Difference Between White and Black Pepper

Pepper belongs to the family of Piperaceae, a flowering plant. The Pepper family is very large, consisting of 3600 species in 5 genera.

Best known Pepper is called Piper nigrum because it gives more seeds or peppercorns and is used for spices. Piper nigrum includes black pepper as well as other pepper and relatives of it.

Characteristics of pepper are that it has small trees or shrubs and are an annual herb. Black and white pepper are its two species.

White Pepper vs Black Pepper

The main difference between white pepper and black pepper is that white pepper is prepared from fully ripened berries. While black pepper is prepared from unripened berries and then is dried and cooked to make it skin dry and wrinkly. Black Pepper is very hot and pungent in flavour. Whereas white pepper is less pungent and has an earthly flavour.

White Pepper vs Black Pepper

White pepper is a spice that is prepared from the dried fruit of the Piperaceae family. White pepper has a light taste and is milder. It is available in both whole and ground.

It is used mostly in those dishes where black pepper cannot be used, like in white sauces and potato dishes. White pepper is picked from a full ripe tree and then fermented for about 10 days.

Then their skin is removed, which gives an aroma of black pepper.

Black Pepper is cultivated because of its fruit called peppercorn. Then it is dried, seasoned and used as a spice. Black pepper is mostly found in Kerala and cultivated in tropical regions.

It is available in dried, grounded and cooked peppercorns. It has been used since ancient times for both as traditional medicine and as adding flavour to the food.

It is the most traded spice in the world and is the very common spice to be added to various cuisines in the world.

Comparison Table Between White and Black Pepper

Parameters of ComparisonWhite PepperBlack Pepper 
FlavourLight, mild and earthly flavour.Hot, strong flavour and aroma.
PeriodIt can last only for few days.It can last up to 1 year.
AppearanceUsed in Chinese and white dishes.Used in colourful dishes.
BenefitsPromotes gut health and speed up digestion.Contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
HarvestedBefore it is ripe.On fully ripped or grown.

What is White Pepper?

White pepper comes from the same plant as black pepper. It is mostly used in dishes where black pepper cannot be used. Mostly it is used in Chinese dishes, in potato dishes and white sauce.

Both whole, as well as ground white pepper, is used. In Thai and Portuguese cuisine, ground white pepper is used to add flavour to meat, poultry, fries, soup etc. It has a very mild taste and flavour, which is less complex.

White pepper gets its heat from piperine extracted from the seed and the outer fruit. Due to evaporation, white pepper may lose its flavour and aroma.

So it needs to be stored in an airtight container to maintain its spiciness and unique earthly flavour. The pepper plant is a perennial plant consisting of a woody vine.

It can be grown in soil that is not too moist and not too dry. It should also be rich in organic matter. 

White pepper is the seed that consists of ripe fruit with a thin dark colour skin is removed. The process is called retting. Ripe red berries of white pepper are soaked in water until it decomposes.

Then it is rubbed, and the skin is removed and is dried. It is used in salads and light dishes. It acts as a substitute for black pepper.

White pepper is different from black pepper because it lacks certain compounds present in a drupe, and it results in overall flavour.

What is Black Pepper?

The term ‘pepper’ is derived from various languages like Sanskrit, Latin and Old Englishy word. In the 16th century, pepper became popular as a New World chilli pepper.

Black pepper has a lot of varieties that come in different colours, also called peppercorns. From these peppercorns, peppercorn sauce is made. Black pepper is taken from the plant that is still green, drupe and unripened.

After taking drupe, it is cooked in hot water for two purposes one is for drying, and the other is to clean them.

Once the heat goes inside the pepper, it ruptures the cell wall, which fastens the process of drying. Then drupes are put under the sun or machine for drying.

While drying, it shrinks into a thin, wrinkly black part. Then it is called black peppercorn. Once peppercorns are dried, oil and spirit can be extracted from pepper by crushing its berries.

Pepper oil is mainly used in Ayurveda as a massage oil and certain beauty products for treatment. Pepper spirit is also used for beauty products and in medicines.

According to production, Ethiopia emerged as one of the largest producers as well as exporters of black pepper producing the world’s 34%.

Other producers in the world include Brazil, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, China, and Malaysia.

But every year, the yield and the producer may vary due to various factors like climatic conditions, disease, crop management etc.

Black Pepper has been used since ancient times in Southeast Asia. Indian cuisine has been known to use black pepper since 2000 BCE.

Black Pepper was traded as a commodity, and a lot of money came in, as it was called black gold.

Main Differences Between White and Black Pepper

  1. White pepper has a light, mild and earthly flavour. Black pepper has a hot, strong flavour and aroma.
  2. White pepper can last only for few days. Black pepper can last up to 1 year.
  3. White pepper is used in Thai, Portuguese, Chinese and white dishes. Black pepper is used in colourful dishes.
  4. White Pepper promotes gut health and speeds up digestion. Black pepper contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  5. White pepper is harvested when it is fully grown. Black Pepper is harvested before it is ripened into a fruit.
Difference Between White and Black Pepper


Both white pepper and black pepper comes from the same plant, i.e. Piper nigrum. They both have the same source, and berries are also the same.

Both white pepper and black pepper can be substituted in place of one another.

Black Pepper can be used, and it will eventually come as black dots giving aroma and flavour to the food. Since white pepper has a milder taste, it gives a floral flavour with greater complexity.

White pepper needs to be used fresh because it becomes stale very early. Both have their health benefits. Black pepper helps in weight loss and boost metabolism. While white pepper helps in constipation problems and freshen the breath.


  1. https://europepmc.org/article/med/11229375
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s002170050450
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