Bell pepper is a non-spicy variety of chili peppers that is quite common. I have come across so many recipes that call for green peppers, red peppers, orange bell peppers, sweet peppers or yellow bell pepper. Bell peppers are very versatile. I have used them in so many recipes including stews, stir-fry, casseroles, salads, and baked savory dishes.
From my personal experience, I have discovered that bell peppers which have glossy and smooth skin are the best, so I always choose the best when I go to buy them
There are several reasons why you may want to use a bell pepper substitute. Maybe you are suffering from indigestion problems, or you simply ran out and need an alternative.
Whatever the reason, there are several ingredients that you can use instead of bell pepper.
Poblano peppers, Anaheim peppers, Cubanelle peppers, Serrano peppers, Sichuan peppers- a type of Chinese pepper, Jalapeño peppers, Pepperoncini, Zucchini, Pimiento, Onions, Bok Choy stems, and spices are some of the best substitutes for bell peppers. You can also use broccoli when you have no other option
While choosing a bell pepper substitute, you first need to know the flavor you are going to.
You can either want a mild flavor or subtle flavor, sweet and spicy flavor, fruity flavor, smoky flavor or simply a spicy taste. Different substitutes will give you different results, so keep your goal in mind when choosing it.
- Poblano peppers
Poblano peppers are, in my opinion, the best bell pepper substitute. The Poblano peppers are very similar to bell peppers and are nearest to bell peppers in the scoville scale.
For starters, Poblano peppers have meaty, thick walls that hold their structure even when cooked. Poblano peppers also have a spacious internal cavity, similar to the one in bell peppers, which makes them suitable for stuffing.
Poblano peppers are less sweet compared to the red and yellow pepper. They have a unique taste and don’t have the grassy flavor that green bell peppers have. Compared to bell peppers, Poblano peppers are at a higher spice level.
However, Cayenne Peppers have higher scoville heat units when compared to Poblano hot peppers.
My favorite thing about Poblano peppers is that they carry mild heat. Therefore, most people can handle it, including your little ones. This means that it can be used on a variety of dishes such as pasta dishes and Mexican dishes.
Poblano peppers are readily available since most supermarkets stock them. You’ll find them right next to bell peppers in the supermarket.
- Anaheim peppers
Anaheim peppers are perfect substitute if you don't like bell pepper. They add a fruity earthy flavor to the dishes they are added to.
Anaheim peppers usually have a crunchy consistency when they are uncooked. When you cook them, Anaheim peppers become much sweeter.
Anaheim peppers also have thick walls. Therefore, you can use them for stuffing the same way you use bell peppers.
It is important to note that Anaheim peppers are spicier compared to bell peppers. However, the heat is tolerable. The heat of Anaheim peppers is similar to that of jalapeno.
All in all, Anaheim peppers will give you results similar to the ones bell pepper give you.
- Cubanelle peppers
Another good substitute for bell pepper is Cubanelle peppers. In case you do not like the grassy flavor of green bell pepper, these should be your go-to substitute.
Cubanelle peppers are sweet and crunchy. Their walls are thinner compared to those of bell pepper, but you can still use them for stuffing. I suggest using Cubanelle peppers as pizza toppings, in salads, and in casseroles.
Compared to bell pepper, Cubanelle peppers are spicier. However, most people can handle the heat of Cubanelle peppers.
Jalapeno is a great substitute if you want to make your dish spicier.
Jalapenos are also not as sweet as bell peppers, so they will not make your dish too sweet. Compared to bell pepper, jalapenos are much smaller in size. Therefore, jalapenos may not be ideal for stuffing.
If you do not like spicy food then I suggest using another substitute. I know several people who can’t handle the heat of the jalapeno. You can tone down this spiciness by removing the pith and ribs before adding it to your dish.
Green jalapenos are very similar to green bell pepper. They both have a grassy flavor. Therefore, you can easily substitute one for the other.
You can use pepperoncini as a bell pepper substitute. In terms of appearance, pepperoncini have a yellow color or green color and bulbous shape.
