9 Easy Ways To Substitute For Black Pepper

Last Updated on November 21, 2022 by Toya

Here are 9 of the best ways to substitute for black pepper whether you need a substitute for ground black pepper or a substitute for whole black peppercorns.

Black pepper is a type of spice that is native to India, which is made from the unripe, dried berries from the flowering vine of the Piper nigrum or black pepper plant.

substitutes for black pepper

Black pepper is spicy, complex, and pungent with slight hints of pine and citrus.

While the best option is always to use black pepper in recipes that call for black pepper, you may not always have it available. 

Therefore if you’re in a pinch or cannot find any black pepper in your grocery store, here are some easy ways to substitute for black pepper in a pinch.

The best part is some of these items are likely in your kitchen right now!

What can you substitute for black pepper?

The best black pepper substitutes are:

  • White pepper
  • Rainbow peppercorns
  • Green peppercorns
  • Pink peppercorns
  • Papaya seeds
  • Black mustard seeds
  • Ginger
  • Cayenne pepper

Common Ways to Substitute for Black pepper

White pepper

White pepper is a great substitute for black pepper. White pepper is made from white peppercorns, which are berries from the Piper Nigrum or black pepper plant that is soaked in water to ferment. After soaking, the black outer layer is peeled off to reveal the white inner seed.

It can be purchased as whole white peppercorns which can be ground just like black pepper. But, you can also find it in powder form.

While white pepper does work well as a black pepper substitute, it should be noted that white pepper is milder than black pepper due to its outer skin being stripped off. 

White pepper is great as a sub for black pepper in light-colored recipes like sauces, soups, chowders, etc at a 1:1 ratio.

Rainbow peppercorns or peppercorn medley

Have rainbow peppercorns? These are great black pepper substitutes! 

Since rainbow peppercorns are a mix of black peppercorns, green peppercorns, pink peppercorns, and white peppercorns, they’ll add quite a nice complex flavor to your dish which will include heat, a wonderful aroma, and flavor. I’ve often found that black pepper usually goes out of stock before rainbow peppercorns do. Therefore, if you can’t find any black pepper in your grocery store, you’re likely to find some rainbow peppercorns in the spice aisle. 

If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of ground black peppers, replace it with 1 teaspoon of ground rainbow peppers. 

Green peppercorns

Green peppercorns are another spice that can be used as a black pepper alternative. Green peppercorns are picked when the peppercorns are still unripe and are typically preserved in vinegar or brine. As such green peppercorns have an additional slight tart, mildly spicy, slightly grassy flavor.

Use green peppercorns can be ground and used in dishes with poultry, vegetables, fish, and even in salads and sauces. 

Pink peppercorns

If you happen to have some pink peppercorns on hand, these can be used in place of black pepper too. 

Unlike black peppercorns, green peppercorns, and white peppercorns, pink peppercorns are not from the pepper family. However, pink peppercorns have an amazingly sweet and peppery flavor that can substitute for black pepper in meats, soups, seafood, salads, veggies, and more. 

Papaya seeds

dried papaya seeds

Have papaya in your kitchen? The seeds can be used as an amazing black pepper substitute. Papaya seeds are small black seeds from the core of the papaya fruit that have a similar peppery, pungent flavor to black pepper.

Simply remove the seeds from the center of the papaya fruit, give them a nice wash, dry them with a towel and place them in the oven to dry out for about 2 hours. Remove them from the oven and grind them up like you would black peppercorns in any dish!

Black mustard seeds

Black mustard seeds are pungent and spicy which makes them a great sub for black pepper. They’re mostly used in Indian cuisine, but if you have some, they will work in a recipe that calls for black pepper as an alternative.

Cayenne pepper

cayenne pepper

Most people have cayenne pepper in their spice cabinet. If you do, then you can use a bit of cayenne as a good black pepper sub. Cayenne is much hotter than black pepper, so start with a 4:1 conversion ratio then adjust to your taste. 

This means, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of black pepper, use ¼ of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to replace it. 

Cayenne pepper is also orange-red compared to black pepper, which is black, but this won’t matter in most recipes. Also, read more about cayenne pepper alternatives here,


ground ginger

Ginger is another spice with a peppery and sweet flavor and hints of citrus that can make a decent alternative to black pepper.

Ginger is a last resort kind of substitute that you can use if you have none of the other substitutes mentioned in this list as it will only add a very mild spicy flavor to any dish.

Start by using a 1:1 substitute ratio, then adjust the quantity of ginger to your taste. 

Recipes that use black pepper

Check out these delicious recipes that use black pepper as an ingredient. If you make them, feel free to use black pepper or one of the substitutes listed above!

Crab boil seasoning

crab boil seasoning


Southwest spice blend

homemade southwest seasoning


Buffalo chicken dip

buffalo chicken dip


Cajun sauce

 Cajun sauce


Chicken stuffed peppers

chicken stuffed peppers


FAQs about substituting black peppers

Does allspice taste like black pepper?

No, allspice does not taste like black pepper. Allspice has a complex flavor that reminds you of a combination of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, while black pepper is spicy, bitter, complex, and pungent with hints of citrus. Allspice and black pepper look very similar though, so they’re often mistaken for one another visually. You can read more about the allspice spice and its substitutes here. 

What is a good substitute for black pepper in chai?

The best black pepper substitute for chai is white peppercorns.


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