White pepper is an excellent addition to dishes requiring a milder peppery taste with its delicate, earthy spice and floral aroma. Most chefs use white pepper to keep the dishes as aesthetic as possible, especially white or light-colored soups and sauces.
If your recipe requires ground white pepper, but you ran out of it, white peppercorns are your best substitute. However, if you don’t have them, black pepper, green pepper, Sichuan pepper, and ground ginger are great substitutes. Keep reading to know which alternative works best for you.
Best White Pepper Substitutes
1) White Peppercorn
If you have white peppercorns at home, you’ve got the best substitute for ground white pepper. You simply have to grind the peppercorns to turn them to powder. These corns provide the same taste as the commercially available powder form.
If you wish to skip the grinding process and just use the peppercorns as-is, you can replace every tablespoon of white pepper powder with a tablespoon of peppercorns. However, we recommend grinding the peppercorns to achieve the freshest aroma and taste. You can use the same amount as indicated in the recipe you’re following when ground.
2) Ground Black Pepper or Black Peppercorn
Chefs use white pepper to keep plates clean, especially when preparing white or cream-based foods. On the other hand, black pepper is good to add if you don't mind a few black spots in your soup. It has the same flavor, fragrance, and pungency as white pepper.
Unlike white pepper, black pepper is made from unripe berries, resulting in a spicier flavor than white pepper. When used as a substitute, you can replace every tablespoon of white pepper with half a tablespoon of black pepper.
One thing to remember when using black pepper is to add a small amount at a time since the taste may become overpowering to some. If you accidentally add too much black pepper to your dish, you can try to neutralize its effects by adding a dash of lemon juice.
3) Pink Peppercorn
Pink peppercorns, like white peppercorns, are fermented and undergo a procedure that mildens their flavor. Pink pepper may be a little more challenging to find at grocery stores, but it provides a slightly sweet peppery taste with milder spiciness, closely similar to white pepper.
When used as a substitute, you can replace each tablespoon of white pepper with one tablespoon of pink pepper or peppercorn. Even with the color difference, pink pepper does not cause a color change to any dish you’re trying to prepare. With its mild taste, it blends well with other ingredients.
4) Green Peppercorn
Green peppercorns, like black and white peppercorns, come from the pepper plant and are harvested long before they’re ripe. Green peppercorns are usually salted, although they may also be found dry so that they can be crushed and used like white peppercorns. They provide a lighter taste, even milder than white pepper.
When using fresh peppercorns as a substitute, you can replace every tablespoon of ground white pepper with one and a half tablespoons of green pepper. When using dried or salted, you can use the same amount of white pepper required.
5) Sichuan Peppercorn
If you’re looking for a white pepper substitute to give that hot, tingly sensation to a creamy sauce you’re creating, try Sichuan peppercorns. This substitute provides a citrusy aroma with a hint of pine and leaves a tingling numbness on the tongue, perfect for any chili sauce.
Due to its strong spicy taste, we recommend adding tiny amounts at a time. For every tablespoon of white pepper required, you can add a quarter tablespoon of Sichuan peppercorns. These peppercorns will enhance your soups, noodles, and savory meat dishes.
6) Ground Ginger
Ground ginger is a spice that contributes terrific flavor to both sweet and savory foods, making it a must-have in your spice cabinet and a tremendous white pepper substitution. If you’re planning to make a soup, salad dressing, curry recipe, or any Asian cuisine, ground ginger works well as a substitute as it blends with other ingredients.
Ground ginger, like white pepper, has a touch of spice and a subtle taste profile that is somewhat spicy but earthy. It has a pale tint — usually a slightly toasted brown color — that blends into light sauces without affecting the color of the dish.
To use as a substitute, start by replacing each tablespoon of white pepper with half a tablespoon of ground ginger and work your way up. Ground ginger does not taste like fresh ginger, so you don’t have to worry about a ginger scent or taste.
7) Ground Mustard
Ground mustard has a strong flavor that gives your foods a slightly spicy kick. Its spiciness may make your mouth feel a bit hot, but it still has a mild flavor similar to white pepper. This spicy mustard powder will give your food a fresh scent, especially if you use it to make salad dressings or white sauces.
When used as a substitute, we recommend using smaller amounts to balance the overall taste of the dish you’re making. Replace every tablespoon of white pepper required with a quarter tablespoon of ground mustard. This small amount is enough to produce a spicy taste without compromising the dishes’ presentation.
8) Turmeric Powder
Turmeric and ginger have a lot in common, and they're both effective alternatives for white pepper. Turmeric has a mild spice level and taste, similar to ginger. It also has anti-inflammatory qualities as well as a wide range of nutrients.
Although it may be used as a substitute for white pepper, it has a distinct flavor that blends nicely with other components in your recipe but can also be overpowering in excessive amounts. For this reason, we recommend replacing every tablespoon of white pepper required with a quarter tablespoon of turmeric powder.
Paprika is a famous spice that blends well with potatoes and eggs. Although paprika is made from different dried peppers, it is surprisingly milder than white pepper but still gives that spicy, peppery taste. With its sweet peppery taste, paprika enhances the flavors of meats in different dishes.
