Skip to main content
Ingredients

Which Bell Peppers Are Sweetest? 

Here’s what to look for when shopping for bell peppers.

Red bell peppers add a vibrant sweetness (and bright pop of rosy color) to this Curried Chicken Soup with Coconut and Kale. But can you substitute any type of pepper you find at the supermarket in this or other recipes?

Bell peppers come in a rainbow’s worth of hues, and the colors do vary in flavor, but much of how they look is really about the stage of maturity they’ve reached. 

Sign up for the Cook's Country Dinner Tonight newsletter

10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

All bell peppers start out green before turning into shades of red, orange, or yellow; because green bell peppers are picked before they’re fully ripe, they have a more bitter, vegetal taste. 

Yellow and orange peppers are sweeter than green, but the red ones are significantly sweeter still and have the most vitamins as well. Some varieties of bell pepper even appear brown, white, lavender, and dark purple, depending on their cultivar and their level of ripeness. For the most part, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers can be used interchangeably in recipes, despite their small differences in flavor.

When shopping for bell peppers, look for ones that feel heavy for their size and have tight, shiny skin. Here at Cook’s Country, we use medium peppers, which weigh 7 to 8 ounces. They’ll measure about 1 cup when chopped, so you may need to substitute bigger or smaller peppers depending on your recipe.

If your recipe doesn’t specify which bell pepper you should add to your dish, then the sweetest red bell pepper will often do the trick, thanks to its versatile flavor. But knowing these differences will help you make the right decision for your dish and appreciate the rainbow of flavors among the bell pepper family.