How to use white pepper?

In this brief guide, we will answer ‘how to use white pepper?’ Also, we will see the spice pairings that go well with white pepper and the difference between white and black pepper.

How to use white pepper?

White pepper is used where you want the peppery flavor but one doesn’t want to deal with the black flecks of black pepper. It is widely used to flavor and spice in light color dishes like cream sauce, soups, potatoes, pasta or seafood.

What is white pepper?

White pepper is a spice produced from the dried fruits of pepper plant or black pepper. White pepper is milder than black pepper with a less complex flavor. The flavor profile of white pepper is often described as musty, grassy or slightly fermented.

Like black pepper, white pepper is also available in whole or ground pepper forms.

What is the difference between white pepper and black pepper?

Essentially there’s no difference in white pepper or black pepper as both forms of pepper are made from the same fruit or berries of the same plant named Piper nigrum. The only difference is the time of harvesting and different processing.

To make black pepper, the berries are picked when they are not fully ripe (unripe or immature). These berries are allowed to dry which intensifies and concentrates the flavor. Because of the drying process, the skin of peppercorns turns black and wrinkly.

While white pepper is made from fully ripe or mature pepper berries. The ripe berries are soaked in water for 10 days, leading to fermentation. The pepper is then washed and dried. Skins are also removed during the processing which takes some of the hot piperine (the compound responsible for black pepper flavor) and some volatile oils and other compounds.

Because of different processing, black pepper is often hot, floral and has pungent flavor notes while white pepper has more earthy, musty and less heat.

Whole vs ground white pepper

Whole pepper retains the flavor for much longer. Therefore, it is advised to always use whole pepper and grind them fresh to get the most flavor according to need.

Ground pepper is also readily available but they tend to lose their flavor much faster.

Both whole or ground pepper do lose their flavor and go stale much faster than black pepper therefore, it is advised to refresh your stock regularly.

Can you substitute white pepper with any other ingredient?

For smaller quantities, you may swap white pepper with black pepper but if the recipe calls for larger quantities it’s best to stick to white pepper, as the two peppers have their own unique distinct flavor profile.

How to store white pepper?

White pepper should be stored in an airtight container in a dark shady pantry away from light. Whole peppercorns can be stored for longer periods compared to ground pepper, as they will lose their flavor and potency within three months.

After 3 months the pepper will still be safe to use but you need to add more to get the flavor in your dishes. Therefore, it is wise to purchase small quantities of whole peppercorns.

What goes well with white pepper?

Following spices and herbs go well with white pepper;


Paprika has a milder, sweeter and fruity flavor profile but a brilliant red color. Paprika pairs well with white pepper. You may use this combination in soups, rubs, marinades, sauces or any other way you want.


Parsley adds fresh green flavor to lighter dishes like salads, seafood or vegetables. Parsley along with white pepper elevates the flavor profile of white pepper.


Thyme has a piney aroma and earthy flavor which compliments the musty, earthy flavor profile of white pepper well. The only thing is that thyme needs to be carefully harvested, cleaned, dried and milled so that the quality is not compromised.


Garlic is known for its pungent smell which some people despise while others love it. Garlic has a more mellow flavor that works well with white pepper to elevate the flavor profile of any savory dish.


Cumin adds a deep earthy citrus flavor when added to any dish. This type of flavor profile pairs well with white pepper. This combination can provide a warm earthy flavor to any dish it’s added in.

If you want to learn about the functional profile of white pepper, please refer here.

Other FAQs about Pepper that you may be interested in.

Can you freeze ghost peppers?

How To Preserve Hot Peppers

Can you eat whole black peppercorns?


In this brief guide, we answered ‘how to use white pepper?’ Also, we have seen the spice pairings that go well with white pepper and the difference between white and black pepper.

Hopefully, you found this guide helpful. In case of any questions or comments please do let us know.


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