How to use cracked pepper in recipes

Cracked pepper
Cracked pepper is a black peppercorn that has been coarsely ground or broken into small pieces rather than finely ground into powder. It is typically darker than powdered black pepper and has a more noticeable texture.

What is cracked pepper?

Cracked pepper on cheese
Cracked pepper on cheese

Cracked pepper refers to black peppercorns that have been crushed or broken into small pieces. It is a common seasoning used in cooking and can be found in most kitchens.

AppearanceSmall, irregularly shaped pieces
Flavor profileA strong, pungent taste and spicy and slightly bitter aroma


Cracked pepper is small, irregularly shaped pieces that vary in size and can range in color from light to dark brown.

Flavor profile

Cracked pepper has a strong, pungent taste and spicy and slightly bitter aroma. The flavor comes from the essential oils contained within the peppercorns, particularly a compound called piperine. 

Along with piperine, cracked pepper contains other compounds that contribute to its flavors, such as terpenes and flavonoids. 

What are the different types of cracked pepper?

There are several types of cracked pepper, each with its distinct appearance and flavor profile. Let’s compare some of the most popular types:

Type of Cracked PepperAppearanceFlavor
TellicherryLarge, round, dark brown to black colorBold, fruity, and slightly spicy
MalabarSmall, irregularly shaped, light brown colorMild, warm, and fragrant
LampongMedium-sized, irregularly shaped, light brown colorEarthy, intense, and slightly smoky
SarawakSmall to medium-sized, irregularly shaped, light brown colorCitrusy, floral, and slightly sweet
VietnameseSmall to medium-sized, irregularly shaped, dark brown to black colorIntense heat, pungent, and slightly woody

You can also find cracked red pepper, white pepper, and black pepper, regardless of origin.

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How to cook with cracked pepper?

Cooking with cracked pepper is simple and adds a delicious flavor to your dishes. Here are some tips on how to use cracked pepper in your cooking:

  • Use a pepper mill or mortar and pestle to crack your peppercorns before using them. This will ensure maximum freshness and flavor.
  • Season your meats, fish, and vegetables with cracked pepper before cooking. Sprinkle it generously over the surface and gently press it in with your hands.
  • Add cracked pepper to sauces, marinades, and dressings. This will give your dishes an added depth of flavor.
  • Use cracked pepper in your soups and stews. This will add a warming and spicy note to your dishes.
  • Finish your dishes with a sprinkle of cracked pepper just before serving. This will give your plate a final burst of flavor and aroma.

Cracked pepper: most common uses

Pepper seasoning is common in various dishes, including meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, soups, and salads. It adds a sharp, spicy flavor to foods and enhances the taste of savory and sweet dishes.

Cracked pepper combines well with other spices and condiments. For example, you can combine coarse ground cracked pepper with sea salt to get an even more crunch in your grilled meats.

Some people also use cracked pepper as a garnish, sprinkling it over the top of a dish just before serving to add a bit of visual appeal and an extra burst of flavor. It can also be used as a rub or marinade ingredient for meats, giving them a tasty and slightly crunchy crust when grilled or roasted.

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Top cracked pepper recipe ideas

Recipes that feature cracked black pepper as the main include, but are not limited to:

Black Pepper Jerky: This recipe is for meat lovers who want to add extra oomph to their jerky game.

Cracked Pepper Biscuits: Move over plain, bland biscuits – cracked pepper biscuits are here to steal the show. These little crispy bites pack a flavorful punch from all that peppery aroma.

Cracked Pepper Sauce: With cracked black pepper as the star ingredient, this sauce packs a fiery kick that will elevate any dish. Use it as a dipping sauce or drizzle it over your favorite protein.

Cracked Pepper and Figgy Bread: The pepper flavor contrasts the figs’ sweetness, making it a unique and delicious bread option.

Which cracked pepper to buy?

When buying cracked peppers, some recommendations are McCormick Culinary Cracked Black Pepper or McCormick Gourmet Organic Cracked Black Pepper (for an organic black pepper option). These are some best sellers; you should always check the product information and customer ratings to get the finest product.

Can you make cracked black pepper at home?

You can make cracked black pepper at home by crushing whole black peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, pepper mill, or with a rolling pin.

Here’s a closer look at each method:

Mortar and pestle: This traditional method uses mortar and pestle to crush the whole peppercorns. Place the peppercorns in the mortar and use the pestle to break them until they’re the desired size. This method requires some physical effort but can be a great way to get a coarse, rustic texture.

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Pepper mill: A pepper mill, also known as a pepper grinder, is a kitchen tool designed explicitly for grinding whole peppercorns. Fill the mill with peppercorns, twist the top, or turn a handle to grind the peppercorns to the desired size. This method is quick and easy, allowing you to adjust the coarseness of the pepper.

Rolling pin: Another option is to use a rolling pin to crush the peppercorns. Place the peppercorns in a plastic bag, seal them, and then use a rolling pin to crush them. This method can be messy, but it’s a good option if you don’t have a mortar & pestle or pepper mill.

Is Cracked pepper better than ground pepper?

Cracked and ground pepper
Cracked and ground pepper

Cracked pepper and ground pepper come from the same peppercorn, but cracked pepper is coarser and larger, while ground pepper is finer and smaller. Whether cracked pepper is better than ground pepper depends on personal preference and the intended use. 

Cracked pepper may provide a more intense flavor and texture to dishes, while ground pepper may be more suitable for recipes requiring fine consistency.

Coarse pepper vs. cracked pepper: comparison

Coarse and cracked pepper are used in cooking but differ in flavor, appearance, and usage.

Coarse PepperCracked Pepper
FlavorStrong, boldStrong, pungent
AppearanceLarger grains, less powderySmaller grains, more powdery
DishesGrilled meats, marinades, rubsSalads, pasta dishes, soups, stews

Coarse pepper typically has larger grains and a more robust flavor than cracked pepper. It goes in dishes where the pepper should bring a prominent flavor, such as grilled meats, marinades, and rubs. The larger grains can also provide a nice textural element to the dish.

On the other hand, cracked pepper has smaller grains and a more pungent flavor. You can use it in dishes where the pepper should be evenly distributed, such as in salads, pasta dishes, soups, and stews. The smaller grains make it easier to sprinkle over a dish evenly.


Alexandra is a passionate writer with a deep appreciation for food - not just as nourishment but as an expression of culture, a reflection of history, and a celebration of life. She knows that everything in life requires a little spice - and gets a kick (get it?) every time she achieves the perfect combination of heat and depth.

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