What Is a Pink Peppercorn and How Do I Cook With It?

It's actually not a peppercorn at all...

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Did you know that black pepper isn't the only pepper? Yup! There are also white, green, and pink peppercorns. Whether you're looking to switch up your go-to spices or you just want to add a pop of pink to your dishes, pink peppercorn is a great ingredient to start incorporating into your cooking. Between its bright pink hue and fruity, peppery flavor, it has so much to offer to your next homemade dish.

What Is Pink Peppercorn?

Contrary to what their name might tell you about them, pink peppercorns aren't *actually* a peppercorn. In reality, they are dried, berries from a tree. Brazilian pepper trees and Peruvian pepper trees (both of which produce these berries) are typically found in hotter climates, so areas within the U.S where you may find one of these trees are California, Arizona, Florida, and Texas. The only reason that they're named as a peppercorn is because they are similar to peppercorns in shape and flavor — at the end of the day, these bright, tiny balls are nothing more than a humble berry.

You often see pink peppercorns included in a mix with green, black and white peppercorns because they are far too soft to be ground by themselves in a pepper mill. Doing so could damage the blade. However, in the context of a peppercorn blend, they can be milled fine. If you're working exclusively with pink peppercorns, it's best to sprinkle them whole or lightly crush them before adding them to dishes. You can also lightly toast them first to bring out a deeper, nuttier flavor. Wherever you decide to sprinkle them, you just can't beat the bright pink hue when used as a garnish.

jar of pink peppercorns

What Does Pink Peppercorn Taste Like?

Their flavor is similar to that of a black peppercorn, but it's not as strong and the flavor is much brighter and fruitier. They are slightly sweet and mild in spiciness, making them a great addition to butter-based sauces, salads, seafoods, dressings, and poultry dishes. You can sprinkle pink peppercorn over a sweet, festive bark or incorporate it into your next chicken dinner.

Where to Buy Pink Peppercorn

If you're ready to try out this hot pink berry, you can find pink peppercorns in the spice aisles of a specialty grocery store (such as Fairway or Whole Foods) or online. Check your backyard, too. You might have a Peruvian pepper tree out there without even realizing it.

Pink Peppercorn Substitute

If you're making a recipe that calls for pink peppercorns and you can't seem to find any, don't stress. While the flavor of pink peppercorn is certainly unique, you can substitute it with green peppercorns, a mix of peppercorns, or if you've got nothing else, then your freshly ground black peppercorns will do.

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