Best Substitutes For White Pepper

White pepper is most often used when there is a need to add a little bit of spice and a mild flavor, especially in white sauces and light-colored dishes. It is popular in French and Chinese cuisines and is also used to marinate meat or poultry. What if you are out of White Pepper? Need a substitute?

The best substitutes for white pepper are Black Pepper/Black Peppercorns, Pink Peppercorns, Green Peppercorns, Ground Ginger, Ground Mustard, Turmeric Powder, Paprika, Cayenne Powder, Ground Cumin, Homemade Spice Mix, Flavored Pepper Mix, and some others as per your choice and type of your dish.

So, In case you run out of white pepper, make sure to use these alternatives that would certainly serve you with the same spice and flavor notes. The choice depends on the type of the recipe so, have a look at the details.

Commonly Used Substitutes For White Pepper

Some of the most commonly used substitutes for white pepper are:

Black Pepper As White Pepper Substitute

White and black pepper come from the same plant. Therefore, black pepper serves as the best substitute for white pepper. White pepper has a mild and comparatively less complex flavor and a less “peppery” aroma. So if you feel OK with the sharpness of the black pepper flavor, it will work just fine – even if you are using it in more delicate dishes.

When using black pepper, the most important thing you should consider is adding a much lesser amount than white pepper and not going overboard. You will find visible black specks, unlike white pepper, when used in lighter dishes.

Black pepper is the most versatile spice as you can use it for a list of dishes. It is considered the most crucial ingredient in many recipes like stews, sauces, soups, cold sauces, marinades, salsa, and all kinds of meat and seafood.

Green Peppercorns As A White Pepper Substitute

Black peppercorns are picked when not fully ripened and are dried later. White peppercorns are harvested when completely ripe and then fermented. On the other hand, Green peppercorns are picked before they are fully mature and are then dehydrated. They have a more zesty, clean, and mild flavor, unlike black pepper’s hot and sharp taste.

Green peppercorns serve as the best replacement for white pepper in different dishes like fish, curry, cream sauces, and marinades for all kinds of meat and seafood. It would be totally safe to say that green peppercorns are an optimal choice between the boldness and delicacy of black pepper and white pepper, respectively.

Green peppercorns are just mildly tart because they are youngberries. I love using them in pasta, spreads, potato salads, and other “lighter” foods, and so would you.

Pink Peppercorns; Just A Pinch To Substitute White Pepper

I didn’t even know that there is any other pepper, like white and black pepper that is the pink peppercorns for so long. Did you? In fact, pink peppercorns are not peppercorns; instead, they are dried berries obtained from Brazilian pepper trees and Peruvian pepper trees.

Pink peppercorns can be treated the same way as white pepper because they have a similar flavor profile and spice level.

Pink peppercorns grow in hot climates and resemble peppercorns in shape and taste – hence the name. Pink peppercorns should be used whole instead of ground. If you don’t like adding whole peppercorns, crush them lightly and sprinkle them into the dish.

You can also use pink peppercorns as a garnish as they have a vibrant pink color. They have a pretty similar flavor to black pepper, but it is not that strong. Pink peppercorns are most commonly used in white sauces, dressings, seafood, and poultry dishes, and they work well.

Other Alternatives To White Pepper

Here are some other options that you can go for:

Ground Ginger; Flavored Alternative To White Pepper

When talking about the color and the texture, ground ginger is pretty much similar to white pepper. It won’t alter the color of the original dish, just like white pepper. It’s is a bit mild but is still sharp enough to add tang to your plate.

Ground ginger can be used as a substitute for white pepper in several recipes, but it is predominantly flavorful in sauces and soups. It is majorly used in Thai cuisine and recipes, including Thai chicken curry, Thai turkey burgers, coconut chicken soup, and green curry with eggplant.

Always remember that fresh ginger has a more robust flavor than ground ginger.

Pepper Spice Blend; Another Alternative To White Pepper

If you cannot decide the right kind of pepper to use in your recipes or like the best of all types of pepper, a spice blend is a perfect answer. You can easily find pepper spice blends from a spice shop or a regular store. The spice blend includes white, black, green, and sometimes even red peppercorns.

Remember, spice blends often contain other spices like paprika, sea salt, and turmeric.

Pepper spice blends are the best alternative if you feel white pepper to be too plain and black pepper to be too sharp. It will provide a perfect blend of different pepper savory and spicy flavors along with the aromas. You can use these blends to marinate fish and meats, as well as for seasoning.

Ground Mustard; A Good Alternative To White Pepper

Ground mustard or mustard powder form is also known as mustard flour. You can easily prepare it by grinding mustard seeds and then sifting them to get a fine yellow powder. Unlike the whole mustard seeds, ground mustard is not as strong and intense.

White pepper is added chiefly at the end of the recipe/cooking process. On the other hand, the flavor of ground mustard is released when it is soaked in liquid. You can use it as your go-to seasoning for spice rubs, salad dressings, and rich sauces such as the one used for mac & cheese.

Ground mustard is mild enough to be used as a seasoning in place of white pepper, but it has a kick of spice to it.

Turmeric Powder; Yellow Alternative To White Pepper

Turmeric powder can prove to be a good substitute for ground white pepper, as long as you have no issues with the dominant odor, intense aroma, and rich yellow color. Turmeric powder is most commonly used in Asian food – especially curry. The flavor of turmeric powder is warm, slightly bitter, and somewhat spicy.

