White Pepper vs Black Pepper vs Red Pepper

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

There are some differences between white pepper vs black pepper that you should understand before you start seasoning your food!

White Pepper vs Black Pepper vs Red Pepper

Despite all of them being classified as pepper, white, black, and red pepper are not the same thing.

White Pepper

  • This form of pepper is made when the sun-dried outer shell of black peppercorns is removed, leaving only the interior seed. [1]
  • The flavor complexity is lost, and the pepper also goes stale more rapidly.
  • This type of pepper is preferred in certain recipes, such as white sauces and mashed potatoes, due to its color.
Wooden spoons of green, white, and red peppercorns on a wooden table

In Chinese cuisine, white pepper is used to add flavour to soups and marinades. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Black Pepper

  • The most commonly found form of pepper, black pepper is relatively unprocessed and includes the outer shell, which is dried in the sun and blackened.
  • This pepper has far more flavor notes than white pepper, as well as more active ingredients that can benefit health. Black pepper can also stay fresh for longer. [2]
  • It is easier to substitute white pepper for black pepper than vice-versa, due to the more intense flavor of black pepper.

Red Pepper

  • Red pepper is not related to the former two and is actually made from the Capsicum family of chili peppers. [3]
  • The active ingredient in black and white pepper is piperine, whereas red pepper benefits from capsaicin.
  • They are all used for medicinal and culinary purposes, but red pepper is more powerful in terms of antioxidants and measurable health effects.
  • Red pepper also tends to have more heat.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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