Long pepper powder is an aromatic and flavorful spice that adds a unique sweet heat and complexity to dishes. Native to India and Indonesia, it adds warm notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger along with a lingering spicy kick. While long pepper may not be as common as black pepper in many Western pantries, it's an integral ingredient in various cuisines around the world.
If you don't have long pepper powder on hand, don't fret. You can reach for several handy substitutes to replicate its flavor profile and heat level. Whether you want an equal replacement or an alternative with a different intensity, there are plenty of options to give your food that warming spice.
Ground Cayenne Pepper
Ground cayenne pepper makes an excellent substitute for long pepper powder. It offers a similar spicy bite along with fruity, smoky notes. Cayenne rates around 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), while long pepper measures 1,000 to 1,500 SHU. So cayenne will be significantly spicier.
To substitute, use 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne for every 1 teaspoon of long pepper powder. This reduces the cayenne pepper's intensity to better match long pepper powder's milder heat. Still, add it slowly and taste, adjusting amounts to your spice preferences.
The fine texture of ground cayenne pepper also resembles powdered long pepper, making it an ideal replacement in sauces, marinades, and dry rubs. Both powders share a bright reddish-orange hue, so cayenne won't alter the color of your dish.
Red Chili Powder
Red chili powder combines ground chilies and spices like garlic powder, cumin, and oregano. It offers a flavor profile similar to long pepper with well-balanced heat. Since red chili powder tends to be milder than long pepper powder, use a 1:1 ratio for an equal amount of spiciness.
Red chili powder works well in curries, soups, chilies, and meat rubs in place of long pepper powder. Its fine texture incorporates smoothly into liquids. You can also sprinkle it on finished dishes to add a pop of flavor and color.
Also known as Korean red chili flakes, gochugaru makes a handy long pepper powder substitute. It comes in mild to spicy varieties, rated between 1,000 to 10,000 SHU. For a close match, use gochugaru with a similar heat level to long pepper powder or tone down the amount.
Gochugaru's slight sweetness and smokiness mirror notes found in long pepper powder. Use it in stir-fries, broths, marinades, and meat dishes. Grind gochugaru into a powder to better match long pepper's fine texture before adding it to dressings or sauces.
Homemade Chili Powder
You can easily make your own chili powder using dried peppers. Cayenne, Thai, and arbol chilies all make good options for matching long pepper powder's intensity. Remove stems and seeds which contain most of the heat then grind into a powder.
Start with a small amount like 1 teaspoon per 1 tablespoon of long pepper powder in a recipe. Then adjust to reach your desired spiciness. With homemade chili powder, you can control the heat level and tweak it to your tastes.
White pepper comes from the same plant as black peppercorns but has a sharper, more pungent flavor. To substitute, use a 3:4 ratio of white pepper to long pepper powder. So for 1 teaspoon long pepper powder, use 3/4 teaspoon white pepper.
The heat of white pepper ranks around 5,000 to 10,000 SHU, making it a milder replacement for long pepper powder. But it shares long pepper's warm, earthy tones. White pepper works well in light-colored dishes since it lacks black pepper's darker flecks.
Pretty pink peppercorns offer mild heat combined with bright, fruity notes. Their SHU of 60 makes them significantly less spicy than long pepper powder.
To substitute, use double the amount of pink peppercorns. For example, replace 1 teaspoon long pepper powder with 2 teaspoons freshly ground pink pepper. Tweak the ratio to suit your tastes. Thanks to its mellow flavor, pink pepper goes well with eggs, chicken, fish, and vegetables.
For more peppery complexity similar to long pepper powder, use a blend of peppercorns like black, green, white, and pink. Grind them together into a powder spice mix. Vary the ratios of each color to achieve your desired flavor and degree of heat.
Peppercorn blends allow you to add multidimensional flavor to any dish. Feel free to incorporate other warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger to try to mimic long pepper's signature aroma.
Warm curry powders make an easy substitution for long pepper powder and can add beautiful color to boot. They combine spices like coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and chili pepper. For a close match, choose curry powders classified as sweet or mild.
Use an equal amount of curry powder in place of long pepper powder in recipes. Its fine texture incorporates seamlessly, and it shares the ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon tones. Sweet curry powder has a gentle spiciness compared to long pepper powder's heat. But you can add a pinch of cayenne or chili flakes to bring up the spice factor.
This aromatic Indian spice blend contains many of the same spices as long pepper powder like cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, cloves, and black pepper. Look for garam masala made with a higher percentage of pepper for maximum heat and flavor similarity.
Use the same quantity of garam masala in place of long pepper powder in Indian dishes, lentils, curries, meats, and vegetables. You can also add a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes to increase garam masala's mild spiciness closer to long pepper's heat.
