The good thing is that it is not that difficult to find a bell pepper substitute, so you can carry on with whatever dish you have in mind, even if you don’t have bell peppers at hand.
If you love to cook at least one meal a day, then bell peppers are a must-have in your kitchen. They are always called for in most recipes, so it is not so uncommon for you to run out of them.
Bell pepper is also called sweet pepper or capsicum, because it is from the species Capsicum annuum. It comes in different colors such as red, yellow, green, orange, dark purple, white, and brown.
The thick walls of bell peppers are crunchy and juicy with a generally mild and sweet flavor. Green and dark purple bell peppers are mildly bitter, with a grassy taste, while red bell peppers are the sweetest among them since it’s a fully ripe version of green bell pepper.
Different colored bell peppers have lots of antioxidants. Red bell peppers are particularly rich in Vitamin C, while green bell peppers contain high phenolic acid levels, enhancing the body’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Yellow and orange bell peppers have carotenoids that improve eye health, while red and dark purple bell peppers have anthocyanin, which may improve heart health and reduce cancer risk.
Raw bell peppers stored correctly in the fridge last for up to two weeks, while cooked ones last for a maximum of 5 days when stored in the chiller.
A perfect bell pepper substitute enables you to achieve your dish’s desired taste and texture.
Here are 10 substitutes for bell pepper you can buy when you go to the supermarket or farmer’s market:
When raw, anaheim peppers are just like bell peppers – juicy and crunchy. They also have the same sweet and grassy red bell pepper flavors, making them a great bell pepper substitute.
Be mindful that anaheim peppers are very flavorful and have some heat, so use them sparingly. Depending on your preference, you might need to use fewer anaheim peppers than the number of bell peppers called for in your recipe.
Poblano peppers have the same taste like the green bell peppers but are spicier, especially when ripe. They are the best bell pepper substitute when you want to make raw or roasted stuffed peppers because they have thick walls too.
A poblano pepper can also be used in making guacamole, soups, cocktails, and stuffing for your sandwiches or salads.
You can puree the roasted poblano peppers and make them into a dressing for vegetable salad such as tomato and lettuce, much like you would do bell peppers.
They have the same heat as anaheim peppers, so avoid them if you do not want to add some heat to your dish.
Jalapeño peppers are also crunchy and grassy like bell peppers. They lack the sweet taste and are much hotter than bell peppers as they belong to the chili pepper variety.
If you are up for more heat, then jalapenos are best. Conversely, if you are feeding kids, choose another alternative.
Another critical thing to note is that they do not look like bell peppers, making them more difficult to stuff.
Szechuan or Sichuan pepper is a Chinese pepper commonly added to food in dried form. It has a citrus-like flavor but loses some of its unique taste when toasted and crushed.
They have a slightly bitter taste and mild, tolerable heat, but they are unique because they give off a numbing sensation when eaten.
If you’re feeling very adventurous, use Sichuan peppers instead of bell peppers. However, be cautious that the numbing effect can surprise many people, especially those unfamiliar with it.
Fresh pimiento peppers, also known as cherry peppers, are heart-shaped chili peppers. They look like large bell peppers but have a sweeter taste.
They are more pleasant to smell, making them a great addition to your dish if you want a more aromatic experience.
If you are after the sweet flavor of bell peppers, then pimientos are the best substitute for you. They are sweeter than peppery, even if they pack a very subtle heat.
Cubanelle peppers are also called Italian frying peppers or Cuban peppers. They are mostly sweet and have a very subtle, almost unnoticeable heat, so they are perfect bell pepper substitutes.
Compared to cubanelle peppers, bell peppers have relatively thicker walls, but they can still be used for stuffing.
Pepperoncini, also called Tuscan pepper, is known for its wrinkled skin and thin walls.
They are the best substitutes for bell peppers when preparing pizza, Italian salad, side dishes, dips, soups, or sub sandwiches.
They have mild heat, making them ideal for people who don’t like their food hot. The catch is that most grocery stores do not have fresh ones, so you will most likely end up with pickled varieties that are slightly softer and not as crunchy.
Bok choy may not be another kind of pepper, but it can still be an excellent bell pepper substitute because it has a similar texture to bell peppers – just be careful not to overcook them.
That said, if you are only after the crunchy and juicy texture, you can use bok choy instead of bell peppers in any recipe.
On the other hand, if you want something that tastes like bell peppers, you are better off with other peppers on this list.
Banana peppers, also known as banana chili, are often confused with pepperoncini because they look similar. They also taste sweet and mild, so you can use them as a bell pepper substitute.
The most significant factor to consider when using banana peppers is that they have a yellow color, so if you are looking to replace red or green bell peppers in a recipe, your dish might not look the same.
Again, green onions might not look like bell peppers, but they are considered great alternatives because once cooked, they lose their flavor and develop a sweet taste that is very similar to the taste of bell peppers.
Because of this, they are ideal alternatives when the bell pepper is supposed to be cooked. If you want to replace bell peppers in a raw salad, then green onions won’t work because they have a different flavor profile when uncooked.
Bell peppers are versatile ingredients that you can add to both sweet and savory dishes. They can also be eaten raw or cooked, depending on your preference and, of course, your recipe.
Here are a few ways to use bell peppers in the kitchen:
They add color and flavor to pizzas, making them more savory and delicious. Bell peppers are most popular in veggie pizza recipes because the orange, yellow, and red bell peppers impart a sweet taste to pizza that other ingredients like artichokes, olives, and spinach cannot.
Raw bell peppers can be munched on raw with hummus or all by themselves. In fact, eating bell peppers raw is best because Vitamin C gets depleted when cooked.
They can be made into a soup or stew combined with other vegetables or by themselves. Roasted red pepper soup is an exceptionally famous recipe. If you want to try different flavors, combine them with tomatoes to make unstuffed peppers stew.
Bell pepper salad is refreshing on a hot summer day when you want something delicious, crunchy, and chilled. Combine some bell peppers with some herbs and use wine vinegar as dressing for best results.
Add red bell peppers to vegetables with the same cooking time, like asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, and butternut squash, to get more color and crunch. Sprinkle black pepper, sea salt, and olive oil, then roast.
Diced, sliced, or chopped peppers add a crunchy texture to stir-fries, such as meat and seafood such as beef, bacon, chicken, tuna, shrimp, or sausages.
Pair bell peppers with herbs such as basil, thyme, or oregano to have an earthy and rich flavor.
Add mushrooms such as cremini, champignon, oyster, shiitake, or button.
Make a stuffed pepper dish by creating hollowed or halved peppers and stuffing their large cavities with meat, vegetables, cheese, and sauce.
Bake for about 20 minutes to soften the pepper’s thick walls. Add oats, rice, or couscous to prevent watery stuffed pepper.
Bell peppers are great with beef, chicken, pork, or fish. Add bell peppers to your chicken curry, sweet and sour pork, or baked dishes. They bring more color, crunch, and sweetness to your recipe.
Knowing what to use in the absence of bell peppers is a massive advantage in the kitchen. With that knowledge alone, you can whip up recipes that call for bell peppers even when you don’t currently have them.
Just be mindful that while bell peppers don’t have a heat factor, most substitutes you will find on this list will do because they are peppers, after all.
If you are expecting to feed children or people with sensitive digestive systems, it is best to stick with a bell pepper substitute like bok choy or green onions.