HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


What the heck are vinegar peppers, and where can I get some?

Anyone catch Tony Soprano's sandwich order on Sunday night's episode? Cappicola, provolone, and vinegar peppers. My husband hasn't been able to stop thinking about this since we watched it. I've seen other dishes in Italian restaurants with "vinegar peppers" listed as a main ingredient, but I've never been able to find a jar labeled as such in any store, even the old-school Italian delis in the neighborhood. Anyone know what they are? I suspect the label says something different...


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Pickled Pepperoncinis. You can buy then everywhere.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cheesemonger

      Really? When I've had them in restaurant dishes they definitely don't look like pepperoncini. More like sliced up pickled peppers of some kind. I just don't know what to buy in stores--they're clearly not regular roasted peppers either. Sigh.

      1. re: dknylic

        I have only seen them in markets in the Northeast - they are not pepperoncinis. My husband's aunt made a great dish pork chops and vinegar peppers - I used to stock up when we went to New Jersey. The closest thing I've found in the South is cherry peppers ( mild)

    2. Vinegar peppers are an Italian specialty consisting of green bell peppers, sometimes sliced sometimes whole, and pickled in a vinegar mixture. Families have their own recipe handed down from generation to generation...some a closly guarded secret. You may be able to find "vinegar peppers" in an Italian salumeria...a store which sells Italian cold cuts, cheeses, and the like. BTW: They are delicioso!

      1. Look for any variety of jarred peppers that have VINEGAR in its ingredient(s) label. Vinegar peppers are uncooked. Don't get the roasted ones -- they're roasted. Also, be aware that you have the choice of getting hot or sweet. Ask your husband what he'd like before buying anything. Some of the hot varieties can pack some real heat ( kinda like Tony Soprano ).

        Here's two examples:

        (1) - http://www.newyorkflavors.com/vichotp...

        (2) - http://store.pastene.com/Merchant2/me...

        5 Replies
        1. re: Cheese Boy

          Additionally, some Italian markets make their own recipe which is free of additives. More like MaMa made. The Pastene product in CB's link is more like what I'm referring to.

          1. re: Gio

            Believe it or not Vlasic makes several varieties of pickled peppers which are excellent; both whole and sliced. Look for their Mild or Hot "Stackers" which should be a readily available substitute.

          2. re: Cheese Boy

            Just a heads up about the hot variety...cooking them seems to make them even hotter. Whatever flavor you have in your pork chops (an incredible meal, to be sure), the hot variety of the peppers will kill it. I strongly recommend sticking with the "sweet" or non-hot variety.

            1. re: njmarshall55

              There is nothing like pork chops fried with HOT vinegar peppers. An Italian-American staple. Mmmmmmm...

          3. Vinegar Peppers are usually raw red bell peppers that have been pickled in white vinegar and salt, sometimes garlic. They are usually served with pork chops in an Italian restaurant. The peppers served with sauted sausages are cooked in a pan and do not have vinegar.

            It's really easy to make your own, but you need to allow a couple of days for them to be ready. If you want to buy them ready made, steer clear of pimientos (roasted and soft), and things with citrus acid instead of vinegar -- those are cheaply made and will not quite give you the same effect. There are numerous variations -- for example, you can easily find pickled cherry peppers for a hotter effect in red or green (do not use stuffed ones to do this, use raw if you are doing yourself) or the long sweet peppers sometimes called Taglianelli or Mediterranean -- they also come in red, green and yellow. But generally, in the outer boroughs and New Jersey -- it is referring to a pickled, unroasted red bell pepper that still has some texture to it. Just be aware that using a vinegar pepper in a cooked dish definitely alters the flavor -- so they are not substitues for roasted bell peppers.

            1 Reply
            1. re: RGC1982

              Thank you all so much! This is incredibly helpful.

            2. They are cherry peppers. Near the pickles in the supermarket you'll see either hot cherry peppers or sweet cherry peppers. Here in Brooklyn, many people call them vinegar peppers.

              3 Replies
              1. re: michelley

                Maybe it's a regional thing, but that's what I grew up calling vinegar peppers as well (I'm from Queens/Long Island, fwiw), not bell peppers or pepperoncini.

                1. re: michelley

                  Exactly, michelley. cherry peppers = vinegar peppers.

                  In addition to the supermarket, Italian delis carry them, usually stuffed. They make very good appetizers.

                  The unstuffed are also good sliced on pizza and are a must in chicken scarpariello.

                  1. re: michelley

                    Add me to the list. Here in Hudson county NJ, in our Italian-American house cherry peppers = vinegar peppers.

                  2. The best pickled peppers in the world are at www.rickspicksnyc.com. They are expensive, but worth it. Also buy everything else.

