What can you do with fennel stalks?

Use fennel stalks in place of celery

Fennel stalks can be used as a substitute for celery in many recipes. The texture is similar – crisp and juicy. Fennel provides the dish with a light anise flavor that pairs well with the other ingredients. Soups, stews, casseroles, stuffing, salads, and more, are all great options for swapping in fresh fennel stalks in place of celery.

Fennel stalks have a light anise flavor

The feathery fronds and the bulb of the fennel plant have a stronger anise flavor. The stalks are more mild. They provide just a subtle hint of licorice that accents savory dishes beautifully. Use fennel stalks when you want that touch of anise without it being overpowering. Their sweetness also helps counter bitterness from veggies like kale or broccoli rabe when paired together.

Nutrition benefits of fennel stalks

Fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C. The stalks contain good amounts of dietary fiber. They also provide potassium, manganese, folate, and phosphorus. So using fennel stalks boosts the nutritional value of recipes like soups, sauces, and salads.

Crunchy texture

The celery-like crunchy texture of fresh fennel stalks adds wonderful contrast to the other ingredients in dishes like slaws, pasta salads, veggie platters, etc. Their juicy snap enhances any recipe where you want some crispy bites. The crispness also holds up well when cooked briefly like in stir fries or sautés.

Use fennel stalks and fronds to make stock

The woody stalks, feathery fronds, and even the tough outer layers of the bulb can all be used to make flavorful veggie stock. Fennel infuses the broth with its aromatic essence.

Method for making fennel stock:

  • Roughly chop fennel stalks, fronds, and outer bulb layers.
  • Add to a large pot with any other stock veggies you desire – onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms, etc.
  • Cover with water and add seasonings like peppercorns, bay leaves, herbs.
  • Simmer gently for 1-2 hours.
  • Strain through a fine mesh sieve.

This fennel infused broth is delicious for risotto, sauces, soups, stews, and more. The flavor pairs especially well with fish and seafood dishes. Freeze any extra stock in batches for later use.

Pickle fennel stalks

Thinly sliced fennel stalks make a delightful quick refrigerator pickle. Their texture adds great crunch alongside other veggies like cucumbers, radishes, cauliflower, etc.

Easy fridge pickle method:

  • Wash and trim fennel stalks. Thinly slice on a mandoline.
  • Pack into a clean jar along with other quick pickle veggies.
  • Heat up equal parts vinegar and water with salt and sugar. Pour over vegetables and let cool.
  • Keeps refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy these tangy pickled fennel stalks as a crunchy topping on salads, sandwiches, burgers and more. Their bright acidity and seasoning adds a pop of flavor.

Roast fennel stalks

Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of fennel. The stalks become tender and caramelized. Use roasted fennel stalks any way you would use roasted root vegetables.

Method for roasting fennel stalks:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Cut stalks into 1-2 inch pieces.
  • Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Roast 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway, until browned and tender.

Incorporate roasted fennel into pasta dishes, frittatas, pizza, salad, soups, and more. The sweet caramelized flavor is delicious. Roast the stalks along with onion wedges, whole garlic cloves, carrots, parsnips, etc. for a medley of flavors.

Use fennel stalks for pesto

The stalks, fronds, and bulb can all be pulsed together to make a tasty fennel pesto. Toss with pasta or use as a spread.

Fennel pesto ingredients:

  • 2 cups fennel stalks and fronds
  • 1/2 cup fennel bulb
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pulse the fennel, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the olive oil in a stream and process until smooth. Stir in the parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

Serving suggestions for fennel pesto:

  • Toss with hot pasta, cooked veggies or potatoes
  • Use as a sandwich spread
  • Drizzle over grilled fish, chicken or pork
  • Swirl into soups
  • Use as a dip for bread or crackers

The pesto keeps refrigerated for 5-7 days. Freeze extras in ice cube trays for longer storage.

Braise fennel stalks

Braising is a great way to cook tougher fennel stalks until tender and infuse them with flavor.

Method for braised fennel stalks:

  • Cut stalks into 2-3 inch pieces.
  • Sauté in olive oil over medium high heat until browned.
  • Add broth, wine or water to cover halfway.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes until tender.
  • Uncover and simmer to reduce liquid.
  • Season with salt, pepper and herbs.

The possibilities are endless for using braised fennel stalks:

  • Toss with pasta or gnocchi
  • Layer in lasagna
  • Serve over polenta
  • Mix into risotto
  • Top pizza before baking
  • Fill an omelette

Any leftover braising liquid also makes an amazing sauce.

Use fennel stalks for grilling

Sturdy fennel stalks hold up beautifully on the grill. The high dry heat caramelizes their natural sugars. Grilled fennel makes a lovely side or addition to kebabs, tacos, flatbreads, etc.

