HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Why are stuffed peppers always made with green peppers?

I love red peppers, but whenever I order stuffed peppers in a restaurant ( or buy the Stouffer's red box!) they are always made with green peppers. The bitterness of a cooked green pepper does not always compliment the filling. So I often end up eating the filling at which point I question whether I should have just ordered a cheeseburger!

Does anyone make stuffed red peppers???? Wouldn't they cook the same as a green pepper?

The only purpose I see for green peppers is to be sauteed with onions on a roll with italian sausage

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Since stuffed peppers are somewhat of what I think of as 'peasant' food (for lack of a better term), I can see cost as one reason why green peppers are used rather than red, yellow or orange, especially when making in quantity.

    1. I prefer the greens on a sausage and peppers also, but I could go either way with a stuffed pepper. I bet the heart of the matter doesn't rest on preferences, though- rather price is a consideration. The green ones are usuallu much cheaper.

      2 Replies
      1. re: TongoRad

        I assume you're talking green BELL peppers. When I make my sausage/peppers/onions, I use only cubanelle peppers...less of a problem AFTER eating...at least for me.

        1. re: TongoRad

          I enjoy green peppers in a lot of dishes, but for the most part, with stuffed I like red. Sometimes you need that strong green pepper taste in a sauce or casserole though.

        2. I was just discussing this with a friend 2 nights ago! I suspect that the green peppers we get now may not taste as good as the green peppers of yore- that's the case for so many fruits and veg. But I don't see any good reason to use green peppers now, unless you are just barely cooking the stuffed entity so the pepper is heated but more raw than cooked. Plus, they're not easy to eat. I suggested that my buddy try cutting the peppers into wedges and mounding the filling on top then running them under the broiler. The filling will protect the pepper from the direct heat, and the whole deal could more easily be cut into bites that include pepper and filling.

          1. Maybe the simple answer is that green peppers are cheaper-
            I will do Stuffed anything - red pepper, Italian peppers, Poblano peppers, Jalepeno peppers, cabbage, zucchini, eggplant etc.....

            5 Replies
            1. re: PaulaT

              What is an Italian pepper? Maybe that is what my Gram uses?

              1. re: melpy

                If I'm not mistaken, it's another term for "cubanelle" peppers...long green, somewhat irregular shaped and much thinner than the standard bell peppers.

                1. re: njmarshall55

                  Yes. While there are a number of varieties of "Italian Frying" peppers, "Cubanelles" (which I love & grow myself) are the ones you'll normally come across at the supermarket.

                  They're a long, pale green pepper, usually around 2-1/2" across at the top widest point, & have thin skins that don't require roasting/peeling. You can just seed & slice them up & saute them as is. It's my hands-down favorite for sauteeing with onions to top Italian sausage sub sandwiches, stir into scrambled eggs, etc., etc.

                  1. re: Bacardi1

                    Agreed. Just want to add that with "peppers and eggs," I like to REALLY caramelize the peppers and cook them way down with onions...almost to a chunky paste consistency.

                    1. re: njmarshall55

                      add small amount fresh tomato and cook almost down to a chunky paste for caramelized sweetness

            2. I routinely make stuffed peppers with red bell peppers and, if I'm making enough of them, I'll include some yellow and maybe orange ones as well, along with some green. All the different colors look great on a serving platter. They all cook the same, but of course there are obvious taste differences between the greens vs. the ripe ones.

              1 Reply
              1. re: FlyFish

                Me, too. I always use red peppers. In fact I think green peppers get mushy and don't taste like anything.

              2. Peppers are stuffed the world over and not always made with green peppers. The green ones are most familiar variety in the US and I suspect that's why they are ubiquitious. But they're not the only game in town.

                I have stuffed multi-colored peppers for as long as I can remember. As a slightly-reformed gardener, I grew "colored" peppers before they were chic because I liked the flavors. Rice,basil,Parmesan-stuffed red bell peppers are delicious. Serve corn- scrambled cheese-y eggs in yellow bells for breakfast. There's nothing sacred about green bell peppers and it's not mandatory to use the rice-ground beef-tomato filling either!

                13 Replies
                1. re: Sherri

                  Green peppers are cheap. I hate green peppers.

                  I always make stuffed peppers with red or yellow or orange peppers, and they taste muuuuch better.

