Here's What You Can Substitute For Black Pepper

Black pepper is a ubiquitous spice that can be found at any grocery store and on practically every dinner table in the United States. But what can you use as a substitute for black pepper if you find you've depleted the reserve in your spice cabinet?

Black pepper is known for its sharp and warm flavor and its aromatic properties. The spice originated in the mountains of the Western Ghats of Kerala State in India where the piper nigrum, or peppercorn plant grows (via Plants of the World Online).

According to Spiceography, "At one point in history, black pepper was held in such high esteem that it was more expensive than gold." Luckily for culinary and novice chefs alike, this is no longer the case. While it is often thought of as salt's companion, black pepper is not a seasoning, but rather a spice. And like most spices, there are generally substitutes readily available in your kitchen. 

Papaya seeds can be used as a black pepper substitute

Papaya is a sweet tasting fruit that grows in tropical weather. The next time you're cutting up one of these babies, don't throw away the seeds. According to Spiceography, papaya seeds are a great alternative to black pepper. Like a spicy caper when fresh, the seeds of that sweet fruit mimics black pepper once dried and ground. Additionally, papaya seeds contain antioxidants and are highly nutritional (via Healthline).

No papaya seeds? Try white or pink peppercorns. White pepper is ground from white peppercorns which are essentially black peppercorns that have had their skins removed (via Styles At Life). White pepper is a milder spice substitute for black pepper, which offers a lighter taste but can still bring a bit of heat along with it. Pink peppercorns can also be ground up and used as a substitute for black pepper. Pink pepper has a sweeter taste and brings a rosy tone to the meal. Because of its mild nature, you may have to compensate by adding a little more (via Organic Facts). 

Green peppercorn soaked in a salty brine are more commonly known as capers. Capers are salty and should not be used to replace black pepper, however, dried green peppercorns may be ground and used as a 1:1 substitute for black pepper.

Grains of Paradise are an alternative to black pepper

Grains of Paradise are part of the ginger and cardamom family. The seeds can add a sweet, buttery, and almost fruit-like flavor to a dish, according to The Spice House. Grains of Paradise has a taste that is very similar to black pepper and can be an obvious substitute.

While coriander seeds cannot claim the peppercorn family as their own, they offer a great alternative to black pepper. The Kitchen Thesaurus notes that if you use ground coriander seeds as a substitute for black pepper, the dish will be slightly sweeter and spicier. Organic Facts suggests grinding the seeds and shaking the white powder on pizzas, pasta, or vegetables.

Not all spice cabinets are created equal. If you don't have Grains of Paradise or coriander seeds in your cupboard, Better Homes & Gardens recommends that for every 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. White pepper will produce a milder taster while cayenne pepper will pack a bit more heat to the dish.