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The 5 Best Substitutes for Cubanelle Peppers

Cubanelle peppers, also known as Italian Frying Peppers, are versatile pepper eaten raw or cooked.

They have been grown in Italy since the 1800s and were also cultivated by Native Americans long before then.

Cubanelle Peppers are usually mild, but occasionally they will have a spicy kick.

If you try to substitute for Cubanelle Peppers, you may need to alter the recipe accordingly.

It’s best to consider substituting Cubanelle Peppers if they are unavailable in your area.

Read on to learn about the five best substitutes for Cubanelle Peppers.

What is Cubanelle Pepper?

what is cubanelle pepper

First of all, Cubanelle peppers are not hot or spicy. They taste much like bell pepper and even look much like them.

Cubanelle peppers are smaller than the red, yellow, and orange bell peppers that we commonly see in North American grocery stores but about 20% larger than typical green bell peppers.

Their skin is thinner as well, so they are very easily identifiable.

Cubanelle peppers have a mild flavor that makes them excellent for eating raw or cooking.

Their thin skin also means that you don’t have to worry about peeling them before eating them – just cut off the tops and enjoy.

So how did Cubanelle peppers get their name? Well, the word “Cubanelle” is derived from two words – Cuba and Bell Pepper.

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The first known mention of this pepper was in Spain, where it’s commonly used for cooking as a vegetable.

It can be found across Italy and other Mediterranean regions such as France, Greece, and Morocco.

The best way to eat Cubanelle peppers is to eat them raw with a dip, such as salsa or hummus.

They can also be cooked – like any other type of pepper, they are best roasted and sauteed rather than boiled.

This gives them a much better flavor and texture.

However, do note that roasting or cooking typically reduces the spiciness in peppers, so you may want to eat more of them when they are raw.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Cubanelle Peppers

If you can’t get your hands on Cubanelle peppers, here are five great substitutes.

1 – Hungarian Wax Peppers

hungarian wax pepper

Hungarian wax peppers are probably the best substitute for Cubanelle peppers because they look similar.

They are yellow-orange and also have thin skin, so you don’t have to worry about peeling them before eating them.

This pepper is a hybrid of hot wax peppers and banana peppers.

It provides minimal heat, which means that it’s not spicy at all.

In terms of flavor, it has a little bit of spice to them and some tanginess.

However, they are rather sweet – if you’ve tried pimiento cheese before, this is a fairly similar taste.

Hungarian wax peppers are excellent for eating raw on salads or with dips, but they can also be cooked.

They work very well roasted and sauteed.

2 – Banana Peppers

banana pepper

Banana peppers are also great substitutes because their size and shape are very similar to Cubanelle peppers.

They have a mild flavor, so you won’t have any problems with heat if you choose this pepper.

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This type of pepper has been cultivated for a long time, returning to native South America.

This pepper has a subtle sweetness and a little bit of spiciness to it.

It is typically sliced into rings or strips, pickled, and then used in salads or sandwiches.

They are also popularly eaten raw on deli sandwiches.

They are similar to Hungarian wax peppers – both sweet and tangy in terms of flavor.

3 – Poblano Peppers

poblano peppers

Poblanos are the larger variety of chiles that you might be familiar with, but they can also be used as a substitute for Cubanelle peppers.

They tend to be darker green than Cubanelle peppers, but other than that, they’re quite similar.

This pepper typically has a mild to medium spicy kick and terrific flavor.

Like Cubanelle peppers, this type of pepper is best sauteed or roasted instead of boiled.

In addition, peeling the poblano before cooking is crucial – like other types of chili peppers, the oils from these peppers can often irritate the skin.

In terms of flavor, poblano peppers have a little bit of a smoky taste to them, which is why they’re so popular for use in salsas and Mexican dishes.

4 – Pimento Peppers

pimento pepper

Pimento peppers are another great substitution if Cubanelle peppers aren’t available.

They are small, heart-shaped peppers that are typically bright red.

Pimento peppers typically have a mild flavor as well.

In terms of taste, this type of pepper is best described as sweet and tangy with a little bit of spiciness.

This type of pepper is often used for cheese spreads or stuffed olives.

They are often pickled and used in sandwiches or salads as well.

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In terms of flavor, this pepper is very similar to banana peppers.

It’s still sweet and tangy but has more spice than the banana pepper.

5 – Anaheim Peppers

anaheim pepper

Anaheim peppers are another chili pepper that is often used to substitute for Cubanelle peppers.

They typically have a medium spiciness to them, but if you remove the seeds and membranes from these peppers, the spiciness will be reduced even more.

This pepper also has terrific flavor – it’s slightly tangy with a subtle sweetness as well.

It is typically best sauteed or roasted, just like Cubanelle peppers.

These peppers can be eaten raw with dips and salads, but they’re also terrific in cooking Mexican dishes or stews.

In terms of flavor, Anaheim peppers are similar to poblano peppers, but they have a little bit of a smoky taste to them as well.

This type of pepper is great for cooking but can also be pickled and eaten raw.

*Please note that substitute ingredients and instructions may vary depending on the recipe in which you’re using them*.


Cubanelle peppers are easy to find at many grocery stores, but five excellent substitutes can be used instead if you don’t have access to them.

Depending on the recipe in which you’re using these peppers, it may be necessary to adjust the heat level by removing some or all of the seeds and membranes.

This is one of the most important steps when substituting for chili peppers.

Although all five types of pepper are similar in flavor, each type has subtle differences in taste and spiciness.

Experiment with different types until you find the perfect substitute.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can I use instead of cubanelle peppers?

If you can’t find cubanelle peppers in your local grocery store, there are several alternatives that you can use to substitute for the distinctive flavor of cubanelle peppers.

Some great options include bell peppers, poblano peppers, Hungarian wax peppers, jalapeno peppers and Anaheim chili peppers.

Are cubanelle peppers similar to bell peppers?

Cubanelle peppers and bell peppers are similar in that they both belong to the Capsicum family, but cubanelle peppers tend to be more mild than their bell-pepper counterparts.

Cubanelles typically have a slightly sweet flavor with only a hint of heat. Bell peppers, on the other hand, can range from sweet and mild to hot and spicy, depending on the variety.

Are cubanelle peppers similar to banana peppers?

Cubanelle peppers and banana peppers are both members of the Capsicum family, but they have very different flavor profiles.

Cubanelle peppers are milder than most other chile pepper varieties with a slight sweetness, while banana peppers tend to be much more pungent and spicy.

Are Cubanelle peppers very spicy?

Cubanelle peppers are relatively mild and not very spicy, compared to other chile pepper varieties.

They have a mild sweetness with just a hint of heat, so they can be used in a variety of dishes without overwhelming the dish with spice.

However, for those who prefer more heat, adding some jalapeno or serrano peppers can give the dish a bit of extra kick.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Cubanelle Peppers

The 5 Best Substitutes for Cubanelle Peppers
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Hungarian Wax Peppers
  • Banana Peppers
  • Poblano Peppers
  • Pimento Peppers
  • Anaheim Peppers


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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