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The best substitutes for bell peppers

The best substitutes for bell peppers

You just got home from work, the kids are hungry, and you have a recipe ready to cook for dinner. Scanning the ingredient list makes your stomach turn. You forgot to pick the peppers on the way home from work.

I’m sure we’ve all been in this same scenario at some point. As tempting as it may be to throw in the towel and order takeout, don’t let a lack of peppers stop you from creating a delicious meal!

In this article, we’re going to outline the best bell pepper substitutes for everything from fajita filling, pizza toppings, hummus dip, and even stuffed peppers.

So what are the best substitutes for bell peppers? The best substitutes for bell peppers will depend on the recipe. Think about whether you need a substitute for the flavor, texture, or completeness of the dish, and find a substitute that does the trick.

Once you’ve figured out how peppers are used, you can choose vegetables that have similar flavors, structures, or textures to become a meal substitution wizard!

Stay with us to find out more about which foods are the best alternatives to bell pepper.

How to Substitute Bell Peppers in Fajitas

There’s nothing quite as delicious as a sizzling, flavorful fajita that you can make yourself.

Although the most common fillings for fajitas are onions and bell peppers of all colors, there are many different vegetables you can use to replicate the delicious flavor and texture of a bell pepper.

spicy substitutes

Maybe you like bell peppers, but are looking for something more adventurous to fill your fajitas and wake up your taste buds. The following options may be perfect for you.

1. Anaheim peppers

These elongated green peppers are relatively mild in terms of heat, but pack more punch than your standard pepper, which probably never took karate lessons.

When measuring the heat of peppers, we use a scale called Scoville, in which each pepper is classified differently according to its level of heat.

While bell peppers measure between 0-100 on the Scoville scale, Anaheim peppers are rated at 500-1,500 SHU, making them a slightly spicier option for your fajita that won’t make you lose taste or make you look for milk

2. Banana peppers

A pretty light yellow color, banana peppers are a sweet and spicy option.

Some varieties will be a little sweeter, while the hot ones can be very powerful, so be sure to read the label in the store.

Its Scoville index is about 500, so it’s not bad for those sensitive to heat.

3. Poblano peppers

These deep green peppers are one of the hottest options, scoring 2,000 on the Scoville scale.

Of course, if you really want something to kick up the heat factor, we have an article on the best habanero hot sauces waiting for you.

Substitutes for a Non-Traditional Touch

Check out this section if you don’t like peppers, don’t have any on hand, or just want some inspiration to get more creative with your fajita recipe of a lifetime.

1. Mushrooms

Like peppers, there are many varieties of mushrooms available, all of which are highly textured and capable of absorbing flavors well.

These characteristics make mushrooms a great option to replace peppers in fajitas. The most common options are portabellos or creminis. They add some earthiness and umami flavor to your fajitas.

If you want to venture out, enoki, oyster, or shiitake mushrooms are also a great option. Don’t be afraid to get creative and choose something you’ve never tried before.

2. Green beans

Green beans are mild in flavor, but can give a really nice crunch to a dish like fajitas. They also taste amazing when slightly charred and roasted, making them a perfect substitute.

3. Jicama

You may not be familiar with this option, but jicama is a potato-like root vegetable with a brown skin and a really soft, crunchy interior.

They don’t have a ton of flavor, so they’re a great vehicle for the different sauces, spices, and seasonings you’ll add to your fajitas.

4. Zucchini

This summer squash has a delicate flavor and smooth texture that tastes great when cooked over high heat. It soaks up sauces and can add an interesting component to your dish.

5. Broccoli

The world is divided into two camps: those who love broccoli and those who don’t. Many people fall into the broccoli-loving category and enjoy the crunch of broccoli cooked any way.

For a softer texture, cut the broccoli into small florets and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes before using in your fajita recipe.

6. Julienne carrots or sweet potatoes

These orange tubers can add great crunch and sweetness to your fajitas. I like to cook them with the onions, so they soften and caramelize.

7. Corn kernels

For a touch of texture and sweetness, coat your ears of corn with olive oil and a little chili powder. Lightly grill the corn on the cob and remove the kernels. Add it to your fajita and enjoy it.

8. Sliced Eggplant

Using eggplant instead of bell peppers in your fajita is a great opportunity to play with the marinade. Cut the ends of the eggplant and cut it into thin strips.

Make a mixture of lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, a little sugar and some salt. Cover the eggplant, then use it as you would use the peppers in the recipe.

Substitutes for a Vegetable Dip Dish

One of the quickest and easiest snacks to enjoy during a busy day is your favorite dip, like hummus or baba ganoush, and some pepper sticks.

There are plenty of options you can use instead that will give you a nice crunch and fill you up.

1. Carrot sticks

They’re a classic choice for dipping, offering a crunchy crunch and sweet flavor that complements most dips.

2. Broccoli or cauliflower florets

Their tree shape offers plenty of space for sauces to soak, making them a perfect vehicle for snack time.

3. Snap Peas

The sweet flavor and satisfying “snap” of these peas make them a great resource. Plus, they have a lot of surface area, which means more sauce per bite.

4. Jicama sticks

You may have tried cooked jicama in your fajita, but it’s just as good raw! It has a neutral flavor and a high crunch factor, exactly what you want to make your dip sing.

5. Asparagus

Although not as commonly used as a vehicle for hummus, fresh asparagus has a lovely sweetness and the perfect texture to stand in for your bell peppers.

6. Cucumber Rounds

I like to use cucumbers when I’m feeling a little fancier because you can cut them into rounds, top them with a little sauce and a sprinkling of parsley, and it looks like you’ve made an elaborate low-calorie canapé.

