11 Green Peppercorn Substitutes [Dried & Fresh]

All peppercorns are black, right? This is definitely something I used to believe as true. However, there are actually lots of different colors of peppercorns and each one has its own unique flavor.  

One type of peppercorns that I see often in recipes is green peppercorns. They are a very common ingredient in Thai cuisine and also in classic French cooking. 

Yes, there are many kinds of peppercorns but I have yet to stock my pantry with the full rainbow of peppercorn colors.

This means I am often in need of a green peppercorn substitute. Luckily, there are quite a few!

The best substitute for green peppercorn is white peppercorn. They actually come from the same plant and have a similar level of heat as well as nutritional content. Papaya seeds are a fantastic green peppercorn substitute for anyone with a pepper allergy. Use capers in place of green peppercorns in brine. 

Green Peppercorn Substitutes

1. Capers

Are capers peppercorns? They sure do look a lot alike! But capers grow on a completely different plant. 

Capers are a small, unopened flower bud. They are served pickled and come in a salty brine very similar to green peppercorn in brine.

Both ingredients have a similar texture and look which means you can use capers as a green peppercorn substitute. 

Capers do have a more lemony flavor than a green peppercorns. They have no spice so you may want to replace green peppercorn with the same quantity of capers but then add a pinch of ground black pepper. 

One tablespoon of capers has only two calories and about the same sodium content as green peppercorns. While capers and green peppercorns are not the same, they are a good jarred green peppercorn substitute. 

2. Green Olives

Chopped green olives can easily replace green peppercorns in brine. You can use the same quantity of chopped green olives to replace capers in any savory baked recipe. 

Green olives will give you the salty, briny taste of green peppercorn in brine. They are not at all spicy so you may want to add some ground pepper to your dish to increase the heat. Olives are not a spice, like peppercorns, so your dish may need a boost of spice!

A tablespoon of chopped olives has about 22 calories and 2 grams of fat. It will alter the nutritional value of your food a little bit but it is not a major shift, making them a good bottled green peppercorn substitute. 

3. Black Peppercorns

Black peppercorns and green peppercorns come from the exact same plant. So what is the difference between green peppercorns and black peppercorns? The main difference is how they are dried. 

Black peppercorns are air dried in the sun over several days while green peppercorns are quickly freeze dried. This gives the black peppercorns a lot more spice and also that dark, black color. 

Both peppercorns have the same nutritional content so you don’t have to worry about adding calories or fats when using this green peppercorn substitute! 

Since they come from the same plant, both color peppercorns can be used interchangeably. Black peppercorns will give your foods much more spice. 

You may want to use half the quantity of black peppercorns to replace green peppercorns in your recipes. This will reduce the heat of the pepper and give you a more mild flavor, similar to that of the green peppercorns. 

4. Papaya Seeds

Papaya seeds are a very interesting substitute for green peppercorns. They are a perfect substitute for anyone who has a pepper allergy since papaya seeds come from completely different fruit.

Papaya seeds have a strong peppery flavor. They can be toasted and ground then used in place of green peppercorns.

Use the same quantity of ground papaya seeds to replace peppercorns in your favorite sauce recipe. It is also a perfect seasoning for salads or dressings. 

Papaya seeds are much higher in calories than peppercorns. A tablespoon of papaya seeds has 156 calories and lots of protein, fat, and fiber. Keep this in mind when using this substitute. 

5. Green Bell Peppers

Fresh green peppercorns have a tart taste with just a little bit of spice. When fresh, they have a soft crunch and are pretty juicy. Green bell peppers have a similar texture and taste.

Replace fresh green peppercorns with the same quantity of minced green bell peppers.

Green bell peppers are very low in calories and have no fat. They are a simple, easy to find substitute that will work well. 

Green Bell Peppers
Chopped Green Bell Peppers

6. White Peppercorns

White peppercorns come from the same plant as both green and black peppercorns. They have an identical nutritional value so they are an easy switch. White peppercorns are a good green peppercorn alternative. 

White peppercorns are made from the ripe berries of the peppercorn plant. The berries are allowed to ripen on the vine, giving them a very complex flavor.

Once harvested, the peppercorns are soaked to remove impurities which makes them a white color. 

Replace green peppercorns with the same quantity of white peppercorns. You can keep the white peppercorns whole or grind them. Simply use them as directed in your sauce recipe! 

7. Pink Peppercorns

Pink peppercorns actually come from a completely different type of pepper plant. While they aren’t actually related to green peppercorns, they can be a great substitution. 

Pink peppercorns have a mild flavor with just a touch of peppery heat. The mild taste makes them a great green peppercorn substitute for sauce, salad, and even in curries. 

