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12 Best Sichuan Peppercorns Substitutes To Spice Up Any Dish

Anyone who frequently makes Chinese cuisine is likely no stranger to Sichuan peppercorns. This aromatic pepper spice is a staple ingredient you’ll often find listed in many recipes.

However, it may not always be readily available, so having a substitute to use in its place is essential. In this post, we’ve put together some of the best Sichuan peppercorn substitutes you can add to any dish.

What Are Sichuan Peppercorns?

Sichuan peppercorns, also known as Szechuan pepper, are a spice commonly used in Chinese cooking.

Though they are known for their peppery flavor, these peppercorns are not actually true peppers but are seeds obtained from the prickly ash shrub plant, which is in the citrus plant family. 

When it comes to taste, Sichuan peppercorns have a complex flavor profile with a slightly bitter and numbing heat that brings a tingling sensation to the mouth.

However, that heat is also followed by a citrusy taste to balance out everything. 

Sichuan peppercorns form the base of many Chinese recipes and are a key element of Chinese five-spice powder. They are used in a wide range of savory dishes ranging from stir-fries to chicken and noodles and many more.

However, you may not always have them when you need them. So, let’s find you some great substitutes.

Nutritional Value Table

SubstituteCalories (Per 100 gm)
Sichuan Pepper Powder258
Black Pepper255
Coriander268.88
Shichimi Togarashi0
Grains Of Paradise5
Tellicherry Pepper538.5
Tasmanian Pepper375
Sansho Pepper571.4
Lemon Pepper Seasoning16
Sumac And Red Pepper Flakes321.5
Sichuan Peppercorn Oil1000
Ground Black Pepper And Ground Coriander Seeds275

1. Sichuan Pepper Powder 

If you can’t get your hands on Sichuan peppercorns, then the next best thing is Sichuan pepper powder. As the name implies, it is made from Sichuan peppercorns. So, it will give you the same exact flavor and taste.

Unlike Sichuan peppercorns which are hard to find, you can easily get Sichuan paper powder in the spice section of most grocery stores. 

How To Substitute

Use ¼ of a teaspoon of Sichuan pepper powder for each teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns.

Here is a video to show you how to cook with Sichuan pepper powder.

2. Black Peppercorns

Black peppercorns are a great substitute for Sichuan peppercorns. Not only do the two look similar, but black peppercorns also impart a similar touch of heat you would expect from Sichuan peppercorns.

Black peppercorns also bring a rich aroma that enhances the flavor of any dish. They are very versatile and can be added to a wide range of dishes. 

Although they have a similar level of heat, black peppercorns don’t exactly fully replicate the complex flavor of Sichuan peppercorns.

So, if you want to get the same exact flavor, you can combine them with coriander. The coriander will bring a citrusy, floral aroma to complement the spicy taste of the black pepper.

How To Substitute

When substituting Sichuan peppercorns with black peppercorns, use a 1:1 ratio. If you use the combination of black peppercorns and coriander, you’ll need to lightly toast both spices and grind them into a powder to get an even spread of flavor.

3. Chinese Five Spice

Chinese five spice is a spice blend made of cloves, fennel, cinnamon, anise, and Sichuan peppercorns. It is a great substitute to use in place of Sichuan peppercorns if you are making it a meat dish.

It will impart the unique flavor of Sichuan while also delivering a sweet and warm taste. 

Five spice is mostly used as a dry rub for meats and seafood recipes, so you can’t really use it for much else besides that.

It also has a fairly intense aroma, so you’ll need to reduce the quantity of any other you add to your dish to avoid overpowering it with too many flavors.

How To Substitute

Use one teaspoon of five spices for each tablespoon of Sichuan peppercorns required.

If you’re not sure how to cook with Chinese five spices, here is a video to give you some inspiration.

4. Shichimi Togarashi

If you want an option that isn’t just limited to meat dishes, then shichimi togarashi AKA seven spice, is another great substitute for Sichuan peppercorns. 

