This Pantry Staple Is Having a Moment

updated Dec 17, 2019
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It’s weird to think about pepper, basically a staple of every pantry and table, as being trendy. It’s timeless! It’s been around forever! But lately I’ve been noticing black pepper in some unexpected places — in cocktails, on my favorite snacks, in ice cream! And let’s not forget about what is arguably the most popular combo in food right now: cacio e pepe, or cheese and pepper.

Here are five ways to put some pep(per) in your step.

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  1. Black Pepper Rich Simple Syrup, $13 for a 8 ounces at BlankSlateKitchen: If you’re a cocktail-lover, simple syrup is a bar essential. You could make your own, or you could just pick up this carefully crafted version. It uses palm sugar for a deeper, richer, molasses-like flavor, and Telicherry peppercorns for a sharp and spicy note. Use it in cocktails, yes, but don’t be afraid to branch out a bit. Drizzle it over ice cream or your morning pancakes — why not?
  2. Way Better Snacks Sprouted Barley Crackers, $13: Cheese and crackers are a staple of entertaining, but all too often the fromage gets all the attention. That won’t be the case with these sprouted crackers, which have just enough bite thanks to a sprinkling of salt and cracked pepper.
  3. Strawberry Honey Balsamic Ice Cream with Black Peppercorn, $65 for 5 pints at Salt & Straw: If you are saying to yourself, $13 per pint of ice cream, well, we would argue that you probably haven’t tried the inventive flavors — like Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Peppercorn! — from this Portland, Oregon-based creamery. You may never eat the grocery store stuff again.
  4. Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar, $6 for 7 ounces at Tillamook: Oh cheese, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways — especially when you’re studded with black peppercorns that give us a little shock of spice every other bite. We say yes, please.
  5. Skinny Pop Black Pepper Popcorn, $4 for 4.4 ounces at Jet: Forget the salty stuff — this black pepper popcorn has an unexpected kick that’s sure to help you stay awake during movie night on the couch.