The 8 Best Substitutes For Black Pepper

What can I use instead of black pepper? Eight of the best replacements for black pepper are white pepper, green peppercorns, pink peppercorns, papaya seeds, grains of paradise, Sichuan peppercorns, allspice, and black or white mustard seeds.

Black pepper is a common ingredient in most kitchens that adds a bit of heat due to the chemical compound piperine, with woody, citrusy, and floral notes. Black pepper is made from cooking and drying harvested unripe seeds. It’s the most traded spice in the world, but if you need a substitute, these are a few replacements for black pepper.

The Best Black Pepper Substitutes

White Pepper

The closest substitute for black pepper is white pepper.

White pepper comes from the same plant as black pepper and is the ripened seed of the Piper nigrum plant.

It has a slightly different flavor to black pepper as it misses some of the compounds found in the black peppercorn’s outer drupe, which also contains some piperine.

The flavors of white pepper are milder than that of black pepper with an earthy note.

Because white pepper is less visible in lighter sauces and foods than black pepper, it’s ideal to use in creamy white sauces and mashed potatoes or if you need flavors with less of a bite.

Due to white peppers’ milder heat, you can swap it out for black pepper on a 1:1 scale and add extra pepper as you need

Green Peppercorns

Another peppercorn that can be substituted for black pepper is green peppercorns.

Again, this peppercorn comes from the same plant as the black and white peppercorns and is made from dried unripe seeds of the Piper nigrum plant.

The flavors of green peppercorn are vegetal, with spicy notes and bright aromas that still bring a fresh peppery bite to your dish.

They are often used in Indian and Thai cuisines. Add them to a creamy green pepper sauce poured over some fillet medallions, or use it on fish and Thai green curries for that fresh vegetal piquancy.

You can use green peppercorns as you would black pepper. Ground up the green peppercorns and use a 1:1 ratio, or use approximately eight peppercorns to one teaspoon of black pepper.

Pink Peppercorns

Another substitute with a bit of a fruity flair is the pink peppercorn.

Pink peppercorns are small red or pink berries from the Peruvian pepper tree and have no relation to black pepper. It’s part of the cashew family, so it may affect people allergic to nuts.

They have a nice peppery bite with sweet fruity nuances that add a different dimension of flavor to your recipe.

Crush them to bring out the flavors and sprinkle them into your recipe towards the end of the cooking process to prevent flavors from dissipating. Also, try roasting them to bring out a nuttier nuance.

Use pink peppercorn for chicken and seafood, or add it to curry paste to add a sweet fruity note that blends well with the exotic eastern spices.

Substitute black pepper with a 1:1 ration of pink peppercorns but keep in mind that the taste is sweeter and fruitier.

Papaya Seeds

An unexpected substitute is papaya seeds.

Papaya seeds are small, black seeds found in the center cavity of the papaya fruit. This is a tropical, squash-shaped fruit with orange and green skin and coral-colored flesh.

The seeds are often discarded, but they are edible with a slightly bitter flavor and peppery notes that can be compared to mustard.

Papaya seeds can be dried and ground up as a spicy garnish for salads and soups or used freshly blended and mixed into a vinaigrette.

You can also try using dried ground papaya seeds in baking to make savory, spicy bread.

Substitute a 1:1 ratio of papaya seeds for black pepper.

Grains Of Paradise

Grains of paradise is a good substitute for black pepper.

These reddish-brown seeds are also known as Guinea pepper or melegueta pepper and come from the perennial herd that is part of the ginger family.

Grains of paradise offers a warm, subtle heat with a peppery note, as well as aromatic, woody, and herbal flavors with a hint of bitterness and notes of floral, citrus, and nutty distinctions.

Grains of paradise are used in baking to add that spiciness to gingerbreads. It also pairs well with olive oil and is used as a rub for pork, chicken, and lamb.

Bear in mind that the taste may differ slightly from black pepper, but you can substitute it on a ratio of 1:1.

Sichuan Peppercorns

Sichuan peppercorns are an ideal substitute for black pepper.

A pinkish-red berry from the prickly ash tree in China. The husk of the Sichuan berries is used as peppercorns, with the little shiny black seed discarded as they are hard and gritty.

On its own, it doesn’t pack more bite than ordinary black pepper, with a lavender floral note followed by a bitter taste that leads to a numbing effect. However, it also has an electric burst of citrus that combines exceptionally well with chili peppers.

Sichuan peppercorns go well with Asian food and are used in stir-fries. They are also used to flavor oil as a prepping condiment for meat at the beginning of the meal.

Without the added chili, you can use a 1:1 ratio substitute of Sichuan for black pepper.


Using allspice can substitute for black pepper in a variety of dishes.

Allspice looks like large peppercorns. In fact, it is a berry from the tropical tree Pimenta dioica, related to cloves. Harvested when it’s still unripe, it’s fermented for a brief period before being sundried or machine dry.

Contrary to its name, it’s made using only one ingredient. The taste is described as having a warming note with fresh, sharp, woody flavors with savors of clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Allspice can be used in both desserts and savory dishes. It goes well with pumpkin and apple pies. It’s great for pickling and is a big part of Caribbean cuisine, often prevalent in mince pies and Swedish meatballs.

Use half the amount you would typically use when adding black pepper, as the added flavors of spices can change the original taste of your dish.

Black Or White Mustard Seeds

Mustard seeds can replace black pepper as a spicy alternative.

These tiny round seeds come from various mustard plants in the Brassicaceae family related to cabbage. The three most common ones are the black, brown, and white mustard seeds.

While the flavors are mild and aromatic, they release their authentic flavors once ground or grilled.

Spicy and robust, they have a nutty nuance with sharp, earthy notes. In addition, they provide a good punch of heat that can be described to be similar to wasabi.

Used whole, they are often an ingredient in pickling. They also work well with all sorts of meats and are a key ingredient in South Asian cuisine.

You can use white mustard seeds in a 1:1 ratio to replace black pepper. If you use black mustard seeds as a substitute, start with half the recommended amount and add to taste.