Like five Spices, shichimi togarashi is a spice blend. It is made from a mix of chili peppers, ginger, dried orange peels, sansho peppers, sesame seeds, and Sichuan peppercorns.  

It originates from Japan and is a common staple ingredient in many Japanese cuisines.

However, shichimi togarashi has fast gained popularity in the west and is added to a wide variety of dishes ranging from meats and seafood to noodles and sauces.

The unique spicy and citrusy taste of shichimi togarashi is very similar to that of Sichuan peppercorns, so you can use it for any recipe that calls for Sichuan peppercorns. 

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Sichuan peppercorns with shichimi togarashi.

5. Grains Of Paradise

Grains of paradise is another lovely substitute for Sichuan peppercorns. 

Fancy name aside, this spice are seeds gotten from a plant closely related to ginger.

They originated from West Africa, where they are known as alligator pepper and are commonly used in many North African and West African dishes. 

They are very aromatic and have a peppery flavor with floral and citrus undertones, making them a great option to mimic the complex flavor of Sichuan peppercorns. 

Grains of paradise are also very versatile. You add them to soups, spice rubs, or even desserts like gingerbread.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Sichuan peppercorns with grains of paradise.

6. Tellicherry Peppercorns

Teliherry peppercorns are a type of black pepper native to India. They are in the same plant family as black pepper, but they have a more intense peppery flavor with mild citrus notes. 

Telicherry peppercorns are a great substitute to use in place of Sichuan peppercorns as they impart a similar taste and can be added to a wide variety of dishes.

They are great for meat dishes but can also be added to soups, sauces, and curries.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Sichuan peppercorns with tellicherry peppers.

Here is a video to give you some inspiration on how to whip up a tasty meal with tellicherry peppercorns.

7. Tasmanian Pepper

Tasmanian pepper is another great replacement you can use when you don’t have Sichuan peppercorns. 

Much like Sichuan peppercorns, this spice isn’t really a pepper but is actually a dried berry obtained from a shrub plant native to Australia.

It has a pungent fruity flavor reminiscent of juniper berries but with a nice heat that works well in any dish that calls for Sichuan peppercorns.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Sichuan peppercorns with Tasmanian pepper. They are best added toward the end of your cooking as then tend to lose the intensity of their flavor when cooked for too long.

8. Sansho Pepper

Sansho pepper is a fantastic substitute for Sichuan peppercorns. It is a Japanese spice gotten from the peppercorns of the Japanese pepper plant and is a popular component of shichimi togarashi. 

In terms of flavor, sansho peppers have a strong citrus flavor with a mild heat that produces a similar tingling sensation you’ll get from Sichuan peppercorns.

They often come in green or grayish color, so they don’t exactly look similar to Sichuan peppercorns, but they’ll definitely give you the same flavor.

You can add sansho peppers to anything from stir fries to soups and fried chicken.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Sichuan peppercorns with sansho pepper.

9. Lemon Pepper Seasoning

Lemon pepper seasoning is a seasoning blend made of dried lemon peels, salt, and black pepper. It has a straightforward citrusy, and peppery taste that mimics the flavor of Sichuan peppercorns really well.

It is usually paired with poultry, meat, and seafood dishes, but it can be added to sauces and soups as well.  

Lemon pepper seasoning is likely one of the easiest options to get your hands on, as it is readily available at most grocery stores.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Sichuan peppercorns with lemon pepper seasoning.

You can also make your own lemon pepper seasoning if you’d like to save yourself the trip and cost of going to buy it. Here is a video to show you how it’s done.

10. Sumac And Red Pepper Flakes

Sumac is a lovely citrusy spice used in middle eastern cooking.

It doesn’t have a spicy taste, but when combined with red pepper flakes, the two create a seamless flavor profile that mimics the taste of Sichuan peppercorns really well. 

The sumac will bring a fruity citrus taste, while the red pepper flakes will deliver just the right amount of heat. You can add this combination to marinades, dressings, and sauces or use it as a dry rub. 

