There’s no better topping for your nachos than crunchy banana pepper rings. But they’re not always readily available in stores, so you may need to find an alternative. That’s why having a suitable substitute for banana peppers on hand is advisable.
Banana peppers, also known as banana chilis, earned their name due to their large, yellow, banana-shaped appearance. These peppers are common in Mexican cuisine and can be used in numerous ways. But you’ll usually find them pickled, either whole or cut into rings, at your local grocer.
This post will discuss the best alternatives for banana peppers when you can’t get your hands on them or want something different.
What are Banana Peppers?
Banana peppers are native to South America. As such, you’ll often find banana peppers used in South American dishes, particularly Mexican cuisine. But it should be noted that they only resemble the look of bananas and do not taste anything like them.
These peppers are sweet, with an incredibly low heat level measured at approximately 500 SHU. One could describe them more as bright and tangy rather than spicy peppers. Still, banana peppers are tasty and can be used fresh, cooked, or pickled.
Pickled banana peppers seem to be more readily available than fresh ones. And the pickled variety is most often used as a garnish on sandwiches, tacos, nachos, pizza, and so much more.
Due to their size and thick fleshy walls, fresh banana peppers are often stuffed with cheese, meat, or vegetables. Actually, you can do almost anything with banana peppers that you can do with bell or jalapeno peppers.
Substitute For Banana Peppers
You might want a replacement for banana peppers to increase the heat level of your dish. Or maybe you’re struggling to find banana peppers at your local grocer. Either way, we have some fantastic alternatives for you to try.
1. Bell Peppers
The humble bell pepper is probably the closest alternative to a banana pepper. They may not be the same shape, but their walls are just as strong and thick. And they also impart a mild, sweet flavor. However, they do not deliver the same tangy taste as the banana pepper.
Green, yellow, or red bell peppers will all make ideal substitutes. And they’re especially suited to stuffing with meat, vegetables, rice, cheese, etc. Bell peppers are also often eaten raw. So, they’re ideal if you’re looking for a topping replacement for tacos, sandwiches, or salads.
2. Cubanelle Peppers
Sometimes called Cuban peppers, cubanelle peppers could be considered a cross between banana and bell peppers. They’re typically as long as a banana pepper but broader. And they’re available in light green when unripe and amber or bright red when ripe.
As you might have guessed, this pepper is common in Cuban cuisine, but it’s also a favorite in Italian cooking. Cubanelle peppers are sweet and mild, with a wall of flesh thinner than banana peppers. Therefore, they may not be the best for stuffing, but they are fantastic for frying and can be enjoyed raw.
3. Pepperoncini Peppers
If you’re looking for a banana pepper alternative to pickle, pepperoncini peppers are the answer. Pepperoncini peppers are one of the few chili peppers native to Italy and are often purchased pickled and jarred.
They’re smaller than banana peppers but mimic their sweetness perfectly. And while they’re slightly milder than banana peppers, they still deliver a great tangy flavor. You can use your pickled pepperoncini peppers as a topping or enjoy them as a side dish.
4. Anaheim Peppers
Another popular pepper for stuffing recipes, anaheim peppers are the closest match to banana peppers in size and shape. They’re just slightly smaller but can be used as a banana pepper replacement in any situation.
Anaheim peppers are also sweet and carry a flavor reminiscent of bell peppers. The only significant difference between anaheim and banana peppers is that they have a slight spice to them. But with a Scoville heat rating of only 500 to 2,500, they can by no means be considered hot.
5. Jalapeño Peppers
One of the most popular and readily available chili peppers worldwide, jalapeño peppers make for an excellent banana pepper substitute. Jalapeño peppers may be smaller than banana peppers, but they are perfect for stuffing, pickling, and as a topping. They’re also not as sweet as banana peppers and offer a more earthy flavor.
That said, jalapeño peppers have a Scoville heat rating of 2,500 to 8,000 units. While they’re not the hottest chili peppers, they carry some spice. So, if you’re not keen on too much heat, use these peppers sparingly.
We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling when we realize there’s a missing key ingredient for the dish we’re preparing. But if the banana pepper is the missing ingredient, don’t lose hope. Any substitute for banana peppers from our list above will stand in perfectly, ensuring your dish remains a showstopper.