White Pepper

See also ground pepper.

White pepper is a slightly milder version of the common black pod or grind. They both originate from the same berries, which are called peppercorns.

The plant, pepper nigrum, is propagated in Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. To reach the white pepper stage, berries are allowed to ripen and then soaked in water to remove the hulls. Black pepper, on the other hand, is harvested before the berries are ripe.

European cooks particularly favor white pepper for soups and sauces and prefer it as a table condiment.


White pepper can be purchased whole, cracked, or ground. Gourmet shops may carry the Indonesian variety called muntok. 

Buying Tips

Whole peppercorns are always preferred over ground or cracked.

Storage Tips

  • Fresh peppercorns can be kept for 1-2 years in a cool, dark spot. Grind as needed.
  • Cracked and ground white pepper will retain top quality for about 4-6 months.

Usage Tips

  • The main reason most cooks use white pepper is to maintain consistent color in light foods. Black specks in a perfectly prepared creamy white sauce are considered distracting.
  • Add to other “white” foods such as mashed potatoes or gravies.
  • White pepper can also be used in marinades or added to pickling spice.

Substitution Tips

  • Black pepper is the best substitute, but the differences between the two in both smell and taste are quite distinctive.


Try one of our favorite white pepper recipes: