5 December 2022

The 11 best substitutes for peppers for your recipes

By Killian

a pepper It is a type of small, heart-shaped chili. They tend to have very little heat and are somewhat comparable to bell peppers, only with thicker, juicier meat.

Actually, are part of the species capsicum annuumwhich is also home to the aforementioned bell pepper, as well as the jalapeƱo.

Sometimes people confuse them with cherry pepperwhich looks very similar, but is actually from another family and is usually a bit spicier.

However, because they have such specific qualities, sometimes you can’t always have them ready and available for your recipe. So today we have prepared a list of 11 fantastic substitutes you can use if you suddenly run out of peppers.

The best substitute for bell pepper is paprika. Alternatively, you can also substitute cinnamon, canned bell pepper, or ground cloves for the bell pepper. Finally, if you need a pepper with a bit more heat, you can substitute Indian peppers, cherry peppers, and Italian sweet peppers for the pimento.

The best substitutes for bell pepper

The pepper can actually come in a couple of different varieties, the most common being the heart-shaped one that resembles a cherry pepper. But there is also the longer “lipstick” variety, named for its elongated shape and rounded end.

In general, they have a rich flavor and are not very spicy, in fact in the kitchen they are used more to add sweetness to a dish, since their Scoville heat unit can range between 0 and 500 SHU, which is extremely low.

This flavor and level of heat makes them ideal for things like pickling and stuffing with cheese, but they are also often used to stuff olives, a practice that became popular in France in the 18th century, as the pimiento helped soften part of the olives. of the bitterness of the olive.

With these fundamental bell pepper qualities in mind, let’s look at some substitutes you can use in your kitchen if you find yourself without any on hand.

1. Piquillo peppers

They contain that wonderful thick juicy skin that makes them ideal substitutes in many cases. They also contain a lot of that characteristic sweetness that makes peppers so delicious.

However, they also carry quite a bit of heat, which sits around 1000-1200 on the Scoville heat unit scale.

This causes them to have more than double the rating of peppers. But also keep in mind that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s still considered extremely mild and certainly isn’t going to overpower your plate.

This makes them great for things like pizza or salad toppings, or you can even stuff them with cheese and not have to worry about them dominating your plate.

2. Cinnamon

Although not a good substitute in all use cases, capsicum is often ground to make what is called “All Spice”, which is very similar to paprika.

If your recipe calls for ground pepper, consider substituting cinnamon. It has a wonderful and quite intense flavor and is just as aromatic as the pepper.

A neat trick is to cut the ground cinnamon with a bit of nutmeg, which can help tone down some of that intensity. This makes it a very convenient substitute, as both cinnamon and nutmeg are common enough that you already have a few in your spice rack.

3. Canned pepper

It may seem like the most obvious choice, but there are a few things to keep in mind with canned peppers to make them appropriate for all use cases.

One of the great advantages of canned peppers is that they are easy to come by, so you should be able to pick up a jar or two at your local supermarket without a problem.

However, they are usually pre-marinated in a fairly salty solution, which makes them higher in sodium than fresh. Be sure to drain them and dry them with a kitchen towel before cooking with them.

4. Red peppers

They are arguably more popular and used in everyday cooking than peppers, making them very accessible; I’m sure you can find them at any grocery store.

They are also one of the best substitutes because they share many similar qualities with bell pepper. They have that pretty thick, meaty skin, they also score very low on the Scoville Heat Units scale, and can impart a delicious sweetness to anything you add them to.

A good rule of thumb for substituting red bell pepper is to use 3 tablespoons of bell pepper for every 2 tablespoons of bell pepper called for in the recipe.

5. Cherry peppers

These little things are so similar to peppers that they are often confused. The easiest way to tell the difference is that the peppers are more heart-shaped, while the peppers look like little round comic bombs.

They have a coarse texture and similar skin, but differ somewhat in warmth. They range from 2,500 to 5,000 on the SHU scale.

So if you use it as a 1:1 substitute, it’s going to dominate your dish with the heat! Consider breaking it up a bit with a milder red bell pepper, or just using less to even things out a bit.

6. Sweet peppers from Holland

Also known as “Dutch peppers,” they can come in a wide range of colors and look very much like peppers.

Luckily, they have a delicious innate sweetness that makes them a great bell pepper substitute, and you can use them in a simple 1:1 ratio.

However, they are quite large, which can make them great for things like stuffing with cheese and roasting.

7. Ground cloves

Sure you wouldn’t think of ground cloves as a capsicum substitute, but you’d be surprised how well it works as a capsicum substitute.

If you want to add a bit of spice to your dish, ground cloves are the ideal substitute. They are also very versatile, you can use them in stews, stews, curries and even drinks.

8. Piquillo pepper

What makes piquillo peppers so good as a bell pepper substitute is the fact that they have no perceptible heat and offer a pleasant (albeit complex) sweet flavor.

Also, they are quite large and are very affordable and easy to grow.

Of course, they are quite different in shape and have thinner walls, making them less ideal for backfilling. But in many contexts this doesn’t matter and they should work just fine!

9. Corno Di Toro Pepper

The name of this pepper literally translates to “bull’s horn,” thanks to its elongated, horn-like shape.

Like the other suggestions on this list, they have a very mild flavor with almost no perceptible heat. They also offer a deliciously sweet flavor, making them ideal alternatives to bell pepper.

One thing to keep in mind is that they tend to be quite large so any meal where you have to chop them is not a problem, but if you plan to stuff them you might consider halving them first and using 1 bell pepper as 2 servings.

10. Banana peppers

Banana peppers are so named because they are quite long and yellow, like a banana.

They’re a little sweet, but maybe not as sweet as some of the other suggestions on this list, but they also don’t have any noticeable heat, which can make them ideal when used as a raw ingredient.

11. Italian sweet peppers

As the name suggests, they have a wonderfully sweet flavor with very little heat, making them great substitutes for bell peppers.

They also have a meaty quality that is ideal for baking, stuffing, and roasting.

How to choose the best bell pepper substitute

Although there are plenty of substitutes on the list that can really work well regardless of the cooking scenario.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the absolute best, based on a number of criteria, so you can be sure you’re getting the best type of substitute for the dish you want.


If flavor is important to the dish you’re preparing, we highly recommend the old bell pepper, which has a very mild heat level and similarly sweet flavor, making it a fantastic substitute in almost any cooking situation.


If your intended dish involves baking, roasting, or roasting stuffed peppers, it’s very important that the pepper is not too fine. They have to be a bit more robust and meaty to withstand the cooking process.

In this case, we recommend the cherry pepper, since although they are a little spicier than the peppers, when they are stuffed and cooked they are much less noticeable.


The pepper with the highest profitability is the Corno di toro pepper. This is because they are very large, which means that you can buy very few to make a large meal.

Although they’re less ideal for stuffing due to their size, for anything from salads to stir-fries, you’ll be left with a ton of one-pepper ingredients.


Once again, the bell pepper is going to be the most accessible here. This is due to their huge popularity as they are mass produced and available in all good grocery stores and supermarkets.

You shouldn’t have a problem getting them, wherever you live.

Our best choice

As you may have guessed by now, the best overall substitute for bell pepper is the traditional bell pepper. This is due to their mild and sweet flavor, their low amount of heat, and the fact that they are so common and accessible.

This, combined with the fact that you can use them in a 1:1 ratioso you don’t need to do any math when cooking with them, it basically makes them perfect substitutes.