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8 Piquillo Pepper Substitute

Lisa Price
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by Lisa Price

Did you know that chili peppers aren’t essentially fiery? They can have a more neutral taste, as is the case with piquillo peppers.

The piquillo pepper is a juicy and delicious type of chili pepper that is a lot less spicy than other types of chili peppers. It’s frequently roasted and kept in jars, and eaten as a side. It can add a smoky, sour undertone to a variety of dishes, with just a hint of spice.

However, if you don’t have piquillos on hand, and your recipe requires them, we have a list of alternatives for you. We also have an easy recipe for making smoked piquillos at home.

Piquillo Pepper
Piquillo Pepper

What Is Piquillo Pepper?

Piquillo is a red chili pepper that’s barely piquant, and it’s primarily cultivated in Navarre, Spain.

The name derives from the Spanish phrase “small beak,” and for a good reason — the pepper has a triangular shape with a tiny point at the end that resembles a bird beak.

Piquillo pepper is low in heat yet high in juice and sweetness. On the Scoville Heat Scale, the piquillo pepper ranges from 500–1000. When compared to the popular jalapeno, which ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale, the piquillo is practically a sweet pepper.

Piquillo peppers have a tart flavor with smoky undertones. They have thick skin, akin to bell peppers, and provide a delicious crunch when eaten raw.

They’re the ideal size for stuffing with meat and vegetables, but they can also be stir-fried, pickled, roasted, or made into creamy soups and luscious sauces.

Substitutes For Piquillo Pepper

  1. Jarred red pepper varieties
  2. Red bell peppers
  3. Long sweet peppers
  4. Orange bell peppers
  5. Green bell peppers
  6. Banana peppers
  7. Yellow bell peppers
  8. Mini sweet peppers

Jarred Red Pepper Varieties

Jarred Red Pepper Varieties
Jarred Red Pepper Varieties

Does your neighborhood supermarket lack pickled piquillos? Then, they may certainly carry other roasted varieties of red peppers, like jarred bell peppers.

These pepper varieties, like piquillo, are fire-roasted, which gives them a beautiful smokey flavor. Look for them in the canned and jarred vegetable aisles at your neighborhood grocery shop.

Red Bell Peppers

Red Bell Peppers
Red Bell Peppers

One of the tastiest peppers is the red bell pepper, sometimes referred to as the King of the Grill. They’re sweet and fruity in flavor, very similar to piquillos. Their texture is firm, full of juice, crunch, and flesh.

The sweet flavor makes them suitable for a number of dishes — they work well in a pasta salad or  stuffed with meat and veggies. They can also develop a beautiful charred taste when grilled, just like piquillos, which makes them ideal for summer barbeques..

Long Sweet Peppers

Long Sweet Peppers
Long Sweet Peppers

Long sweet peppers are a versatile and tasty alternative to piquillo peppers.

They’re as long as piquillos but skinnier. In terms of flavor, they may be somewhat sweeter, so if piquillo peppers are too spicy for you, this alternative should be on your shopping list.

Their flesh is not as thick as piquillos, but that makes them cook faster than the other alternatives on our list.

Long sweet peppers come in red, orange, and yellow varieties, so use them in stir fries for a pop of color, crunch, and sweetness.

Green Bell Peppers

Green Bell Peppers
Green Bell Peppers

A common variety of pepper you’ll notice many people buying at the grocery store is the green bell pepper. This popular bell pepper variety is sweet and juicy enough to replace piquillo peppers in your recipes.

Because they’re harvested earlyt, green bells also lack the natural sugars that other peppers gain throughout the ripening process, giving them a more bitter and earthy flavor. So, if you love peppers with a tangy kick to them that aren’t as sweet as piquillos, then this alternative is for you.

They have a refreshing, crunchy texture — whether raw or cooked. Speaking of cooking, green bells go deliciously well with tomato recipes like sauces and tomato soups.

Yellow Bell Peppers

Yellow Bell Peppers
Yellow Bell Peppers

Many people choose yellow bell peppers because of their sweet flavor, juice, and gorgeous color. We chose them because they are the ideal replacement for piquillo peppers.

Their thick, meaty skin is comparable to the red piquillo pepper variety. They are great for roasting or cooking on the grill, and their large size makes them an excellent substitute for stuffed piquillo peppers.

They, like other bell peppers, give a nice splash of color and taste to pasta and casserole recipes. Their sweet taste also pairs well with sweet potatoes and complements flavorful nachos.

Orange Bell Peppers

Orange Bell Peppers
Orange Bell Peppers

Orange bell peppers taste delicious, tangy, and sweet. They are firm, crunchy, and juicy, just like piquillos.

Orange bells have a fruitier flavor than all the other varieties in the bell pepper family. They’re also somewhat sweeter than green bell peppers.

They are great for enhancing the flavor and color of salads, sauces, and dips. They’re also the ideal size for filling with vegetables, cheese, or meat.

Banana Peppers

Banana Peppers
Banana Peppers

Our next alternative is named for its vivid yellow hue and lengthy, banana-like shape. This variety is also known as a yellow wax pepper or banana chili.

Banana peppers make an almost perfect substitute for piquillo chili. Their flavor is milder, sweeter, and somewhat spicy.

However, they’re not regarded as hot peppers due to their lack of heat. The average Scoville rating of a banana pepper is 500, making it five times less spicy than a jalapeno.

Simply put, they are a fantastic choice for people who wish to spice their food just a little bit without going overboard.

They’re frequently consumed with meat and cheese inside, or as a topping on pizza, sandwiches, and Greek salads.

Mini Sweet Peppers

Mini Sweet Peppers
Mini Sweet Peppers

These little peppers pack a punch in terms of taste. They are much smaller than piquillo peppers, but they have a sweet taste that is as brilliant as their hues.

Mini sweet peppers come in red, orange, and yellow varieties and can lend your dishes a real pop of color. They are crunchy but not as juicy or meaty as piquillo peppers, so they won’t be the best pick for roasting or stuffing.

Nevertheless, their small size makes them a delicious ingredient in salads, pizzas, pasta, and stir-fries. You can also wrap them with prosciutto and serve them as an appetizer or side dish for mashed potatoes or cornbread.

Homemade Piquillo Roasted Peppers


  • 4 piquillo peppers;
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar;
  • Salt and pepper;
  • ½ cup sunflower oil;
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic;

Cooking time: 1 hour and 15 minutes;

To begin making your own roasted piquillo peppers, preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking tray with tinfoil.

Turn the piquillos every now and then until both sides are roasted and slightly charred. This process might take up to 25 minutes.

After placing the peppers in a bowl, cover them with plastic. Steam the peppers for 15 minutes to make the skins looser and easier to remove.

Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, trim the stems and seeds, and skin using a little knife.

The peppers can be cut into strips, though larger portions are more common. After cleaning them, place them on a serving plate.

Sprinkle sunflower oil and a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, then finish off with minced garlic. Remember to season with salt and pepper.

Toss the roasted piquillo peppers around to coat thoroughly. After 30 minutes of room temperature marinating, serve and enjoy.


The next time you find yourself in a piquillo pepper jam, you’ll know the many alternatives that can easily substitute its sweetness and juiciness.

All in all, the red bell pepper variety is the closest in terms of flavor, and the long sweet peppers, and orange and yellow bell peppers are right after.

If you aren’t in the mood for a fresh alternative or don’t have the time to roast peppers at home, then either one of the sweet pepper jarred varieties we recommend should do fine. It’s up to you to decide whether you want something sweeter or spicier in a jar.

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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