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13 Easy Ways to Substitute for White Pepper

Need a substitute for white pepper? Here are 13 easy stand-ins (with a few you’d probably never think of) plus recipe ideas!

White pepper is often used to add a little bit of spice and flavor to white sauces and light-colored dishes, where appearance is important. It is especially popular in French and Chinese cuisines and is typically used to marinate meats, and to add a mild spice to sauces and soups. You’ll also find white pepper in cheese fondue.

White pepper differs from black pepper in the intensity of flavor, spice level, and appearance and has a distinct taste due to its process of fermentation.

Most people don’t keep white pepper on hand, so if you find yourself needing it for a dish, there are several easy ways to substitute.

Common Ways to Substitute for White Pepper

1. White Peppercorns

Large pile of white peppercorns spills off of large wooden spoon onto cutting board.

If you can’t find white pepper, but you can get your hands on white peppercorns, these will work just as well. Use a mill to grind them as you would black peppercorns. 1 tsp peppercorns = 1 1/2 tsp ground white pepper.

2. Black Pepper/Black Peppercorns

Large mound of black peppercorns spills from small white kitchen prep bowl.

Black peppercorns come from the same plant as white peppercorns (and each of the other color variations). They are the same fruit at a different stage of ripeness and without fermentation. If you don’t mind black flakes in your dish and a much bigger kick of spice, you can substitute black pepper for white.

You’ll want to cut the amount by at least half to ensure you don’t overpower your dish. Don’t substitute for dishes that rely heavily on the flavor of white pepper, like fondue.

3. Pink Peppercorns

Lots of pink peppercorns in bright green kitchen prep bowl with handle.

You can treat pink peppercorns the same way you would white. They have a very similar flavor profile and spice level. Pink peppercorns are best suited for recipes for fish and recipes using vinegar or wine.

4. Green Peppercorns

Green peppercorns in wood bowl next to large wooden spilled filled with more peppercorns.

Green Peppercorns might be hard to come by, but if you happen to have some on hand, they can substitute for white in a pinch. They are milder in flavor so you’ll need more to compensate. Use green peppercorns if substituting with black would ruin the look of your dish.

Start out with about 1 1/2 times the amount and adjust to your taste.

5. Ground Ginger

Ground ginger in small clear glass jar in front of fresh knobs of ginger.

Ground ginger is often used in Thai cuisine and has a very similar look to white pepper. This ingredient blends well into creamy, light sauces and has a mild spice. A little bit of ground ginger goes a long ways, so start with a little and add more as needed.

Smell or taste the ginger before adding it to your dish to make sure it meshes well with the other ingredients.

6. Ground Mustard

Bright yellow ground mustard spills from wooden spoon onto wood table.

Ground mustard might seem like an unusual substitute for white pepper, but in powdered form, it has a very mild taste. The light color lends itself well to white sauces, but will turn your dish yellow. This ingredient has a mild spice level and works really well with beef, butter and cheese.

A pinch is likely all you’ll need and you can adjust according to your taste!

7. Green Peppers/Chiles

Close up of several bright green Anaheim peppers cooking on grill grate.

There are lots of fresh green pepper varieties out there, and each could make a suitable substitute, depending on the type of dish. If you don’t mind more texture and color, you could use green peppers for soups, dips, and stir fry’s.

If you can, find a dried version of the pepper and grind it into a powder.

8. Turmeric Powder

Bright orange ground turmeric in wooden bowl with large wooden spoon with green leaf.

Turmeric powder is a similar white pepper substitute to ground ginger. Like ginger, turmeric has a mild flavor and spice. It also has plenty of nutrient value and anti-inflammatory properties.

Turmeric has a more unique taste than white pepper, so make sure it works with the other ingredients with your dish. Start with a little and add more as needed.

9. Paprika

Large pile of paprika powder next to dark red chile pepper on wooden table.

Paprika is a popular spice that is made from red peppers. It is spicier than white pepper and will add a red hue to your dish. If you don’t mind some extra spice and color, paprika could make a good substitute in a pinch.

10. Cayenne Powder

Large mound of cayenne pepper in small brown bowl on wooden table.

Cayenne is another much more spicy white pepper substitute. It is also red in color and will change the look of your recipe.

Start with a 1/8 teaspoon and add more if your taste buds can handle it.

11. Ground Cumin

Ground cumin in large wooden spoon on top of large mound of cumin seeds.

Ground cumin isn’t the first thing you’d think of as a white pepper substitute, but depending on the dish, this mild, aromatic seasoning could be just what your recipe needs.

Start with ½ teaspoon of ground cumin for each teaspoon of white pepper and adjust as needed.

12. Flavored Pepper Mix

Course lemon pepper seasoning spills from white measuring spoon onto kitchen table.

If you want to be more adventurous in your seasoning, you can try pepper mixes from the grocery store. There are plenty of varieties to choose from like Cajun seasoning, Old Bay Seasoning, Lemon Pepper, etc.

These pepper mixes would work great as a substitute for soups, stir fry’s and sauces when color doesn’t matter.

13. Make Your Own Spice Blend

Several different spices in white spice tray with individual wells on wooden table.

Another more adventurous white pepper alternative, is a homemade spice blend. If you have some seasonings on hand, don’t be afraid to create your own mix, with or without salt.

Just be sure to taste your blend before adding it to your dish to make sure it works with the flavor profile.

Recipes with Pepper and Light Sauce

Here are some simple and delicious recipes that call for pepper and have a light colored sauce. Use these to try out your homemade blends, pepper mixes and any of the easy ways to substitute for white pepper, above!

Healthy Greek Yogurt Alfredo (Faux Fettuccine)

Large white platter with healthy fettuccine alfredo and pasta spoon and blue kitchen towel.

Simple Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

Ladle full of cheesy vegetable soup with carrots and broccoli lifting from pot.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Mayo

Chicken and broccoli casserole with mayo in large white casserole baking dish.

The Easiest Chicken Pillows Ever

Chicken pillows with gravy on a white plate next to side of mixed vegetables.