White pepper is a spice produced from the dry and fermented pepper berry fruit that grows on the Piper nigrum plant. White pepper adds a grassy, musty, and slightly fermented flavor to recipes. It’s used in soups, sauces, and potato salads that call for a peppery bite without black flecks.
The best substitutes for white pepper are common peppercorn varieties, including white, pink, green, Sichuan, and black peppercorns. Ground ginger, ground mustard, ground cumin, and turmeric powder have similar spicy and earthy flavors as white pepper and are suitable substitutes for white pepper.
Best Substitute for White Pepper: White Peppercorn
The best substitute for white pepper is a white peppercorn. White peppercorns are ground to make white pepper powder and can be used to replace white pepper in any recipe calling for white pepper powder.
As a substitute for white pepper, use whole or powdered white peppercorn at a 1:1 replacement ratio in light-colored soups, white sauces, and potato dishes.
Other White Pepper Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
Here are other ingredients that have a similar texture and flavor to white pepper, and that can be used instead of white pepper.
Pink peppercorns are dried berries from Brazilian and Peruvian pepper trees. Pink peppercorns have a milder flavor than black pepper, with hints of sweetness and spiciness similar to white pepper.
The color of pink peppercorns won’t change the color of any dish, and the spice’s mild flavor blends well with other ingredients.
Use pink peppercorns as a 1:1 substitute for white pepper in butter-based sauces, dressings, salads, seafood, and chicken recipes.
Green peppercorns grow on the same Piper nigrum plant as black and white peppercorns, but green peppercorns are made from unripe berries. Green peppercorns are sold pickled, salted, dried whole, or dried and powdered. The mild peppery flavor and bright aroma of green peppercorns make this spice an excellent substitute for white pepper.
When using fresh green peppercorns as a substitute for white pepper in Thai and Vietnamese dishes, replace every teaspoon of white pepper with 1 1/2 teaspoons of green peppercorns.
Use dried or salted green peppercorns as a 1:1 substitute for white pepper when making sauces, dips, and dishes that include pork, chicken, or fish.
Sichuan peppercorns aren’t peppers but tiny berries from a prickly ash tree in the citrus family. Sichuan peppercorns have a strong spicy flavor and a citrusy aroma that induces a tingling sensation on the tongue.
Sichuan peppercorns are spicier than white pepper, so use only small amounts. Use Sichuan peppercorns to enhance the flavor in fresh rice noodles, soups, mapo tofu, and meat dishes.
Substitute every teaspoon of white pepper with 1/4 teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns.
Black pepper is made by grinding dried berries from the Piper nigrum plant. One of the most commonly used spices worldwide, black pepper has a sharp, woody, and piney flavor that goes well with many dishes.
Unlike white pepper, black pepper leaves visible black flecks in lightly-colored dishes like cream sauces and chowders. Black pepper is an excellent substitute for white pepper if you’re in a pinch or aren’t concerned about dark flecks.
Use black pepper as a ½:1 substitute for white pepper. Black pepper’s bite makes it an unsuitable replacement for white pepper in dishes that call for a large amount of white pepper.
Ground ginger, or ginger powder, is made by drying and pulverizing fresh ginger. Like white pepper, ground ginger has a spicy and earthy flavor with a touch of sweetness. Ground ginger has a pale-yellow color which blends well into dishes without affecting their color.
Ginger powder mixes well with other ingredients and adds floral, sweet, and slightly peppery flavors to dishes. Substitute 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger for every teaspoon of white pepper when making soups, salad dressings, and curries.
Also called dry mustard or mustard powder, ground mustard is made by grinding mustard seeds. Ground mustard has a sharp flavor and fresh aroma similar to white pepper. Although mustard powder blends well with ingredients, it can give white sauces a yellow hue.
Substitute every teaspoon of white pepper with 1/4 teaspoon of ground mustard when making salad dressings and sauces.
Turmeric powder is made by grinding the roots of the turmeric plant. Best known for its bright yellow color, turmeric powder adds a bitter earthy flavor with a touch of peppery spice to dishes.
