I love Szechuan Peppercorn, but it’s very expensive and hard to find.
There are many different spices out there, but few can compare to the spicy and tangy flavor of Szechuan peppercorn.
Unfortunately, this spice is not available at most grocery stores. If you don’t have access to a specialty market or an Asian store near you, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the flavor without going out of your way. So what’s the best substitute for it?
There are five best Szechuan Peppercorn substitutes that I would recommend: Tasmanian Pepper, Grains of Paradise, Tellicherry Pepper, Black Peppercorns With Coriander Seeds, and Black Pepper.
Read on as I discuss how you can swap these ingredients in your recipes.
- What is Szechuan Peppercorn?
- 5 Best Szechuan Peppercorn Substitutes
- What Does Szechuan Peppercorn Taste Like?
- Where to Buy Szechuan Peppercorn?
- How To Store Szechuan Peppercorn?
- Difference Between Szechuan Peppercorns and Black Peppercorns
- How To Replace Szechuan Peppercorn?
- How To Use Szechuan Peppercorn?
- Final Words
What is Szechuan Peppercorn?
Szechuan peppercorn is actually not a peppercorn. It’s the fruit of a vine that comes from the prickly ash tree, which is related to citrus.
The flavor has both spicy and sour notes, with citrusy undertones that make its culinary uses vast – from adding a kick to meats and stews, to being used as a colorant for rice wine vinegar.
In its dried form, the fruit looks like the peppercorn we all know and love – but with a really big, prickly husk. The flavor is more subtle than its cousin, but it’s also more pungent – with a flavor profile that has notes of citrus and floral mixed in.
If you’ve enjoyed Sichuan cuisine, you’ve most likely eaten this unique spice.
5 Best Szechuan Peppercorn Substitutes
1. Tasmanian Pepper
Tasmanian pepper has a similar flavor profile to that of Szechuan peppercorn, making it perhaps the best substitute.
The Tasmanian pepper is sometimes called the Tasmanian Pepperberry. It is native to Australia, but it grows particularly well in Tasmania and the surrounding area.
It also has a very sharp taste, as well as being pungent. The flavor is peppery, woodsy, and floral, with some sweetness.
These berries are more expensive than peppercorns, but they’re also of higher quality.
They have a fruity taste that is earthy and bright, owing to their peppery aftertaste. It tastes great on its own, and you can also use it in place of peppercorns.
A lot of people like to use it with fish – but it is a great compliment to pork as well. Make sure to grind or crush this one thoroughly to get rid of that stinging sensation!
2. Grains of Paradise
Grains of paradise is the second-best Szechuan peppercorn substitute you can get your hands on – and it comes pretty closer to the real thing too! It’s also quite common as well, making it easy to find.
Grains of Paradise sometimes called Alligator pepper or African pepper is native to the Western Africa Coast.
It’s a large and thick seed that is covered in a hard shell, with a flavor resembling that of Szechuan peppercorns.
This spice is very hot, with a peppery texture and flavor. It’s also quite aromatic, owing to the citrusy notes you’ll get when you bite into it.
This one is good for flavoring meat and fish, as well as making your stews and soups more flavorful – but it’s not quite perfect though.
It does not have a citrusy taste like the real Szechuan peppercorn, which usually saves dishes that use this spice from being too salty or spicy.
It’s also a bit hotter than the real one and has a flavor that always lingers on your tongue.
3. Tellicherry Pepper
These peppers are grown in the jungles of South India, where they are sun-dried. They are picked at their optimum ripeness to prevent further drying out.
Tellicherry pepper is also a strong spice that works well as an alternative to Szechuan peppercorn. It’s slightly less spicy and pungent than the previous two, but it has its own distinguishing flavor that makes it more flavorful overall.
A small amount of this one goes a long way, which means you only need a small amount to spice up your dish.
Tellicherry Pepper is allowed to stay on the vine deepens its flavor so that they are more aromatic and flavorful.
