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White Pepper Substitute: 10 Best Options.

Do you need a white pepper substitute? It’s a less common spice to have in your kitchen, but there are ingredients you can replace it with. White pepper is a delicious way to add heat to dishes without the black specks you usually get from black peppercorns.

It helps to elevate food and create an aesthetically pleasing appearance for lighter-colored dishes. Read on to find out all you need to know about white pepper. We will also help you discover what you can use in its place.

small dish filled with soft yellow spice, measuring spoon filled with spice and glass container named White Pepper

What is white pepper?

White pepper comes from the Piper Nigrum plant’s berries. White peppercorns are the seeds inside these berries.

The berries are harvested when ripe and soaked until the fruit and black skins rub off the seeds.

Then the seeds are dried until they turn the white color you see in person. They originated in India and are grown in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.

All peppercorn varieties have piperine in them, which causes spiciness in dishes. 

However, since the black exterior is soaked off in white pepper, it calms the heat. It also allows other flavors to be more apparent, like its earthiness.

White pepper is most commonly used in Asian and European dishes like congee, marinades for meat, and soups.

Due to the way white pepper is prepared, it does have a higher cost than black peppercorns.

Best White Pepper Substitutes and Alternatives

There are plenty of substitutes for white pepper you can choose from. Some of these are kitchen staples, so you won’t have a hard time looking for them. Most are also readily available in stores.

Pick one that will go well with the dish you have in mind. You will surely find one that will give you the spice you need without altering the flavor of your food.

1. Black Pepper.

Black and white pepper come from the same plant and are harvested during the same time of year. For this reason, it is not surprising that this is an excellent substitute for white pepper.

Black pepper is made by using unripe berries. Since the black skin stays on these peppercorns, it has a slightly spicier taste.

You’ll also find black pepper has a stronger fragrance than white pepper. Overall, the taste is very similar, just more pungent.

You can still use this in light sauces and dishes, though you’ll have black flakes.

You can substitute black pepper in a 1:1 ratio for white pepper.

2. Pink Peppercorn.

Pink peppercorns are harvested from a completely different plant. This helps create the flavor difference for this white pepper substitute.

While the appearance is similar (except for the color), the flavor of pink peppercorns is sweet and flowery. You’ll still be able to enjoy a peppery taste from pink pepper.

The peppercorn is the berry itself as opposed to the seeds. Avoiding the pepper mill with this alternative is recommended as it is very delicate. Instead, use a spice grinder to create smaller flakes for dishes.

Use pink peppercorns for a bright pop of color on top of dishes instead of cooking into them. If you find it difficult to find at your local store, try looking at the ethnic spice shops nearby.

Try it with a fish dish, as the sweetness compliments this protein well.

Use pink pepper to replace white pepper in a 1:1 ratio.

3. Green Pepper

Green peppercorns come from the same plant from which white and black peppercorns are pulled. However, it’s harvested during a different time of year – in January.

Despite this, they are one of the best white pepper substitutes.

Green pepper has a more subtle flavor than both white and black peppercorns. This is a great substitution if you want to avoid black flakes from your meal from black pepper.

This replacement has a less intense taste. You’ll want to use more in your dishes to achieve the same burst of flavor.

Use 1 ½ teaspoon for every teaspoon of white pepper.

4. Ground Ginger

Ground ginger is one of the best white pepper substitutes, providing earthiness and a kick of heat. In its powdered form, it blends in easily with lighter-colored dishes.

It does create a slightly yellow color, though it won’t add the appearance of flakes. Ground ginger is easy to make at home. All you need to do is dehydrate the fresh ginger and grind it into a powder.

Use one teaspoon of ground ginger for every teaspoon of white pepper.

5. Turmeric

Turmeric matches the earthy and peppery flavors typically found in white pepper. However, it also includes a bitter taste.

For this reason, it’s best to start with small amounts and work your way up to the preferred taste level. This spice will dye your food a golden yellow color. Be prepared for this change if you plan to use turmeric.

Start with ½ teaspoon of turmeric for every teaspoon of white pepper and adjust based on your needs.

6. Ground Mustard

This white pepper replacement will add a yellow tint to your recipes. Ground mustard also provides a similar flavor to white pepper and subtle spiciness to dishes.

It also works as a thickener. If you’re creating sauces or dishes like curry, you can use ground mustard for a thicker consistency.

If you use too much ground mustard, it can create a sharper taste. To avoid this, you’ll want to use a pinch of mustard powder for every teaspoon of white pepper. This ends up being about 1/8 of a teaspoon.

7. Paprika

Using paprika instead of white pepper will also add a lovely color. Instead of a yellow, it will add a red or brownish-red hue.

The taste will vary depending on if you’re using sweet paprika, smoked paprika, and hot paprika.

If you’re seeking a mild spice, use sweet paprika. It will add a fruity flavor and a peppery taste to any recipe you add it to. Paprika works well in meat marinades and as a garnish for fish recipes.

Because of its mild taste, you can use the same amount of paprika as white pepper in your recipe.

8. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is on the spicier side and is hotter than white pepper. It will provide a similar red hue to any dish you add it to.

If you are specifically seeking heat, this is perfect. Cayenne pepper offers vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It also provides capsaicin which is what makes this seasoning spicy.

You only need a small amount of cayenne in your dishes. Try 1/8 teaspoon for every teaspoon of white pepper.

If you love spicier dishes, you can always increase the amount until you reach the perfect amount of spiciness.

9. Garlic Pepper

Garlic pepper is a flavored pepper mix that contains ground dried garlic and ground black pepper. Because of its pepper content, it is also a great substitute for white pepper.

This spice blend is widely available, so you won’t have trouble finding it. However, expect a garlicky taste to become apparent in your dish if you use it to replace white pepper.

Garlic pepper can be considered one of the best substitutes in dishes where garlic is also called for.

Follow a 1:1 ratio when using garlic pepper instead of white pepper.

10. Lemon Pepper

In a pinch, lemon pepper will also work as a substitute for white pepper. This spice blend is a flavored pepper mix of black pepper and dried lemon zest.

It has some similar spice notes as white pepper because it contains black pepper. However, there is a tang to it due to the lemon zest.

If you are okay with a little change in flavor, lemon pepper is a perfect replacement for white pepper. Use in 1:1 ratio.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find white pepper?

You can find white peppercorns in large retail shops in the spice section. They are also available online. Most stores offer both ground white pepper and whole peppercorns for purchase.
For a fresher and more vibrant flavor, opt for the whole peppercorns.

White Pepper Vs. Black Pepper

As noted, white and black pepper come from the same plant, so you’ll find the taste quite similar.
Black pepper is spicier, while white pepper will provide a more earthy taste.

When should you use white pepper?

It would be best to use white pepper when cooking a dish with a white sauce. It will blend well with the dish, offering the final product’s pleasant appearance.

Does white pepper taste different?

Yes, it does have a slightly less spicy flavor than black pepper/peppercorns. Some varieties of white pepper also have a fermented taste depending on their drying process.


The most straightforward white pepper substitute is black peppercorns due to the similarities in flavor and harvest time. The second best option is green peppercorn, which is pulled from the same plant.

Whether you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option or run out of white pepper, the ingredients above provide ample choices.

Choose which works best for you based on the desired dish’s appearance and flavor.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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