7. Celery sticks

If you’re on the go, you can stuff the center of the celery sticks with your hummus or dip and tuck them into a bowl, making them a great one-handed snack.

8. Endive or chicory leaves

If you want to replace the peppers with a vegetable that has a little more heat, endive and radicchio have a sharper and slightly bitter flavor. That can make them a great balance for a creamy or rich sauce.

Bonus: Any of the above vegetables, but pickled!

There’s nothing like the satisfying acidity of a pickled vegetable and many of the above options are great for dipping. A couple of our favorites are the Spicy Pickled Asparagus or the Pickled Green Beans and Carrots.

Substitutes for stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers are a great dinner option because you can get creative with the fillings.

I love a simple combination of rice or quinoa with ground beef, chicken or lentils and fresh herbs like cilantro and green onion. Add some chili powder for a special touch.

Here are some delicious alternatives to try incorporating into your meal plans.

1. Poblano or Anaheim peppers

As I’ve mentioned above, these peppers are great substitutes if you’re looking for something with a little more heat.

The walls of these peppers also hold the filling well, so they won’t fall apart. Poblanos are larger than Anaheim and can be easier to stuff.

2. Acorn Squash

Pumpkins of all varieties are lovely, but acorn squash have a larger center, making them better for stuffing. They are sweet, like bell peppers, but are more substantial to help fill.

To prepare the squash for roasting, you need to cut it in half, remove the seeds, and coat it with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Place cut side down on a cookie sheet and roast for about 20-30 minutes at 400°F. Once softened, you can add the filling and roast it until heated through.

3. Loaded Russian or Sweet Potatoes

I love using these potatoes as vehicles for creative fillings. You will need to bake them first and remove part of the center before filling them.

Russet potatoes have a neutral flavor, while sweet potatoes will add sweetness to the recipe.

4. Eggplant

Once roasted, the eggplant has a deliciously creamy texture and its shell is great for holding the filling. Again, you may want to scoop out some of the center (perhaps use it to make your own eggplant sauce) before filling.

5. Tomatoes

If you are going to stuff tomatoes, be sure to remove all the seeds and liquid from the center first. They have a great sweet flavor that complements a lot of stuffing and they hold up well to roasting and stuffing.

6. Zucchini

Like aubergines, zucchini have a lovely soft texture once roasted, and a neutral flavor, so they’ll absorb the flavor of whatever you stuff them with. Be sure to cut them lengthwise and remove the seeds before stuffing.

7. Cabbage

This vegetable might take a little more work, but cabbage rolls and stuffed cabbage leaves are classics for a reason. You can get creative with the fillings or use a classic recipe.

You will need to soften the leaves before peeling them from the cabbage, and then roll the stuffing into a small bundle. Top with a sauce (I like a basic tomato sauce), some cheese and bake until bubbly.

Substitutes for peppers on pizza

There are few more classic pizza toppings than green peppers. Let’s look at some substitution options.

1. Arugula

This underrated leafy green is wonderful on pizza, adding a spicy herbaceous flavor that can cut through rich ingredients like meats and cheeses.

I like to add it to the top of the pizza during the last 3-5 minutes of cooking so it doesn’t char too much.

2. Any hot pepper

The hot pepper options available for your heat preference are virtually limitless. Some of the ones we like for pizza are fresh jalapenos or pickled chiles.

If you want to try something new, look at the options you can find in the produce section of your supermarket.

3. Mushrooms

White or button mushrooms are most common for pizza, but if you want to substitute bell peppers, you may want something with a little more flavor.

We suggest you try sliced portabello mushrooms marinated with a little balsamic vinegar, basil, and a touch of sugar.

Let them sit in the marinade for a few minutes, then add them to the pizza. They will have a great texture and add a bit of sweetness to your creation.

Does the color of the peppers differ?

This question is common because it seems that each color of pepper would denote a different subspecies of pepper.

The interesting thing about multicolored bell peppers is that they are all of the same variety. The only difference between them is that they are at different levels of maturation.

The least ripe is the green pepper. It has not had time to ripen on the vine and has the most bitter taste of all colors.

As the peppers mature, they change color, turning from green to yellow to orange. These varieties are slightly sweeter than the green ones.

Red bell peppers are the ripest and have the sweetest flavor. That is why they are ideal to combine with spicy, salty or acidic dishes, to help balance the flavor profile of your dish.

What seasonings and foods complement peppers?

Sweet peppers pair well with many foods to create endless food options . Whether you use them for extra crunch or for a fresh, slightly sweet taste, there are always other flavors to complement them.


  • chili powder
  • Oregano
  • Paprika – try smoked paprika for an extra layer of flavor!
  • garlic powder
  • Thyme
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Lemon


  • feta
  • Goat cheese
  • Parmesan
  • Buffalo mozzarella


  • Ham
  • Bacon
  • Chicken
  • Mince
  • Lentils
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Tofu - try smoked tofu for an extra kick!
  • Eggs


  • Basmati rice
  • Quinoa
  • Darling
  • bulgur
  • couscous
  • Barley

As you can see, there are plenty of bell pepper substitutions that you can use in any recipe. Don’t be afraid to be creative in your kitchen. You can even try using more than one option at a time to spice up your final creation.

Cooking is all about having fun and creating something new. While we’ve given you plenty of options to try, don’t let this list limit you!

If you see something interesting and think “maybe I could use this instead”, go for it! And then come back here and tell us in the comments how you used it and how it turned out.