Banana pepper

Banana Pepper – All about Heat, Flavor, Uses, Substitutes

What is banana pepper?

Banana peppers are a popular type of chili pepper widely used in cooking. They are known for their mild heat, sweet flavor, and yellow color. Also called yellow wax peppers, or banana chili peppers, their elongated and curved shape resembles a banana. Many types of cuisine around the world incorporate banana peppers as a main ingredient, including Mexican, Mediterranean, and American dishes.

The sweet and slightly tangy flavor of these peppers gives them a distinct role as a widely-popular ingredient across cultures. While often found topping sandwiches, pizzas, and salads, banana peppers can also be pickled, grilled, or roasted, which allows the consumer to taste their flavor in different ways.

Banana pepper
SHU0 - 500
Median SHU250
FlavorSweet and tangy, with a mild heat
Species Capsicum annuum
OriginSouth America (believed)
UsesPickling, stuffing, roasting, grilling, salads, etc.

Are banana peppers spicy? How hot are they?

Banana pepper scoville: 0 to 500 SHU

Banana peppers have a mild heat, regularly added to dishes to offer a subtle spice. With a Scoville rating of 0 to 500 units, their heat level is similar to pepperoncini peppers. For those who want to enjoy flavor without too much spice, banana peppers are the perfect choice.

In comparison to jalapeño peppers, ranging from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units, banana peppers are less spicy. However, the heat levels of banana peppers can depend on their maturity and the conditions in which they grow. Ripe banana peppers tend to be sweeter and milder, while unripe peppers may offer a slightly hotter taste.


Where do banana peppers come from?

Banana peppers originate from South or Central America. Indigenous peoples cultivated and enjoyed these peppers for years prior to their introduction to European explorers, who then brought banana peppers to Europe during the 15th century. Growth and cultivation of banana peppers expanded over time globally, and they are now popularly grown in the United States, Italy, and Greece.

Uses for banana peppers


What are banana peppers good for? How to use them?

As touched on earlier, banana peppers are incredibly versatile and incorporated in a variety of dishes. A popular addition to many cuisines, these peppers enhance the taste and increase the appearance of various meals. Their yellow color and unique shape give them a visual appeal while their mild heat accommodates a variety of tastes.

Pickling banana peppers is one of its most common practices. Pickled banana peppers are a staple in many households, either enjoyed on their own or as a topping for sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. The pickling process enhances their flavor and helps preserve them for extended periods of time.

Another great way to incorporate banana peppers into a meal is to stuff them with a mixture of cheese, meat, and/or vegetables. Stuffed banana peppers are a tasty appetizer or side dish to go along with the main course. One of the most popular ways to stuff them is to fill the inside of the peppers with cream cheese, mozzarella, and seasonings, then bake or grill them until they appear soft and bubbly. Create a vegetarian stuffed pepper by stuffing them with a combination of rice, black beans, and spices. Then, bake them in the oven or grill them to perfection.

Banana peppers are also often used in sauces, dips, and spreads. By blending them with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and your favorite seasonings, you will create a delicious salsa with a mild kick to share. Also common is banana pepper relish, made by combining chopped peppers with onions, vinegar, sugar, and spices. Many people enjoy this relish as a burger, hot dog, or other grilled dish topping. To create a creamy dip for chips, crackers, or vegetables, just mix puréed banana peppers with cream cheese or sour cream and enjoy.

Finally, you can sauté banana peppers with onions and bell peppers for the perfect fajita filling, or add to your favorite stir-fry for a mild, yet sweet flavor. Add some banana peppers to various cooked dishes to incorporate their tasty flavor. Casseroles, pasta dishes, and stews will gain an enhanced flavor profile while adding a hint of spiciness.


What do banana peppers look like?

Banana peppers are easily identified because of their elongated, curved shape, resembling a banana. They typically range in length from 4 to 6 inches, and their diameter is between 1-1.5 inches. Their color changes throughout their maturation process. They start with a pale green hue and, over the course of time, change into a vibrant yellow and can even take on an orange-red color as wholly ripen. The thin, glossy skin of banana peppers is smooth in texture while the inside of the pepper has a hollow cavity full of tiny edible seeds. Similar in appearance to pepperoncini or Hungarian wax peppers, their distinguishing feature is their yellow color when fully mature.

How do banana peppers taste?

