Skip to Content

Substitute for Cubanelle Pepper

Peppers are an integral part of Italian and Caribbean cuisine, and when making recipes from such regions, you want to keep them as authentic as possible. And when such dishes call for Cubanelle peppers, you can quickly tell what kind of taste profile it’s gunning. But you won’t always have sweet and hot capsicum variety around you all the time. And when you need it the most, should you do without it?

Gladly, you can if you have an alternative. And here, you’ll find some of the best options to substitute for cubanelle peppers in your recipes. While the heat variation and sweetness of each type may differ, it doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. And these replacements will work well in various dishes that call for delicious fresh spice.

What is Cubanelle Pepper?

The cubanelle pepper is one of the numerous types of sweet peppers, with a banana-shaped fruit that extends for about four to six inches. It usually tapers around the bottom and exhibits a glossy appearance when ripened. The pepper can range from a yellow-green color when growing to a bright-red or orange-red hue that indicates full ripening.  And its heat level is rated around 100 to 1,000SHW (Scoville Heat Units), making it a moderately hot variety of the capsicum family.

Cubanelle peppers are often grown in many parts of Europe, but their most prominent cultivation and uses are noted in the Caribbean region. And most of its imports in the U.S. are gotten from the Dominican Republic, also known as Ajicubanela. It’s also why the spice is commonly referred to as Cuban peppers.

Cubanelle Pepper in Recipes

The heat level of the Cuban pepper is mild compared to others like jalapenos. And when combined with its sweet flavor, it makes an excellent option for frying. This quality also earns it the name Italian Frying peppers, as they’re heavily used for such types of recipes. Cubanelle peppers are also a regular feature in stuffed vegetable dishes due to their sweet and crunchy nature. And they’re an ideal way to add moderate heat and sweetness to savory meat, fish, and vegetable dishes.

Cubanelle peppers can be eaten fresh, and most recipes that call for it use it as such. Its large pods also mean that it can be filled and serve as a primary or side course. But the peppers can also be grounded to make a paste, powder, or sauce for other types of cooking. And popular recipes and dishes containing cubanelle peppers include the following;

  • Salads
  • Stuffed peppers
  • Casseroles
  • Yellow mole sauce
  • Pizza
  • Poached eggs
  • Grilled cubanelle peppers
  • Roasted cubanelle peppers
  • Chicken cacciatore
  • Pickled cubanelle peppers
  • Cubanelle pepper fritters
  • Cubanelle pepper butter
  • Sauces
  • Soups
  • Fettuccine
  • Cuban black beans and rice
  • Rice Pilaf
  • Italian stir-fry
  • Hot sauce
  • Sausage Kebabs
  • Linguine
  • Bolognese
  • Mango and Cubanelle slaw
  • Cuban Picadillo
  • Sliced steak and spaghetti
  • Green chili
  • Grilled wings
  • Salsa
  • Pick-a-pepper Pasta
  • Boiled vegetables
  • Cubanelle rings
  • Sloppy joes
  • Pork chile Verde
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Sofrito
  • Pepper steak
  • Spicy shrimp pasta
  • Saucy skillet chicken sausage
  • Three-pepper and onion spaghetti
  • Pizza
  • Skillet Enchilada bake
  • Cheese dips


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sarah (@sarah.pasley)

Cubanelle Pepper Substitutes

While cubanelle peppers are an excellent ingredient to have, they aren’t always available. Sometimes, they’re scarce, and in other cases, you’re not in an area that sells them. But you can still use different types of peppers as handy substitutes for them in your recipes. And the options below are some of the best choices;

Anaheim Pepper

Anaheim Pepper

Anaheim peppers come from New Mexico and are commonly found in stores around the U.S. Plus. They have a slight hint of sweetness that’s somewhat similar to that of Cuban peppers. The heat level is also higher, at 500 to 2,500 SHU, which may be why most users hardly notice their sweetness. But this range is still mild and makes it an ideal substitute for cubanelle peppers. And anaheim peppers also have thicker walls that hold better in stuffed recipes, so they excel in this angle.

Bell Pepper

Bell Pepper

The bell peppers will, of course, come with zero heat compared to Cuban peppers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean disaster. Bell peppers will still offer you the same sweetness and ample pod space for stuffed recipes. Plus, they come in red and green varieties, so you have options to consider when using them. And though you won’t get that mild heat expected from cubanelle pepper, you’ll still be able to make your favorite stuffed pepper recipes.

Banana Pepper

Banana Pepper

The banana pepper is the closest on this list to cubanelle in terms of heat level. And if this factor is what you seek the most in the latter, it makes a great substitute. Banana peppers are also commonly found around us, making them convenient. But they have a tangy flavor that may seem distinct from cubanelle peppers in some dishes. Still, you can use banana peppers for sandwiches and pizzas in place of cubanelle. And the tang does come with a hint of sweetness, so it makes the recipe’s flavor more fun.

Poblano Pepper

Poblano Pepper

This option tends to come with a bit more heat, so it makes a handy replacement if you can handle such in your recipes. Poblano peppers also possess large pods and will hold well when stuffed. They should be considered the larger and spicier alternative, as the pods are more prominent than cubanelle peppers.



If a mild sweet taste is what you seek and your first choice is cubanelle pepper paste or powder, then paprika is your best bet. Paprika does come with a bit of heat, but not so much that it’ll overwhelm your taste buds. It’s also been a regular choice for adding the spicy sweetness of peppers to tons of dishes. Plus, you can use it in new forms or purchase the powdered or paste varieties around you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Cubanelle peppers healthy?

Yes, they are. Cubanelle peppers are a rich source of vitamins A and C due to their high concentration of beta-carotene and carotenoids. They’re also packed with folate and vitamin B6, which promote heart health. Plus, Cubanelle pepper also supplies plenty of minerals.

Can dogs eat Cubanelle peppers?

No, they aren’t. Like many other spicy varieties, Cubanelle peppers cause health and digestive issues and aren’t recommended for canines.

Are Cubanelle peppers Italian?

Though they’re also called Italian Frying peppers, Cubanelle peppers are a sweet pepper variety synonymous with European and Latin American cuisines. They’re also known as Cuban peppers and can grow from bright-yellow-green to red when fully ripened.


You don’t need to fear not being able to finish a recipe that calls for Cubanelle peppers. Any of these options listed will give you a great deal of heat and sweetness as these fresh Latin spices. Plus, you’ll be able to expand your understanding of various dishes that call for Cubannele peppers when you employ any of these exciting substitutes.