This vibrant spice has anti-inflammatory properties, and a range of nutrients including iron, vitamins B6 and C, magnesium, and calcium.
Turmeric powder is a good substitute for white pepper, but its distinctive flavor can be overpowering in large amounts. Replace every teaspoon of white pepper with ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder in savory dishes and sauces.
Paprika is a commonly-used spice made from different types of dried and ground peppers. Paprika adds a touch of spiciness to recipes and is an excellent replacement for white pepper, but it adds a red tint to any dish. The taste of paprika can vary from mild and sweet to very hot.
Sweet paprika has a sweet peppery flavor and no heat. Hot paprika adds a spicy and peppery kick to recipes. Smoked paprika is made from smoked peppers and has a sweet, cool, and smoky flavor without any heat.
Substitute every teaspoon of white pepper with 1 1/2 teaspoons of sweet paprika. When using hot paprika, substitute ½ teaspoon of hot paprika for every 1 teaspoon of white pepper. Use smoked paprika as a 1:1 substitute for white pepper when making stews, soups, and stir fry recipes.
Cayenne powder is made from dried and ground cayenne peppers. Cayenne pepper has a light fruity flavor and adds more heat to dishes than white pepper. Although not as vibrantly colored as turmeric powder and paprika, cayenne powder has the potential to give dishes a red hue.
Cayenne pepper has a heat level of 30,000 to 50,000 SHU, which is higher than white pepper and affects the spiciness of recipes. Substitute every teaspoon of white pepper with ¼ teaspoon of cayenne powder when making spicy stir-fries and marinades for meat and poultry.
Ground cumin or cumin powder is made by grinding dry-roasted cumin seeds. This spice has a warm, earthy flavor that adds depth to any dish, similar to white pepper. Ground cumin is a great white pepper substitute for people who don’t enjoy spicy dishes.
Brownish-yellow in color, ground cumin adds a darker tint to light-colored dishes and white sauces. Use ground cumin as a ½:1 replacement for white pepper to season soups, stews, meat, and vegetables.
Garlic Pepper Mix
Garlic pepper mix is a popular seasoning and can be made from various ingredients. The simplest version features ground black pepper and garlic powder and adds a mild, yet bold, flavor to any dish.
Use garlic pepper mix to substitute white pepper when making white sauces and soups, or to flavor any type of meat. Follow a ratio of ½ teaspoon of garlic pepper mix for every teaspoon of white pepper in the original recipe.
Lemon Pepper Mix
Lemon pepper seasoning mixes are commonly used as a white pepper substitute. Most lemon pepper seasoning blends feature dried lemon zest, black pepper, and salt. Some lemon pepper blends contain onion or garlic powder as well.
This spice blend adds a bright, citrusy flavor and a hint of spice to recipes. Substitute ½ teaspoon of lemon pepper mix for every teaspoon of white pepper when making light-colored sauces or dips.
Green Bell Pepper
Also known as pepper, sweet pepper, or capsicum, bell pepper is a fruit that belongs to the nightshade family of plants. Green bell peppers have a mild, slightly bitter flavor that substitutes the aroma of white pepper in stir-fries and soups.
Dried, ground green bell peppers are flavorful and can replace white pepper.
When cooking with fresh green peppers, substitute one regular-sized green pepper for 2 teaspoons of white pepper. For stir-fries, soups, and stews, use ground green pepper powder as a 1:1 replacement for white pepper.
Homemade Spice Blend
A homemade spice bend can be a great alternative for white pepper when you’re in a pinch. A spice mix can be made by combining different spices and herbs. To make a homemade spice blend, mix the following ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon of paprika
- 1 tablespoon of black pepper
- 2 ½ tablespoons of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- 1 teaspoon of onion powder
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
When using a homemade spice blend as a replacement for white pepper in marinades, salads, or tacos, substitute ½ teaspoon of the spice blend for 1 teaspoon of white pepper.