Smoked paprika and fresh paprika offer different tastes; smoked paprika provides a richer and heavier spicy flavor. If you want to use smoked paprika as a substitute, you can use a 1:1 replacement measurement. However, if you’re using fresh paprika, replace every teaspoon of white pepper with one and a half teaspoons of fresh paprika.
10) Cayenne Powder
Cayenne powder or chili pepper is made from ground cayenne pepper and is a well-known spice from the Capsicum family. Unlike white pepper, cayenne pepper is manufactured from pepper plants rather than peppercorns. It has a heat level of 30,000 to 50,000, significantly higher than white pepper.
Despite the heat level, cayenne pepper has an earthy flavor similar to white pepper. When used as a substitute, we recommend replacing every tablespoon of white pepper with a quarter tablespoon of cayenne pepper. You can add more if you enjoy spicy food, but we recommend you add a little amount at a time to prevent an overpowering spicy flavor.
11) Ground Cumin
Ground cumin could be the perfect white pepper substitute for those who can't tolerate a spicy taste in their dish. It adds a bright and earthy flavor with a tolerable spicy taste.
When used as a substitute, you can use half a teaspoon of ground cumin for every teaspoon of white pepper required in the recipe. While ground cumin does not have an overpowering spicy taste, it provides a rich floral and nutty aroma to the dish. However, using too much ground cumin can create a bitter aftertaste. Hence, follow a 1:2 cumin to white pepper substitution ratio.
12) Garlic Pepper Mix
Garlic goes along with everything. This white pepper substitute will give a different taste due to the presence of garlic but will enhance your dish like no other seasoning. Made by mixing garlic powder, black pepper, and parsley flakes, this pepper mix will add rich flavors to meats, soups, and white sauce.
When used as a substitute, you can replace every teaspoon of white pepper with half a teaspoon of garlic pepper mix. Following a 1:1 ratio can create an overpowering garlic taste that some people might not appreciate.
13) Lemon Pepper Mix
Lemon pepper is the most complex white pepper substitute on this list. This seasoning mix contains salt, citric acid, onion, sugar, garlic, celery seed, and lemon oil, adding rich flavors to any dish. However, other people might find this too complex for their liking. But if you’re up for a flavorful sauce or dip, this white pepper substitute is perfect.
Due to its taste, we recommend using half a teaspoon of lemon pepper mix for every teaspoon of white pepper required and adding more as needed.
14) Green Pepper or Green Chile
There are a lot of green peppers, and you can use any of them as a white pepper substitute. Unlike other substitutes that blend well with sauces and dips, green bell pepper is suitable for stir-fries and soups. You can also use red pepper.
When using fresh green pepper as a substitute, a regular-sized green pepper should equal two teaspoons of white pepper. However, we recommend drying the green pepper and grinding it to achieve a powdered form that adds a richer taste. Use the powder in a 1:1 ratio.
|White Peppercorn||The best substitute. Freshly ground white pepper offers the freshest taste and aroma.|
|Black Peppercorn||Provides a spicier flavor, a perfect substitute if you don’t mind the dark speckles.|
|Pink Peppercorn||Gives a slightly sweet and mild spice; the pink hue does not cause a color change to any dish.|
|Green Peppercorn||Gives a lighter taste than white pepper when used fresh. Often sold in salted or dried form.|
|Sichuan Peppercorn||Leaves the tongue with a tingling numbing sensation due to the spicy taste. Great for savory dishes.|
|Ground Ginger||Provides an earthy and spicy flavor. Great for sauces and soups. Does not taste like fresh ginger.|
|Ground Mustard||Provides a mild spicy taste. Perfect substitute for salad dressings and sauces.|
|Turmeric Powder||Provides great flavors but is a powerful coloring agent and can cause a color change in dishes.|
|Paprika||Smoked or fresh paprika can be used. Both offer a rich, spicy flavor with a hint of sweet taste.|
|Cayenne Pepper||Spicier but shares the earthy flavors as white pepper. Use only a quarter of the required white pepper.|
|Ground Cumin||Adds a floral and nutty aroma to dishes. Can create a bitter aftertaste when used in large amounts.|
|Garlic Pepper Mix||Made from garlic, pepper, and parsley. Great for meats, soups, and sauces.|
|Lemon Pepper Mix||A complex seasoning. Contains garlic, onion, celery, and lemon oil. Great for dips and sauces.|
|Green Pepper||A versatile spice. Can be dried and ground to achieve a richer spicy taste.|
An excellent white pepper substitute provides rich peppery flavors with a milder spicy taste. The best alternatives are black peppercorn, green peppercorn, pink peppercorn, ground ginger, and some pepper mix such as garlic pepper or lemon pepper seasoning.
Unopened white pepper can be stored for 3-4 years when properly stored. However, once opened, air can cause the spice to deteriorate. To retain flavor and potency, keep white pepper in airtight containers.
Yes. While black pepper provides a spicier taste, white and black pepper come from the pepper berry of the Piper Nigrum plant and share many characteristics and flavors. To avoid an overpowering spicy taste, replace only half of the required white pepper.
White sauces, dips, and creamy soups often use white pepper to maintain their color. Other dishes that require a light peppery taste often call for white pepper instead of black.