Grains Of Paradise Substitute: 10 Best Options

In need of a grains of paradise substitute? This list features 10 alternatives to grains of paradise so you can make sure your recipe comes out just right!

Whether you need a Grains of Paradise Substitute or are simply looking to experiment with new spices, this list will definitely get you headed in the right direction!

What are Grains of Paradise?

Before we get to the grains of paradise substitutes, let’s briefly talk about the spice. Grains of paradise are the red-brown pyramid shaped seeds from a West African plant related to ginger.

The seeds are often ground and have a distinct peppery taste with herbaceous and fruity notes, almost like a more complex black peppercorn.

Whole grains of paradise.

Grains of Paradise substitute options

While grains of paradise are readily available online, the spice can be expensive and you may not want to invest in a large quantity for just one dish. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of grains of paradise alternatives that can add complexity and depth to your recipe!

The most versatile and easily accessible grains of paradise substitute is something you probably already have in your pantry: black pepper! In fact, grains of paradise is often described as black pepper with floral and citrusy notes, which makes ground black peppercorns an excellent alternative!

1/2 teaspoon ground grains of paradise = 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.

And if you want to get even closer to the complex flavor of grains of paradise, try a blend of black pepper and ground cardamom! The cardamom adds citrusy and earthy notes that more closely mimic the flavor profile of grains of paradise.

To substitute black pepper and cardamom for grains of paradise, I suggest using equal parts ground black pepper and ground cardamom. You can use this substitute in the same amount as the recipe specifies for grains of paradise.

1/2 teaspoon ground grains of paradise = 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/4 tsp ground cardamom.

Another grains of paradise substitute that focuses more on the fruity notes of the spice consists of black pepper and lemon zest! The spiciness of black pepper complements the bright and zingy taste of lemon zest for a perfectly balanced flavor.

The intensity of lemon zest can vary based on lemon variety and ripeness. Start with a little zest and add more as needed.

1/2 teaspoon ground grains of paradise = 1/4 tsp ground black pepper and 1/4 – 1/2 tsp grated fresh lemon zest.

If you’re baking something sweet, black pepper might be too overwhelming as a grains of paradise substitute. In these cases, I like to use just ground cardamom.

Cardamom has a strong, distinct flavor. Use sparingly as a little goes a long way.

1/2 teaspoon ground grains of paradise = 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom.

Allspice has a slightly peppery flavor with hints of warming spices, which makes it an excellent grains of paradise alternative.

Crushed whole allspice is great for soups and stews and ground allspice works well in sweet dishes. When using allspice to bake something sweet, consider adding other warming spices, such as cinnamon or nutmeg, to create a balanced flavor profile.

1/2 teaspoon ground grains of paradise = 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. Add more to taste.

While white peppercorns aren’t as common as black peppercorns, they have a subtle heat and earthy flavor that makes a great grains of paradise substitute.

White pepper’s milder flavor profile makes it a versatile ingredient, but I especially love it in soups, stews and sauces.

1/2 teaspoon ground grains of paradise = 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper. Add more to taste.

Fun fact? Pink peppercorns are berries and aren’t actually related to the other peppercorns! Their flavor profile is also quite different with more fruity and slightly floral notes.

The fruity and floral notes make pink peppercorns a great substitute for grains of paradise in sweet dishes. But the spice is so versatile that it will work in savory dishes just as well.

1/2 teaspoon ground grains of paradise = 1/2 teaspoon ground pink peppercorns.

The last peppercorn on our list, green peppercorn, is actually just the unripe version of peppercorns. Green peppercorns can be found dried or in brine. They have a mild spiciness that is great for enhancing sauces and stews.

Green peppercorns in brine are a great addition to dressings!

1/2 teaspoon ground grains of paradise = 1/4 teaspoon ground green peppercorns. Add more to taste.

Because grains of paradise actually come from the same family as ginger, ground ginger makes a great substitute! Ginger’s warm, spicy and slightly citrusy flavor can add depth and complexity to both savory and sweet dishes.

While ginger won’t be a perfect grains of paradise substitute in every recipe, I find that it works well in baking and certain soups and stews.

1/2 teaspoon ground grains of paradise = 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger. Add more to taste.

If you come across grains of paradise in a cocktail recipe, one of our favorite substitutes is cloves! They offer a warm, sweet and spicy flavor that can add depth and complexity to cocktail recipes.

To use cloves as a grains of paradise substitute in cocktails, I recommend gently muddling whole cloves with other ingredients to release their flavors.

1/2 teaspoon ground grains of paradise = 1-2 whole cloves

The best substitutes for grains of paradise.


What does grains of paradise taste like?

Grains of paradise is peppery with notes of citrus and hints of warmth and spice. It’s almost like black pepper with a hint of cardamom and citrus.

Are grains of paradise the same as black pepper?

No, grains of paradise are dried seeds, while black pepper is actually a berry. Because of their similarities in flavor, black pepper can be used as a substitute for grains of paradise.

Why are grains of paradise so expensive?

Grains of paradise are expensive due to their limited cultivation in West Africa, labor-intensive harvesting, and small yields per plant. Their unique flavor profile and relatively limited availability contribute to the higher price tag. Luckily, the spice is incredibly versatile and a little goes a long way so it’s definitely an investment worth making in our opinion!

Do I need to toast grains of paradise?

Toasting grains of paradise isn’t necessary, but it can bring out more flavor. To toast, place whole grains of paradise in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toss occasionally and toast until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Be careful not to over-toast as they can become bitter.

If you found the perfect grains of paradise substitute here, make sure to check our our other substitution guides:

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