Many French dishes have creamy sauces, and the white pepper provides the right pepper taste without the dark specks of black pepper. It makes the light-colored sauce look appetizing and perfect. It is also widely used in many Asian dishes.
But, what will you do when you don’t have white pepper for the light-colored dish that you are preparing, or you need a less intense pepper taste?
Here are the 13 Best White Pepper Substitutes
- Black Pepper
- Green Peppercorns
- Pink Peppercorns
- Green Peppers
- Cayenne Pepper
- Ground Cumin
- Turmeric Powder
- Ground Ginger
- Ground Mustard
- Red Chili Flakes
- Pepper Mix
Spice is not commonly used in many home kitchens, it is not surprising if your kitchen doesn’t have white pepper all the time.
White pepper is typically used to season light-colored dishes such as pasta carbonara and macaroni salad. It makes the dishes look more scrumptious and aesthetically appealing without losing the flavor and create balance in taste that only pepper can provide.
White pepper is also a good choice when you want something milder than black pepper. Some people say that white pepper is milder than black pepper, while others claim that it’s a bit sharper.
Whatever it may be, both parties agree that between black pepper and white pepper, the latter has a less complex flavor.
It is fortunate if you always have white pepper on hand in case the dish that you need to prepare requires it. If you have white peppercorns and the recipe requires ground white pepper, you only need to grind or pound half teaspoon of white peppercorns to turn them into 3/4 teaspoon pepper powder.
13 Best White Pepper Substitute
Here are some of the substitutes for white pepper that you may consider. Take note that you need to choose the one that goes well with the taste of the dish that you are preparing. Some of the substitutes may introduce or have hints of other flavors that may not blend well with the dish.
The white, green, and black peppercorns are fruits (dried berries to be exact) of the plant known as piper nigrum. The colors of the peppercorns depend on the ripeness stage at the time they were collected, processed, and dried.
Black pepper has a more solid flavor than white pepper, and you may get a more intense kick of spice. It is the perfect substitute for white pepper in terms of taste.
However, you need to cut the amount in half that you usually put in when using white pepper. Black pepper may overpower your dish when you don’t cut the amount suggested in the recipe.
Also, expect the appearance of the light-colored dish to become less appetizing due to the presence of the black specks. Pink peppercorns are actually berries of Peruvian pepper trees and Brazilian pepper trees.
It is better not to replace white pepper in dishes that depend heavily on its flavor. Otherwise, the dish may yield a completely different taste.
Green peppercorns are usually hard to come by. If you have it and happen to run out of white pepper, you can use the green peppercorns as a substitute.
The green peppercorns have a much milder taste so you need to add more to meet the same flavor intensity that white pepper provides. Keep in mind that you only need to go for green peppercorns if black pepper would make your dish look unappetizing. Otherwise, it is better to use black pepper.
You may double the amount of the green peppercorns to match the flavor intensity of the white pepper in the recipe you are using. You may adjust accordingly.
Pink peppercorns are actually berries of Peruvian pepper trees and Brazilian pepper trees. These trees thrive in hotter climates. Each pink peppercorn has a reddish or pink-colored husk that gently encapsulates the tiny, peppercorn-like seed inside.
The pink peppercorns are slightly spicy and fruity. They share a similar level of spiciness and flavor profile with white pepper. Pink peppercorns are great alternatives or best for recipes that use wine or vinegar, as well as fish and other seafood. You can also add pink peppercorns to curries and salads if you want.
Pink peppercorns have that peppery and spicy taste but don’t overpower the dishes you create. These peppercorns are fragrant and have a rosy, sweet-tart tone.
Green peppers have lots of varieties and are the most suitable substitute for white pepper for a certain type of dish as it may enhance the taste even more.
If you don’t mind adding more color and texture to the dish you are preparing, green peppers could be a wonderful addition. It is best for stir-fried dishes, dips, and soups.
If you have dried green pepper, you can grind it and turn it into powder. Green peppers have a mild taste that is a bit sweet. Try adding it gradually to your dish to get the taste that you want.
The spice aisle of grocery stores usually has cayenne, which is a hot pepper that can easily provide a punch of heat to any dish, in finely ground powder. It is a spicier substitute for white pepper. However, its red color may slightly affect the appearance of your dish.
