The pink peppercorn is getting new life in the hands of the food world’s tastemakers.  

By Elyse Inamine
Updated May 31, 2017
Credit: © Evan Sung

No longer just collecting dust in the pantry, the red-headed stepchild of peppercorns is showing up on menus across the country, from tiki-inspired drinks to must-eat pastas.

They’re technically not from the genus Piper (where all peppercorns derive from), but rather descend from the cashew family. However, the dried berries of the Peruvian peppertree gets lumped into the pepper family for its distinctly peppery flavor, and now chefs and bartenders are rethinking the berries beyond the multi-colored pepper grinder.

Here’s how the food world is getting creative with the old spice cabinet standby, the pink peppercorn.

Lilia in Brooklyn

Ruffled malfadini with specks of pink peppercorn is a bucket-list pasta at this Williamsburg auto-body shop turned pasta paradise. F&W Best New Chef alum Missy Robbins cooks the noodles with a bit of butter, parmesan and a healthy crank of the pepper.

Maketto in Washington, DC

Drink your peppercorns in the Mala Colada at Erik Bruner-Yang’s fashion-forward restaurant, bar and boutique fusion along H Street. Beverage director Colin Sugalski whirs house-made coconut cream and rum with a spicy chile oil he makes with lip-tingling Sichuan peppercorns and red chiles. Then he crushes the peppery granules on top of the slushy-like drink for a faint pink crown.

Lalito in New York City

Chef Gerardo Gonzalez is known for expanding the boundaries of classic dishes after his time at El Rey Coffee & Luncheonette, like veganizing Mexican street food chicharrones de harina. At his latest venture in the Lower East Side, he candies peanuts in rosewater, then dusts them with pink peppercorns. They’re tossed with dehydrated strawberries for a clever play on the PB&J.

Kali in Los Angeles

Chef Kevin Meehan seems to stock up on the stuff at his opulent, lounge-like restaurant housed on Melrose Avenue. He’s scattered the spice over slivers of mild rockfish crudo—along with briny green olives and bitter nasturtium—and broken wild pink peppercorn over nettles-infused cavatelli.