                    1. Funny you should mention this. I haven't had a sang-weech like that in 30 years but my mouth has been watering for one since Sunday night! I grew up in the NY metro area but now live in the south where there are no Italian delis. As others have mentioned, the peppers should be pretty readily available. If you're going grocery shopping for the cappicola, provolone, bread (gotta have the right bread!) and peppers I'd suggest picking up some thin sliced hard salami also. It's a great addition to the sandwich or even a replacement for the cappicola. I'll be heading for the store tomorrow morning! :)

                      1. My mom made these all the time but I can't remember exactly how. Near as I can remember it was bell peppers cut up, white viinegar, salt and garlic...but I tried it and the garlic turned blue. Any idea what causes that? It scared me off the peppers a little.

                        1. The best vinegar peppers are made from Tennessee cheese peppers. They are impossible to find outside of the East Coast. My family buys them by the bushel from a grower in New Jersey to make their vinegar peppers. They look like a red bell pepper, but are smaller and flat on the bottom. The brine used to pickle them varies from family to family, but the essential ingredient is the cheese peppers.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: robi10

                            Cheese peppers are also what I mostly use here in Boston -- some appear to be locally grown but they aren't common at farmers markets. I often mix them with slightly hotter peppers and make other types too. They are also flavorful as a fresh pepper (slightly thick skins) and sell for the same price or less than bells. When red I believe they used to be used as a cheese coloring, although achiote/annatto is much more common, but I believe that is where the name comes from (they come from hungarian origins I believe). Italian markets around here sell a similarly shaped pepper in season which is a bit smaller, more like a pumpkin and spicier and is given various unusual names (St Nicks is one). Portuguese stores are actually a better option for store bought pickled peppers in this area.

                          2. Most mega-marts carry them, look in the ethnic section, also Italian specialty stores should have them. You can also make your own, just pepper slices and white vinegar in a jar.

                            1. You can find them in the section for olives and capers and such. There are also vinegared peppers available in the South that are peppers marinated in vinegar that people use to shake on lovely things like greens. CANNOT find them in the PNW and have to stock up when I head home every year.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                Those are commonly known as sport peppers. Texas Pete is one widely available brand. What's great about them is that you can add vinegar over and over and they'll still be nice and hot. I've had my current bottle for a couple of years and have "re-vinegared" the peppers several times.

                                And yes, they are great with greens!

                              2. Green Sliced Vinegar Peppers - 32oz jar
                                Code: PEPP10113
                                Price: $3.89 copy and past below to get this product

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: hirschstag

                                  Anyone know of ANYPLACE in San Diego, CA that sells the Vinegar Peppers? I have called every specialty store in the area and can't find anyone who carries it - even tried the so called Italian Restaurants, what a joke that was. Any suggestions???

                                2. HERE IS THE REEEAL SCOOP ON VINEGAR PEPPERS!!!

                                  As some of you have noted, the dreal peppers in Vinegar Peppers are CHEESE Peppers. These are a green pepper (or red when truly ripe) that are flat on top & bottom. Don't even THINK of frying them or putting them in a salad!!! You can only get them in supermarkets that have large produce sections or at Produce markets. Here in "Joisey" it's Corrado'sMarket or the weekend produce mart around the corner from there. What you do is: Cut the stem out of the pepper w/a hole large enough to stuff them later. Put the hollowed out peppers in VERY large jars w/ Oregano, garlic cloves & salt to taste. Then mix 60% water with 40% white vinegar and pour it over the peppers to the top. Cap & leave for about a month in a cool spot. They are pickled enough when they get soft.. Clean them out & stuff them w/Breadcrumbs,grated cheese, the pepper juice & a little oil to make it brown a little. (You can stuff them w/anything you want, anchovies, capers, nuts, whatever. Put them in a baking pan uncovered @ 325 for about 30 to40 min. They are done when they get really soft & the crumbs are brown on top. Use Cherry peppers if you like them hot. Cut up some after they are pickled and bake them w/your pork chops, etc. or put some pieces in a "sangwich". If you take some cleaned off fresh seeds & put them in a plastic bag in the fridge till next summer, you can grow your own like my son does in CA. Tell folks you got this recipe from an Irish broad in Jersey w/ an Italian Mother in Law.. Good Luck!!!!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: njnancy

                                    Haven't been to Corrado's in years. Great place. I also remember Mom doing some shopping for the neighborhood in the old Italian market off of Railroad Ave. in Paterson...many years ago.

                                  2. Vinegar peppers are cherry peppers. They come hot or sweet. You can find them in the pickle aisle of any major grocery store in New York. They are called "hot cherry peppers." They are absolutely NOT bell pepper or cheese peppers.

                                    1. If I remember correctly, Vito (Gay Vito) Spatafore made pork shops and peppers for his new-found friend, "Johnnycakes" with a quick cheek twist of his fingers in another episode of The Soprano's.