                  1. re: dolores

                    I believe that green peppers are less expensive than other colors because they're not considered "gourmet" peppers but instead, they're "normal" peppers. If yellow peppers, which are no more difficult or costly to grow than greens, were the norm, they'd be the cheap peppers and the unusual greens would be more expensive.

                    Chicken livers and eggs were once very costly, luxury items. Today, with increased production, they flood the market at inexpensive cost. Supply and Demand 101.

                    An entire thread could be devoted to what some call "normal food" and I use the term purposely. When I taught at a culinary institute, students would often use this term to describe foods with which they were familiar. Anything they did not know or eat regularly not not "normal". Defining "normal" was always in interesting topic, especially since it varies so widely. The good news is that after some time, being exposed to many different foods (funny, they never called them "abnormal"), most discarded their parochial terminology and continued to stretch their horizons.

                    1. re: Sherri

                      All (having said that, someone will no doubt produce an exception, so perhaps I should say "almost all") bell peppers start life green, and turn their characteristic color upon ripening. Most cultivars - or at least the most common cultivars - ripen red, so that's why the red ones are somewhat more common than yellow or orange. I'd always assumed the extra expense was related to the extra time they need to spend on the plant before harvesting, but you're probably right that some of it may be related to the "gourmet" factor.

                      1. re: FlyFish

                        It's not just the extra time, but you can actually get *more* green peppers per plant- just harvest them while the plant is still flowering and it will continue to produce pods. The flavor differences are because the chlorophyl is converted to carotene when ripe; not as 'aggressive' of a flavor and sweeter.

                        1. re: TongoRad

                          I don't believe that latter part is correct. Ripening of bell peppers and other fruits (yes, fruits) is a very complex chemical process involving numerous organic compounds, some of which contribute to flavor, others not. Certainly, chlorophyll content decreases and carotenoids (along with other pigment compounds such as anthocyanins and betalains) increase in the case of peppers, but chlorophyll is not converted to carotenoids, it simply degrades, which results in the loss of green color. I suspect that the loss of chlorophyll, in itself, has a limited effect on flavor, but I have no facts to support that. Here's a link to a Ph.D thesis from Virginia Polytech that goes into considerable detail on the chemistry of ripening peppers:


                          1. re: FlyFish

                            Cool- thanks for the link. I'll definitely check it out.

                          2. re: TongoRad

                            Not only do you get more per plant, but earlier harvests reduces the chance of pests or environmental conditions ruining the harvest.

                          3. re: FlyFish

                            I grew up with stuffed green peppers and HATED them. It wasn't until I discovered red peppers that stuffed peppers became a dish I love.

                            The price difference between green and red (or orange or yellow) is drastic right now. .79 vs 2.99

                            1. re: FlyFish

                              In my experience ripe peppers are *much* more likely to get bad spots and/or critter bites, so preventing that is an expense. Also they're a bit more fragile.

                              1. re: FlyFish

                                I thought the red ones were the ripened version of the green ones, but the yellow ones were their own thing?

                                1. re: Judith

                                  No, the yellow ones (and all the other colors) start out green. I was going to provide a link to the Wikipedia article that says that, but some folks don't consider Wiki very authoritative, so here's a link to the LSU Agriculture School site that says the same thing:


                                  1. re: FlyFish

                                    Except purple peppers. There's green under that pretty skin.

                                2. re: FlyFish

                                  I also think what may be involved is that red peppers are more prone to rot than green ones, which means that the store would have to throw some of them away if they don't sell it in time, leading to an increase in cost.

                                  I also hate green peppers.

                          4. I think it's a flavour, and price, thing.

                            Green bell peppers are basically unripe peppers and hence do not possess the sweetness of ripened peppers. However, I find their flavour lends an earthy note that wonderfully complements beef, tomato, onion, garlic, chicken livers, chicken meat and pork.

                            For me ripe (red) peppers have a sweetness that is easily overpowered by stronger flavours. I prefer them combined with chicken, fish, seafood and other vegetables.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: mrbozo

                              I too grew up with stuffed green peppers - I was eating one stuffed with scalloped corn for lunch the day WW2 ended, and wondered why the church-bell next door was ringing - and I always loved them. Still do, but I'm married to a sweet-pepper hater - that's ALL colors. She loves chiles, though. I intend to try her out on stuffed poblanos one of these days.

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Will, why shouldn't they have been ringing? They are bell peppers.

                            2. Try a Hungarian Stuffed Pepper recipe using Hungarian Wax Peppers - they're yellow ones, Myself I like green peppers for that sharp taste, but the wax peppers bring another angle to the taste which we both prefer here.

