Finding the right substitute for bell pepper is easy if you know what taste or flavor you are looking for.
Bell peppers add color and lend a layer of flavor to every dish.
They may not be as spicy as jalapeños or chili peppers but bell peppers deliver a unique taste that can enhance the flavors of food.
When a recipe requires bell peppers but you’ve run out of them or simply don’t like the way they taste, don’t fret!
Bell peppers can be replaced.
Bell peppers generally taste sweet and this sets them apart from other kinds of peppers.
What’s also unique about them is the fact that not all bell peppers taste the same.
Their flavors change along with their color.
Some can taste sweet.
Others can either taste bitter or citrusy.
Red bell peppers are known to be the sweetest, while green bell peppers are known to be the most bitter.
Yellow and orange bell peppers taste sweeter than the green ones.
Does the color of a bell pepper affect the taste?
Many people think that the redder the pepper, the spicier it tastes.
Look at jalapeños as an example.
The red jalapeños are spicier than the green ones.
However, this is not the case with bell peppers.
Each color variant has its own unique taste.
If you are looking for something that is both sweet and citrusy without getting that bitter aftertaste, opt to use yellow and orange bell peppers instead.
For certain recipes that require a bit of a smoky taste, the bitterness found in green bell peppers adds a layer of flavor.
You can use red bell peppers to highlight the sweet, tangy taste that is perfect in some dishes.
The deeper the color, the sweeter the bell pepper is.
Whatever your dish is, bell peppers are indeed a versatile ingredient that can enhance the flavors of your dish.
Do bell peppers taste spicy?
Bell peppers are not spicy.
Bell peppers don’t have any hint of spiciness in them, AT ALL.
They are actually sweet and crunchy.
They also have that fruity, tangy taste that most peppers don’t have.
In case you are wondering, why are they called peppers if they are not spicy anyway?
It’s because bell peppers belong to the same genus, Capsicum.
However, because of a recessive gene in their compound, they do not have the same spice levels as the other members of their family.
A list of subs and specifics on how to use them
When a recipe calls for bell peppers and you don’t have them in stock, or when you don’t like how they taste, there is no need to panic.
Stay calm and focused.
There are other readily available ingredients you can consider using as a substitute for bell pepper.
The ones we are listing down below have distinct characteristics that can help bring your dish to life.
You won’t even miss using bell peppers because, in terms of taste or texture, these substitutes can do so much better!
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that not all of them will be a good replacement for each other.
Others won’t be a good fit.
It is contingent on what you are trying to cook and most importantly, the overall flavor you are hoping to achieve.
So choose one that you feel is most suitable.
Without further ado, here are some of the best-known substitutes for bell peppers.
Jalapeños and bell peppers, especially the green ones, share the same bitter, “grassy” taste that is perfect for fried dishes, dynamite shrimp, jalapeño poppers, and Chili Rellenos recipes.
Jalapeños give you that extra crunch in every bite plus spice.
So recipes that require something spicy, like salsa verde or chili, are perfect scenarios you can use jalapeños instead.
Moreover, if you are hoping to stuff something in it, as long as you have a large enough jalapeño, it is possible.
Its cavity allows ingredients to fit in for added texture and flavor.
NOTE: The spiciness of jalapeños can vary, so it’s best to taste the pepper first before adding it to your dish.
If you can’t take the spiciness of jalapeños and prefer to tone it down, take out the pith and ribs before cooking.
Most people say it’s the seeds that make jalapeños spicy, but that is not really the case.
Do you have canned jalapeños?
Dice and turn into this tasty and filling Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread!
2. Anaheim Peppers
The sweetness from Anaheim peppers evolves into a tangy and smoky undertone, which is a great substitute for that fruity, tangy taste that bell peppers have.
Anaheim peppers are also known for having the same build as bell peppers.
They both have thick walls which makes them a good option for roasting or stuffing.
Anaheim peppers also pack a subtle heat, which is perfect if you want that crunch that bell peppers give you but with added spice.
Tanginess is another flavor that Anaheim peppers have.
Hence, you get a wide range of diverse tastes from one substitute for bell pepper.
Examples of dishes where Anaheim peppers are used as a great substitute for bell pepper include stuffed chilies with cheese and other spices.
If you don’t like the “grass” taste of green peppers and prefer something sweet that comes with red bell peppers, opting for Cubanelle is the perfect choice for you.
Other than a bit of spice, they are a great replacement for red bell peppers.
Cubanelle peppers don’t have thick walls so they’re not suitable for stuffing with meat and veggies.
Moreover, they’re a little spicy but less than a poblano pepper.
Try cooking turkey stuffed Cubanelles so you can taste the difference!
It’s a perfect opportunity to use your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers.
4. Sichuan Peppers
Not everyone is a fan of eating bell peppers.
Some experience indigestion, feel nauseous, develop mild allergic reactions or have stomach aches after eating them.
There are also those who just don’t appreciate how they taste on certain dishes.
If you are someone who is not just into bell peppers, Sichuan peppers can be used as replacements.
Sichuan peppers and yellow bell peppers share that citrusy, almost fruity taste that is perfect for your dishes.
They have a distinct citrusy flavor known to some as a combination of black peppers and chili peppers.
They also have that spice that is not fiery but more tingling, similar to black peppers but with the citrusy hint of bell peppers.
With Sichuan peppers, you can add them to Asian stir-fry dishes that require bell peppers without actually adding them to the mix.
It has a bit of a spicy but milder kick on it, which is great because you can add more or less of it, depending on the level of spice that you want in your dish.
5. Poblanos Peppers
At one point in time, you must have mistakenly grabbed poblanos peppers while grocery shopping thinking they are green bell peppers.
They look and almost taste the same.
Plus, supermarkets usually line them up next to each other.
Poblanos and green bell peppers both have that earthy flavor.
They also both possess a large cavity with thick walls.
However, unlike green bell peppers, Poblanos peppers are a little spicier.
Most people don’t have a problem managing their heat though because they are still way more manageable than jalapeños.
Chicken-stuffed poblano is a great dish you can make with this.
6. Pimento Peppers
If a recipe calls for chopped bell peppers, using pimiento peppers is a notable alternative.
They resemble red bell peppers the most because of their color, heart-shaped figure, and sweet taste.
They are also not spicy and quite aromatic.
They are mostly sold in jars today but they won’t be as crunchy as the fresh ones.
When you can, opt for the fresh ones.
This might have come as a surprise but yes, onions can be a substitute for bell peppers too!
Onions when fried taste sweet, and lose their distinct flavor.
On top of that, they also provide the same level of crunchiness you get when you cook with bell peppers.
Make sure to note that there are several kinds of onions and they react differently to certain cooking methods.
For example, it’s best to use shallots if you’d like to retain the sweet flavor when frying or roasting.
Pearl onions work best with sauces or side dishes.
The bottom line
Just because a recipe mentions a need for bell peppers doesn’t mean you can’t cook without them.
Jalapeños, Anaheim peppers, Cubanelles, Sichuan peppers, Poblanos, Pimientos, and Onions are all great substitutes for bell peppers.
In choosing which alternative to go for, think about the cooking style and flavor you want to achieve.
Once you try cooking using these alternatives, then you’ll know that there is no flavor, texture, or purpose that is lost.
So the next time you’re looking for a substitute for bell pepper, remember that these alternatives can get the job done while packing a different but still delicious flavor.
Get cooking and let us know how they turned out in the comments section below!
- Start with a small number of jalapeños and work your way up if you feel that your dish needs more heat.