Are we going to find options for the best bell pepper substitute only among other pepper varieties or are there any other vegetables that can replace this fruit?
Botanically, peppers are a fruit. Just like tomatoes and zucchinis but we can also call them vegetables. Both terms work.
The beautiful thing about bell peppers is their variety, all those colors are absolutely beautiful. The green ones are the most common but they’re also the variety that tastes a bit less sweet and they have a sort of earthy/grassy flavor.
I like them but if you prefer the sweet ones, go especially for the red bell peppers. I also love the orange and the yellow ones.
Bell peppers might not be as popular as onions or tomatoes in recipes but they still feature in plenty of them. It’s quite the inconvenience when you can’t find some good, flavorful ones. That can definitely happen when they’re out of season.
Plus, when they’re out of season, they get can be a bit expensive. If you’re trying to feed a big family, the cost will quickly add up.
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Best Bell Pepper Substitute: My Favorites
I should mention that my favorite best bell pepper substitute is to use the frozen bell peppers from my freezer. If I don’t need to use them raw, frozen bell peppers are an awesome resource.
Nevertheless, not everyone will prefer the frozen ingredient so we should also cover fresh ingredients to serve as the best bell pepper substitute.
1. Freeze fresh bell peppers
I actually freeze bell peppers during the summer when they have the most amazing flavor so that I can use them during the winter.
Trust me, they taste really good but I recommend using a vacuum sealer.
When I need them in a recipe, I don’t defrost them. I just add them frozen to soups, stews, pasta, stir fries and so on. To make matters easier for me, before freezing them, I cut my bell peppers into different shapes and sizes. Some recipes might need cubes while others might need them julienne.
The exception is that I don’t use frozen bell peppers as a topping for pizza. I’m afraid that they might leave a bit of water, especially since I’m using a countertop oven for baking my pizza.
If you’re using an outdoor oven that gets extremely hot, you can add the frozen peppers as a topping. There’s no danger when the temperature gets that high.
All in all, that’s why my first recommendation for the best bell pepper substitute: just freeze some during the summer when they taste the best.
I much prefer that over buying imported and overpriced ingredients. I just wanted to let you know about this, in case you haven’t thought of it.
If you don’t like the idea of freezing fresh vegetables or you don’t have the space for storing them, let’s talk about the fresh vegetables that can serve as the best bell pepper substitute in various recipes.
2. Canned peppers
Before moving on to talking about fresh substitutes for bell peppers, let’s talk about the canned options.
You can buy canned roasted red peppers that are either diced or whole. I prefer the whole ones because they have so many uses.
We can use the fire roasted red peppers for sandwiches, pizzas, paninis, salads, pastas, stews, with meats, and even in soups if you don’t mind their smokiness.
When I buy these, I prefer those that are only preserved in water, salt, and citric acid. Their taste is sweet, smoky, and tangy. Moreover, they’re soft and tender but they’re not mushy, I love that.
I don’t particularly like those preserved in vinegar because they lack freshness and they are not as versatile since they taste a bit vinegary.
Where to Buy?
3. Italian sweet pepper
This is a long and red pepper that has an amazingly sweet taste. Other people also call them simply sweet long peppers. Kapia peppers are the same thing, just the name is different.
I will admit that, when they’re in season, I often go for this variety and forget all about bell peppers.
They are just sweet and delicious. They’re not as meaty but they cook quickly and still preserve a bit of crunch in frittatas, stir fries or as pizza toppings.
Italian sweet peppers are a frying pepper, in Italy they’re often sautéed in olive oil and added to meats and pasta.
Plus, you’ve never grilled or roasted delicious vegetables until you’ve tried roasted Italian sweet peppers.
4. Sweet mini peppers
Who doesn’t love how sweet mini peppers taste? Their major selling point is in the name.
They’re an amazing variety but if you cook a recipe for many people, you’ll just need to many sweet mini peppers. If those need to be chopped, it will take quite a while until you reach the desire quantity.
Moreover, in some places around the world, sweet mini peppers can be quite expensive. That’s a major disadvantage, although I love their flavor and texture.
Mini peppers are smaller and sweeter than larger bell peppers.
They also have no heat, they’re not spicy at all.
You can find them in red, yellow, and orange colors. They are often packaged in bags of sweet mini peppers that feature the three colors.
5. Poblano peppers
If there’s one green chili variety that tastes almost like green bell peppers, that’s the poblano.
The only problem is that they can be a bit hot. They’re not unacceptably hot for most people but it also depends on what you end up buying.
Taste them before adding them to the rest of the ingredients. If you find them too spicy, completely remove the seeds and the membranes.
They even look a bit like bell peppers. They’re wide near the stem. The difference is that poblanos taper towards the end, forming a kind of triangle.
Where to Buy?
Cubanelle peppers are even less hot than poblano but I don’t know if they are just as easy to find where you live.
Most of them come from the Dominican Republic.
They’re mostly like an Italian Sweet Pepper but green instead of red.
Since they have such a generous size, they work well for stuffing, too.
