White Pepper: Substitutes, Flavor, And Culinary Uses Revealed

white pepper substitute

White pepper is useful to give a peppery bite to your recipes without the black flecks. Obviously, it’s odd to add black or colored peppercorns to white sauces or potato dishes.

In a pinch, it becomes necessary to find a suitable alternative for white pepper. This article explores the best white pepper substitute that you can use, and also a little about its flavor profile and uses.

What Is White Pepper?

The difference between black and white pepper comes down to how they are picked and processed. The black peppercorns contain the outer layer, but this layer is removed to make the white pepper.

When the peppery berry is fully ripe, the skin is removed and dried to make the white pepper.

Usually, the ripe pepper is picked and kept immersed in water for a few days, and this leads to fermentation and shedding of the soft outer layer of the pepper. In this process, the peppercorns not only lose the skin but also a good bit of piperine compound that gives heat to pepper.

The dried white pepper is used either ground or whole peppercorns.


What does white pepper taste like?

White pepper has a less complex flavor than black pepper. It is more earthy and musty, whereas, the black pepper has more spicy heat because of its high piperine content.

In fact, white pepper becomes mild because of the fermentation process involved in making white pepper that washes out compounds like piperine from the corns.


In Chinese cuisines, ground white pepper is a popularly used ingredient to flavor soups and white sauces. Similarly, you’ll find this spice used for marinating meat and poultry, and to make spicy stir-fries, especially in French cuisines.

White pepper is chosen over black pepper either for mild flavor or appearance. For example, it works great in creamy soups, whipped potatoes, vichyssoise, or clam chowder because of its creamy white color. Most chefs use white peppercorns in light-colored dishes like macaroni salad, or creamy sauces.

Preferably, white pepper should be added to the already cooked dishes because overheating can release a bitter flavor.

What’s A Good White Pepper Substitute?

You may be trying a recipe that calls for white peppercorns but you don’t’ have them. Still, you can save the recipe by using a white pepper substitute. Of course, the alternative ingredients may slightly alter the original appearance and flavor of the recipe.

Here are some of the best replacements for white pepper:

Black peppercorns

Fully ripe and dried peppercorns with the outer layer of skin are called black pepper. Incidentally, black pepper contains more piperine; thus it has more aroma and pungency than white pepper. They both have the same peppery flavor through their heat levels vary.

The black color of this pepper will stand out in a pale dish but won’t alter the appearance of dishes in a darker shade.

The heat and pungency of black pepper are far superior to their white counterpart. Thus, use only ½ a teaspoon of ground black pepper for every one teaspoon of white pepper.

In short, the best substitute for white pepper is black pepper, knowing that the black pecks will show up in your dishes.

Green peppercorns

Green peppercorns are the unripe corns from the Piper nigrum plant. Mostly, this pepper is used for making pickles; also sold as dried green pepper. They are less pungent and hot than white peppercorns but has a similar peppery flavor

In an emergency, you may use the pickled or dried green peppercorns in place of white pepper.

While using green peppercorns to substitute white peppercorns, use them in slightly more quantity to achieve the same level of pungency and heat. For every one teaspoon of ground white pepper, use 1 ½ teaspoon of ground green pepper.

Pink peppercorns

A pink peppercorn is a dried berry of the shrub Schinus molle, commonly known as the Peruvian pepper tree. Though they look quite similar to the Piper nigrum berries they are not related. Mostly, the pink peppercorn is blended with black or white pepper.

Pink peppercorn has a flavor and heat somewhat identical to the true peppercorns. In addition, this pepper is loved for its sweet, resinous taste and aroma.

Its mild peppery taste and pale color make it a good white pepper substitute, especially in paler dishes.

Use pink peppercorns in a 1:1 ratio to replace the white peppercorns.

Ground ginger

The mild spiciness and pale color of dry, ground ginger make it a manageable alternative to white pepper. Of course, it neither has the strong flavor of fresh ginger or the exact heat and pungency of peppercorns. Still, it should work well in many recipes that call for white peppercorns, especially the Chinese and Thai dishes.

Just like the white pepper, the pale color of ground ginger is imperceptible in any recipe. You can easily use ground ginger in place of white pepper in soups and creamy sauces.

To your advantage, ground ginger is easily available in any good grocery store near you.

Ground mustard

Ground mustard is made by grinding mustard seeds and then sifting the seed coat out to leave a fine powder behind. It has a mild heat and pale yellow color somewhat similar to white pepper.

The light yellow color of the ground mustard is almost invisible in pale dishes that call for white pepper. Besides, it is a useful ingredient that works as a great natural emulsifier; good to use sauces and soups.

Too much mustard may overpower other flavors of your dish, thus use it in half the amount of white pepper required for your recipe.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for a white pepper substitute then there are a few good alternatives to save your recipe. Obviously, black peppers are the best replacement you can think of. Others are green peppercorns, pink peppercorns, ground mustard, and ground ginger.

While using a substitute, consider the taste profile of your dishes; add replacement ingredients in small quantities to avoid a strong peppery taste.