14 Best White Pepper Substitutes

White pepper is a common ingredient in many dishes, but if you don’t have any on hand, don’t worry because there are plenty of white pepper substitutes.

There are some substitutes that taste very similar and others that provide an entirely different flavor profile to your dish.

Some of the most common white pepper substitutes are black pepper, green pepper, cassia, and pink pepper. They all have different flavors, but they are pretty similar to white pepper.

In this blog post, I will go over the 14 best white pepper substitutes and their flavors so you can make the right decision when cooking.

What is White Pepper?

White pepper is a spice that comes from the unripe fruit of a tropical vine named Piper nigrum. This is native to Southern India.

The fruit of the vine is harvested before it ripens, and they are sun-dried until shriveled. Next, the “peppercorns” are ground up and separated from the fruit.

Best White Pepper Substitutes

1. Black Pepper

Black Pepper

Black pepper is a great white pepper substitute due to its similarities in flavor. The biggest difference between the two peppers is the texture, as black pepper will add a lot of crunches and bite in food where white pepper would add smoothness to your dish.

They are both also known for different types of cooking because black pepper will bring out the flavor in meat and white pepper will enhance the taste of seafood.

2. Cassia (Cinnamon)


Cassia is the dried bark of a tree and is closely related to cinnamon. It has similar flavor characteristics to white pepper, but with a subtle sweetness that brings out other flavors in food.

This makes it an excellent choice for Asian dishes that have savory and sweet elements. The cassia flavor will also bring out the earthy tones in your dish but will be milder than white pepper.

3. Ground Nutmeg

Ground Nutmeg

Nutmeg is another spice with a similar flavor to white pepper. It is also a great substitute when you don’t want to use cinnamon or cayenne in your food because of its spicy nature.

It can be used in dishes like chicken soup or curry to enhance the flavor and spice up your dish a little bit more than just using white pepper.

4. Green Peppercorns

Green Peppercorns

Green pepper, or green peppercorns, are actually the unripened, green berries of a plant. They have a fresh and fruity flavor that goes great with beef as well as fish like tuna and salmon.

Tip: The flavor will be stronger than white pepper so you’ll only need to use a little bit in your dish because it can overpower.

5. Pink Pepper

Pink Pepper

Pink peppercorns are actually the same type of pepper as black and white peppers. They have a unique and delicious flavor that is good in almost anything!

It’s hard to find pink pepper, so it’s not the best choice if you need a white pepper substitute fast.

6. Vanilla Bean

Vanilla Bean

Vanilla beans can be used as an excellent white pepper substitute and have a special flavor profile all their own.

The vanilla flavor is well-known for its sweetness, but it also has an earthy undertone that makes it the perfect complimentary flavor to many different dishes.

It can be used in almost any savory dish but works best with chicken or seafood. 

7. Bay Leaf

Bay Leaf

Bay leaf is a common ingredient in many Italian dishes, and it can be used as a white pepper substitute. The flavor of bay leaf is similar to white pepper but has more depth.

It will add a slight spice to your dish without overpowering the primary flavors. You can use bay leaves in meatloaf or tomato sauces for an extra kick.

8. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a very spicy substitute for white pepper, and one of the spicier options on this list.

It will add both sweetness and spice to your dish with an extra kick of heat that can enhance meat dishes or bring out other flavors in seafood.

The flavor profile is similar to white pepper, but with extra spice.

9. Cinnamon


If you have cayenne pepper on hand and need a white pepper substitute fast, cinnamon can help as well.

It has a nice spicy flavor that intensifies the other flavors in your dish so it’s best used sparingly to ensure it doesn’t overpower your recipe.

You can use cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon in any savory dish, but it works best with poultry or fish dishes.

10. Dry Mustard

Dry Mustard

Dry mustard does an excellent job as a white pepper substitute, and it’s something you have in your spice cabinet already! It has a nice bite without being spicy.

You can use dry mustard with meatloaf or sausages to enhance the flavor of the dish.

11. Ground Ginger

Ground Ginger

Ground ginger is another spice that can be used as a white pepper substitute. Ginger comes from the root of a tropical plant, and it has a spicy flavor with an earthy undertone.

You can use ground ginger with poultry or pork dishes as an alternative for white pepper because it will bring out the rich flavors in your meat but not overpower them.

12. Turmeric Powder

Turmeric Powder

Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory spice that has many medicinal properties.

It also does a great job as a white pepper substitute and can be used in vegetable dishes to bring out the earthy flavors of your veggies or make sweet potato fries flavorful enough for adults.

Turmeric tastes slightly different than white pepper, but it’s still one of the best white pepper substitutes for home cooking.

