What's The Difference: Red, Green, And Yellow Bell Peppers

How do you know which one to use?

IMAGE Shutterstock

Bell peppers are delicious. These vibrantly colored fruits are the ingredient you add to dishes that deliver tangy, sweet, and sometimes slightly bitter taste as well as textural crunch to a dish. It's the essential ingredient in kaldereta and fajitas.  

You usually only have to choose between the red and green bell peppers but sometimes, the occasional yellow bell pepper is also available. Is there really a big difference between the different colored bell peppers? Here's what you should know: 

1 All bell peppers are green bell peppers. 

You probably didn't know this but all bell peppers are basically green bell peppers. Green bell peppers are really just unripe bell peppers which is why you can find some green bell peppers with red streaks. That's because these were picked a little late when the pepper starts to mature and turn into a red bell pepper. 

This makes the green bell pepper not sweet as the name implies. It's actually tangy and bitter but this is what makes it unique and delicious in recipes that complement it, especially when paired with tomatoes. Tomato-based stews such as kaldereta taste different without the green bell pepper. 


However, it should be noted that there are some green bell peppers that stay green even when ripe, so when you choose a green bell pepper, you may not know whether you're picking up an unripe red bell pepper or a true green bell pepper. 

2 Red bell peppers are the sweetest bell pepper. 

Bell peppers are also known as sweet peppers since these are the kind of peppers that have little to no heat at all. This is different from other peppers since peppers are known to have some heat such as the chili pepper. Among the three, the red kind is the sweetest. Take a bite of a red bell pepper compared to green, and you'll notice a significant taste difference. 

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All bell peppers are firm and crisp but the red is the most flavorful and the sweetest in taste. That's because the red bell pepper is the only pepper that is ripened fully on the vine. This means that the red bell pepper has had the most time to grow and become sweet, earning its name as a sweet pepper. 


This is also the reason why the red bell pepper is more expensive than the green kind. 

3 Yellow red peppers are harvested before it's fully ripe.   

When a green bell pepper is allowed to ripen more fully, some peppers grow to be yellow bell peppers. Compared to a red bell pepper which has been ripened to its fullest before being picked, the yellow bell pepper is picked before it's fully ripe but is ripe enough to be harvested. 

This is why the yellow bell pepper exhibits a fruity taste that's no longer bitter but is not as sweet as the red.  

Photo by Shutterstock

4 Sweet peppers can be small and long, too. 

You might wonder what those long green- and red-colored peppers that aren't chili peppers are. Contrary to what many believe, there are also sweet peppers, just like bell peppers, that are of a different shape but are just as delicious as bell peppers. They are sweet and have a more fruity taste than the bigger bell peppers. 

Just like the bell peppers, the green mini sweet peppers are also just unripe versions of the red and yellow peppers and exhibit the similar flavors you are already familiar with. These made perfectly good substitutes for the bell peppers when you find them in the supermarket produce section. 

Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

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