Is there anything more satisfying than biting into a fresh cucumber and cream cheese sandwich on fresh white bread? Oh yes, there is. It’s a fresh cucumber and cream cheese sandwich with a generous sprinkling of dill seed. Or was it a fresh sprig of dill weed?
So, dill weed vs dill seed. What exactly is the difference?
Dill weed (herb) and dill seed (spice) come from the same plant, and both are edible. The most significant difference is the culinary use. Dill weed is used for garnishing in potato salads and egg sandwiches. Dill seed is used as a seasoning in soup, fish, and homemade pickles.
If you are interested in the difference between dill weed and dill seed, this guide will provide you with all the tasty deets you need.
Are Dill Seed and Dill Weed the Same?
Dill seed and dill weed come from the same herbaceous plant (Anethum graveolens) but have different uses and flavor profiles. Dill weed and dill seed are both edible.
What Is Dill Weed?
Dill weed is the thin feathery green leaves from the dill herb plant (similar to the leaves of a carrot plant). The leaves are attached to a thickish stem.
This aromatic herb is native to Western Africa, Russia, and the Mediterranean.
Good to know: When looking for dill weed in the grocery store, it’s typically marked as just “dill” and not dill weed.
Dill is an annual herb that is part of the celery family, Apiaceae, and can be replanted quite easily (and successfully.) Dill weed has a fresh and pleasant licorice flavor that goes well with several light dishes or snacks, such as:
- An egg and mayonnaise sandwich
- Fresh salads
- Seafood dishes
- Roasted vegetables
- Homemade dips and spreads
- Potato salad
- Cucumber sandwiches
Dill weed is often mistaken for Chervil (also known as French parsley) as these herbs have similar flavors and wispy green leaves.
Dried dill weed has a more robust flavor. You can also store fresh dill weed on a moist paper towel in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week.
Did you know? Growing dill weeds in your garden were considered a sign of wealth in the ancient Roman and Greek cultures. This was due to the dill weed’s healing properties.
What Is a Dill Seed?
Dill seed isn’t actually the seed of the dill plant, as the name suggests. It’s the oval brown fruit that grows on the dill plant and is used as a spice.
Dill seed is popular in Northern European cuisine and has a slightly bitter taste to dill weed.
The taste is very similar to caraway, coriander, and anise flavors. Traditionally (more than 2,000 years), dill was used in herbal practices and has various medicinal purposes that help with ailments such as:
- Anxiety and nervousness because of its calming properties
- Relieves gas and digestive pain (carminative)
- Treats colic
- Helps with hiccups
- Improves bad breath
- Soothes hemorrhoids
You must harvest the dill seeds (and dill weed) before the plant starts flowering. Once the yellow flowers (umbels) bloom, the entire plant becomes bitter and inedible.
Dill seeds can be crushed or used whole, and are excellent for seasoning food such as:
- Homemade pickles and pickled vegetables
- Vegetable seasoning
- Various meat dishes (pork, beef, lamb, and chicken)
- Yogurt soup
- Fish seasoning
Did you know? Hippocrates (an ancient Greek physician) used dill seeds as a mouth freshener and cleaner. Dill seeds were also burnt and used to clean and heal ancient soldiers’ battle wounds.
What’s the Difference Between Dill Weed vs Dill Seed
While dill seed and dill weed may come from the same plant (and both are edible), there are some very obvious differences between the two, such as:
Dill weed has feathery, thin, green leaves with a thicker stem and can be served fresh or dried.
Dill seed is a small brownish fruit with an oval shape and is typically dried before use.
Fresh dill weed tastes like celery, licorice, and parsley (sweet and lemony). It’s slightly tangier than the seeds. Fresh dill weed adds a fresh taste to most dishes and makes a bright garnish.
The dried dill weed still has the sweet lemony flavor, although it’s not as fresh tasting.
Dill seed has a far stronger flavor and is slightly more bitter tasting than dill weed. It tastes similar to caraway and is a good substitute for fennel seeds. If you want a stronger flavor, then roasting dill seed will provide a more potent taste and aroma.
Dried dill weed works well with chicken, fish, and seafood. It also complements creamy salad dressings, potato salads, eggs, and yogurt sauces. Fresh dill weed is perfect for garnishing fresh summer sandwiches and salads.
Whole and ground dill seed works well with homemade pickles and pickled vegetables. It also complements bread, soups, and stews. They really bring out the flavor in eggplants and cabbages.
Can You Use Dill Weed Instead of Dill Seed?
Even though dill weed and dill seed have a similar flavor, dill seed is far more bitter tasting. If you want to stick to the bitter undertones of dill seed, you should use celery, anise, caraway, cilantro, or fennel as a substitute.
Top Tip: If you don’t like the licorice flavor of dill seeds, you can substitute it with thyme or oregano.
My Last Foodie Thoughts
Of all the herbs growing in your herb garden, dill should be one of your favorites. This herb is easy to grow and doesn’t need much extra care to flourish. Plus, the dill plant is the gift that keeps on giving, as it’s an annual herb that reseeds easily.
You’ll be able to garnish gorgeous summer salads with your homegrown dill weed and pickle your favorite vegetables with your homegrown dill seed.
But wait, there’s more. If anyone in your family has a tummy ache, dill seeds are a natural way to help ease the discomfort. Many parents boil dill weed or crushed seed as a tea for a baby with colic issues.