A vegetable originating from areas such as Mexico, Central and South America that is commonly used in dishes across the globe is the humble bell pepper. They are delicious, crunchy, and full of nutrition.
There are a variety of options available that are perfect substitutes for bell peppers.
If you find yourself without this staple ingredient or you are just looking to mix things up a little at dinner time, why not give something else a try?
Here we are going to explore eight of the best bell pepper substitutions for you to incorporate into your cooking.
Bell Pepper Substitutes
1. Jalapeno Peppers
Jalapenos are medium in size, generally measuring between two to four inches in length. Originating from South America, these peppers are renowned for their mild heat.
You can purchase them in varying levels of heat which can reach up to 5000 Scoville Heat Units.
Therefore, it’s possible to find a level of heat everyone can be happy with, no one wants frantic chewing around the dinner table.
Depending on the flavors you prefer, you can eat a jalapeno when green or leave it to ripen further and turn red. When left to go red, the flavor is just as tasty but there is a touch more sweetness detected.
These peppers can be substitutes for bell peppers if you can get over the step-up in heat intensity. To reduce the heat as much as possible, remove the seeds from your cooking.
When eaten green, they can have a similar grassy flavor comparable to the bell pepper.
The main issue when substituting jalapenos for bell peppers is the obvious difference in size. Jalapenos are small and compact peppers, so they will be difficult to stuff.
Our favorite way to eat these spicy little peppers is to make jalapeno poppers!
How To Substitute
Bell peppers are typically used for their sweetness and ability to hold up to various cooking methods. However, jalapenos are commonly used in hot dishes and can provide the same qualities as bell peppers without the fear of over-cooking. Therefore, if a recipe calls for bell peppers, you can substitute them with jalapenos.
These sweet Italian and Greek peppers are often referred to as ‘Tuscan peppers’ and are extremely popular around the world. Other names for these types of peppers include the ‘golden Greek peppers’.
As you can imagine from the name of the pepper, they are known for their sweet flavor.
In terms of heat, they are classified as having mild to medium levels of spice. Typically found on an Italian antipasti platter, these peppers often come in pickled form.
Fresh peppers can be used in place of bell peppers on pizzas or eaten raw. However, the pickled variety is the most popular so it’s easier to find them in jars than fresh on the grocery store shelves.
Therefore, when substituting bell peppers for pepperoncini peppers you will need to consider if the recipe can handle a little pickle flavor.
If you’re set on using fresh, then you might have to try the farmers market or grow your own.
How To Substitute
Bell peppers are ubiquitous vegetables that you can use in many dishes. However, you can substitute them with Pepperoncini, a type of sweet Italian green pepper that is more flavorful than bell peppers and has a less acidic flavor.
3. Pimento Peppers
In Spanish, ‘pimiento’ translates to mean ‘pepper’, the more specific term for it is ‘pimento’ and native to South America. Today they are grown across the world.
Pimento peppers are a type of pepper that aren’t particularly impressive in size, measuring between three to four inches long and two to three inches wide.
These sweet peppers have mild heat and are known for their heart-shaped appearance.
Often found in chilis, soups, or cooked into various dishes it truly is a versatile pepper.
As they are smaller than a bell pepper, they aren’t suitable for certain dishes such as stuffings but they are excellent for slicing purposes.
These peppers are often found sold in jars which makes them great for keeping in the cupboard if you don’t want to use them right away.
However, the downside to using the preserved version is that you don’t get as much texture or the same vibrant colors.
How To Substitute
Substituting bell pepper with Pimento peppers will change the flavor and nutritional value of the dish since it is a sweet, piquant, mildly hot, red-skinned fruit with smooth, juicy flesh. It is commonly used in sauces, such as salsa and guacamole.
4. Poblano Peppers
A poblano pepper is a mild form of chili pepper originating from the state of Puebla, Mexico. In appearance, they are very similar to bell peppers only slightly skinnier with a more pointy tip.
They are usually eaten when green but ripen to a dark red or brown color.
The similarities between the two peppers mean that it is easy to use poblanos peppers in place of bell peppers.
For example, poblanos peppers also have thick walls and deep cavities which makes them ideal for stuffing.
As they come from the chili family, they are slightly spicy to taste. If you’re good with spicy food then you will have no problem with one of these peppers, as they are significantly less spicy than a jalapeno.
Other ways in which you can cook these peppers include roasting them, grilling them or using them to create a sauce.
How To Substitute
Bell peppers are red and are a popular ingredient in many recipes. However, the poblano has a more robust flavor than the bell pepper and will give a dish a more complex taste. To use a poblano instead of a bell pepper, substitute the bell pepper with one poblano pepper.
5. Anaheim Peppers
Anaheim peppers are considered to be medium-sized peppers as they usually measure somewhere between six to ten inches long.
Sometimes referred to as New Mexico peppers or a California chili, they will turn into a deep red color when left to ripen.
Their thick walls are a similarity they share with a bell pepper, which is why they are often stuffed. Having thicker walls means they can also withstand longer and slower cooking.