Smoked sweet paprika can impart a similar smokiness and earthiness to long pepper powder while adding vibrant color. Since paprika rates at 0 SHU, it contains virtually no capsaicin heat. But you can spike smoked paprika with cayenne pepper to gain some spiciness.
Use 1 teaspoon smoked paprika combined with a pinch or two of cayenne in place of 1 teaspoon of long pepper powder. Smoked paprika's sweetness helps balance the heat. This works well in rubs, marinades, stews, eggs, and Tex-Mex dishes.
Key Takeaway: Alternatives like cayenne, white pepper, paprika, garam masala, and peppercorn blends allow you to mimic long pepper powder's flavor profile and adjust the intensity.
Piri Piri Seasoning
Brick red in color, Portuguese piri piri seasoning offers a touch of smoky sweetness followed by lingering heat. Though not fiery, it contains a moderate dose of chili heat along with paprika, garlic, and onion notes.
Use the same amount of piri piri seasoning in place of long pepper powder in recipes for a flavorful substitute. Its blend of spices helps replace long pepper's nuanced flavor, and you can increase the quantity if you want more heat. Piri piri pairs especially well with chicken, seafood, and vegetables.
North African harissa powder makes a flavor-packed, moderately spicy substitute for long pepper powder. It typically contains ground chilies, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and mint. Look for harissa powders classified as mild or medium heat.
Use a 1:1 ratio of harissa powder in place of long pepper powder in North African and Middle Eastern dishes. You can add more or less harissa to adjust the heat level. The sunshine-bright red powder also beautifully colors rice, meats, dips and dressings.
Another punchy North African spice blend, berbere packs complex notes of chilies, paprika, cloves, ginger and other spices. Like harissa, opt for mild or medium heat varieties when substituting for long pepper powder's gentle bite.
Stir berbere into stews, chicken, lentils, and vegetable dishes, using equal amounts to replace long pepper powder. Its deep reddish-brown color may alter the appearance of lighter-hued foods like cream sauces. But it adds wonderful layered flavor and moderate heat reminiscent of long pepper.
Made from smoked dried jalapeños, chipotle powder has a distinct smoky flavor combined with a mild kick. Though not extremely hot, its SHU of 10,000 makes it hotter than long pepper powder. Use chipotle powder sparingly, starting with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per 1 teaspoon long pepper powder.
Chipotle powder works well in southwestern cuisine, stews, marinades, baked goods, popcorn and more. Keep in mind it will impart considerable smokiness and a brownish-red hue to foods not found in long pepper powder. But tone down the amount, and it makes a tasty substitute.
Familiar black pepper makes a readily available, mildly spicy substitute for long pepper powder. To replace, use 1 1/2 to 2 times the amount of black pepper as long pepper powder. So for 1 teaspoon long pepper powder, try 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper.
While not an exact match, black pepper shares a subtle earthy heat and can work beautifully when you want just a touch of spiciness. Its familiar flavor also allows the other ingredients to shine. Use it in stir-fries, salad dressings, egg dishes, grilled meats and more.
Key Takeaway: Spice blends like piri piri, berbere, and harissa offer complex heat reminiscent of long pepper powder while black pepper provides mild warmth.
Tiny blue-gray poppy seeds make a surprisingly good stand-in for long pepper powder when you want to avoid spicy heat. They have a mild, nutty sweetness that vaguely mimics long pepper powder's warm tones.
Since poppy seeds contain no capsaicin, use a 1:1 ratio in place of long pepper powder in recipes where you don't want spiciness. Their petite size and neutral flavor allow other ingredients to shine. Add poppy seeds to bread, salad dressings, curries, stir-fries and more for subtle flavor and texture.
Like poppy seeds, coriander seeds impart zero Scoville heat but share subtle citrusy, sage-like aromatics with long pepper powder. Use an equal 1:1 amount of freshly ground coriander in place of long pepper powder when you desire flavor without the spice.
Thanks to its fine texture when ground, coriander seamlessly blends into marinades, dressings, rubs, and dry spice blends lacking in heat. It adds pleasant lemon-orange tones that enhance foods like poultry, lentils, potatoes, breads, and pickles.
The mildly sweet licorice notes of fennel seeds can enhance dishes without overpowering them. Fennel contains no capsaicin heat, allowing its subtle anise flavor to shine. Replace long pepper powder with an equal quantity of ground fennel seeds for a smooth, aromatic "spice" blend.
Incorporate fennel into meat rubs, seafood dishes, pasta sauces, marinades, curries, and vegetable side dishes. Just a pinch can provide a lovely complexity. Pair it with neutral-flavored foods so its delicate flavor doesn't get lost.