Replace green peppercorns in your recipes with pink peppercorns using a 1:1 ratio.

The nutritional content is quite similar. Pink peppercorns will even make your sauces a light shade of pink. How pretty! 

8. Coriander

Coriander seeds have a subtle peppery taste. They don’t have a ton of spice but that is okay because neither do green peppercorns! You will get a nice sweet and spicy taste that will be delicious in your sauce recipes. 

Coriander is very easy to find in any grocery store. Use it whole or grind the seeds right before using. This green peppercorn substitute is great for sauces and baked dishes. 

Coriander seeds have about 21 calories per tablespoon and trace amounts of protein. 

9. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is going to add a lot of heat to your curry. It is much more potent than green peppercorn but will give you the spice you may like.

Replace ground green peppercorns with ¼ the amount of ground cayenne pepper. 

A tablespoon of cayenne pepper has about 17 calories and one gram of fat. Cayenne pepper is a very popular spice so you should be able to easily find it in any grocery store. Keep in mind that a little bit goes a long way! 

10. Sichuan Peppercorns

Sichuan peppercorns come from a different shrub than green peppercorns. However, the two spices are used in similar ways.

You can use Sichuan peppercorns in place of green peppercorns to make a fantastic curry or stir fry. 

Sichuan peppercorns are very hot and spicy. Replace green peppercorn with ¼ the amount of Sichuan peppercorn. Too much will overpower your meal!

Sichuan peppercorns have many health benefits, just like green peppercorns. They have vitamins A and K and are also calorie and fat-free.

Sichuan peppercorns have been shown to fight inflammation and even prevent cancer. 

11. Green Curry Powder

Replace ground green peppercorn with ground green curry powder to get the same, delicious sweet heat.

Thai green curry powder is made with a blend of spices that will flavor your curry without adding too much spice. It is a nice mild substitute for green peppercorn. 

Most green curry powders contain salt. You may want to reduce the amount of salt in your recipe and use curry powder to replace ground green peppercorns with a 1:1 ratio. 

Green curry powder is anti-inflammatory and has many antioxidants, just like green peppercorn. It is calorie free and fat free. 

What Are Green Peppercorns?

Green peppercorns actually come from the same plant as black peppercorns. They are just the young berries of the peppercorn plant that are harvested very early and dehydrated quickly. They keep their green color and tart taste. 

While green peppercorns are most often sold dried, you may also find fresh green peppercorns in brine.

They are the same ingredient but used in different ways. We will talk all about how to use each version of green peppercorns here! 

What Do Green Peppercorns Taste Like?

Green peppercorns are not as hot or spicy as other color peppercorns. They have a very mild spice and are a little bit tart.

Green Peppercorn Recipes

Green peppercorns are often used to make a creamy, slightly spicy sauce. This green peppercorn sauce from the Tasting Table is a classic example of a green peppercorn recipe.

It is the perfect sauce to spoon over fish or even on steak. Green peppercorns are often found in curry recipes or stir fries.

You may see green peppercorns added to soups, salads, or even mixed into eggs. They are perfect for adding a subtle pepper taste that isn’t overpowering or harsh. 

Are Green Peppercorns Healthy?

Green peppercorns actually have a wide array of health benefits. They are high in vitamin C and vitamin A which are both potent antioxidants.

Peppercorns also have a compound called piperine which has been shown to speed up digestion. 

Green peppercorns also have lots of fiber. A diet high in fiber is great for managing weight and keeping your gut healthy.

Here is a quick look at the nutritional information for one tablespoon of green peppercorns. 

Calories0 grams
Fats0 grams
Sodium700 mg
Protein0 grams

Creamy Peppercorn Sauce

Green peppercorn sauce is arguably the most popular dish made with green peppercorns. I wanted to make my own green peppercorn sauce recipe and share it with all of you!

If you don’t have green peppercorns on hand, black peppercorns, white peppercorns or even papaya seeds will work well in this recipe. 

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Yield: About 1 cup of sauce


⅓ cup cognac

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup cream

1 ½ Tbsp dried green peppercorns, crushed slightly

¼ tsp salt


1.Add the cognac and chicken broth to a small pot and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes to reduce the liquid a little bit. 

2.Add the cream and peppercorns and simmer over low heat for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. 

3.Stir in the salt.

4.Enjoy over fish, chicken or even steak!

Final Considerations

Green peppercorns are a great ingredient to add a subtle heat to any recipe. The tart, mildly spicy taste is great in so many foods.

All of our substitutes will also work well, adding just the right amount of flavor to your favorite foods. Enjoy!

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