Pepperoncinis peppers are a cooking staple in Greek and Italian cuisines, but this versatile pepper has also made a splash in America for its sweet acidic flavor. If you love the taste of peppers without all the heat, some great pepperoncini substitutes include banana peppers, Anaheim chilies, poblanos, cherry peppers, rocotillo peppers, and shishitos.
What Kind of Peppers are Pepperoncinis?
Pepperoncini peppers are initially from Italy and Greece but have become very popular in the United States. These peppers also go by Tuscan Peppers, sweet Italian peppers, or golden Greek peppers.
When ripe, Pepperoncinis are bright yellow and have waxy skin. They are mildly sweet and not too spicy, but the heat level can vary from pepper to pepper, and some have a little kick.
You’ve probably seen these peppers pickled on an antipasto platter, chopped into salads, served up on pizzas, or stuffed into subs. Pepporcinis make great pickling peppers and are often found in jars, offering sweet, tangy bites to any meal.
What Do Pepperoncinis Taste Like?
Pepperoncinis aren’t too hot on the Scoville scale, ranging from 100 to 500, which is pretty mild compared to many other peppers. Comparably, Bell peppers rank in at zero on the Scoville, and the beloved Jalapeno pepper comes in around 5,000—making them about fifty times hotter than pepperoncinis.
As far as taste goes, they have an almost sweet flavor with a tangy or vinegary taste. If you’re preparing them raw and are exceptionally sensitive to heat, you can remove the seeds which carry most of the hot capsaicin.
Are Pepperoncinis and Banana Peppers the Same?
Because of how similar they look, many people wonder if pepperoncini and banana peppers are the same. While the two peppers have many similarities, they are actually different peppers.
The main difference between the two is that some Banana peppers have zero heat, just like bell peppers, whereas pepperoncinis can range up to 500 Scoville units and carry a little touch of heat.
What Are Some Good Pepperoncini Substitutes?
1. Banana Peppers
The best pepperoncini substitute has to be its close relative, the banana pepper. The banana pepper is about the same size and has a mild, tangy taste without any heat.
Usually, they’re bright yellow, but they can turn green or orangey-red as they ripen. Much like pepperoncinis, these peppers are often pickled or served raw atop salads.
2. Cherry Peppers
Cherry peppers, also called Pimiento peppers, are heart-shaped chili peppers. They’re usually bright red, but they can also vary in color, including yellow, green, and even maroon.
As far as heat goes, these peppers are about as spicy as jalapenos.
3. Trinidad Perfume Chili Peppers
Trinidad Perfume Chilis are sweet peppers often used to season dishes. They look pretty similar to habaneros, but unlike their spicy counterparts, these peppers aren’t any hotter than pepperoncinis.
These peppers are unique in that they give off a delicate scent when cooked, but they’re also delicious raw or pickled.
4. Poblano peppers
The poblano pepper, a staple in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines, originates from Puebla, Mexico. When these chilis are dried, they’re called ancho chilis. They don’t carry much heat and are most known for being stuffed in the popular Mexican dish, Chili Rellenos.
Interestingly enough, these peppers have even featured in cocktails such as the Poblano Escobar, a light and smoky, citrusy mezcal-based drink that you could make at home.
5. Anaheim Peppers
The Anaheim pepper is another excellent pepperoncini substitute because of its versatility. They range between 500 to 2,500 on the Scoville, landing somewhere between a pepperoncini and a jalapeno.
These peppers were named after where they’re most often grown, Anaheim, California.
6. New Mexico Peppers
The New Mexico chili pepper has been made popular in the Southwestern united states for its use in New-Mex or Tex-Mex cuisine. It’s a bright red pepper with a ton of flavor and not too much heat, making it an excellent substitute for pepperoncinis.
7. Rocotillo Peppers
The rocotillo pepper is similar in shape to habaneros or scotch bonnets but is much much milder in terms of heat. It ranges between 1,500 to 2,500 on the Scoville, making it on par with a mild jalapeno.
The unique thing about this pepper is its sweet and tropical taste, similar to the scotch bonnet.
8. Shishito Peppers
Shishito peppers are another great alternative to pepperoncinis. The shishito is a mild pepper, but you might find one or two that pack a punch every so often.
These peppers have been used in Japanese cuisines for ages, but more recently, they’ve found their place as an appetizer on many menus across the United States. Fried shishitos are yum!
9. Cascabel Peppers
Cascabel peppers are hot peppers with waxy skin that grows in a canonical shape. They have a sweet, fruity flavor and are about as spicy as a jalapeno. Some people compare them in flavor to bell peppers with a kick. Definitely worth a try.
10. Cubanelle Chili Peppers
The Cubanelle pepper is considered to be pretty sweet, though occasionally, some end up a little spicy. It’s a small, green pepper that is sometimes called the Italian frying pepper because they taste great fried in a pan with olive oil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Our readers often ask about other uses for these versatile peppers and wonder about the health benefits. Here are the answers to some of those questions.
Are Pepperoncinis Good on Pizza?
While this answer is subjective, I’d have to go with yes! Pepperoncinis only pack a little heat but add bright, vibrant flavors, especially when pickled. Considerably, Papa John finds Perpperocinis to be so good on pizza that every single pizza they sell comes with a pepperoncini pepper on the side!
Are Pepperoncini Good for Your Liver?
Studies have shown that the daily consumption of the heat compound in chili peppers has had beneficial effects on liver damage. This isn’t strictly confined to pepperoncinis, but according to that study, the answer is yes.
In addition to supporting positive liver health, pepperoncinis are high in vitamins A and C and are also a good source of fiber and calcium. The seeds are actually the healthiest part of the pepper.
Can You Eat Too Many Pepperoncinis?
Just because pepperoncinis are healthy, should you snack on them all day? Like everything else, pepperoncinis should be enjoyed in moderation. Nutritional experts have stated that overeating too much of any spicy pepper can irritate the mouth, stomach, and intestines.
Some people that have eaten entirely too many peppers have reported bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. How many is too many? Well, a serving size consists of about four pepperoncinis, and it probably wouldn’t sit well with your stomach to have more than two servings.
Now you know the ten best pepperoncini substitutes if you love that mild, tangy, sweet pepper flavor. There’s a good reason that these peppers are Papa John’s favorite. They taste great jarred, pickled, raw, and especially on pizza. Just don’t go overboard, or you might end up with an upset stomach!