Red, orange, yellow, and green bell peppers are often interchangeable in recipes, with a few exceptions.
Green bell peppers have a vegetal (or grassy) flavor and can be bitter. This creates a unique flavor (like for Cajun and Creole dishes). It also can balance richer dishes that the other colors don't do nearly as well (or at all).
Red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are citrus-y and slightly sweet. Red bell peppers have the most pronounced flavors, but they are all quite close. These all pair very well with spicy food and develop a delicious flavor when roasted. These 3 colors can almost always be interchanged with each other.
Classic green bell pepper recipes
The slight bitterness of green bell peppers cuts through rich foods, making it perfect for pizza, a cheesy omelet, or as a topping for philly cheesesteaks. These are classics for a reason.
Cajun & Creole "holy trinity"
Another classic green bell pepper combination is a Cajun and Creole stew-base called The Holy Trinity. It consists of celery, onions, and green bell peppers. Similar to the French mirepoix (celery, onions, and carrots). Replacing the green bell peppers with another color will completely change the flavor and isn't advised.
Stuffed bell peppers
The internet has no shortage of stuffed bell pepper recipes. I've tried to round up a variety of them, from mac & cheese stuffed bells to ones with tuna salad.
These are also a great make-ahead (and freezer) meal. Most stuffing can be make well in advanced. When you are ready to eat, stuff the peppers and roast as directed. Cooked peppers can be stored for about 3 days in the fridge.
Dips & sauces
Roasted red peppers make excellent dips. All of the recipes below roast fresh red peppers, but jarred ones are great during off season.
When possible, using a combination of bell pepper colors in fajitas adds a variety of flavors in every bite. Green bells add their typical grassy (and sometimes bitter) flavor. Red, orange, and yellow are all pretty similar in their citrus, slightly sweet flavor (with reds being the most pronounced).
Pasta is a great example where red bell peppers compliment tomato-based recipes when cooked down into a sauce. Raw or slightly-cooked bell peppers (of any color) work well on lighter pasta dishes, especially in summer.
So many recipes that I make in a skillet benefit from a chopped bell pepper. From rice to shakshuka, they all taste great.
Some recipes have you cook bell peppers before adding them to the sandwich. Others use the peppers raw, which preserves the bright, fresh flavor. However, it's worth noting that green bell peppers are more bitter raw than cooked. Give them a taste - if you don't like it plain, you might not like it raw on a sandwich.
In my experience, any color of bell pepper can be used in kabobs. Buy your favorite, what's on sale, or any variety. If making kabobs for a party and want to be a crowd-pleaser, I might suggest making some skewers without green bell peppers as there's a large number of people who really don't like them.
Tomato based soups often benefit from some red peppers. They add depth without stealing the spotlight. Red and yellow bell peppers add a slight sweet or citrus flavor to other types of soups and well. Green bell peppers' bitterness can cut through heavier soups with cream or cheese (like unstuffed bell pepper soups).
Red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are the most common for salads. As mentioned before, raw green bell peppers can be quite bitter and often don't pair with bitter greens on salad. However, they can work in a pasta salad.
Stews & Curry
For these recipes, I'd suggest to use the color of pepper listed in the recipe to avoid altering the flavor too much.
Recipes in under 30 minutes
These are all of the recipes from this page that great if you're short on time.
Too many bell peppers? How to use them up.
If you need to use up 1 or 2 peppers, almost any recipe on this page will do that for you. Trying to use up more can seem daunting, but I have a few solutions for you:
- Stuffed bell peppers can use them up fast. Since they can also be frozen, try doubling a recipe and freezing all (or half) of them.
- A few recipes from the soup section use a lot of bell peppers: golden pepper soup (6 orange or yellow), chicken & bean stuffed pepper soup or vegan stuffed pepper soup (4 of any color, but I probably wouldn't do all green).
- Dips can easily use up bell peppers without making an entire meal out of them. The muhammara recipe uses 3 red bell peppers. Most of the other dips and sauces use 2 peppers but can easily be doubled to use 4.
- Some pasta sauces, like this roasted red pepper sauce, uses 4-5 red bell peppers (yellow and orange would work too).
- Make roasted red peppers from scratch and store them in the fridge for up to 5 days. This recipe works for any color of pepper. You could also try to make pickled peppers which will last in the fridge for up to a year.
- Freeze them for later use. My Frugal Home shares are few tricks to freezing.
More bell pepper guides
- Guide: How to buy & store bell peppers
- Guide: Sweet pepper varieties (including bell peppers and how they all start out green)
- Why green bell peppers are bitter & what to do about it
- Monthly seasonal guide