Warming allspice contains only traces of capsaicin, rating near 0 SHU. Its flavor lands somewhere between cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove with hints of peppery nuance. Use an equal amount when you want just a whisper of heat and complexity.
Thanks to its aptly named flavor, allspice fits well into both sweet and savory dishes in place of long pepper powder. Add it to cookies, cakes, chilies, stews, jerk chicken, curries, and spice blends for warmth without much spice.
Sweet-spicy cardamom can provide balanced heat and exotic flavor when swapping for long pepper powder. Opt for black cardamom which offers more bite than green cardamom's gentle fennel-like tones. Use equal amounts or add extra to increase the warmth.
Ground cardamom seamlessly incorporates into baked goods, curries, pilafs, coffee, and teas. Or use whole pods in long simmering soups and braised meats which allows their flavor to infuse gradually. Both ground cardamom and whole pods add wonderful complexity.
Key Takeaway: When you want flavor without much heat, try mildly fragrant seeds and spices like fennel, coriander, allspice, and cardamom.
Oregano and Thyme
For an herbal approach, use dried oregano and thyme in place of long pepper powder. Neither herb contains capsaicin, but they provide pleasant, woodsy notes. Use a 1:1 ratio and feel free to add other herbs like sage, rosemary, and marjoram.
The fine texture of ground dried herbs easily incorporates into rubs, dressings, and marinades. Their versatility allows them to season everything from pasta sauce to grilled chicken. Dried oregano and thyme pack concentration flavor when rehydrated during cooking.
Sautéed mushrooms can impart an earthy, savory umami flavor reminiscent of long pepper powder. For 1 teaspoon of long pepper powder, use roughly 1/4 to 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms in recipes.
Portobello, cremini, button, and shiitake mushrooms all work beautifully when looking to add meaty richness without spicy heat. Use sliced mushrooms in place of long pepper powder in dishes like stews, sauces, gravies, and stir fries.
In small amounts, tomato paste provides sweet richness along with salty savoriness that vaguely mimics long pepper powder's profile. Use about 1 teaspoon paste per 1 teaspoon long pepper powder called for.
Stir tomato paste into stews, curries, soups, gravies, and pan sauces for a flavor boost. It adds sweetness, acidity, and savory depth to balance ingredients without the spiciness of long pepper powder.
Vegetable or Chicken Stock
For a liquid approach, use vegetable or chicken stock in place of long pepper powder. The savory notes add saltiness and richness that somewhat replace long pepper powder's contribution to flavor complexity.
Substitute stock in equal amounts when a recipe calls for incorporating long pepper powder into a liquid. For example, if a soup recipe calls for 1 teaspoon long pepper powder whisked into broth, replace it with 1 teaspoon of stock or broth.
Key Takeaway: When you have none on hand, get creative with substitutions like herbs, mushrooms, tomato paste, and stocks to mimic aspects of long pepper powder.
Can I use black pepper instead of long pepper powder?
Yes, black pepper can substitute for long pepper powder though it has a simpler flavor. Use 50% more black pepper to match long pepper powder's mild heat. So for 1 teaspoon long pepper powder, try 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper.
Is long pepper powder spicy?
Long pepper powder has a mild spiciness, rating around 1,000 to 1,500 on the Scoville scale. That's similar in heat to ancho or guajillo chili powder. While it provides a little kick of heat, it won't overwhelm your dishes with spiciness.
What does long pepper powder taste like?
Long pepper powder features a complex, sweetly spicy flavor with warm undertones of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Its mild heat lingers without being overpowering. The taste resembles black pepper but with more nuance and sweetness.
Can I use Aleppo pepper as a substitute?
Yes, you can use Aleppo pepper flakes in place of long pepper powder though they will be less spicy. Aleppo pepper ranks around 10,000 SHU, much milder than long pepper. Use 2 times more Aleppo pepper to make up for the difference in heat levels.
Is long pepper powder the same as chili powder?
No, they differ quite a bit. Chili powder is a blend of ground chilies and spices while long pepper powder comes from just one type of pepper. Chili powder tends to be much spicier as well, often containing hot peppers. Long pepper powder has a milder, sweeter heat by itself.
With its subtly spicy, sweet and aromatic flavor, long pepper powder adds incredible depth to dishes across many cuisines. When you run out, don't let it stop you from creating delicious food.
Turn to versatile alternatives like cayenne, paprika, peppercorn blends, curry powder, and other spices to mimic long pepper powder's flavor notes. Adjust their intensities to match your heat preferences and enjoy your creations.