Exploring Green Peppercorns

Green peppercorns, originating from the unripe berries of the Piper Nigrum, hold a place of distinction with their milder heat and remarkable aromatic quality. Unlike the sharp pungency of black peppercorns or the refined bite of white, green peppercorns offer an adventurous blend of flavors that are sometimes grassy, sometimes tangy, but consistently fresh.

These peppercorns are a reflection of culinary traditions spanning continents—from the bustling food markets of Thailand to the sophisticated kitchens of Paris. Thai cuisine often uses them fresh, imparting a burst of flavor to pastes and stir-fries without overwhelming the dish's intrinsic tastes. French cooks incorporate these little green gems into creamy, luxurious sauces accompanying steak or poultry, celebrated for their ability to introduce vibrancy without overt heat.

Green peppercorns are particularly appealing due to their versatility. Their mild but distinct flavor profile complements a serve of crisp salads, a filet of richly-oiled fish, or a simple goat cheese spread. This culinary adaptability comes from their preparation process—sometimes found dried but often brined or pickled, each method tweaking the peppercorns' flavor differently. The brine solution accentuates their tanginess, making them a splendid addition to robust recipes needing a touch of brightness.

As chefs and home cooks explore these delicately flavored spheres, they enter a mild yet captivatingly fresh territory distinctly different from their fellow peppercorns—venturing through layers of history and taste, one peppercorn at a time.

Culinary Applications

Green peppercorns, with their brisk zest and slightly grassy nuances, transition effortlessly among a myriad of dishes, infusing them with a delicate yet pointed flavor. In Western cooking, they serve as a zesty addition to rich sauces often served over hearty steaks or creamy chicken dishes. The peppercorns can be crushed lightly and scattered into a Dijon mustard cream sauce, providing a balanced depth that uplifts the general umami of meats. Meanwhile, their full, uncrushed form features in piquant brine, jazzing up lighter preparations like a fresh salmon tartare or a tender pork loin.

In Eastern cuisines, these green spheres of flavor contribute vibrancy to vibrant curries and dynamic stir-fries. Their slight tartness complements the sweetness of coconut-based sauces prevalent in many Thai dishes. One can crush them into pastes that form the base of many Indian curries or briefly sauté them at the end of cooking to elevate a simple vegetable stir-fry.

Another salient application envisages the green peppercorns incorporated into marinades. Their assertive, yet not overwhelming profile pairs exceptionally well with the soft textures and subtle flavors of tofu and paneer, giving vegetarian dishes a notable depth without overshadowing other ingredients.

When cooking with green peppercorns, add them at the latter stage if using fresh to maximize their aroma without overpowering the primary flavors. When working with brined or dried peppercorns, introduce them earlier, allowing their flavor to meld more thoroughly with the other components. Whether tossed whole into a simmering sauce, ground atop a finished plate, or blended into a zestful curry paste, green peppercorns remain a versatile and invigorating addition to both everyday and refined culinary creations.

Collage of elegant gourmet dishes featuring green peppercorn sauces, including steak au poivre, creamy green peppercorn chicken, and other plated meals showcasing the peppercorns

Recipe 1: Green Peppercorn Sauce


  • 2-3 sprigs fresh green peppercorns, remove peppercorns from sprigs
  • Splash of Cognac (optional, but recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegetarian option)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup cream (use coconut cream for a dairy-free version)


  1. Begin by pan-frying your choice of protein—steak or chicken works well—until cooked to your preference.
  2. Once cooked, remove the meat from the skillet and set it aside, keeping it warm.
  3. Place the skillet back on medium heat. If necessary, drain any excess fat, leaving a small amount for flavor.
  4. Add a splash of the broth to deglaze the pan. Use a flat spatula to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, as these will add flavor to the sauce.
  5. Stir in the green peppercorns and sauté for a couple of minutes until they are heated through and begin to release their aroma.
  6. Carefully add a splash of Cognac to the pan. If using a gas stove, you can tilt the pan slightly to ignite the alcohol with the flame. Alternatively, ignite the Cognac with a long match or lighter. Let the flames subside naturally as the alcohol burns off.
  7. Once the alcohol has evaporated, pour in the remaining broth along with the thyme. Reduce the heat slightly and allow the mixture to simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, which will concentrate the flavors.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream. Continue to cook gently, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens slightly—this should take about 2-3 minutes.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
  10. Serve the sauce hot over your prepared meat.

