If you’re making a recipe that needs a tinge of pepper-like flavor but did not want the black specks of black pepper altering the look of your dish, you may have opted to use white pepper instead.
White pepper has a peppery taste similar to black pepper but is often used in dishes such as soups, white sauce, and potato-based ones in which the black specks would ruin their final look.
Here’s what you need to know about this spice and what you can use instead of white pepper when making your next dish.
Here’s a summary table for these substitutions:
|1.5 tsp for every 1 tsp white pepper
|Lighter color, mild flavor
|¼ tsp for every 1 tsp white pepper, adjust to taste
|Thai dishes, mild spicy flavor
|Same amount as white pepper
|Sharp, slightly spicy flavor
|Half the amount of white pepper, adjust to taste
|Suitable for darker dishes
|More pungent, stronger flavor
|Same amount as white pepper
|Lighter dishes, mild taste
|Different plant, lighter color
What is white pepper?
White pepper is derived from the same plant as black pepper, known as piper nigrum. It doesn’t have the same intensity of flavor, so it’s typically used in dishes in which you want a milder pepper taste. While most people use ground white pepper, it’s also sold in the whole form.
When white pepper is processed, it goes through a series of steps that lead to a milder, slightly different taste than black pepper. It also has a distinct aroma and heat intensity, which means they aren’t always necessarily used interchangeably.
Here’s what you can use as a replacement for white pepper if you’re running low.
1. Green pepper
This is commonly used as a white pepper replacement because of its lighter color, similar to white pepper. Because green pepper isn’t as potent as white pepper, you’ll need to add one and a half teaspoons of it for every one teaspoon of white pepper that your recipe calls for.
- Ratio: Use 1.5 teaspoons of green pepper for every 1 teaspoon of white pepper.
- Application: A good replacement due to its lighter color and mild flavor.
2. Ground ginger
Ground ginger is often used as a white pepper substitute because of its light color and unique flavor that adds a tinge of spice and aroma to any recipe. It is mild, like white pepper, so you can start by adding a quarter of a teaspoon of ground ginger for every one teaspoon of white pepper and work your way up if you want to adjust the taste.
Ground ginger works best when you’re using it to make Thai dishes.
- Ratio: Start with ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger for every 1 teaspoon of white pepper, and adjust to taste.
- Application: Best for Thai dishes and recipes where a mild, spicy flavor is desired.
3. Ground mustard
Ground mustard is used as a replacement for white pepper because of its sharp taste and the slightly spicy flavor it brings to a dish. Even though it has a complex flavor, it’s still mild, making it an acceptable substitute for white pepper’s mild yet spicy taste.Because of their similar flavors, you can start with the same ground mustard as the white pepper called for in your recipe. You can add a pinch more if you feel that you need more
- Ratio: Use the same amount of ground mustard as white pepper.
- Application: Adds a sharp, slightly spicy flavor to dishes.
4. Black peppercorns
Because black peppercorns are derived from the same piper nigrum plant as black and white pepper, they’re closely related in taste. Because of some differences in their processing, black peppercorns are more pungent and have a stronger flavor. Their aroma and the heat they bring are also more intense.The drawback of black peppercorns is that they won’t blend in with your lighter colored dishes the way white pepper does, but the complex flavors they bring work great for darker colored dishes.Use half the amount of black peppercorns as the white pepper called for in your recipe, and then adjust the taste according to your preferences.
- Ratio: Use half the amount of black peppercorns compared to white pepper, then adjust to taste.
- Application: Suitable for darker colored dishes where the appearance of black specks is not a concern.
5. Pink peppercorns
These peppercorns come from a different plant than other peppercorns but can work as a decent substitute if you don’t have any other ingredients available.
Pink peppercorns are also lighter colored than other peppercorns and have a milder taste as well. They can fit well in lighter colored dishes without affecting the overall look. Their gentle flavor also resembles that of white pepper, so they can be used in the same quantity as white pepper that is called for in your recipe.
- Ratio: Use pink peppercorns in the same quantity as white pepper.
- Application: Fits well in lighter colored dishes due to their mild taste and appearance.
The bottom line
The substitutes above are the most commonly used alternatives to white pepper, largely because of their similar taste, aroma, and color.
We’ve also mentioned subs with a different, darker color in case you aren’t concerned with how they change the look of your dish.
Ultimately, the best way to substitute ingredients is to start with a small quantity and add more if you want to adjust the taste.
- Green pepper
- Add one and a half teaspoons of it for every one teaspoon of white pepper that your recipe calls for.