                              1. I guess you are just referring to Italian & American traditions? In Mexico... there are many types of peppers that get stuffed... the white-ish Gueros stuffed with Crab or Shrimp Pate... the Oaxacan Chile de Agua stuffed with Lobster, reconstituted Anchos stuffed with Mushrooms.. or reconstituted Chipotles stuffed with Potatoe-Chorizo hash... that is just the tip of the ice berg.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                  friend makes gueros capeados and stuffed with oax chicken picadillo - out of control. my favorite chile relleno. the chicken and guero chile together...gawd!

                                2. I look for smallish peppers. Otherwise there is too much stuffing per pepper. Often that means green ones.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    While it is true that green peppers will turn yellow then red on the plant, and that red and yellow peppers were once green, I think they may be different varieties because the shape is often different. Green peppers are squat and stocky, while red peppers are usually much longer, and you would have a hard time making them stand up in the pan.

                                    1. re: cassis

                                      There are lots of hybrids of peppers (of all kinds, not just bells). The classic American bell pepper (stocky, big, fairly thin walls) does ripen to red eventually. The peppers that are sold as red tend to be bred to have more brilliant color. The other peppers (yellow, purple, orange, "chocolate") start green (well, maybe not the purple ones) and ripen to a different color (than red) are bred to be that color. There are 2 common peppers sold as red peppers, the normal "bell" pepper ripened and the pimento (which is more heart shaped and has thicker walls).

                                  2. I think this goes back to the '50's and the McCarthy Witch Hunts. One who cooked stuffed RED peppers could be considered a communist anbe brought before the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities. Green was much safer, it had no political inuendo. But this reason is largely lost today with in the corporate media. "Better dead than Red"

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                      Ah, the Greening of America (or How I Got Stuffed and Learned to Like a Vegetable).

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        Good post, Passadumkeg, but Kermit might disagree with you.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          ahh, the answer I've been looking for- Brilliant - I will stick with green peppers, just for July 4th though!!!!

                                        2. ive only had stuffed peppers with red peppers

                                          1. Maybe to make everyone happy we could put a yellow pepper inside the green pepper, and a red inside the yellow. In the spirit of the "Turduckin" we can have the multi-stuffed pepper.

                                            1. Stuffed Bell Peppers are originally an Eastern European dish called Dolma. Also Sarma are a close cousin where "soured" heads of cabbage are made andf the leaves wrap the filling.. Now the big difference is they stuff a pale cream coloured pepper that is sweet with no bitterness. Also they make these arma using a mixture of ground meats such as beef and lamb or pork. They often are cooked on a bed sauerkraut with double smoked pork ribs or leran bacon.

                                              These are wonderfu nothing like the bitter icky Americanb green stuffed peppers.

                                              I also make shrimp stuffed red sweet peppers-yummy!

                                              There is a gorgeous bell pepper available called Tequilla, these are arge blocky, from Holland, colours on one pepper range from cream to apricot, to lavender to orange and purple-simply gorgeous and so sweet. Eaten raw they are yummy too!

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: shantihhh

                                                IMHO... bell peppers are the absolute worst of the Capsicum realm... I don't understand why people like them... there hundreds of superior pepper varieties out there.

                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                  I agree. Since bell peppers don't agree with me, I like stuffed mild yellow chilis. They are heavenly and actually much sweeter than bell peppers.

                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                    Bell Pepers is a catch all for many types of large peppers, some are sweet and flavourful, unfortunately the popular green American pepper is bitter to me and I hate them! The pale yellowish pale green ones of Eastern Europe are wonderful raw or cooked, as are the fabulous Pimiento Largo de Reus of Spain. The Holland hybrid peppers sold at Costco are pretty good.

                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                      It's the flavor. When chopped, sauteed, and allowed to soften in a dish, the flavor they impart can be wonderful. There is nothing else like it.

                                                  2. In Lee Bailey's cookbook, Country Weekends, he has a wonderful, simple, delicious recipe for stuffed red peppers.

                                                    1. You can use ANY color Bell Pepper to make stuffed peppers. The reason for most recipes calling for & restaurants using green Bell Peppers is primarily twofold:

                                                      1) Green Bell Peppers are less expensive than ripened colored Bell Peppers. They can be picked sooner & have a longer shelf life.

