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What is Pink Peppercorn Spice?

Pink Peppercorn Spice


Pink peppercorns are a spice, a lightly sweet and spicy dried berry prized for their rich pink/red color as much as its delicate peppery flavor.

What do pink peppercorns taste like?

The flavor is of mild spice, fragrant, sweet, and fruity while the aroma is of sweet pine citrus. Pink peppercorns are primarily used for their vibrant bright coloring, the pine and spice properties make the spice unique in its use for desserts. 

Pink Peppercorn Uses

The delicate spice and rose vibrancy pairs well with desserts, vinaigrettes, cheese, cocktails, and light sauces. Pink peppercorns are too soft to grind in a traditional pepper grinder instead use a pestle and mortar to achieve a ground pink dust which can be used as a natural food coloring.

Pink Peppercorn Substitutes

  • Green Peppercorns/Capers: for their mild and delicate spice, similarly used in sauces and meat pairings. 
  • Papaya Seeds: a peppery flavor and crunchy texture replicate many of the classic characteristics of pink peppercorns. Papaya seeds would be best suited to dishes that require a fruity element such as salad dressings and dessert garnishings.
  • White/Black Pepper: peppercorns will provide a more intense heat so it should be used sparingly as a substitute.

Compliments and Pairings

Sweet pairings for pink peppercorns include juniper, rose, white chocolate, red berries, raspberries, strawberries, lime, cinnamon, ginger, and mint. Most commonly paired with sweet dishes, the peppercorn is versatile in also complementing savory dishes including delicate shellfish, poultry, and game, commonly a replacement for the classic peppercorn sauce.

Expiration and Storage 

Fresh: much stronger in flavor than the preserving methods, fresh berries are more delicate so they can be stored in the refrigerator and used within four weeks. 

Dry: harvested as ripe pink berries the pink peppercorns are most commonly air-dried in then packaged for sale. Dried pink peppercorns can be stored in an air-tight container for 3-4 years, as they age the spice and aroma will dampen.

Pickled: packaged in brine pink peppercorns take on a green hue whilst forming a delicate soft texture. 

Freeze-Dried: retains the most vibrant color and flavor for long-lasting usage. Follow labeled instructions but would recommend 3-4 years.

Ground: ideally ground fresh as the flavor profiles are lost quickly, use within one week.

Where does pink peppercorn come from?

The dried pink berries of two South American trees are classified as pink peppercorns. The first being the Peruvian pepper (Schinus molle) and the second the Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia). Also referred to as red peppercorns, they are in fact a member of the cashew family rather than related to green, white, and black peppercorns. The peppercorns are named because of their similar appearance to black peppercorns, the green, white, and black are different stages of seed from the same plant.  These peppercorns have been propagated worldwide and can, therefore, be found fresh and dried year-round. You can also visit wikipedia for a more detailed history and scientific classifications.

Fun Facts

  • These peppercorns are not in fact related to black peppercorns but named for their similar appearance and peppery flavor although much lighter than other ‘peppercorns’. 
  • The fruit tree is regarded as an invasive species in select areas of the world.
  • The berries are potentially dangerous for tree nut allergy sufferers as derived from the cashew family. 

Popular Recipes

  • White chocolate and peppercorn cookies
  • Peppercorn cream sauce – steak au poivre/salmon with citrus peppercorn sauce
  • Duck with peppercorn and pomegranate 
  • Strawberry and peppercorn cheesecake
  • White sangria
  • Pink pepper gin
  • Raspberry and peppercorn meringue
  • Peppercorn and horseradish butter
  • Salmon with peppercorn yogurt
  • Peppercorn and lime butter
  • Rose and peppercorn scallops
  • Peppercorn bacon

Chef Max

Michelin trained professional chef with a passion for recipe writing and all things food. I have worked for over five years at top restaurants across the UK and have gained an ability to create any recipe you desire, from comfort food recipes to fine dining recipes. My experience in food writing includes a placement at Delicious Magazine which involved feature writing, recipe testing, article research, and content creation.

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