Banana peppers have a unique flavor that blends tanginess and sweetness with a mild heat. With a Scoville heat ranging from 0 to 500, they are one of the mildest peppers available. In cuisine, banana peppers add a subtle spice, not intense heat.

If eaten raw, the yellow peppers have a crisp texture and taste fresh and slightly sweet. This veggie is great when combined with a variety of dishes! The deeper the color of the banana pepper, the sweeter their flavor tastes as they mature. Pickled banana peppers develop a tangy taste as the acidity from the vinegar combines with their normally sweet flavor.

How to grow banana peppers


How to grow banana peppers?

Many home gardeners set out to grow banana peppers. These low-maintenance plants can produce a large amount of peppers in a variety of climates. Typically thriving in warmer weather with plenty of sunshine, banana peppers are grown either in containers or directly in a garden. The plants will need soil that drains well, consistent watering, and regular fertilization during the growing season for the best results.

When is the best time to harvest banana peppers?

It’s important to watch the growth of the banana peppers to know when the right time is to pick them. Typically, banana peppers are ready to harvest within 65 to 75 days after planting them. Of course, the actual harvest time will depend on the desired flavor for the peppers, based on their color which transitions from green to yellow, and then to orange or red when fully mature.

Picking the peppers when they are green or yellow will offer a milder, tangier flavor, while harvesting them once further ripened with an orange or red color will result in a sweeter taste. With regular harvesting, the plants are more likely to produce peppers throughout the growing season.

Recipe ideas for banana pepper


Cooking / Recipe ideas for banana pepper

Due to their versatile nature, banana peppers are utilized in various ways to enhance a wide array of dishes. Incorporation into different recipes and meals highlight their tang, sweetness, and mild heat. From pickling to roasting, one can prepare these in numerous ways to showcase their unique flavoring.

Pickled banana peppers are often found in the refrigerators of many households, considered a staple for many foods. While they are often enjoyed on their own, the peppers make a wonderful topping for sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. Serve them as part of an antipasto platter for the incorporation of color and a unique taste.

Another method to preserve banana peppers is to can them, holding their flavor for a lengthy time period and holding them until they are ready for use. Pickling your own banana peppers is easy, just follow these steps: Combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and spices in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Next, pour it over the sliced banana peppers already placed in a jar. Let the mixture cool down, then leave in your refrigerator for a few days before enjoying.

Both fried and deep-fried banana peppers are a yummy offering for a snack or appetizer. Coat sliced banana peppers in a batter or breading, then deep fry or air fry them until the outsides are crispy and golden, and the insides are tender with a mild heat. Roasted banana peppers, on the other hand, will remove some of the heat as the roasting process helps to caramelize their natural sugars, enhancing their sweetness. Generally served with a pinch of olive oil, salt, and pepper, roasted banana peppers are a great side dish. Or, if you prefer, add them to your favorite recipes.

Some of the most famous uses for banana peppers incorporate them into a range of dishes, such as stuffed banana peppers, casseroles, pasta dishes, and stews. Dynamic in nature, they can also be added into flavorful sauces, salsas, and dips to give a mild kick to any meal. Air-fried banana peppers have risen in popularity, as this cooking technique provides a crispy texture and uses less oil than traditional frying methods, making it a healthier alternative.

Where to buy banana pepper


Where can I buy banana pepper?

Banana peppers are easily found in most grocery stores, typically offered either fresh, pickled, or canned. If you cannot locate them at your local grocery store, try searching for them at specialty food stores, farmer’s markets, or online retailers specializing in fresh produce. When choosing fresh banana peppers, seek the ones that are brightly colored, firm to the touch, and free from any dark spots or blemishes (these may indicate they are overripe).

Where can I buy banana pepper plants?

If you prefer to start gardening with banana pepper plants rather than seeds, many garden centers and nurseries offer these young plants during the growing season. Purchasing the plants directly will allow you to skip the initial germination and seedling stage as you will have a head start on the banana peppers’ growth in your garden. If you cannot find banana pepper plants locally, some online retailers specialize in shipping live plants. Buying the plants from one of those will bring them right to your door, and you can take them straight to your garden.

Where can I buy banana pepper seeds?

For gardening enthusiasts who want to grow their own banana pepper plants, you can purchase seeds or seedlings. Banana pepper seeds are usually found at your local garden centers, nurseries, or online through seed retail stores. When purchasing seeds online, ensure you locate a reputable seller to guarantee the seeds you receive are of good quality.


