Fennel chicken cheddar panini

Use fennel in this fennel chicken cheddar panini to mellow the flavor a bit but still have a fun crunchy licorice taste.

Fennel chicken cheddar panini

I hate licorice. Actually, hate is a very mellow way of putting it. Despise would be better. Doesn’t matter if it’s red, black, purple, yellow or neon green, (and now the scene in Wizard of Oz with the horses changing color is stuck in my head) it’s all the same kind of disgusting.

So you might be wondering why the heck I’m throwing a fennel panini in your face when most would say fennel tastes like licorice.

Me too.

Chicken cheddar panini with fennel

Here’s the thing, I love fennel.

First of all, how can you not love something as crazy-ass looking as that? I look at it and see a Mickey Mouse head crossed with a furry little alien. It’s freaky and cute at the same time.

I have no good explanation for why the candy can repulse me and yet this bulb, vegetable, whatever it is can taste so delicious while imparting the same flavor. Maybe it’s my general aversion to candy (just to be clear candy does not include chocolate) or maybe I’m just weird. Most likely both.

Fennel and chicken cheddar panini

After munching on half the bulb while putting together a random panini for lunch, I decided to throw in some of the fennel for the heck of it. For a last minute decision, it definitely stole the show flavor wise with it’s bold licorice-y taste.

Things I would suggest doing while making a fennel panini:

1. Definitely add apple + cheddar. The added crunch is fun and the cheese helps mellow out the fennel a bit.

2. Butter your toast. Always. It makes all the difference in “paninifying”

3. Don’t wipe off the crumbs from the 15 inch serrated bread knife with your fingers and expect not to slice half way through one of them.

Just some basics, you know?

Panini with cheddar, chicken and fennel

But even if #3 does happen, the result is still worth it and better for you than the candy.

Panini with cheddar, chicken and fennel

Fennel Chicken Cheddar Panini

Yield: 1 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Use fennel in this fennel chicken cheddar panini to mellow the flavor a bit but still have a fun crunchy licorice taste.


  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1/2 a small apple, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fennel, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cooked shredded chicken
  • 4 slices sharp cheddar
  • 3-4 basil leaves
  • butter


  1. Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.
  2. Layer all the other ingredients on the reverse side of the bread and form a sandwich.
  3. Press in a panini maker or in a skillet using something heavy to press down on the top of the sandwich until the cheese starts melting and the bread is toasted and brown.
  4. Enjoy warm.
Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 148.3Total Fat: 2.01gCarbohydrates: 25.53gProtein: 7.27g


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filed in: Main Dishes
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  1. Anne

    Prior to having three kids, I also hated licorice (black licorice, not the flavored kind). But since having kids I have found I love black licorice. Weird that my tastes have changed.

  2. Kathryn

    I hate liquorice too (and that extends to liquorice flavour booze too) but I still haven’t quite mastered the art of liking fennel. I can see how this combo would be great though, maybe this will be the one that captures my heart?

  3. Carol

    Thanks for this wonderful post. I’m looking forward for your next post. thanks for sharing this knowledge for all of us,.Thanks for the recipe!

  4. katie @KatieDid

    I can detect even the slightest addition of fennel seed in something. I don’t necessarily hate it but its just so pronounced. I do hate licorice also though, but fortunately for me it contains gluten so its the perfect excuse to never have to eat it again!
    And I just my finger on the blender blade yesterday licking guacamole, no shame and well worth it.

  5. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel

    So THATS the hand slicing you mentioned on IG! I’ve done that before. Yikes. Hope it heals up quick for you. Can you believe I’ve never had a panini?! Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to it. Looks fantastic though ;)

  6. Cait's Plate

    Fennel definitely takes some getting used to for me. I tried it once in a lasagna and it wasn’t my favorite – but I also despise licorice.

  7. Calee (@chimes)


    And I admit I didn’t make this and I gave you a 5 on the rating. Why? Because you put apple and cheese on a sandwich (one of my favorite combos) AND gave me the idea to add fennel.

    I love black licorice AND fennel. Did you know fennel helps ease digestion problems? I add fennel seeds by the pound to our sausage pasta sauce (which Mark hates … but too bad!).

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      haha, I love how you now justify yourself when rating the recipes after my little rant ;)

  8. Averie @ Averie Cooks

    I hate black licorice with a passion. (red I like but that’s b/c it’s made with red dye #40 and HFCS..lol)

    But I seriously LOVE fennel. Crazy but true. I dont think fennel and black licorice taste similar and am always like huh? when people compare the two! Resemblance? maybe. But they are very different to me. Glad I’m not the only one!

  9. Margarita

    i hate licorice sticks too and do not understand how some people can stand to snack on it when they’re bored, include it in their lunch sack, whatever… i don’t like it. i like licorice tea though. :) when i was about 11-12, i decided to stop eating candy (hard candy, lollipops, Skittles… that kind of candy). chocolates, Snickers bars, and Reese’s cups are not candy to me though. i love fennel but have never cooked with it, so thank you for the reminder that i need to watch out for it the store or market. :) yummy looking panini!

  10. Amanda

    I hate black licorice for 364 days out of the year, but there’s always this one day where I will randomly get an intense craving and have to stop at the nearest TJ’s/CVS/whatever and buy a bag. Then I proceed to stuff my face for about 30 seconds before I decide that I once again hate it and throw the rest in the trash. I have no idea what my problem is.

  11. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    I really like fennel, especially when it’s paired well, and this looks so yummy. It’s one of those veggies I rarely buy unless I have a recipe in mind… I’m gonna pick some up! If it’s between bread with cheese, I could probably even get my 2yo to eat it! :)

  12. Julie @ Table for Two

    ok, so I hate licorice too but since you do too and you added fennel to this panini, I agree I must try this sometime and get over myself and try something new. I love paninis and anything melted within 2 slices of bread. this looks so good!! i like that the fennel taste goes so well with apple, i can just taste it!! oh btw, come help me make photo boards :)

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      haha! I love this. It totally does look like Wilson! Wilson with horns :)

  13. Luke

    Funny I feel the exact same way on the whole licorice/fennel thing – HATE licorice and love fennel. Will definitely try this sandwich, but I might do mine on the grill

  14. Heidi @ Food Doodles

    Yay, I found someone else like me! I hate licorice! Strangely enough though, my hubby makes homemade licorice that I actually don’t mind in small doses. But I do like fennel too, and fennel seeds. I’m not sure how I feel about this panini. It sounds delicious, but I’m kind of scared of the apple, I don’t do the apple and cheese thing. I think I’m the weird one out on that, but anyways… Also, I can’t get the word “paninifying” out of my head now. Thanks. Haha.


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