Method for grilling fennel stalks:

  • Cut stalks lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices.
  • Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Grill over direct high heat for 2-3 minutes per side until sear marks form.
  • Move to indirect heat and grill for 10-15 minutes more until tender.

For extra flavor, try:

  • Soak fennel slices in vinaigrette before grilling.
  • Coat stalks with pesto or chimichurri before grilling.
  • Grill slices of lemon or orange alongside the fennel.

Let cool slightly before serving grilled fennel stalks to maximize the sweetness. The smoky char flavor pairs perfectly with fish, shellfish, chicken or pork.

Fry fennel stalks

Thinly sliced fennel stalks can be fried for a delicious snack or crunchy garnish. Dredge in batter or breadcrumbs first for extra crispy texture.

Method for frying fennel stalks:

  • Cut stalks very thinly into matchsticks or small pieces.
  • Pat dry thoroughly to remove moisture.
  • Fry at 350°F until golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Serving ideas for fried fennel stalks:

  • Top soups or salads
  • Garnish pastas or grain bowls
  • Toss into stir fries
  • Use as taco or fajita topping
  • Sprinkle over pizzas
  • Add to sandwiches

The crispy fried fennel adds delicious texture and flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. Fritters made with thinly sliced fennel stalks are also delicious.

Pickle spicy fennel stalks

For a spicy and crunchy pickle, add peppers and spices when pickling fennel stalks. They make a zesty accompaniment to sandwiches, tacos, salads and cheese boards.

Ingredients for spicy pickled fennel stalks:

  • Fennel stalks, thinly sliced
  • Jalapeño or other chili pepper, sliced
  • Orange slices or zest
  • Coriander seeds
  • Peppercorns
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Water
  • Honey or sugar
  • Salt


  • Combine sliced fennel and chilies in a clean jar. Add orange slices or zest, coriander and peppercorns.
  • Heat vinegar, water, honey/sugar and salt until dissolved. Pour over fennel mixture.
  • Let cool completely before sealing. Refrigerate for 1 week before using.

The orange and warm spices give a tangy, gingery flavor that complements the anise notes of the fennel. Try substituting other ingredients like ginger, star anise, allspice berries or cinnamon sticks for unique flavor profiles.

Use fennel stalks in place of onion

The onion-like layered structure of fennel bulbs is perfect for slicing and dicing just like onions. Fennel stalks can be used similarly in many recipes. Their slightly sweeter flavor works well cooked into dishes where onion would traditionally be used.

Cooking ideas for fennel stalks:

  • Sauté as the aromatic base for pastas, risottos, etc.
  • Chop and add to meatballs, burgers, meatloaf.
  • Cook down into a sweet jam-like condiment.
  • Caramelize in olive oil as a pizza topping.
  • Slice thinly and add raw to salads.

Replace up to 1/2 the onion called for in a recipe with fennel stalks for a subtle anise essence. Use both onion and fennel for a more complex, layered flavor.

Shred fennel stalks for slaw

Thinly shredded fennel stalks make an excellent crunchy base for fresh vegetable slaws. The crisp, juicy texture pairs perfectly with tender greens, fruits, and cabbage.

Sweet fennel slaw recipe:

  • 1 fennel bulb and stalks, shredded
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded kale
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Trim fennel stalks and shred thinly using a mandoline or food processor.
  2. Combine shredded fennel with apple, cabbage, kale and parsley.
  3. Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil. Toss with slaw mix.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The sweetness of the fennel and apple balance the slight bitterness of the cabbage and greens. Serve this vibrant slaw as a healthy side dish or stuffed into sandwiches or tacos.

Braise fennel stalks in wine

For fancy restaurant-quality flavor, braise fennel stalks in aromatic wine, broth and herbs.

Ingredients for braised fennel in wine:

  • Fennel stalks, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken or veg broth
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Brown fennel pieces on all sides.
  2. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Deglaze pan with wine. Let simmer 2 minutes.
  4. Add broth, thyme, bay leaf and lemon juice. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20-25 minutes until fennel is very tender.
  6. Remove thyme stems and bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The sweetness of the fennel balances the acidity of the wine and lemon for incredible flavor. Serve braised fennel stalks as a refined side dish. Use the braising liquid as an elegant sauce for fish or chicken.


As you can see, fennel stalks are extremely versatile! Their juicy crunch, subtle anise essence and natural sweetness make them useful in so many recipes. Soups, slaws, pickles, roasted sides, braised entrees and more are all elevated by the addition of fennel stalks. Keep them on hand as a flavor boost for all your savory cooking needs. With proper storage, fresh fennel stalks will last up to a week in the refrigerator. Now go enjoy creating delicious dishes with these underappreciated fennel parts!

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