This green peppercorn sauce enhances the richness of red meats like steak and works equally well with grilled pork chops or a sturdy chicken dish, making it versatile for various dining occasions from a simple family meal to a more formal gathering. For variations, consider adding mushrooms to sauté with the peppercorns, or incorporate a teaspoon of Dijon mustard for an extra layer of intricacy and tang. Those avoiding alcohol can omit the Cognac for a still flavorful but less complex sauce.

Nutritional information per serving (based on 4 servings):
Calories: 140 kcal
Fat: 12g
Saturated Fat: 7g
Cholesterol: 40mg
Sodium: 105mg
Carbohydrates: 2g
Sugar: 1g
Protein: 2g

Recipe 2: Green Peppercorn and Herb-Crusted Salmon


  • 4 salmon fillets, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons fresh green peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On a cutting board, crush the green peppercorns lightly using the back of a knife or a mortar and pestle.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the crushed peppercorns, dill, parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. Add olive oil to bind the mixture into a thick paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towels and arrange them skin-side down on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Generously coat the top of each fillet with the herb and peppercorn mixture, pressing gently to adhere.
  6. Place in the oven and roast until the salmon is cooked through and the crust is aromatic, about 12-15 minutes. The internal temperature of the salmon should reach 145°F (63°C).
  7. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Ideal side dishes for this dish include steamed asparagus, baby potatoes tossed in olive oil and rosemary, or a simple mixed greens salad dressed with vinaigrette. This meal pairs beautifully with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Riesling, both of which complement the zesty flavors of the crust while balancing the richness of the salmon.

Nutritional information per serving (based on 4 servings):
Calories: 320 kcal
Fat: 22g
Saturated Fat: 3.5g
Cholesterol: 70mg
Sodium: 180mg
Carbohydrates: 2g
Fiber: 0g
Sugar: 0g
Protein: 28g

Oven baked salmon fillets topped with a vibrant green crust of crushed peppercorns, dill, parsley, lemon zest and garlic

Recipe 3: Spicy Green Peppercorn Stir-Fry


  • 1 cup fresh green peppercorns, removed from stalks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound chicken breast, thinly sliced (substitute with beef strips or tofu for alternatives)
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 green bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional; omit for a vegetarian/vegan version and add additional soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce (use a vegan alternative if necessary)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 4 teaspoons water
  • Fresh basil leaves, a handful
  • Cooked rice or noodles, for serving


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.
  2. Add the chicken slices and stir-fry until they start to brown, about 2-3 minutes. For vegetarian options, substitute chicken with beef strips or pressed, dried tofu and follow the same procedure.
  3. Add the garlic, onion, red and green bell peppers, and carrot. Continue stir-frying until the vegetables are just tender, about 2-4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the green peppercorns and cook for an additional minute to release their flavor.
  5. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. Pour this mixture into the skillet or wok and stir well to combine.
  6. Pour the cornstarch mixed with water into the skillet. Stir continuously as the sauce thickens slightly.
  7. Once everything is coated nicely with the sauce and heated through, remove from heat and scatter fresh basil leaves over the top.
  8. Serve the stir-fry hot over a bed of freshly cooked rice or toss with your choice of noodles. Adjust seasoning as needed just before serving to ensure the perfect balance of flavors.

This spicy green peppercorn stir-fry offers a delightful blend of peppery zing and savory notes, ideal for a quick yet satisfying meal that pairs excellently with the subtle sweetness of basil and aromatic robustness.

Nutritional information per serving (based on 4 servings, with chicken breast):
Calories: 270 kcal
Fat: 10g
Saturated Fat: 1.5g
Cholesterol: 65mg
Sodium: 970mg
Carbohydrates: 15g
Fiber: 3g
Sugar: 6g
Protein: 30g

Spicy green peppercorn chicken stir fry cooking in a wok, with sliced peppers, onions, carrots and green peppercorns in a savory sauce, fresh basil on top
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