30 July 2022

The 12 best substitutes for Cuban pepper for your recipes

By Killian

If you don’t like spicy and you prefer softer, sweeter peppers, you probably like cubanelle peppers. Although sometimes they can surprise you with a touch of spiciness, it is a very rare occasion. However, the lack of heat does not make them boring.

These banana-shaped greenish peppers They have so many uses in the kitchen.It would be difficult to name them all. You can cook them, roast them, mix them into a delicious sauce or dip, or simply add them to whatever salad or dish you have in mind.

But what can be a good cubanelle pepper substitute in case you don’t have any? Read on to find out.

The Best Substitutes for Cubanelle Peppers

Cubanelle peppers belong to the category of predominantly sweet peppers, although they can be slightly hot at times. In addition to the most common type, which is the green cubanelle pepper, you may also come across yellow or even red-orange varieties.

Since Cubanelle peppers are mostly picked before they are fully ripe, they are most often green. When they reach maturity they will be this vibrant red-orange color. The intermediate state between these two ripening points would be yellow.

The higher the ripening point, the sweeter the pepper will be. However, many people appreciate the subtle sweetness with a hint of tartness that the green Cubanelle pepper offers. That is why they are so popular, especially in Italian cuisine.

Cubanelle peppers are so popular in Italian cooking that they are also known as Italian frying peppers. The way the Italians prepare them is by frying them in a pan and then sprinkling a little salt and olive oil on top.

As we have said, Cubanelle peppers are banana-shaped, elongated, up to 15 cm long and about 5 cm wide. When you buy these peppers, make sure they are firm with no soft spots, and that the skin is light and shiny.

As for the Scoville heat scale, cubanelle peppers rarely exceed 1,000 units, which is considered fairly mild. Even the hottest variety of cubanelle peppers will still be 5 times milder than the average jalapeno, which is usually at 5,000 units.

What would be the best substitute for cubanelle pepper? Let’s look at the best options if you’re looking for something new, or just can’t find a good lot.

1. Bell peppers

When it comes to a mild and sweet substitute for cubanelle peppers, you can’t go wrong with bell peppers. They are probably the most versatile peppers, with countless uses in the kitchen, and you can combine them with almost any flavor and texture.

Unlike cubanelle peppers, bell peppers are shorter and broader. That makes them even more suitable for stuffing, and that’s probably one of the most popular methods of preparing these peppers.

Bell peppers come in a variety of colors, including yellow, green, red, and orange. This makes them a great way to add some color to your plate or to make a boring meal more appealing. Also, they have a fairly neutral flavor profile that you can easily adjust.

2. Anaheim peppers

When looking at Anaheim peppers, some may mistake them for the Cubanelle pepper. It is green, elongated and fine like the Cubanelle, although it is usually a little longer. Another similarity is that it is mostly used before it is fully ripe, but you can also find it ripe and red.

Anaheim peppers are also quite mild, so you’ll rarely find a hotter variety. However, the hottest varieties of cubanelle peppers will rarely exceed 1,000 SHU. The hottest Anaheim pepper, on the other hand, can reach 2,500 units.

However, 2,500 units is still not considered too hot, considering that the jalapeño can reach 8,000 units. However, you should be aware that sometimes the Anaheim pepper can be hotter than the Cubanelle.

3. Poblano peppers

Poblano peppers belong in the chile category, but are still on the mild side. They can get quite large, but shape-wise they are quite similar to cubanelle peppers in that they are pointy and long, but wider.

This substitute for Cubanelle peppers is very popular in Mexican cuisine, both raw in salads and cooked in different types of chiles. However, poblano peppers release all their flavors and aromas when roasted, which is the best way to prepare them.

Since they are not as thin, they are also suitable for stuffing, similar to peppers. They are soft, semi-sweet and do not exceed 2,000 SHU. This means no nasty surprises if you can’t take the heat.

4. Shishito peppers

Originally from Japan, these little twisted green peppers are very popular in your kitchen. Although we are used to small peppers being extremely hot, this is not the case with shishito peppers, which are quite mild and sweet.

A major difference between cubanelle and shishito peppers, aside from size and shape, is in the complexity of the flavors. While Cubanelles are predominantly sweet, Shishito also offer a hit of smokiness and a hit of acidity.

So if you’re looking for a deeper flavor, and want to stick with mild peppers, shishito could be the answer. On the Scoville scale, shishito rarely exceeds 200 units, making it suitable for everyone’s palate.

5. Banana peppers

Almost identical in shape, banana and cubanelle peppers can easily be confused if it weren’t for the difference in color. Banana peppers, on the one hand, are lighter, greenish-yellow in color, while Cubanelle peppers are mostly a more intense green color.

Regarding the taste, we could say that the difference is quite subtle. Cubanelle peppers are a bit sweeter and more complex, while banana peppers are one of the most neutral flavored pepper varieties you can find.