Pepperoncini has a mild, sweet, and tangy flavor. Their walls are quite thin, so they are not ideal for stuffing. However, they work well in other recipes that call for bell pepper.
You can easily confuse pepperoncini with banana peppers, so be careful not to buy one when you intend to buy the other. Although they have a similar appearance, the two have different purposes.
Zucchini is another bell pepper substitute that I find very interesting. Zucchini can easily substitute bell peppers of different colors, be it green, yellow, or red. The flavor of zucchini differs from that of bell pepper. I suggest using zucchini when you want your dish to have a subtle flavor.
Zucchinis have thick walls. Therefore, they are ideal for stuffing. You can use them to stuff chicken, veggies, or whatever meat you like.
Zucchini is also a great addition to savory baked dishes, stir-fries, and casseroles. They do not add extra flavor to the dish. Instead, the zucchini takes up the flavor of other ingredients.
- Pimiento peppers
Pimiento peppers are heart-shaped peppers with a bright red color that can be used as bell pepper substitutes. When cooked, pimiento peppers have a sweet flavor. They can actually be used in place of red bell peppers as they have a vibrant color.
Pimento peppers are smaller compared to bell pepper. They also have thin walls. Therefore, they are not ideal for stuffing. I suggest using pimiento peppers in stir fry recipes, casseroles, and chili beans.
Pimiento peppers are readily available. You can easily find them at the grocery store or vegetable market. You can either buy the fresh ones or the ones that are sold in jars. Just keep in mind that the ones sold in jars do not have the same crunchy texture that the fresh ones have.
In cases where you intend to fry the bell peppers, onions can be a good replacement. When fried, onions become sweet and add a sweet flavor to your dish. They also tend to lose the typical onion flavor when cooked. Just like bell pepper, onions will give your dish a crunchy texture.
There are several varieties to choose from when you decide to use onions as bell pepper substitutes. Yellow onions work well in recipes that cook for a long time since they can withstand long cooking times. White onions should be used in recipes that call for raw bell pepper, especially salads.
Red onions can be used in soups, stews, or even salads to elevate the flavor of your dish.
Sweet onions and shallots are quite versatile since they cannot overpower your dish. Therefore, you can use them in any recipe that calls for bell pepper. Pearl onions are a great addition to sauces. You can also use green onions.
- Bok Choy stems
Bok Choy stems are not a common bell pepper substitute but they give good results. Personally, I have used them in so many recipes that call for bell pepper, and I have never been disappointed.
Bok Choy is Chinese white cabbage. It is a very common ingredient in Asian recipes. It is important to note that you should only use the white stalks when you want a bell pepper substitute. The dark green leaves usually have a bitter taste.
Bok Choy stems are crunchy and have a mild sweet taste. You can easily chop the stems into small pieces before adding them to your dish.
Bok Choy stems can be used in recipes that require cooking. However, it is important that you do not overcook them. When overcooked, the stems lose their crunch feel and become mushy.
In case you do not have any of the substitutes we have discussed above, you can use spices to enhance the flavor of whatever you are cooking. There are a variety of spices you can use to give your dish that extra kick, and a flavor similar to bell pepper.
Some of the spices you can use include; ginger powder, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, and mustard powder.
The only downside with using spices is that they will not give you the crunchy texture that the other substitutes will give you. Otherwise, the flavor you get will be amazing.
In case you do not have any of the substitutes we have discussed above, you can try using broccoli. Broccoli holds its shape when cooked, so it will not become mushy or slimy.
Broccoli will also give your dish a crispy and crunchy texture. I suggest using broccoli in your stir-fry recipes for that extra crunch. You can also use broccoli in baked savory dishes. Broccoli will add a slightly bitter flavor to the dishes you add it to.
Can you substitute one color of bell pepper for another?
Green bell peppers, red bell peppers are not similar in terms of flavor. The red and yellow bell peppers are much sweeter compared to the green ones.
Additionally, red and yellow bell pepper does not have the grassy flavor that green bell pepper has.
Despite the differences, you can easily substitute one color of bell pepper for the other. Just keep in mind that the yellow and red bell pepper will add a sweet flavor to your dish.