What’s a Good Black Pepper Substitute?

Black pepper is derived from the dried, unripe fruit of the Piper nigrum vine, known as a peppercorn. It’s native to India, but Vietnam, Brazil, and Indonesia are also significant producers. Should you need a black pepper substitute, there are several ingredients you could replace it with.

Predominantly used as a spice worldwide, black pepper has a sharp, pungent flavor. It’s also an essential ingredient in curry powder and when pickling. And black pepper also has a medicinal value which is why it’s often used as a medicine.

This article will detail the best possible alternatives for black pepper and how to use them to ensure the perfect meal.

What is Black Pepper?

Black pepper is grown in tropical countries around the world. And India is the largest producer of black pepper.

The dried peppercorns from the flowering vine that produces black pepper are used as is or ground when added to food. It has a sharp, pungent flavor that is used to add heat and depth of flavor to dishes. 

Black pepper is commonly used in savory dishes, such as curries and stews. But it can also be used in some sweet dishes, such as pies, cakes, and cookies.

This spicy seasoning is one of the most common spices in the world. And it’s used in both home cooking and professional kitchens.

Substitutes for Black Pepper

Black pepper is a versatile spice that can be used in sweet and savory dishes. However, sometimes you may need a substitute for black pepper. Whether you want to replicate or alter its flavor, there are several black pepper replacement options available.

1. White Peppercorns

White peppercorns are an excellent substitute for black pepper. They’re particularly well-suited for chicken, fish, salads, and cold dishes where black pepper might be overpowering.

These peppercorns have a slightly milder flavor than black pepper. They’re also smoother in texture which many find appealing. However, white peppercorns can be expensive and challenging to find in stores.

White peppercorns can add a subtle depth of flavor, enhancing the dish’s overall taste. But when used as a black pepper substitute, it’s best to start with a little and adjust to achieve your desired flavor.

2. Green Peppercorns

Mellow-flavored green peppercorns are often a preferred substitute for black pepper. And they can also be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

While they’re less likely to overwhelm other flavors in a dish, green peppercorns add a touch of color to the meal. They can also be used in several dishes, including salads, pasta, and soups.

Green peppercorns are also high in vitamins A and C. But bear in mind that ground green peppercorns don’t last as long as black pepper and tend to lose their flavor over time. 

3. Pink Peppercorns

Pink peppercorns are derived from the fruits of a South American tree called the Peruvian Pepper Tree. And they are best suited for savory dishes such as pastas, soups, and salads.

An excellent alternative to black pepper, pink peppercorns have a similar flavor and texture when ground. And when substituting pink peppercorns for black pepper, they can be used at a 1:1 ratio. 

Pink peppercorns are also lower in sodium than black pepper, so they are a good choice for people on low-sodium diets. They’re also an excellent source of antioxidants. 

4. Sichuan Peppercorns

Sichuan peppercorns are an excellent substitute for black pepper. The peppercorns are derived from the dried berries of the prickly ash tree, native to China’s Sichuan province. 

The flavor of Sichuan peppercorns is more complex than black pepper, with citrus, mint, and licorice notes. In fact, large quantities of Sichuan peppercorns can be tough on the stomach. Therefore, it’s best to use Sichuan peppercorns sparingly to replace black pepper.

Sichuan peppercorns are most often used whole or ground in stir-fries, marinades, spice rubs, and more. 

5. Cayenne Pepper

A type of chili pepper, cayenne pepper comes from the dried, ground fruits of the capsicum annuum plant. Many find this spice interchangeable in flavor and texture with black pepper.

Cayenne pepper carries a more intense heat and fruity flavor and is coarser than black pepper. This can be beneficial in dishes where you want some texture but can make sauces or soups somewhat gritty.

As cayenne pepper is considerably hotter than black pepper, one should incorporate less of it when using it as a black pepper substitute.


When finding a black pepper substitute, one must consider whether your substitute will alter the dish’s flavor. Ensure you begin with a lesser quantity and adjust accordingly, as some substitutes may prove spicier. No matter the dish, our list of substitutes for black pepper is sure to produce the result you desire.