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Sport Pepper Substitute

Sport pepper is a variety of pepper commonly used as a pickled pepper on hot dogs and other sandwiches. It’s best known for being a key ingredient in a Chicago-style hot dog.

The Sport pepper is similar to Tabasco peppers, but it is larger, measuring around 1-½ inches long and ½ inches wide. They have a medium heat level and are abundant on strong plants.

Read on to find out more amazing information on sport pepper, plus delectable recipes you can use them in. I also highlighted some remarkable sports pepper substitutes when you are in a pinch.

What Is Sport Pepper

Sport pepper is a little green pepper pickled in vinegar until it turns pale green, making them pickled peppers.

The length of these peppers is never more than 1.5 inches. The pepper has the appearance of a pickled tiny green tabasco pepper. These peppers resemble serrano peppers or possibly lighter tabasco peppers.

Notably, they are a little spicy and have a tangy, vinegary flavor. They combine to create a tart flavor that almost everyone enjoys right away.

Sport peppers provide a wonderful amount of medium-hot heat, with Scoville Heat Units ranging from 10,000 to 23,000 on the Scoville Scale. Compared to a 5,000 SHU jalapeño pepper, the sport pepper is anywhere between 2 and nearly five times hotter.

Sport peppers have a delicious flavor and are popular with many people, but their origins are unknown. Some people believe sport peppers are just pickled serrano peppers in seasoned brine, even though their seeds are marketed separately.

These peppers are believed to have originated in Mexico and are from the Capsicum Annuum cultivar. However, the term ‘sport’ can refer to a wide range of pickled peppers in that family.

Sport Pepper Uses in Recipes

Sport peppers are frequently served in jars at Chicago-area beef spots and restaurants like Vienna Beef and Buona Beef. Aside from hot dogs, sports peppers are a great addition to various meals and may even be used as a pizza topper.

See some delectable recipes you can use sport peppers in:

  • Sport Pepper Sauce
  • Pickled Sport Peppers
  • Chicago-Style Hot Dog
  • Homemade Chicago-Style Giardiniera Recipe
  • Windy City Hot Dogs with a Twist
  • Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and Hot Dogs
  • Chicago-Style Sandwiches
  • Chicago Red Hot Poppy Seed Buns
  • Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad
  • Kosher Italian Beef Topped Chicago Dog
  • Elena Besser’s Chicago-Style Hot Dog Sandwich Recipe
  • Keto Chicago Hot Dog with Romaine Lettuce
  • Grilled Chicago Hot Dog
  • Chicago Hot Dog Potato Chip Nachos

Sport Pepper Substitutes

Sport pepper is an excellent pickled pepper well utilized in most tasty dishes. However, I have provided some of the finest sport pepper substitutes for days you don’t have any sport pepper, and your recipe calls for it.

Roland Foods Calabrian Chili Peppers



Pickled Serrano peppers are a good substitute if you don’t have any sports peppers on hand.

So if your grocery store does not have any sport peppers in stock, you can look for pickled serrano peppers in the pickled and international areas. Pickled Serrano peppers are available from Latin food makers, and they may be simpler to come by.

Note that some people consider sport peppers pickled serrano peppers, and, whether they are or not, they have many similarities.

The thin and long shape of the serrano pairs well with hot dogs, and the heat level is in the same medium range on the Scoville scale – 10,000 to 23,000 Scoville heat units.

Serrano peppers are a type of fiery chili pepper. They’re classified as a fruit, and they’re quite popular in Mexican cuisine, coming in second only to the jalapeno pepper.

Wheeled Pickled Jalapeno Pepper

Wheeled Pickled Jalapeno Pepper


Yes, jalapeno pepper can be used in place of sport pepper when you are in a pinch, and you have to go for the pickled ones.

The texture of the jalapeno pepper is likewise affected by pickling. Fresh jalapenos have a sharpness similar to bell peppers, whereas pickled jalapenos are softer.

Pickled jalapeno peppers – often sliced into wheels – are available in most stores and are ideal for sandwiches and salads. While it doesn’t have the same form or “whole chili” eating experience as a sport pepper, it does have a tasty sour bite.

Jalapeno peppers are milder than sport peppers, with a spiciness generally half or less than that of sport peppers. As a result, while you gain convenience, you lose heat overall. For many people, jalapeno heat is sufficient; thus, the reduction in spiciness may go unnoticed.

Matiz Piparras, Basque Guindilla Peppers



Wheeled pickled pepperoncini will prove to be a befitting sport pepper substitute when you are in a pinch.

Pickled pepperoncini – like pickled jalapeno peppers – can be found in practically any store, making them incredibly accessible. Pepperoncini have the saline tang you’d anticipate, but they’re far milder than sport peppers or jalapenos.

Pepperoncini has only a smidgeon of heat, with 100 to 500 Scoville heat units. They are hotter than bell peppers (0) but not as hot as jalapenos (2,500 minimum). Pickled pepperoncini is a great family-friendly substitute for sports peppers if you’re not a fan of the general heat of those chilies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it true that sport peppers are scorching hot?

Sport pepper is unfamiliar to some individuals, and others are unable to consume a hot dog without them. Sport peppers are medium-hot, naturally bite-sized, and packed in a seasoned brine for just the right amount of spiciness. They are not quite as hot as you may assume.

What is the origin of the name “sport pepper”?

They are a cultivated form of Capsicum Annuum, often known as a cultivar (they have nothing in common with tabasco, which is made from Capsicum Frustescens). The term “sport” is likely derived from their use as a condiment on hot dogs sold at sports arenas.

Is it true that sports peppers are beneficial for you?

Hot peppers can be beneficial to your health, and sport peppers, when used whole rather than diced on a Chicago dog, are technically hot peppers. They are practically fat-free and only have about five calories per pepper. The catch is, of course, sodium: two peppers offer 20% of your daily sodium need.


Sport peppers are a must-have for a true Chicago dog, amongst other rich recipes that call for it.

However, there are occasions when finding these highly sought pickled peppers is nearly impossible. They can be quite hard to come by outside of Chicago, so where do you look? You already know where.

You can use these suitable substitutes highlighted in this article for sports peppers – they have a similar flavor and powerful bite.