4. Black Peppercorns With Coriander Seeds
Black peppercorns with coriander seeds is also a potent spice that’s great for flavoring beef and pork dishes, as well as white fishes like cod or halibut. It has really strong flavors that add flavor and aroma to your dishes.
It has a strong aroma and spiciness, as well as notes of citrus – some would say that it has an almost floral flavor to it.
These two ingredients do compliment each other really well, allowing you to create a dish that’s full-bodied and flavorful without the use of any oil or fat.
These two spices together may recreate some of the flavor and citrus notes of Szechuan peppercorns.
5. Black Pepper
Finally, black pepper is also a great alternative as it can spice up almost any dish. It’s really potent and can make even the blandest of dishes taste seasoned.
Black pepper comes in two forms – whole peppercorns or ground. Whole-peppercorns have a more delicate flavor than ground black peppercorns, but they are a lot harder to use.
Using ground black pepper is much easier – all you need to do is sprinkle it on your dish and give it a quick stir.
Ground black pepper may also be used together with Szechuan peppercorn. You can use half of one and the other half as ground black pepper – and it would still give you the same flavor!
You could also use both of these two spices together to get that extra kick.
What Does Szechuan Peppercorn Taste Like?
Szechuan peppercorns have a unique flavor – it is quite hard to describe.
The Chinese would call it “ma” or fragrance, which is most prevalent in the taste of this spice. It has a fragrant and citrusy aroma. The stronger notes in its flavor are nutmeg, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and tangerine.
This spice is popularly used all over Asia – China, India, and the Philippines to name a few.
This is because it may be used for almost any dish without altering its taste or smell too much. It’s also perfect for marinating meat as well as making simple dishes stand out with just a touch of flavor.
Where to Buy Szechuan Peppercorn?
If you’re planning on cooking Chinese food, it’s best to get Szechuan peppercorn from an Asian grocery store. Otherwise, you can try looking online for some stores that sell this spice – but they are not guaranteed to be fresh.
How To Store Szechuan Peppercorn?
This spice should be stored in a dry place to prevent it from getting moldy. You can store it in an airtight bottle or jar and add some whole peppercorns to release the flavor of Szechuan peppercorn more quickly.
You could also dry out Szechuan peppercorns by placing them in a 250-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 20 minutes. Let them cool and place them into an airtight jar or bottle. You can use this spice within one month.
Difference Between Szechuan Peppercorns and Black Peppercorns
Black peppercorns are commonly used all over the world, while Szechuan peppercorn is only used in China or in any restaurant that focuses on Chinese food.
Szechuan peppercorns have a distinct flavor and aroma than black peppercorns. The citrusy notes in its aroma are stronger and more vibrant, which is why this spice is used to season most Chinese dishes.
Black peppercorns on the other hand are used in the Mediterranean and Latin American cuisines to add a zest of flavor to dishes like steak. They also have more subtle flavors than black peppercorns.
How To Replace Szechuan Peppercorn?
Now, if you’ve run out of Szechuan peppercorn or you simply don’t have any, you can always use other substitutes to achieve the same effect.
You may try combining all of these spices together – as each has its own unique flavor, it may help recreate the flavor of Szechuan peppercorns without compromising your dish’s taste and smell too much.
How To Use Szechuan Peppercorn?
Szechuan peppercorns are eaten as a spice or cooked with meat dishes, poultry, and seafood. It’s best to cook this spice in oil first before adding it to the dish being cooked – this allows you to better control how much of the flavor goes into your food.
You may also sprinkle Szechuan peppercorns on top of your dish just before serving – this would be particularly great for a Baked Salmon with Black Pepper Sauce dish.
Szechuan peppercorns are a popular spice in China with citrusy notes and a fragrant aroma that sets them apart from other spices.
This unique flavor makes it perfect for seasoning almost any dish without altering the taste too much.
If you don’t have Szechuan peppercorns on hand or they are simply not available where you live or you wish to substitute them with something else, these 5 best Szechuan peppercorns substitutes are worth a try!