Due to cayenne pepper’s spiciness, you only need to add a pinch to compensate for the absence of white pepper. You may adjust the taste and add more if needed.
Like cayenne powder, paprika has a stronger taste than white pepper, and may slightly affect the appearance of your dish due to its red color.
The flavor intensity of paprika can go from sweet and mild to extremely hot. Some paprikas have a smoky flavor due to the way they were processed.
Since paprika is spicier than white pepper, you may add a pinch to replace white pepper, and adjust the taste according to your preference.
Ground cumin has a mild, aromatic flavor. However, it is not the first that comes to mind when looking for a substitute for white pepper.
Cumin has a warm, slightly sweet flavor with a hint of nuttiness. If your dish also requires using chili flakes, cumin is the most suitable alternative for white pepper.
Cumin can boost the natural spicy flavor of chili flakes and also provide a satisfying earthy tone.
Substitute each teaspoon of white pepper in the recipe with half a teaspoon of ground cumin. You may adjust the taste to your liking.
Turmeric and ginger share many similarities and both are good substitutes for white pepper. Turmeric, like ginger, has a mild spice level and flavor. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and plenty of nutrients.
Even though it is considered a good white pepper substitute, it bears a more unique taste that makes it blend well with other ingredients in your dish.
Turmeric has an earth-sweet, pungent taste. It is commonly used in Indian curries. Take note that India produces and supplies almost 80 percent of turmeric all over the world. You may start with a bit of turmeric when using it as a white pepper alternative. You may increase the amount when needed.
Ginger has a slightly sweet and peppery taste with a spicy and pungent aroma. White pepper and ground ginger look similar.
A pinch of ground ginger blends well into light, creamy sauces. You need to add a little at a time to make sure that it will not overpower the dish. It is a welcome addition to savory dishes.
At first glance, mustard seeds may seem like an unusual replacement for white pepper, but the ground mustard has a mild taste that can compensate for the absence of white pepper. The light color and flavor of powdered mustard may be a good replacement for white pepper in your white sauce, but it may give your dish a yellowish color.
If you are preparing a dish with cheese, butter, or beef, you may want to consider ground mustard as your first option for a white pepper substitute. Ground mustard works well with the mentioned ingredients.
Use a pinch of ground mustard to replace white pepper. You may adjust according to your preference.
Red Chili flakes provide an extra kick to your dish so you need to be careful when using them as a substitute for white pepper. It provides the same texture as white pepper without added seasonings or condiments. It is a good white pepper substitute.
Red Chili flakes have a slightly earthy flavor with decent spiciness. Try adding the chili flakes a little at a time to get your preferred flavor intensity for your dish.
Nutmeg is very common in the U.S. during Thanksgiving as well as in England and continental Europe. Due to its light flavor, it is a good substitute for white pepper.
Nutmeg has woody, sweet, and slightly nutty flavors. It is recommended to use less than a teaspoon of nutmeg since it is quite aromatic.
Too much nutmeg may create soapy or bitter-tasting baked goods, drinks, or dishes. If you are using it as a substitute for white pepper, use a pinch first and adjust.
Although nutmeg is suitable for sweet or savory dishes, you should not use more than a teaspoon to be on the safe side. Consuming too much nutmeg may cause dry mouth, dizziness, and nausea.
It may also affect the proper functioning of your brain. Nutmeg contains a compound known as myristicin, which causes similar effects brought by narcotics – it can make you high.
You can also try some of the pepper mixes, which you can find in grocery stores. The varieties include lemon pepper, Cajun seasoning, and others. Having different pepper mixes at home can come in handy, especially when you usually prepare meals at home.
A pepper mix can help compensate for the missing flavor that you need for your dish. It can be a good substitute for white pepper or any other spice that you may be lacking. Add it a little at a time to get the taste that you need for your dish.
Create Your Own Blend of Spice
You may also create your own spice blend that you can use whenever you need a substitute for the missing spice, such as white pepper. You may experiment with the different spice blends that you need based on the dishes that you usually cook.
You may try the spice blend recipe below if you are going to make an easy, flavorful dressing for your salad or a simple dip for your vegetable.
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 1/2 tablespoons oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried parsley
You just need to combine all the ingredients in a bowl before storing the finished spice blends in a jar. Use the spice blend when needed.