Fortunately, many ingredients can work as a substitute for bell pepper.
If you ever find yourself lacking bell peppers for your favorite recipe, you can replace them with other pepper varieties or less obvious ingredients, like carrots.
Of course, not every substitute is exactly the same as bell pepper but offers as much flavor and texture.
So let’s talk about all these delicious options!
What are bell peppers?
Green, red, orange and yellow – are all possible colors in the bell pepper spectrum. This variety of pepper is also known as sweet pepper or capsicum.
Raw or cooked, bell peppers are a versatile ingredient. They’re a healthy addition to any meal due to their low calorie count and high vitamin C content.
Depending on their ripeness, bell pepper’s taste can range from mild and somewhat sweet to slightly acidic and harsh.
For example, green bell peppers have a more bitter taste than ripe red bell peppers. As they mature, they become sweeter.
Substitutes for bell pepper
Here are some excellent bell pepper substitutes you can try:
- Poblano peppers
Capsicum frutescens (or Poblano) are a wonderful substitute for green bell pepper due to their similarities in appearance and feel to bell peppers.
They’re much darker in color and have a smoky flavor, both of which might give your meal a unique spin.
Poblano peppers are spicier than bell peppers but less fiery than jalapenos. So it’s best to use them in cooked dishes like stuffed peppers, chilis and soups.
I enjoyed them instead of bell peppers in roasted pepper tacos. They had a deep and smoky flavor which really complemented other ingredients and tasted amazing.
I also used vegan cheddar cheese instead of regular cheddar for this recipe. There are quite a few delicious substitutes for cheddar if you want to try something new.
- Cubanelle peppers
If you don’t have bell peppers on hand, a Cubanelle pepper is a fine substitute. They’re great for stuffing since they’re sweeter and have thinner walls than bell peppers.
Cubanelle peppers, like many other types, have a little wrinkled appearance that may add aesthetic appeal to your food.
Even though they’re best in stuffed pepper recipes, I tried adding them to fettuccine and it turned out really good.
- Anaheim peppers
They have the appearance and texture of bell peppers but offer a bit of spice. Anaheim pepper, with its more subtle heat, complements the bold flavors of many traditional Mexican meals. Try them as an accompaniment to an enchilada casserole!
- Canned green chiles
If you don’t have any bell peppers on hand, canned green chiles can be used as a substitute. They feature a milder version of the bell pepper flavor and texture.
A staple of Tex-Mex cuisine, canned green chilies can be found in the international section of most grocery stores.
I made chili sin carne with canned green chiles instead of green peppers and it tasted wonderful.
- Sweet Banana Peppers
Banana peppers, or banana chilies, are similar in texture and look to bell peppers but offer a balanced spiciness. Banana peppers, with their mild, sweet flavor, are a nice accent to many Mediterranean meals.
- Italian Frying Peppers
If you don’t have any bell peppers on hand, Italian frying peppers are a good substitute. Because of their mild sweetness and grassy flavor they are commonly used in Italian cuisine.
I like using these peppers for sautéing and frying because they’re very good in cooked dishes.
I tried using Italian Frying Peppers for a stuffed pepper recipe with sweet corn and quinoa. They tasted as good as bell peppers!
- Piquillo Peppers
Piquillo peppers can replace bell peppers because of their modest sweetness. Often used in Spanish cuisine, they impart a smoky taste.
- Cherry Peppers (pimento peppers)
This type of pepper has a similar shape, size and texture to bell peppers but they’re often much smaller. Their sweet, slightly tangy flavor works great in a variety of recipes.
I like making roasted pimento peppers or stuffing them with cheese. They’re basically a mini substitute for red bell pepper.
Less obvious substitutes
Some popular vegetables can also replace bell peppers if you don’t have any other types of peppers.
You can use carrots for a similar crunchy texture with a touch of sweetness. Not only do they taste great, but they also provide essential nutrients like vitamin A.
You can’t really use carrots for stuffing but they’re great in Asian stir-fry dishes, soups and roasted veggie recipes.
Zucchini is another veggie that might be used as a capsicum substitute. It doesn’t have quite as strong a taste as the real thing but still makes a great option to consider.
For example, I tried making stuffed zucchini boats with the same filling as stuffed bell peppers. Although the taste was milder, they were really delicious.
Different varieties of tomatoes can be substituted for bell pepper (green tomato substitutes here) in recipes when the pepper is asked for. While not as crisp as bell peppers, they lend a nice tang and sweetness to the dish.
- Broccoli Stems
If you’re looking for a crisp and mildly sweet substitute for peppers, try using broccoli stems.
The stems of a broccoli plant are sometimes disregarded in favor of the florets, but the stems are a delicious and nutritious addition to stir-fries, salads, and other foods.
Substitute for bell pepper FAQs
In my opinion, poblano pepper is the perfect substitute for bell pepper thanks to its flavor and texture.
You can try using zucchini, tomatoes and carrots as bell pepper substitutes.
Yes, frozen bell peppers work as a substitute for fresh bell peppers. Be careful to rinse them out well and reduce the cooking time as needed.
Paprika and cumin can be used to mimic the flavor of bell pepper.
Yes, you can substitute one color of bell pepper for another. But remember that different colors of bell peppers have slightly different tastes.
Green bell peppers are often bitter while red, orange and yellow colors feature a sweeter taste.
Yes, roasted red peppers can be used to replace bell peppers. Their flavor is different but it adds a nice smoky touch to dishes.
Jalapenos can be a good bell pepper substitute in some recipes when you need a fiery flavor.
BOTTOM LINE: substitutes for bell pepper include other types of peppers, such as poblano and Cubanelle, as well as less obvious alternatives like carrots and zucchini. Although they don’t look or taste exactly like bell peppers, you can’t go wrong with using them in your cooking.
Hope you liked all these amazing alternatives to bell pepper. Share your favorite options in the comments.