Get to Know Green Sichuan Peppercorns

Green Sichuan peppercorns are cousins of the more popular red Sichuan peppercorns.

Like their red kin, green Sichuan peppercorns are not spicy-hot. Instead, they taste citrus-like and produce numbing micro-vibrations in the mouth when eaten, setting the stage for spicy chilies in classic Sichuan cuisine. This spicy, numbing combination is known as “ma la” in Chinese. 




Green Sichuan peppercorns are harvested from a different type of prickly-ash tree, and contrary to some beliefs, they do not turn red when mature. 

They typically give off a stronger citrus perfume and cause a more intense mouth numbness, or “ma,” than their red counterparts. Their flavor is also somewhat more herbal and earthy than that of the red variety.




Like red Sichuan peppercorns, chefs can use the green version to season savory, spicy Sichuan dishes. Their bright, citrus aroma makes them a great addition to many recipes for seafood, chicken, and vegetables. 

We especially love them in this recipe for Sichuan Boiled Fish, but the possibilities are limited to your imagination.

Sauté entire husks in oil with chilis, simmer them in soups during cooking, or add a dash of ground or chopped green Sichuan peppercorns to a completed dish or sauce. 

Because the green variety are much more numbing than the red variety, use them much more sparingly. 

The peppercorns should be bright army green and release a refreshing citrus scent as soon as you open the bag. Fewer seeds and stems in the bag usually indicates higher quality. 

Seal whole Sichuan peppercorns in an airtight container. Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. They’ll last for a few years like this. Ground peppercorns have a much shorter shelf life of months, after which time they will begin to lose their fragrance and mouth-numbing quality.