Ingredient Intelligence

4 Ways to Use Fennel Stalks and Fronds

updated May 7, 2024
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overhead shot of a whole fennel.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

Most recipes that include fennel — whether it’s roasted in the oven, shaved into a salad, or slowly braised — focus on the crunchy bulb, leaving behind the green stalks and fronds. Fennel tops are full of flavor, don’t let these greens go to waste! Here are four of our favorite ways to use fennel stalks and lacy fronds.

What Do Fennel Stalks and Fronds Taste Like?

The lacy fronds have a delicate anise flavor and are so tender that they practically melt in your mouth. Think of them as tender herbs, just like dill or tarragon. They don’t hold up well to long cooking, but are best used fresh.

The stalks also have that signature mild licorice flavor, but are much tougher. To use them raw, chop them very finely to break apart their tough fibers, though they’re also delicious when cooked.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Add Fronds to Salads

Strip the fronds from the stalks and toss them in your next salad. They’ll add just the faintest hint of licorice to each bite. Recipes that call for tender herbs — like hearty salads, potato salad, or grain salads can be swapped with fennel fronds.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Debbie Wee

Make Fennel Pesto

You can make pesto with just about any greens, including fennel. Toss fennel pesto with pasta, smear it on a sandwich, or use it as the base of a galette.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Use Them to Add Flavor to Fish

Fennel and fish have been best friends since the dawn of cooking. Whether you’re grilling whole branzino, poaching salmon, or baking in a foil packet, laying a few stalks and fronds alongside the fish will infuse the fish with flavor.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

Save them for Stock

Save the stalks and fronds in the freezer and add them to your next vegetable or chicken stock for a boost of anise flavor.