How to cook with a red peppercorn spice?

Red peppercorn
Red peppercorn is a spice from the dried berries of the Brazilian pepper tree (Kampot pepper). It has a vibrant red color and a fruity, slightly sweet flavor with a hint of spice. The flavor is not as intense as black pepper, but it has a distinct taste, making it a unique addition to dishes.

What are red peppercorns?

Red peppercorns
Red peppercorns

Red peppercorns, also known as pink peppercorns, are a variety of black peppercorns left to ripen completely, causing them to get a reddish hue.

Typically, these peppercorns are picked and dried, subsequently resulting in the production of black peppercorns. After being harvested, red peppers are then washed and sun-dried to perfection.

AppearanceSmall, reddish-brown berry from the prickly ash tree
Flavor profileHas a numbing and tingling sensation on the tongue and a slightly lemony flavor


The origin of the peppercorn is Kampot, Kingdom of Cambodia. It is now cultivated in other parts of the world, including the United States, France, and Madagascar.


Red peppercorn is a small, reddish-brown berry from the prickly ash tree. It has a unique appearance with a bumpy texture and is often used whole or coarsely ground in cooking.

Flavor profile

Red peppercorn has a numbing and tingling sensation on the tongue and a slightly lemony flavor. It is not particularly spicy like black pepper but adds a unique and complex flavor to dishes.

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Nutritional Benefits of red peppercorn

Here are the essential health benefits of a red peppercorn:

  • Combining turmeric with peppercorn may help prevent cancer by inducing apoptosis and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
  • Peppercorn aids in digestion by signaling the stomach to release hydrochloric acid.
  • They may help stabilize blood sugar and regulate hyperglycemia, making them beneficial for people with diabetes.
  • Peppercorns contain piperine, which may help reduce body weight and fat mass, making it useful for weight loss.
  • Using pepper instead of salt may help reduce high blood pressure by reducing salt intake.
  • Piperine in black pepper has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects, which may help suppress the development of disease-causing bacteria.

What’s the difference between red and black peppercorns?

Black peppercorns
Black peppercorns

Red peppercorns are ripened versions of black peppercorns and have a slightly sweeter and fruitier flavor with a less intense taste than black peppercorns.

Black peppercorns are the unripe, dried fruit of the pepper plant and have a more intense and sharp taste.

In comparison, green peppercorns are underripe peppercorns, and white peppercorns are uncoated versions of black peppercorns.

What’s the difference between red and pink peppercorns?

They are the same. Red peppercorns, also called pink peppers or pink peppercorns, come from the Cambodian or Peruvian pepper tree (Schinus molle). They have a mild, sweet taste with a subtle spicy note and are in savory and sweet dishes.

What is the best way to cook with red peppercorns?

Red peppercorns can be used in various dishes, such as marinades, sauces, and rubs. To bring out their flavor, it is best to lightly crush or grind whole peppercorns just before use (use a grinder or pepper mill).

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To intensify their flavor, you can toast them in a dry pan for a few seconds. Additionally, pairing them with spices like cinnamoncloves, and star anise can enhance their taste.

Red peppercorns are often used in Sichuan cuisine and can add a bold, spicy flavor to many dishes.

Here’s a recipe with red peppercorn:

Salmon Papillotes with Red Peppercorns, Lime, and Fresh Ginger: salmon papillotes are an elegant way to prepare salmon, especially when entertaining guests. The red peppercorns add a delicious spicy bite, while the ginger and lime bring brightness that balances out the richness of the fish.

Red pepper as a substitute for black and Sichuan peppercorns

You can also use red pepper in recipes for black or Sichuan pepper.

Here are some examples:

  1. Mapo Tofu: a popular soft tofu dish cooked in a spicy sauce made with chili bean paste, ground pork, and peppercorns.
  2. Kung Pao Chicken: a spicy Sichuan-style stir-fry dish made with chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and peppercorns.
  3. Ma La Xiang Guo: a Sichuan street food consisting of stir-fried meats and vegetables with a spicy sauce made with peppercorns, chili oil, and other seasonings.

Can you grow a red peppercorn tree at home?

Yes, it is possible to grow a red peppercorn tree at home, but it may require specific growing conditions such as:

  • Warm temperatures
  • Well-draining soil
  • Plenty of sunlight

Additionally, the tree may take several years to produce peppercorns. It’s also important to note that the red peppercorn tree is considered invasive in some regions, so remember to check local regulations before planting.


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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