It is precisely this neutrality of flavor that allows you to experiment with banana peppers. You can use them in practically any dish and salad, since they will absorb all the other flavors and aromas.

6. Sweet chili peppers

The sweet chile is usually red, but similar in shape to Cubanelle peppers. When it comes to flavors, the sweet chili is also on the mild side. However, the sweetness is more dominant than in cubanelle peppers, which is their main difference.

Since it is wide and long enough to be filled with various ingredients, this is one of the main cooking methods when preparing sweet chili peppers. Due to their sweetness, they are ideal for sauces, sauces, as well as salads.

Another great way to prepare these peppers is to roast, peel and add them to your favorite sauces and dishes. Roasting tends to bring out all the flavors and further enhance the sweetness.

7. Capsicum Peppers

Bell peppers, also known as capsicums, are small, round peppers that come in a variety of colors, from vibrant red to light yellow. Although they are quite small, the peppers are bursting with flavors: mainly sweet, with a subtle hint of heat.

The peppers, in addition to being used raw and cooked, are often dried and ground to make a popular spice known as paprika mix, which is used primarily in Mexican cooking. Although it can be a bit spicy, the dominant flavor is sweet.

Although they may seem too small to be stuffed, one of the most popular dishes with paprika peppers is mini stuffed peppers, when the peppers are stuffed with cheese and served as an appetizer.

8. Jalapenos

This cubanelle pepper alternative is a great option for those who don’t mind a little heat. Jalapenos are certainly on the spicy side, ranging from 2,500 to 8,000 units on the Scoville scale.

In most cases, red jalapeños will be hotter than green ones since they are more ripe. So if you’re looking for a milder variety, stick with the greens, which are also the best choice for dips and salads.

If you can take the heat, there are numerous recipes you can try with jalapeno peppers. They are delicious grilled, roasted, fried and stuffed, especially if you decide to make a popular Mexican appetizer, jalapeno poppers.

9. Pepperoncini

These yellow-green peppers, also known as Tuscany peppers or golden green peppers, are mild, sweet peppers, usually yellow, native to Italy and Greece. When it comes to flavors, pepperoncini are slightly sweeter, but still a good substitute for cubanelle.

Although usually pickled, pepperoncini are suitable for all types of cooking methods, including grilling, frying, stuffing, and pan-frying, but they can also be used raw in salads and on top of pizza.

Pepperoncini have wrinkled skin and a yellow-green color that turns red once ripe. They can be a bit spicy in some batches, but this is not usually the case.

10. Cherry peppers

As the name suggests, cherry peppers are small, round, and red, resembling bell peppers. Like pepperoncini, they are often pickled, but you can also use them in cooking, as well as in salads.

Although they are usually mild, cherry peppers can sometimes be moderately hot, something to keep in mind if you don’t like heat. They’re a great option for garnishing dishes, but you can also grill them, stuff them, or make them into poppers.

As for the heat level, they range from 2,500 to 5,000 units, which means they definitely provide a bit of a kick.

11. Hungarian Wax Peppers

Much like banana peppers in appearance, Hungarian wax peppers are native to Hungary and can be quite tricky when it comes to determining how hot they are. Since they range from 1,000 to 15,000 SHU, you can easily find yourself with a very hot pepper.

Therefore, if you are not used to hot peppers and cannot tolerate heat, it is better that you stick with the other alternatives that we have mentioned. You can say that a little hot Hungarian wax pepper goes a long way.

12. Rocotillo Peppers

Rocotillo peppers are another option on the mild side, usually ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 SHU. As you can already deduce from these figures, Rocotillo peppers cannot be considered totally mild, but rather moderately hot.

These mildly hot and predominantly sweet peppers are native to Peru, and have a characteristic flattened shape. They are quite small (about 2.5 cm long), and many people tend to confuse them with habanero peppers.

How to Choose a Cubanelle Pepper Substitute

In addition to salads (both fresh and fried), cubanelle peppers have many uses, so it’s important to choose the right substitute for each case. Due to their shape and size, they are suitable for filling with any type of filling, be it minced meat, sautéed vegetables or ricotta cheese.

You can also use cubanelle peppers in stews, yellow mole sauce, on top of pizza, or in sandwiches. They can be roasted, baked, fried or simply eaten fresh as a healthy, vitamin-packed snack.

If you absolutely cannot tolerate heat and want to stick to predominantly mild and sweet peppers, your best choices would be bell peppers, Anaheim peppers, shishito peppers, banana peppers, sweet peppers, and pepperoncini.

Remember that there can always be exceptions, even with mild peppers. As for the moderately hot category, there are poblano peppers, capsicum peppers, cherry peppers, and Rocotillo peppers, which are generally mild but can often have a slight hint of heat.

Lastly, for those who appreciate a hot pepper, opt for jalapeños or Hungarian wax peppers, which still pack a dose of sweetness that you’d expect from a Cuban pepper substitute.