods.
  • Sauces: Make dessert sauces extra special with a bit of licorice powder. It enhances chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, and fruit syrups.

The sweet-bitter notes of licorice powder contrast beautifully with rich desserts to keep them from becoming too cloying.

Key Takeaway: Upgrade ice cream, custards, baked goods and sauces with licorice powder for subtle sweet-bitter notes.

Flavoring Beverages

The natural sweetness of licorice powder makes it right at home in all kinds of drinks:

  • Add it to coffee or tea — licorice notes complement bold, bitter drinks. Or make licorice-infused syrup to sweeten and flavor hot drinks.
  • Flavor milkshakes by blending licorice powder right into the ice cream base before freezing. It's delicious paired with chocolate or vanilla.
  • Punch up cocktails like Black Russians or White Russians with some licorice syrup or powder.
  • Simmer licorice root sticks in water to extract their flavor, then strain out the pieces. Use this fragrant licorice water to make unique iced teas or lemonades. The possibilities are endless!

Key Takeaway: Licorice powder shines in hot and cold drinks like coffee, tea, shakes, cocktails and infused waters.

Seasoning Savory Dishes

While best known as a sweetener, licorice powder isn't just for desserts. Its multifaceted flavor also enhances hearty main dishes across an array of cuisines:

  • Italian: Add depth to hearty pasta sauces, or use when roasting vegetables like carrots, parsnips and onions.
  • Indian: Licorice powder tastes fantastic in curries and garam masala spice blends.
  • Japanese: Mix into teriyaki marinades or dipping sauces.
  • Moroccan: Rub licorice powder mixes onto lamb or chicken alongside warming spices like cumin, coriander and cinnamon.
  • Scandinavian and Nordic: Licorice is a staple flavoring for breads, cookies and even glogg (mulled wine) in these regions. Use licorice to give a taste of Scandinavia to familiar dishes.

Don't be afraid to experiment with licorice powder in place of everyday spices like salt, pepper or garlic powder. Its sweet kick accents meat, fish, veggies and more.

Key Takeaway: Far from just a sweetener, licorice powder makes an intriguing addition to hearty main dishes across many global cuisines.


Is licorice powder the same as licorice extract?

No. Licorice extract comes from processing and concentrating the glycyrrhizin compound from licorice root. Extract has an intense licorice flavor and is much sweeter than licorice powder. It's used more for candymaking than for cooking.

What does licorice powder taste like?

Licorice powder has a complex flavor dominated by sweet, anise notes, with bitter, earthy undertones. The intensity depends on the amount used. It's less aggressively flavored than licorice candy but more pronounced than anise or fennel.

What can I use instead of licorice powder?

Common spice substitutes include anise seed, fennel seed, star anise or tarragon. While not exactly the same, they share similar anise-forward flavors. For sweets, extract vanilla or almond to help replicate licorice powder's sweetness.


With its signature bittersweet punch, licorice powder deserves more time in the spotlight as an intriguing alternative to everyday spices.

It seamlessly combines sweet and savory dishes from all over the globe — truly an underrated multicultural ingredient.

Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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