How do I store banana pepper?

Fresh banana peppers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, though make sure to double-check that they remain crisp and fresh. For storage, place them in a plastic bag or an airtight container and keep them in the crisper drawer (sometimes called a humidity drawer) of your refrigerator. This will help maintain their texture and flavor so that you can enjoy them over a longer period of time.

Pickled banana peppers have a longer shelf life than fresh ones and can be stored in the refrigerator for several months. For optimal storage, keep the peppers in their original jar and ensure the lid is tightly sealed, or transfer them into an airtight container before placing them in the refrigerator. This will help preserve both their tangy flavor and crunchy texture.

Like any other fresh produce, banana peppers can go bad over time. Signs that they should not be eaten include dark spots, an odor, or a mushy feel. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to throw out the peppers to avoid eating the spoiled food.

Can banana pepper be frozen?

Freezing is another common option for storing banana peppers. To freeze them, wash the peppers thoroughly and remove the stems and seeds from their insides. Place the peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet and put the baking sheet in your freezer for several hours. Once frozen, transfer the banana peppers to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag, then store them in the freezer for up to six months. Just remove them from the freezer and thaw when you’re ready to use them.


Is banana pepper healthy?

Banana peppers are nutritious and healthy to add to your diet. Low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with essential vitamins and minerals, these peppers are a great vegetable option. They are also rich in vitamin C, which helps to support the immune system and promote overall health and well-being.

In addition to their beneficial vitamins, banana peppers contain capsaicin, a compound known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Although found in a milder amount than in spicier peppers, the capsaicin in banana peppers may still help the body by boosting its metabolism.

It is important to note that some individuals may experience gastrointestinal discomfort after consuming spicy foods, even mildly spicy foods like banana peppers. If you experience any discomfort after eating banana peppers, it is best to reduce the amount you eat or even avoid them entirely.


What is a good banana pepper alternative?

If you want to find a banana pepper substitute, there are several options available that each offers a distinct flavor and heat level to cater to your taste preferences or your recipe’s requirements.

Pepperoncini peppers are an excellent option if you crave the milder flavor of banana peppers. With a similar shape and sweetness, pepperoncini peppers are interchangeable for banana peppers in salads, sandwiches, or as pickled condiments. Their flesh is thinner, which makes them suitable for pickling or as toppings. It is not recommended to try stuffing pepperoncini peppers because of their thin skin.

For those who desire a slightly hotter alternative, Hungarian wax peppers are the next best choice. Although similar in flavor, their heat level is a step above banana peppers. Hungarian wax peppers can be pickled, canned, or incorporated into dishes that need a spicier kick.

If you want a significantly hotter substitute, jalapeño peppers are one of the most popular options available. These peppers have much more heat than banana peppers, so ensure the seeds and membranes are removed to lessen the spice intensity. Jalapeños are generally added to a variety of recipes, including salsas, poppers, and other dishes that require a kick of spice.

RELATED: Read our in-depth guide about banana pepper substitutes

How do you pronounce banana pepper?

The correct pronunciation of banana peppers is buh-nan-uh pep-pers.


FAQ about banana peppers

Can banana peppers be frozen?

Yes, banana peppers can be frozen to preserve their freshness. Simply wash them, remove all stems and seeds, and slice or keep them whole. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze them for a few hours, and then transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. They can last up to six months in the freezer; just thaw and use when ready.

Where do banana peppers grow?

Banana peppers are believed to have originated in South or Central America. Now, they are widely grown in many countries, including the United States, Italy, and Greece. These peppers thrive in warm climates with plenty of sunlight and soil that drains well. Grown in either the ground or containers, many gardeners have taken advantage of this versatility for their own gardening styles.

Are banana peppers the same as pepperoncini peppers?

Banana peppers and pepperoncini peppers are often confused due to their similarities in appearance, but they are not the same. Both are Capsicum annuum varieties, though banana peppers have a slightly sweeter taste when compared to pepperoncinis. Pepperoncinis taste tangier and more bitter, offering a milder heat level. Although sharing a few similarities in taste and appearance, these peppers are distinct. Each may provide a slightly different flavor to your dish. In some recipes, they could be used interchangeably, though the subtle differences in taste and heat should be considered when choosing between the two.

Similarities and differences between banana peppers and other peppers

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