Moreover, you need only 1 cubanelle, maybe one and a half cubanelle, to substitute a medium-sized bell pepper.
It’s sweet, the flavor will go well with everything, whether you’re eating it in salads or cooking with it.
Cubanelle and banana peppers are different varieties but they have a lot in common so these 2 can be used interchangeably, as well. The difference is that cubanelle is sweeter, which is an awesome feature.
7. Anaheim peppers
These are grown in California and they’re also known as California chili.
Some might be a bit spicy but, generally, they’re very mild. That’s why this variety works perfectly as one of the best bell pepper substitutes, no matter what you want to use it for.
They grow to a length of approximately 7 inches. They’re not tiny at all.
2 Anaheim peppers will be enough to replace 1 medium-sized bell pepper.
However, those living outside the US might not find this variety so easily. That’s their only drawback.
If you want to buy them canned, they’re usually labeled as green chilies.
8. Banana peppers
Another variety that belongs to the chili family but has either no heat or just offers a slight tingle is the banana pepper.
It has a slightly sweet, tangy taste.
They can grow between 4 to 8 inches in length. If you find some big ones, you’ll just need 2 banana peppers to substitute 1 medium bell pepper.
You can use jalapeños to substitute bell peppers in many recipes but you must be able to handle the heat.
Jalapeños might not be the spiciest chile on the planet but they still pack plenty of heat.
If you can handle spicy, add as much as you’d like.
If not, use them with moderation, whether you’re using them in salads, sandwiches, on pizza, oven roasted or in stews.
The advantage is that you can easily find them canned but they tend to be a bit expensive.
Moreover, I absolutely prefer them fresh. They have a wonderful aroma but can set our mouths on fire if we eat too many.
Where to Buy?
10. Cherry peppers
Can cherry peppers be used as the best bell pepper substitute?
They can but you have to handle a bit of heat. This variety is a bit hot, quite around what jalapeño offers.
Cherry peppers, which are also known as pimento peppers, score around 2,500 to 5,000 SHU on the Scoville scale.
Thus, if you can handle that level of spiciness, you can cook with cherry peppers or add them raw to whatever you’re cooking.
I love their sweet flavor, it will be a burst of flavor, sweetness, and spiciness.
The fruits are shaped like a heart and the skin has a bright red color. They’re simply adorable. The fruit measures 3-4 inches long and 2-3 inches wide. The sweet taste is its main selling point.
If you want to make stuffed peppers, the perfect substitute is to make stuffed zucchinis.
Tomatoes work too but I greatly prefer stuffed zucchinis. I love them even more than stuffed peppers.
You might think that in some circumstances zucchinis don’t have much taste but, in this case, they just are absolutely delicious. In my opinion, besides other pepper varieties, zucchinis are the best bell pepper substitute for stuffing.
Popular Recipes with Bell Peppers
Let’s see which are some very popular recipes that you’ll need to use substitutes for.
I’m first going to mention salads when it comes to recipes that call for bell peppers. We already know that we can make a wide variety of salads with these fruits, their crunch is just delicious.
You can buy canned roasted red peppers to use in all salads that call for fresh bell peppers. Roasted peppers are not crunchy but their taste is sweeter and it adds another dimension to any salad or dish they’re used in. I love them.
Other than roasted peppers, you can use whatever other pepper variety you can find where you live. You can use Anaheim, banana peppers, cubanelle, Italian sweet peppers, poblano or any other variety you can get your hands on.
Sheet-Pan Italian Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches
A simple, best bell pepper substitute that you can use for these sandwiches are roasted red peppers. That way, you won’t have to oven-roast the peppers, you just have to cook the sausage.
Otherwise, add along your sausage whatever pepper variety you can find. Italian sweet peppers are awesome for this recipe but so are other varieties that I’ve talked about above, whether they’re hot or no.
Fajita in a bowl
Some recipes for fajita in a bowl call directly for sweet mini peppers so we already have the best bell pepper substitute in this case.
Nevertheless, you can buy canned roasted peppers if you want to make things easier for you.
Or you can use any pepper or chili variety you can find.
Or just skip adding peppers entirely.
Goat cheese spread in roasted pepper cups
If you’ve seen a picture for this recipe, you might have noticed that orange or red bell peppers are used and they’re stuffed with a goat cheese spread.
Since we’re talking about stuffed peppers, if you don’t want to use any other pepper or chili variety, I recommend using tiny roasted zucchini cups as a substitute.
Sweet mini peppers don’t work for this recipe because not a lot of goat cheese spread can be fitted in those mini peppers.
Grilled red pepper dip
You can just buy canned roasted peppers and you’ve skipped doing a bit of work for this grilled red pepper dip.
Some versions of this recipe might also call for sun dried tomatoes. As a substitute for sun dried tomatoes for this dip recipe, you can use a bit of tomato paste.
Red pepper soup
Italian sweet peppers is the variety that will preserve the fiery red color of this recipe. Most recipes will call for roasted peppers so you can buy canned roasted peppers as the best bell pepper substitute for this soup.