In the realm of chili peppers, there are numerous varieties that resemble one another, one of them being pepperoncini and banana peppers. These two peppers frequently get mixed up, and for good reason!
They come from the same chili pepper family — Capsicum Annuum — and have a similar flavor, appearance, and heat. However, when you carefully examine them, you’ll find a lot of glaring distinctions. Let’s get spicy and see what they are!
Difference Between Banana Peppers and Pepperoncini
The main difference between banana peppers and pepperoncini is their appearance. Banana peppers are smooth, thick, and pointed, whereas pepperoncini are wrinkled, thin, and bulbous.
The Capsicum Annuum is home to banana peppers and pepperoncini but also to the world’s most commonly grown chili peppers! These include jalapeño, cayenne, bell, poblano, and many others!
According to research, Capsicum Annuum was cultivated for the first time in Mexico around 9000 years ago. The plants were then altered through selective breeding to increase desired characteristics like growth and heat level.
So yes, our banana peppers and pepperoncini date way back! But we’re not here to discuss history. There are several differences you should know, and we will discuss each one below, beginning with their origin.
Origin: Banana peppers originate from South America, but today they are also grown in India and China. They’ve gotten their name because they look like bananas — yellow and long.
Pepperoncini have their roots in Greece and Italy. Their name originates from Italy, meaning hot chili pepper.
Other names: Banana peppers are also called banana chilis or yellow wax peppers. Pepperoncini are also known as Tuscan, sweet Italian, or golden Greek peppers.
Types: Banana peppers grow in two varieties: hot or sweet. Hot banana peppers are darker in color, whereas the sweeter variety is a brighter green.
Pepperoncini also come in two varieties: Italian and Greek. Italian pepperoncini grow around 5” long and are mildly bittersweet. Greek pepperoncini are smaller, around 3” in length, and have a sweet taste.
Heat level: The Schoville heat unit for banana peppers is 0-500, and for pepperoncini, 100-500. Although both are varieties with mild heat, pepperoncini may have a pinch of a hotter kick.
Color: These peppers mature according to the typical color sequence, turning from green to yellow, then orange, and finally red.
Banana peppers are frequently plucked when yellow because their vivid color makes them more attractive to customers and perfectly matches their name.
Pepperoncini peppers are typically available green. They are spiciest while green, which is why they’re usually gathered at that ripening stage.
Flavor: Pepperoncini are juicy and bittersweet. On the other hand, banana peppers are sweet but not as juicy as pepperoncini.
Cooking method: Banana peppers have thicker walls that won’t split once cooked, so stuffing them is the most common way to cook them. Typically, they are filled with cheese, rice, vegetables, or meat.
Pepperoncini, on the other hand, are often diced and sprinkled in sandwiches, pizzas, and salads. Additionally, both kinds are available pickled.
Banana Peppers vs Pepperoncini Comparison Table
|Chili pepper family||Capsicum Annuum||Capsicum Annuum|
|Origin||South America, India, China||Italy and Greece|
|Etymology||Named after bananas due to their appearance||Italian word for “hot chili peppers”|
|Other names||Banana chilis or Yellow wax peppers||Tuscan peppers, Sweet Italian peppers, or Golden Greek peppers|
|Types||Hot banana peppers and sweet banana peppers||Italian pepperoncini and Green pepperoncini|
|Heat level||0-500 Scoville heat units||100-500 Scoville heat units|
|Color||Mostly yellow, but also green, orange, and red||Mostly green, but also yellow, orange, and red|
|Shape||Long and pointed||Crumpled and bulbous|
|Taste||Less juicy more sweet||More juicy and bittersweet|
|Cooking method||Pickled and/or filled with cheese, rice, veggies, or meat||Pickled and/or sprinkled raw on top on pizza, sandwiches, or salads|
Nutritional Content Breakdown: Which One Is Healthier?
Banana peppers and pepperoncini are both cultivars of the same species — Capsicum annuum — so they have essentially identical nutritional profiles.
Both are excellent for boosting our metabolism, reducing weight, and many other health advantages since they are low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals.
Pepperoncini contain more calories than banana peppers, so banana peppers may be the better option for weight loss.
Pickling these peppers is the least healthy option because pickled peppers have high salt content. Hence, we advise against overconsuming pickled peppers to protect your kidney and heart health.
Banana Peppers vs Pepperoncini: Nutritional Profile
|Category (1 piece, 73g)||Banana Peppers||Pepperoncini|
|Vitamins & Minerals|
Can I Substitute Banana Peppers for Pepperoncini and Vice Versa?
Yes, they are an excellent replacement for one another. Although they are not identical, both are mildly spicy, sweet, and crunchy.
The only situation in which pepperoncini might not be a good replacement for banana peppers is in stuffing recipes. Because of their thin walls, pepperoncini may not hold up well after being filled and cooked. You’ll need a different replacement for this recipe, such as piquillo, bell peppers, or other thick-walled pepper substitutes.
Other than this, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy banana peppers instead of pepperoncini, and vice versa, in dishes that call for that peppery crunch and flavor, like pizzas, sandwiches, salads, shawarma, and gyro.
Store Availability: Pickled or Raw?
Banana peppers are the obvious choice when looking to buy fresh chili peppers. One of the most popular chilies sold in stores today is banana peppers. While fresh pepperoncini are also available, they are less common than banana peppers.
The thick walls of banana peppers are one of the factors contributing to their widespread availability. Thin-walled pepperoncini are unsuitable for stuffing recipes, and they often retain their form better when cut into wheels and diced fresh for salads, pizzas, sandwiches, shawarma, or kebabs.
Additionally, the less sweet flavor of pepperoncini also plays a role. Since banana peppers are sweeter and fresher tasting than pepperoncini (which tend to be somewhat bittersweet), they are more popular on the market.
On the other hand, when pickled, pepperoncini shine a little brighter than banana peppers! Pickled pepperoncini are readily accessible at retail establishments around the country and online because of their thinner walls, which boast exceptional pickling absorbance.
Although pickled banana peppers are also frequently available, we prefer pepperoncini in this case.
Pickled pepperoncini also give pizzas, sandwiches, and a variety of other dishes the ideal tang and fire! Here are some of the best-pickled pepperoncini to purchase online:
The banana pepper and the pepperoncini, as can be seen, both have unique attributes that are well-represented in grocery store aisles. While pepperoncini are better pickled, banana peppers are better fresh. They also may have almost identical appearances and comparable heat levels, but each has a very different backstory.
There is no denying how similar these peppers are, but one thing’s for sure, they are both recognizable, and now, you know precisely how to distinguish them properly.
The texture and color of their adult skin is one telltale sign, but as you now see, there are also a lot of subtle, minor differences. For instance, pepperoncini is a bit spicier, whereas banana peppers are on the sweeter side.
All in all, banana and pepperoncini peppers are equally popular on the market, and their delicious flavor and mild kick may transform a dish from decent to outstanding!