Sumac is also commonly used as a garnish or condiment for many dishes, so if you’re a fan of spicy food, you can sprinkle the mixture on your favorite dish before serving.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Sichuan peppercorns with the sumac and red pepper flakes mixture.

11. Ground Black Pepper And Ground Coriander Seeds

A combination of ground black pepper and ground coriander seeds is another substitute you can use in place of Sichuan peppercorns.

The black pepper will deliver a subtle touch of heat to your dish, while the ground coriander will impart the citrus flavor commonly associated with Sichuan peppercorns.

How To Substitute

Combine equal parts ground black pepper and ground coriander seeds. Then use the mixture at a 1:1 ratio when substituting.

12. Sichuan Peppercorn Oil

If you can’t get your hands on any of the other options listed above, then another great alternative is Sichuan peppercorn oil

This oil is made from a neutral oil infused with Sichuan peppercorns. It imparts the same flavor of Sichuan peppercorns into a dish.

It is also a very convenient option as you won’t need to grind the whole peppercorns.

Since it is an oil, it is also very versatile and can be added to dressings, sauces, soups, or even rice.

It is a great option for those who don’t want to have whole peppercorns in their dish but still want the taste and flavor.

How To Substitute

The quantity required will vary depending on the dish you are making. However, you can start with 2-3 tablespoons of Sichuan peppercorn oil and then add more as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Substitute Black Peppercorns For Sichuan Peppercorns? 

You can substitute black peppercorns for Sichuan peppercorns. They will bring a similar touch of heat, although you won’t get the same complex flavor profile of Sichuan peppercorns.

What Do Sichuan Peppercorns Taste Like? 

Sichuan peppercorns have a warm numbing taste of heat, but they also have a citrusy and piney aroma.

What Is The Difference Between Black Pepper And Szechuan Peppercorns? 

One of the most obvious differences between black pepper and Sichuan peppercorns is the fact that Sichuan peppercorns originate from the Sichuan province of China.

However, beyond that, the two also have very different tastes. Black pepper has a direct mild spicy taste; meanwhile, Sichuan peppercorns have a complex flavor with a tingling sensation of heat and a citrusy aroma.

Are Sichuan Peppercorns Spicy?

Sichuan peppercorns are not really peppers, so they aren’t exactly spicy. However, they do bring a tingling sensation of heat to the palate, but it isn’t as overwhelming as what you might expect from spicy chili peppers.

Are Sichuan Peppercorns Healthy?

Sichuan peppercorns are quite healthy and contain different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for the overall health and function of the body.

Do Sichuan Peppercorns Make Your Mouth Numb?

Sichuan peppercorns contain a unique chemical that produces a tingling sensation on the palette. For many people, that can result in a vague numbness on the lips and around the mouth.

However, this sensation does not last for long as your mouth returns to normal after a few minutes once your senses adjust to the taste.

What Can I Use Instead Of Sichuan Peppercorns?

You can use black pepper and coriander in place of Sichuan peppercorns.  However, if you don’t have that, then other great alternatives include tellicherry pepper, sansho pepper, and grains of paradise.

12 Best Sichuan Peppercorns Substitutes To Spice Up Any Dish

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time

15

minutes
Cooking Time

25

minutes
Total Time

40

minutes

If you’re looking for a Sichuan peppercorn substitute, there are a few options available. Here are some of the best substitutes for Sichuan peppercorns that you can use in your cooking.

Ingredients

  • Sichuan Pepper Powder

  • Black Pepper

  • Coriander

  • Shichimi Togarashi

  • Grains Of Paradise

  • Tellicherry Pepper

  • Tasmanian Pepper

  • Sansho Pepper

  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning

  • Sumac And Red Pepper Flakes

  • Sichuan Peppercorn Oil

  • Ground Black Pepper And Ground Coriander Seeds

Directions

  • Pick any substitute you prefer from the lists above.
  • Follow the recipe instructions for your preferred substitute and use the proper ratio required while cooking.

Recipe Video

Jess Smith