Are you trying to make your own Szechuan beef or other traditional Chinese dishes?
Then you’ll most likely require Szechuan peppercorn!
This well-loved spice creates a unique punchy vibrancy and warmth you can’t find elsewhere.
It opens a whole new world to the way you see the spicy flavor!
But just because you can’t find this spice doesn’t mean your dish is ruined.
Our list will help you find the best whole or ground Szechuan peppercorn substitute, so read on!
What is Szechuan Peppercorns Exactly?
Surprisingly, Sechuan peppercorn is not actually a pepper.
It isn’t related to chili peppers, nor does it come from the piper nigrum like black pepper. Instead, it comes from the prickly ash shrub species, creating peppercorns native to China and Taiwan.
Sichuan peppercorns have a unique aroma comparable to lavender.
It has a bitter taste on the tongue, followed by numbing heat and citrus flavors.
It’s popular because of how it gives off a powerful numbing sensation around our mouths!
What can you do with Sichuan peppercorns?
There are numerous recipes and things to do with Sichuan peppercorns.
You can find many Szechuan dishes needing this pepper!
It’s featured in many savory poultry, meat, and noodle dishes. Ground Szechuan peppercorns are used to make Szechuan peppercorn oil, or you can pair it with salt to create a flavorful salt to serve with meat dishes.
Here are other unique dishes you can use Szechuan peppercorns with:
- Bang Bang Chicken
- Dan Dan Noodles
- Szechuan Beed
- And many more from the Sichuan cuisine and beyond!
Fun fact: When you do get your hands on Szechuan peppercorns, we recommend storing them in an airtight jar far from light. Note that whole Sichuan peppercorns would retain their flavor while the grounded variety must be used as soon as possible since it would lose its complex aroma and flavor quicker.
What’s The Best Sichuan Peppercorns Substitute in a Recipe?
If you can’t find any of it in stores or in your kitchen, find the best Szechuan peppercorn substitute in our list below:
1. Tasmanian Pepper
Tasmanian pepper is a spice made of berries from shrubs grown in Australia. These spices feature black color with a spicy and sweet-fruity flavor similar to fennel and juniper.
We recommend using the Tasmanian pepper in soups, stews, curries, sauces, marinades, salad dressings, cheese, and alcoholic beverages!
While Tasmanian peppers won’t give off the exact same flavor as the Szechuan peppercorn, you’ll receive a fruity, spicy, and woody flavor you’ll appreciate.
2. Grains of Paradise
Also known as paradise grains, grains of paradise are tiny red-brown seeds coming from plants native to West Africa. The seed has a beautiful citrusy, herbal, spicy, woody, and cooling flavor lingering in your mouth. Think of it as consuming tender flames!
Grains of paradise work excellently with other herbs like sage, thyme, and rosemary. These are best used in sauces, curries, salad dressings, roasted vegetables, and seafood.
Use a 2:1 ratio when using grains of paradise for Sichuan peppercorns.
3. Tellicherry Peppercorns
Tellicherry peppercorns are one of the most popular ones from Tellicherry, India. These are black and bigger than other whole peppercorns.
Expect a complex flavor described as bright, sweet, grassy, fruity, and fresh. You’ll notice a hint of a spice and citrus flavor there, too.
Use Tellicherry peppercorns in sauces, seafood, meats, vegetables, stews, and soups.
4. Regular Ground Black Pepper with Coriander Seeds
Regular Ground Black Pepper with Coriander Seeds is a great whole Szechuan peppercorn substitute because of its availability.
You can easily find coriander seeds in the market and probably have black pepper at home already.
Black pepper and coriander seeds offer some of the flavors you can find in Sichuan pepper.
Expect a pine and citrus flavor to lighten up dishes thanks to the coriander seeds.
You’ll also get a spicy note from the black pepper. However, you won’t receive that addicting numbing sensation Szechuan peppercorns offer.
Fun fact: If you want to add more acidity to your seasoning, then add lemon zest!
5. Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Lemmon pepper seasoning is a good ground Szechuan peppercorn substitute.
It’s made of cracked black pepper and lemon zest, sold in granules. Some brands may add other ingredients like onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, salt, celery seeds, citric acid, and cayenne pepper.
This ingredient can offer a citrusy and spicy flavor to various dishes that call for Szechuan pepper.
6. Sansho Powder
Sansho powder is a type of green-brown spice made of ground berries from Japanese pepper bushes. The powder offers a tangy and spicy flavor switch citrus hints, leaving you with the same numbing sensation you expect from Sichuan peppercorns!
You can use this ingredient in various dishes like soups, stir-fries, marinades, vegetables, noodle dishes, grilled meats, and grilled fish.
7. Sichuan Peppercorn Oil
This is another good alternative for Szechuan peppercorn since it nails the same flavor.
You can purchase Sichuan Peppercorn Oil in Chinese grocery stores or make your own from Sichuan peppercorns with canola or peanut oil.
Start with a few drops of Sichuan Peppercorn oil and work your way up until you reach your desired flavor.
Alternatively, you can use Sichuan peppercorn salt, a spicy alternative to your dishes. You may want to reduce the amount of salt the recipe calls for.
8. Japanese Seven-Spice Seasoning
Also called Shichimi togarashi, this is made from Sichuan or Sansho peppercorns, ground ginger, white and black sesame seeds, dried orange peels, red chili peppers, and nori (seaweed).
This ingredient doesn’t nail the exact flavor you want from Szechuan, but it does the trick in many recipes like stir-fries, soups, marinades, grilled meats, noodles, rice, and the like.
Besides that, you can also consider using Chinese five-spice powder for an even more accurate flavor as it comes from the same country!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you left with a few questions about Sichuan peppercorns? We’ve got you covered with our frequently asked questions:
Fun fact: Sichuan peppercorns were once banned from import to the USA from 1968-to 2004 though the ban was only enforced seriously during the later years. This was done to prevent spreading citrus canker, though the ban was lifted as long as the product was heat-treated to kill any infectious organisms.
Wrapping It Up
Whether you need a ground or whole Szechuan peppercorn substitute, there’s always the one you can find in grocery stores or in your own pantry.
Next time you run out of Szechuan pepper for stir-fries and whatnot, refer to our list so you can nail the best flavors.
The best substitute for Sichuan Peppercorns include Tasmanian Pepper, Grains of Paradise, Tellicherry Peppercorns, Regular Ground Black Pepper with Coriander Seeds, Lemon Pepper Seasoning, Sansho Powder, Sichuan Peppercorn Oil, and Japanese Seven-Spice Seasoning
Good luck and enjoy cooking!