When it comes to cooking a delicious dish, it’s important to include ingredients that speak to all of the senses, especially taste. To enhance the flavor of any meal, peppers, also known as capsicums, are the perfect way to add a touch of sweetness or a spicy kick. Available in a range of colors from a cherry red to a fiery orange, there are many types of peppers that make it very easy to have fun in the kitchen!
Originating from Central and South America, peppers have had a place on many tables throughout the years! Used as garnishes and stuffed with filling ingredients, there are many unique ways to incorporate this garden staple into any meal! Learn more about the popular types of peppers and how to use them to spruce up your next meal.
Types of Peppers
When choosing the perfect pepper, be sure to consider the ingredients you’ll be combining. Peppers are rated using Scoville Heat Units (SHU), a way to measure their heat/spiciness. The units can range from 0 to 100 (sweet peppers) and all the way up to 3,200,000 (dangerously spicy peppers).
If most of your ingredients are mild, opt for a spicy pepper to kick up the flavor profile. Or if your dish is already full of flavor, add in a few slices of a sweet pepper for an unexpected, tangy twist! With thousands of peppers available, it’s easy to find the perfect one for your culinary needs!
Known for coming in bright shades of red, yellow and green, sweet peppers are a colorful and nutritious addition that fit perfectly into many eclectic dishes. Enjoy them by themselves, sliced up with a vegetable dip or add them to a healthy stir-fry – the possibilities are endless! When it comes to bell peppers, look for 3 bumps on the bottom as those work best for cooking and enjoy peppers with 4 bumps uncooked in salads and sandwiches.
Sweet California wonder – One of the more common peppers, these kitchen staples are easily recognized by their green color, crunchy texture and earthy flavor. Make the most of these by stuffing them with meat or quinoa for a nutritious and tasty meal.
Cabernet bell pepper – Typically found in sauces, these bright red, sweet peppers are perfect for throwing into a salad straight from the chopping board or roasted to perfection.
Islander bell pepper – Less sweet than the other bell peppers, these purple peppers are best served raw, as cooking them will turn their royal color into a muddy shade.
Golden bell pepper – Sweet but mild, these peppers are best roasted as this form of cooking makes their flavor and orange color really stand out.
Carmen pepper – Don’t let it’s long-horn shape and fiery color fool you! This hybrid pepper is noticeably sweeter than most and are delicious when roasted.
Sweet chocolate pepper – The super sweet flavor of this pepper makes up for its rich and unusual coloring. Make any salad unique with a few of these thrown in!
Banana pepper – These mild peppers are named after their banana-like shape. They go through several changes in appearance when growing, like deepening in color and increasing in heat as they mature.
Roasting pimentos – Exactly as their name states, these peppers are best enjoyed when roasted! This cooking process enhances their high-sugar level for a silky smooth taste.
Sweet Italian pepper – Also known as “Tuscan peppers”, these miniature peppers are typically used as salad toppings and accents. Sweet with a tiny touch of heat, this little pepper can typically be found pickled.
Cubanelle pepper – The Cubanelle pepper, also called “the Italian frying pepper,” shouldn’t be confused with it’s spicy, light green counterpart. Their thin walls and sweet flavor make them an excellent add on to many sandwiches and pizzas.
Sometimes, a dash of spicy seasoning or a few drops of hot sauce just isn’t enough. While hot peppers can add a unique taste to the meal, some peppers that have very high Scoville scale ratings can border on being dangerous to consume. If you’re in the mood to add a touch of fire to your next meal, use one of the lower rated spicy capsicums to take your dish to the next level!
Poblano pepper – Grown all over Mexico, this ancho chile is most known for its unique use in meals, like stuffed poblanos. When dried, it’s then called an “ancho chile.”
Jalapeño pepper – Hailed as the most popular chili pepper in the world, this medium size chili is enjoyed with an array of diverse dishes. They are usually green when picked and consumed but will turn a bright red if they are allowed to fully ripen.
Kung Pao pepper – Found primarily in Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine, this long, skinny and thin-walled pepper is often compared to the cayenne chili pepper. It’s mildly hot flavor is great for adding an unexpected kick to a tame dish.
Serrano pepper – Originally from Mexico, this bright green pepper is described as “crisp, bright and biting.” Daredevils will enjoy munching on this pepper raw.
Cayenne chili pepper – Also known as the “bird pepper”, this chili pepper is popular in its original form or as a powder. Cayenne pepper can be used for flavoring dishes and drinks.
Thai pepper – While it’s small in size compared to others on this list, it packs a pretty big punch. Typically used in Thai and South Indian cuisines, the thai pepper can be used right off the vine or dried out to extend their shelf life.
The Top 3 Hottest Peppers
Komodo Dragon – Known for its delayed reaction, this chili pepper starts out with a hot, fruity flavor that eventually makes your mouth feel like it’s on fire. To get an idea, this pepper is roughly 400 times hotter than a jalapeño. Yikes!
Carolina Reaper – Officially crowned the world’s hottest chili pepper by Guinness Records, the Carolina Reaper is said to be a cross of intense heat and a fruity flavor. Classified to be six hundred times hotter than a jalapeño, this is one pepper you don’t want to mess with!
Dragons Breath – Tipping the Scoville scale at over 2 million units, this chili pepper is not safe to eat and was created for medical use as a alternative to traditional anesthetics.
Popular Pepper Dishes
Incorporating peppers is a great way to add vibrant color and unique flavor to any dish! Whether it’s as a topping or is the star of the show, choosing the right pepper can make any meal unforgettable.
Hot Pepper Jelly
Combine some of your spicy favorites into a colorful spread that delivers a fiery kick! Pair sweet peppers with a few hot ones like jalapeños or habaneros if you’re really looking to bring the heat!
Originally from the Mexican city of Puebla, this dish consists of a slightly spicy chili pepper stuffed with Mexican cheese and fried. This comfort food recipe can also be updated with other delicious fillings, such as meat or vegetables.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
This easy and healthy dinner combines delicious ingredients with a sweet and colorful bell pepper. Cut off the top of the pepper, fill with your favorites like quinoa and ground beef and sprinkle a shredded cheese of your choice on top!
Marinated Roasted Red Peppers
Save the best flavors of summer to enjoy year round! Pack slices of roasted peppers into jars filled with a preserving liquid to keep the roasted red peppers full of flavor.
Whether you’re looking to sweeten up a dish or add a little spice, peppers are one the most versatile ingredients that can liven up any meal. Slice them up and put a few on the grill to go with your favorite meat or in preparation to be canned and enjoyed later. Sweet options, such as bell peppers, are delicious both raw and roasted, while spicier peppers like jalapeños are best used sparingly. Whichever you prefer, take advantage of the thousands of delicious peppers found in your garden or local grocery store!