substitute for black pepper

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Black pepper is a staple in most kitchens as it’s used in so many recipes! However if you ran out of  black pepper and you have only just noticed, or you have a black pepper allergy, or you just don’t like the stuff, chances are you need a substitute for black pepper. Here, we’ve shared 7 easy black pepper substitutes. Some you have in your home right now!

substitute for black pepper

What is black pepper?

Black pepper is a type of spice, Native to India, made from the mature, unripe, dried berries from the flowering vine of the Piper nigrum or black pepper plant.

Black pepper has a flavor that is spicy, complex and pungent, with hints of citrus and pine and it is used to add flavor and spice to a large variety of dishes.

Black peppercorn vs ground black pepper

Black peppercorns and black pepper are essentially the same thing, but many people may be confused by the terminology, so it is worth clearing it up.

Peppercorns are the seeds from the Piper nigrum, or peppercorn plant that are picked mature, but not ripe, then blanched and dried, and either sold whole as black peppercorns or pulverized and sold as ground black pepper.

Ground black pepper, also just called black pepper is the pulverized version of peppercorns.

So, what are the best black pepper substitutes?

I always recommend going out to get the ingredient if you can as this will yield the best results.

However, if you do not want to ran to the store for one item, or you can’t find it, or you’re allergic to it, there are quite a few black pepper alternatives you can try. They’re all discussed below:

The best black peppers substitute options are white peppercorns, green peppercorns, rainbow peppercorns, black mustard seeds, papaya seeds, ginger and a mixture of cayenne pepper and white pepper.

Easy black pepper alternatives

White peppercorns

white peppercorn

White peppercorns are berries from the pepper plant that have been soaked in water to ferment, then stripped of their black outer layer to reveal the white inner seed. Because the black outer layer is removed, white peppercorns have a milder flavor and lack some of the complexity and heat of black peppercorns or black pepper.

Nonetheless, they make a really good alternative for black pepper and can be used whole, or ground to form a powder, and added in many recipes that call for black pepper. They are especially good in light-colored recipes, like creamy soups and sauces where you don’t want specks of black in the dish.

Green peppercorns

 green peppercorns

Green peppercorns are another spice that can be used to replace black pepper. Green peppercorns are immature peppercorns that typically come preserved in vinegar or brine. This spice has a flavor that is mildly tart, mildly spicy and aromatic and even slightly grassy. 

Use green peppercorns as a substitute for black pepper in lighter dishes like chicken, fish, vegetables, sauces and salads.

Rainbow peppercorns

rainbow peppercorn

Rainbow peppercorns are another easy substitute for black pepper. Rainbow peppercorns is a balanced mixture of black, green, white and pink peppercorns. Rainbow peppercorns will add heat, flavor, aroma and complexity to soups, vegetables, meat, fish, chicken, salads, pastas and so much more!

You can get this black pepper substitute called rainbow peppercorns here.

Black mustard seeds

black mustard seeds

Black mustard seeds can also be used as an alternative for black pepper. Black mustard seeds are small seeds used most popularly in Indian cuisine. This spice is hot and pungent which makes it a worthy substitute for black pepper. 

Papaya seeds

papaya seeds

This is a great substitute for black pepper if you’re allergic to pepper. Papaya seeds come from the core of the tropical papaya fruit and are small black seeds that have a flavor that is slightly bitter and peppery.

Papaya seeds have a similar pungent flavor and texture to black pepper. Thus, these seeds can be dried and ground, then used as you would use ground black pepper in a dish. They’re even great added to spice mixes in place of black pepper.


ginger powder

Ginger is a spice from the flowering plant called the Zingiber officinale.

Ginger is peppery and sweet with hints of citrus and makes a decent substitute for black pepper.

Generally, ginger works better as a substitute for white pepper, but in a situation where you have nothing else on hand, adding a little ginger isn’t likely to hurt the dish. 

Ginger can be used as a substitute for black pepper in savory recipes where a light spicy flavor is needed. Start with a little and add more as needed.

Mixture of white pepper and cayenne pepper

 white pepper and cayenne pepper mix

For some heat and pungency a mixture of white pepper and cayenne pepper is a great option. To replace 1 tablespoon of black pepper, you will need a mixture of ½ tablespoon of white pepper and ½ tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Use in recipes like soups, stews, added to spice mixes, added to sauces and so much more.

FAQs about black pepper

Is Allspice the same as black pepper.?

They look very similar as they are both small darker colored spheres. Nonetheless, these two spices are very different. Plus allspice is from the Pimenta dioica plant while black pepper is from the Piper nigrum plant.

Also, while allspice has a medley of flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves plus hints of pepper, black pepper has a very distinct flavor.

Therefore, Generally it is not a good alternative for black pepper as it does not have the same heat and pungency that black pepper has. 

What is the best way to substitute black pepper in a recipe?

The best way to substitute black pepper in a recipe is with substitutes like white peppercorns, green peppercorns, rainbow peppercorns, papaya seeds, ginger, and a combination of white pepper and cayenne pepper. 

Black pepper is a staple spice that many people love. Thankfully, there are ways to replace it in a pinch that actually work. So, if you use any of these, feel free to let us know which black pepper substitute you used and in what dish! 

More spice substitutes 

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