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Szechuan Peppercorn Substitutes

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If you’re acquainted with Sichuan (or Szechuan) cuisine, you’ll know that Szechuan peppercorns play an important role in it. These peppercorns provide the ideal numbing effect in dishes, enhancing the spicy qualities of other ingredients. They also provide a tingling feeling on the tongue that tastes similar to citrus and menthol, making them popular in hot and spicy dishes.

Running out of Sichuan peppercorn in the midst of a recipe might be annoying, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your cooking. Our proposed alternatives have comparable properties, and some even have the same lemony flavor, making them suitable substitutes for Sichuan peppercorn. Some of them are even more well-known and hence more widely accessible.

Apart from determining what these alternatives are, it is also vital to correctly incorporate them into your recipes and the appropriate quantities to employ for desired effects. Becoming acquainted with these substitutions should also aid in developing confidence that nothing can prevent your dishes from getting the superb spicy flavor you want.

What is Szechuan Peppercorn?

Szechuan peppercorn is a common ingredient in Sichuan cuisine and may be found in China’s southern Sichuan Province. Szechuan pepper is not related to black pepper or chili pepper, despite its name. Rather, it is a part of the Rutaceae family, which includes citrus and rue. Numerous other Asian nations cook with closely comparable species.

Szechuan peppercorn is often used in Sichuan dishes such as mapodoufu and Chongqing hot pot. It is commonly used with chili peppers to produce a taste known as ml (Chinese word for numb-spiciness). When consumed, the presence of hydroxy-alpha sanshool in the peppercorn generates a tingling, numbing feeling. Additional tastes are ingested concurrently or quickly after the spice has been converted.

Unlike peppercorns and chilies, Sichuan peppercorns do not create heat. Instead, they provide a numbing, tingling feeling on the tongue with a menthol and citrus flavor. Since the numbing increases the spicy taste of chilies, they are commonly used in hot dishes using chilies.

Uses of Szechuan Peppercorn in Recipes

Because of the tastes it evokes, Sichuan peppercorn is used in a variety of cuisines. Peppercorns may be eaten whole or ground into a powder. It’s one of five components that go into five-spice powder (the others being star anise, fennel, clove, and cinnamon), and it’s used in a range of savory dishes.

Ground, roasted Sichuan peppercorn is used to make infused Szechuan peppercorn oil. Szechuan peppercorn is also commonly mixed with salt to make a tasty pepper salt for meat preparations.

Szechuan peppercorn may also be used in the following recipes:

  • Szechuan chicken with a spicy kick
  • Szechuan pepper sauce
  • Fried rice with spicy Sichuan pepper prawns
  • Filet mignon with Sichuan peppercorns
  • Szechuan noodles with mushrooms
  • Szechuan sticky pork
  • Dry-fried green beans from Szechuan
  • Soup with roasted red peppers from Szechuan
  • Soup with Szechuan tofu noodles
  • Szechuan-style cooked fish
  • Steak with Sichuan peppers
  • Fried rice from Szechuan
  • Stir-fry with Szechuan pepper beef
  • Tofu with vegetables from Szechuan
  • Dumplings with a spicy dipping sauce for vegans

Substitutes for Szechuan Peppercorn

Szechuan peppercorn is widely used in Sichuan and other cuisines for its numbing properties, which complement the fiery tastes of other ingredients in various dishes. Its menthol and citrus flavors are frequently desired in cuisines. As a result, they make a wonderful cooking staple.

Szechuan peppercorns, on the other hand, might be difficult to get in certain areas. It is also possible to run out of it when preparing your meals. If this occurs, consider using one or more of the following substitutes:

Black Pepper

The Piperaceae family includes the flowering vine black pepper (Piper nigrum). It is cultivated for its peppercorn-like fruit, which is dried and used as a spice and condiment. Black pepper is the most frequently sold spice on the globe, as well as one of the most significant spices used in cuisines worldwide. As a result, although it may not be the best-tasting alternative, it may be the most easily accessible replacement for Sichuan peppercorn.

If you’re in a hurry, plain black pepper will suffice. While it lacks taste depth, it can withstand the dish’s spicy heat. For example, one tablespoon of black pepper may be substituted for one entire Sichuan peppercorn. Use freshly ground black pepper if feasible. A squeeze of lemon juice might also assist.

Tellicherry Peppercorns

Only peppercorns cultivated in a certain region of India were once referred to as Tellicherry peppercorns. Tellicherry is now the term given to any large peppercorn that has been kept on the plant for a longer period of time than conventional black peppercorns, enabling it to grow and ripen more. The tastes evolve on the vine over time, giving them a woodsy, citrus flavor.

The predominant taste characteristics are often characterized as herbal and citrus, which may make it an acceptable alternative for Sichuan peppercorn. Szechuan peppercorns may be substituted in a 1:1 ratio with Tellicherry peppercorns.

Tellicherry peppercorn is said to be of the highest quality. When you want a stronger taste, Tellicherry peppercorn is the way to go. It complements soups, stews, and meat dishes. They’re also great on steaks and steak blends, where the heightened flavor really shines through.

Tasmanian Pepper

Tasmanian pepper berry, sometimes known as mountain pepper, is a plant native to south-eastern Australia’s cold temperate rainforests. The berries are sweet and tasty at first, with a spicy aftertaste. The leaves and berries are often dried and used as a spice, and Tasmanian pepperberry was used to substitute pepper in colonial times.

Tasmanian pepper’s black berries are not related to peppercorns, although they have a similar look. Tasmanian pepper has a juniper-like scent and a spicy, woodsy, floral, sweet taste. As a replacement for Sichuan peppercorn, it will be milder, and you may use a bit more of it in dishes that call for it, such as curries, cheeses, and so on.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are peppercorn and pepper the same?

The main difference between a peppercorn and a pepper is that peppercorns are the seeds of the Piper nigrum plant, which are often used as a spice and are typically pulverized or crushed, while pepper is a plant in the Piperaceae family.

Are Szechuan and Sichuan the same?

Both names are identical, and neither is inherently correct or incorrect; they are both the outcome of immigrant history. Szechuan is more usually used on the Chinese province’s east coast, whilst Sichuan is more commonly used on the west coast.

Why does Szechuan make your mouth numb?

Capsaicin produces a burning sensation by linking to the same receptors in our cells that are activated when we are burnt by too much heat. Yet, the active ingredient in Szechuan peppers seems to act on separate receptors, which may explain the unusual tingling sensation.


While looking for alternatives for Sichuan peppercorn, seek for solutions that have features that can accurately reproduce its effects in your recipes. Our proposed alternatives have comparable and related qualities to Sichuan peppercorn, and as such, they may effectively replace it in dishes.

It is vital to note, however, that these replacements must be utilized in the proper amounts and ways to get the intended outcomes. Therefore, now that you know about these alternatives, all you have to do is appreciate the distinct flavor and feel they provide to dishes.

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