                                                      2) Green Bell Peppers - being essentially UNRIPE Bell Peppers, are firmer & can hold their shape better when stuffed & baked - especially in commercial processing like Stouffer's, etc.

                                                      For myself? I much prefer using ripe (aka colored) Bell peppers for stuffing.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: shantihhh

                                                        For some reason I've never been fond of stuffed tomatoes - either cold-stuffed with salad or cooked. But I do agree with you re: the round zucchinis - whether "Ronde de Nice" or "Eight Ball", etc., etc. They're just made for stuffing! :)

                                                      2. Green pepper are just red peppers that haven't ripened. They are cheaper bc the grower doesn't have to leave them on the vines as long. That means less expense all round.

                                                        1. My Gram uses the long green peppers. Might be called cubanelle. They are stuffed with the mixture she uses for for meatballs and fried. Then they are topped with her homemade spaghetti sauce. I dislike large pieces of cooked green bell peppers and hate that they are the only cost effective ones.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: melpy

                                                            If they are about 1 to 1 1/2 inches across the top they could be Italian Frying peppers. Is she Italian? If you go to this link of photos of stuffed peppers I bet you'll find the ones like your gran made:

                                                            1. re: shantihhh

                                                              I googled for myself and decided that Italian frying peppers must be what she used. The question is now what to buy at the store because they so not selling anything by that name here.

                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                some markets do sell them here, but not this time of year. They are easy to grow! Start from seed in January inside. I am in USDA Zone 9b, Sunset 14/15, SF Bay Area. Depending on your gardening zone you might start them earlier (Florida) or latter if in NE.They are worth growing.

                                                            2. re: melpy

                                                              That sounds amazing. Does she bread them?

                                                              1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                No but there are bread crumbs in the meatball mix.

                                                            3. I am not a fan of stuffed peppers American style at all, but I love the Eastern European pale yel-green slender peppers used for Sarma, now those are awesome. I also love using some of the hotter capsicums for stuffing with seafood, cheese, anything almost.

                                                              I haven't seen these Eastern European peppers in markets, so we grow our own in the garden, skin is not tough at all, flavour is sweet. Poblanos are great stuffed as are anchos (you soak the dried red anch to soften) then stuff, amazing flavour. Maria Maria used to serve them from Carlos' mum's recipe. (Carlos Santana, owner) I am a serious ChileHead so I love capsicums of all heat levels from sweet innocent peppers to fiery Jhot Buklia (White Ghost) or ? I grow many varities of capsicums in my garden here in SF Bay Area USDA Zone 9b/Sunset 14/15, so there are some awesome peppers to stuff with cheeses, meats, seafood, grains, etc.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: shantihhh

                                                                I LOVE Poblanos (in fact, nearly all spicy peppers) & grow them as well. I make my own baked version of Chilis Rellenos by roasting poblanos, peeling & seeding them, stuffing them with cheese, topping with enchilada sauce, & baking. It's one of our favorite meatless meals (although I've also done a poultry-sausage-stuffed version as well).

                                                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                  I had one the other day stuffed with smoked pork, scrambled eggs, Mexican cheese, and topped with jalapeno gravy. Oh my word.

                                                                  1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                    Find a recipe for this the next time corn is in season. Diana Kennedy's Chili Rellanos Elote con Crema.

                                                                2. My guess is that they use green because they are much cheaper than red. I always use red when I make them homemade. It tastes way better and cooks the same.

                                                                  1. People make stuffed red peppers. However, cooked red peppers have little but a sweet taste. I love the taste of green peppers, especially stuffed.

                                                                    Go ahead and cook stuffed red peppers for yourself!

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: rccola

                                                                      Depending on the type of red pepper flavour can be awesome-paprika/pimento for instance. There arer fabulous red ripe peppers ie chiles like serranos, much better flavour than green IMHO-same with Jalapenos

                                                                      1. re: shantihhh

                                                                        These do not have the classic flavor profile for stuffed peppers with sweet and sour tomato sauce.

                                                                        Do I like other peppers? Of course I do. Serranos, poblanos, chipotles, Hatch. But not everything has to taste like Mexican/Tex-Mex/ etc. I like pimentos but they have the wrong flavor profile, too.

                                                                        I like green bell peppers. They're just right in stuffed peppers, Eastern European style. IMHO. Other things are just wrong.

                                                                      1. Green peppers are cheaper per lb than the yellow, red or orange.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          Ain't that the truth! Color is expensive!!