13. Ground Cinnamon Powder

Ground Cinnamon Powder

Ground cinnamon is one of the most popular spices in the world, and it can be used as a substitute for white pepper if you’re in a pinch.

It will add heat to your dish with an undercurrent of sweetness that compliments the other flavors. You’ll need about twice as much ground cinnamon as white pepper to get a similar flavor.

14. Fennel Seeds

Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds can be used as an alternative to white pepper and have a similar taste, but they also have an earthy flavor that makes them suitable for vegetable dishes as well.

Fennel seeds have a fishy undertone that can add depth to your dishes, and they will work well with almost any savory dish of yours.

White Pepper Uses

One of the most common uses for white pepper is in Western cuisine to enhance the flavor of savory dishes such as meats and cheeses.

White pepper is also commonly used in Indian cuisine to add a unique spice that compliments a variety of different dishes, including curries and saucy foods.

Moreover, white pepper is often used in combination with black pepper to create the perfect flavor profile.

Here are some of the most common uses for white pepper:

1. To add spice and heat to savory dishes: White pepper is used in many meat dishes such as barbecue or chicken, but it can also be added to vegetables like carrots and root vegetables.

It won’t overpower the other flavors in your dish, and it works well with rich foods because it adds a unique spiciness that compliments the other flavors.

2. To add spice to cheese or sweet dishes: You can use white pepper in sweet dishes like cinnamon rolls or fruit cobblers for an extra kick of spicy flavor.

It’s recommended to use sparingly, however, because the spiciness of white pepper can overwhelm the sweetness in your dish.

3. As a fresh alternative to black pepper – Black pepper has a very strong and distinct flavor that’s not always suitable for recipes, but white pepper provides a similar spicy kick to meat dishes without being too overpowering.

It also works well with cooked vegetables because it won’t overpower their natural flavors.

White Pepper Benefits

White pepper has many health benefits, but the main benefit is that it’s rich in antioxidants.

It can be used to improve digestion as well and it has been shown to help with certain gastric issues like heartburn and acid reflux.

There are also certain health benefits associated with using white pepper as a nutritional supplement.

It contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound known as piperine that can reduce joint pain and stiffness while it helps your body absorb nutrients more easily.

White pepper is also rich in capsaicin, an alkaloid that works to reduce heartburn and indigestion.

White Pepper Side Effects

There are no serious side effects associated with white pepper, but the main side effect of white pepper is that it can irritate the throat and lead to coughing fits if you ingest too much of it.

It also has a mild numbing effect if it’s used in large quantities.

Difference Between White and Black Pepper

Both white and black pepper come from the same plant, but the berries are harvested at different ages.

White pepper is harvested when it’s still in its green stage while black pepper comes from fully ripened berries.

White pepper is milder than black pepper, and with a slightly different taste too. It’s also more expensive because it takes longer to harvest.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does white pepper taste like?

White pepper is made from the unripened berries of the pepper plant, but it still has a spicy kick. The flavor is similar to black pepper, only milder and with more sweetness.

You can use white pepper as you would any spice in your recipes because it enhances the other flavors in your dish without overpowering them as black pepper does.

Where does white pepper come from?

Surprisingly, white pepper is made from the same plant as black pepper, only the berries are harvested at a younger age before they ripen.

The plants are grown in tropical climates where the climate is hot and humid.

Why is white pepper so expensive?

White pepper is more expensive than black or green because the plants are harvested at a younger age.

Green pepper is less expensive because they come from peppers that are harvested at the same time as black pepper.

Also, white pepper is a rarer product because it takes longer to grow and prepare which adds up to the cost.

How to make white pepper gravy?

To make white pepper gravy, you just need to add a small amount of ground white pepper to milk or cream. Then whisk the mixture until it’s smooth before pouring it over your food.

How much white pepper for savory dishes?

You can use about 2 tsp of ground white pepper for every 2 cups of savory dishes. White pepper is less strong than black pepper, so you don’t need to add as much.

How much white pepper for sweet dishes?

Sweet dishes should be spiced with white pepper sparingly because it can overpower the other flavors and make your dish too sweet. You can use about 1 tsp of white pepper per 2 cups of sauce or soup.

Is eating too much white pepper bad?

If you eat too much white pepper, it can be unhealthy because the spice contains alkaloids. Alkaloids can cause gastric discomfort and other bodily reactions when ingested in excess.


To sum up, these were my picks for the 14 best white pepper substitutes for home cooking.

Each of these spices can stand in when you don’t have any white pepper on hand or you forgot to buy it at the store.

And remember, the best white pepper substitute is one that adds flavor without overpowering your other ingredients.

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

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