Difference Between White Pepper and Black Pepper


History has it that pepper was the primary spice European explorers were desperately in search for when they stumbled on the New World while trying to find a quick access to Asia. This explains the significance of pepper which still accounts for one-quarter of the world’s spice commerce.

Black and white peppers are great spices used to cook different recipes. However, you may still find some cooks that employ both of these spices at the same time to cook some special recipes.

Are All Peppers Created Equal?

These peppers (black and white) are products of a single plant (piper nigrum). In fact they are just one product as is the case with red and green peppers. You may wonder if any difference exists between the two or if they are distinguishable beside their distinct color difference. Yes this can be determined from their color and taste. The obvious difference in color is determined by their level of ripeness.

Both the black and white pepper contains piperine which is responsible for causing nose irritation such as sneezing especially when it is inhaled. They play vital roles in increasing body metabolism and in promoting nutrient absorption from food. They cause stimulation in the taste buds and stomach alertness for food intake which aids digestion. Although these peppers play the same role in adding appealing spiciness to food, and are medicinally effective, they however function in different ways.

What Are the Differences?

There are different processes involved in producing these peppers. When a peppercorn is still green on the pepper plant, it is handpicked and later sundried till it becomes black. This technique is the major cause of blackness associated with black pepper as it is popularly known today.

Meanwhile, the white pepper is produced by letting the peppercorn remain on the vine till it is fully ripened before it is handpicked. When it comes to taste, the white pepper is not as hot as the black pepper (the black pepper is hotter with a nice and pleasant aroma).

As common with every spice, pepper tends to flavor well when they are dried and grinded. The amount to use when preparing recipes depends mostly on the cook and is not regulated by any rule. Some prefer recipes that are hot while others prefer recipes that are mild.

White pepper is mostly used for the preparation of a light colored food or a recipe that has an aesthetic quality. The act of using both white and black pepper to prepare one recipe is quiet unclear. White pepper is uncommonly found in Asia, and as such the spice is not very popular around the world.

However, the black pepper has gained more popularity and is widely known. Some time ago, it has often been referred to as “black gold”. According to research, it has proven to be one of the world’s most highly consumed spices. It is being used in many regions across the globe today, irrespective of culture, race or religious beliefs. Some of the most common black peppers are Malabar and Tellicherry. The Malabar pepper is the most popular while the Tellicherry is rated with the best quality.

The black pepper has a long historic background having existed for thousands of years. It is known to have a better spicy quality and a more citrusy, flavorful and earthy taste. While the white pepper which can mostly be found spicing up several Asian dishes, is more sharp or active when it comes to hotness and often spices up meals with a pungent aroma.


To produce any of these peppers technically involves a different process. The black pepper is often harvested when thee drupe is still unripe and then cooked and dried in the sun until it turns black. While the white pepper is obtained and gathered usually at a ripened stage after which, it is soaked in water for about 2 weeks to encourage fermentation and skin loss. Then the white seed is dried and processed afterwards. The processed form of both the black and white pepper is called peppercorn. This byproduct can be used to cook meals in a grinded, pieced or complete form.

Beside the fact that they (black and white pepper) are great food seasoning ingredients obtained from the same single vine or plant, they do not share the same nutritional quality.

The black pepper happens to be the most popular berry fruit available today of which people are most familiar with. As a typical pepper, it derives its name from the darkening of its outer shell which comes as a result of sun drying in an unripe state. Among all berries available today, the black pepper owns the strongest flavor. Its byproduct is often sold in food stores in a whole or ground form.

While the white peppercorn is not sold as a processed fruit but as a processed seed, because it is only its seeds that are collected for its preparation. When the white peppercorn is to be produced, the outer layer of the fruit is washed away after collection leaving only the seed. Then the seeds are dried in the sun, thus making them to turn white. These seeds can be sold in a powdered, cracked or whole form. Unlike the black pepper, the white pepper is associated with a mild pepper flavor which is often tasted at the background. In most cases, white peppers are only employed in meals (sauces and soups) by cooks only for aesthetic reasons.