They can be said to taste somewhat similar to a bell pepper but with a sweeter flavor and a noticeable amount of heat.
When cooked you may notice a smoky, tangy undertone which makes them perfect for stuffing and covering with cheese.
In terms of heat, anaheim peppers are comparable to jalapenos making them sit at the milder end of the scale similar to that of green bell peppers.
For a low-heat substitute anaheim peppers are ideal, especially when roasted and charred.
How To Substitute
It’s important to note that Anaheim peppers are typically sweeter than bell peppers, so the recipe needs to be adjusted to account for the difference. However, you can substitute Anaheim peppers for bell peppers in a recipe without altering the other ingredients.
6. Cubanelle Peppers
Otherwise known as a Cuban pepper, the cubanelle is commonly used in Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican cuisines.
They are long and relatively thin with an appearance that closely resembles a chili.
You’ll often find them with a light green or yellow coloring. The light green shade indicates that they are fully ripened.
The pepper is sweet and mild despite the chili shape, making it perfect for everyday cooking. It is commonly used to make sauces or added to pizzas.
In place of a bell pepper, try using a cubanelle for a less grassy flavor of a green bell pepper.
Easy to find in supermarkets, you won’t have any trouble substituting a bell pepper with a cubanelle.
If you’re headed out to the farmers market, then you can also find them there in late summer or early fall when the vegetables are in season.
How To Substitute
If you want to substitute bell peppers with Cubanelle Peppers, you can do so by cutting the bell peppers in half, slicing them into thin strips, and sautéing them in a bit of oil until they are soft and slightly golden. Then, the bell peppers are blended with water to create a smooth puree.
7. Bok Choy
Bok choy or pak choi, is a type of Chinese cabbage. It might not seem like this is the ideal vegetable to swap a bell pepper for, but they have a sweet and crunchy taste that can be linked to a red bell pepper.
Specifically, the white stalks of the vegetable are what you’ll want to use in place of a pepper as the green leafy part has a tender, bitter taste.
Chopping the base of the bok choy, you get small crunchy pieces of vegetable that you can add to a variety of meals.
An example of this is in a stir fry, as these vegetables are commonly seen together in this dish you can swap one for the other if you don’t have one in the refrigerator.
Not only can bok choy make for a great substitute, you can also use it to make its very own side dish.
If you want something sweet and crunchy on the side of your main meal, try adding some green onions and aromatic herbs to give it a boost of flavor.
We wouldn’t recommend using bok choy if you’re looking for something very similar to a pepper, as with some recipes the substitute will just not work such as fajitas or tacos.
How To Substitute
Bell pepper is usually substituted for Bok choy, an Asian vegetable with a crisp texture. Try substituting 1/2 of the bell pepper for 1/2 of the Bok choy, which will work well with many recipes.
Onions can be used in place of a bell pepper. These sturdy root vegetables are staples in cooking, even when they aren’t substituting something.
When cooked, they become slightly sweeter which mimics the sweetness of the pepper as well as losing some of the typical onion flavors.
Similarly to peppers, onions are also a crunchy vegetable that can add something a little extra to a dish.
As onions tend to pair well with the types of foods that you’d cook bell peppers with they can be used interchangeably. However, you must choose the right kind of onion to really make the dish work.
For example, shallots are much sweeter than normal white onions and can be roasted or fried to go with your meal if you’re looking to replace a red bell pepper.
If you’re looking to substitute some raw pepper in a salad then red onions are your best option for crunch.
How To Substitute
Onions are an excellent substitute for bell peppers, and when you make a recipe that calls for bell peppers, you can use onions instead. To make a recipe that calls for bell peppers, substitute two onions for every bell pepper.
When it comes to cooking, things may not always go to plan. Having a backup option or even a substitute in the fridge ready to go can be the difference between a great meal and a flop.
Luckily, there are a wide range of different peppers that can bring the same characteristics as a bell pepper to your meal.
Hopefully, you’ve found something new and exciting to try with your next meal. Save this article for later if you ever need reminding on what you can use.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can I Substitute For Bell Peppers In Fajitas?
When cooking fajitas, the best substitute for a bell pepper is an anaheim pepper as these will make more of an impact than a typical bell pepper.
This can be a great way to solve an issue of not having an ingredient and also spicing up your favorite midweek meal.
Other types of pepper can also be used as a substitute for a bell pepper, including a banana pepper and a poblano pepper.
Can I Use Paprika Instead Of Bell Pepper?
The common spice paprika is made from ground forms of bell peppers along with a few other types of pepper.
This powdered form of the pepper can be used along with other vegetables in cooking in place of the sweetness and smoky flavors found with bell peppers.
Can I Use Sweet Peppers Instead Of Bell Peppers?
If you want to use sweet peppers instead of bell peppers, you will need to use a combination of both sweet and green peppers. For example, you can add two cups of sweet peppers, one cup of green peppers, and one cup of celery.
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