Turmeric powder is also been used as natural food coloring agent and dye since ancient times. It is the main spice used in Thai cuisine, especially in savory dishes and sauces like golden vegetable curry, yellow curry paste, and yellow curry chicken.

Turmeric powder is usually found in garam masala spice mixtures. Besides Thai specialties, it is also used as a staple in Indian curries in fresh and dried forms.

Paprika; A Vibrant Alternative To White Pepper

You may consider it the most obvious white pepper substitute and use it to spice up your dishes. Paprika is readily available in powdered form. Just like turmeric, paprika also has a vibrant color that will alter the color of your plate.

Paprika is a versatile and universal seasoning. A mixture of sweet and hot peppers is used to prepare paprika. If you are a bold and spicy food lover, you should go paprika spice from hot peppers. Don’t forget these can be hot enough.

The popular varieties of paprika spice include Regular paprika (sweet), Spanish paprika (sweet, spicy, both sweet and spicy, or smoked), and Hungarian paprika (having eight different grades based on hotness level).

Cayenne Pepper; Hot Substitute For White Pepper

It is a tropical fruit also found in Mexico, India, Japan, Africa, and China. Ground cayenne pepper has a specific reddish-orange color and is also known as ground red pepper. It is advised to add it carefully to your recipes, mainly if you are not used to spicy foods as they can be rather hot.

Cayenne is commonly considered a mildly hot chili pepper, so basically, it is a chili powder. Different chili powders available in stores contain other spices such as garlic powder, cumin, and salt. Cayenne pepper is available in different variations depending on the level of hotness and the kind of cayenne pepper.

Remember that cayenne is hot, earthy, and pungent, unlike the other members of the same family, such as poblanos having a milder taste. Moreover, chili powder bought from stores is usually a mix of a variety of different peppers. So, if you are going to use cayenne pepper, make sure you don’t confuse it with chili powder blends.

Ground Cumin; Aromatic Alternative To White Pepper

You may be surprised to see ground cumin is in the list of spice substitutions, but trust me in this. Ground cumin can serve as an excellent option to achieve an aromatic, spicy, and tart flavor all in one.

Ground cumin is not the first thing that would come to one’s mind as a white pepper substitute, but depending on your dish, this mild, aromatic seasoning can be just what your recipe needs.

Homemade Spice Mix; DIY Substitute To White Pepper

If you are like me and can’t help experimenting with your spices and combining at least a couple of them to use in a single recipe, a homemade spice mix is the best option. It is effortless to make and use a spice mix. You are going to get a rhapsody of different flavors with a sprinkle of this mix.

Here’s my spice mix recipe:

  • Cayenne pepper (1 tbsp)
  • Paprika (1 tbsp)
  • Black pepper (1 tbsp)
  • Sea salt (2 tbsp)
  • Oregano (1 tbsp)
  • Onion powder (1 tsp)
  • Garlic powder (1 tsp)

Simply mix all these ingredients, and here you go with a perfect peppery seasoning mix for anything your heart desires!

Garlic Pepper As A Substitute To White Pepper

Garlic pepper is a diluted, delicate version of black pepper that includes garlic powder or granulated garlic. It is also an easy one to prepare at home by simply mixing these three ingredients:

  • Garlic powder (8 tsp)
  • Black pepper (4 & 1/2 tsp)
  • Parsley flakes (1 tbsp)

Garlic pepper is not only a great choice if you’re looking for a mild substitute that is similar to white pepper but also highly convenient and gives an extra dimension to any dish.

Flavored Pepper Mix; Adventurous Substitute To White Pepper

To be more adventurous with your seasoning, you can try pepper mixes from your grocery store. There is a variety to choose from, like Old Bay Seasoning, Cajun seasoning, Lemon Pepper, etc. These mixes work great as a substitute for white pepper in soups, stir-fries, and sauces where color doesn’t matter.

How To Choose A White Pepper Substitute

Several factors affect the choice of the best white pepper substitute. If you want to go with the classic pepper flavor, you can use any pepper options, including black pepper, green peppercorn, red peppercorn, and pepper spice blend.

Ground mustard, ground ginger, and garlic pepper are not likely to add too much spiciness to your dish but give the aroma closer to white pepper. They are all mild enough not to take over the entire dish yet sharp enough to stand out and elevate the taste of any of your food.

If you want just a hint of pepper, go for spice mixes or make one yourself. If you like to add some warmth and dimension to your recipe and don’t mind having a more robust aroma that is not a property of white pepper, you are good to go with turmeric powder or paprika.

Remember that both have intense, unique flavors, but they are still not too hot or sharp. These can be used in soups, sauces, and even pastry as they have natural coloring properties.

Lastly, cayenne pepper is a category of its own as it can be somewhat spicy. Therefore, go with the ground cayenne only if you are courageous enough and willing to get out of your comfort zone.


So, if your recipe needs a sprinkle of white pepper but you either don’t have it around in your kitchen cupboard (or you just don’t want to use it), just give it a try to the substitutes mentioned above.

Finding a white pepper substitute is not complex, as there are so many options you can pick from. Just experiment with the taste but try to add small quantities at once to avoid a robust peppery flavor and aroma and then, add more if you adjust with the taste and smell.


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