Pepperoncini vs. Banana Peppers – Key Differences You Must Know

Do you like spicy food? If you thrive off of adding some heat to your meals, it is about time you knew pepperoncini and banana peppers. These two are not the same thing, and the flavor they add can make your meal turn out a certain way.

Keep reading to find out what are the differences between banana peppers vs. pepperoncini. These two peppers are delicious but should not be mistaken for the same thing.

What Are Pepperoncini?

Pepperoncini is the plural form of peperoncino, which is Italian for hot chili peppers. The term most often refers to Capsicum annuum and C. frutescens. These are also known as cayenne pepper and Tabasco pepper.

As with other peppers, this one is green or yellow before maturity and turns red when ripe. However, pepperoncini are usually pickled, particularly when it is not fully spicy. These pickled peppers are used in salads, pasta, and sandwiches.

While many attributes the origin of pepperoncini to Italy, the pepper probably came to this country thanks to Christopher Columbus and his exploration of the Americas and Asia. The first time there is a mention of the pepper is in the 1500s.

In the Calabrian region of Italy, pepperoncini are hung from buildings and left to air-dry. Afterward, people eat these peppers whole, fried, crushed, pickled, or in paste form. The pepperoncini from Calabria score 15,000 to 30,000 on the Scoville scale.

Although red pepper flakes in Italian cuisine contained pepperoncini, they are now mostly made with cayenne or jalapeño. You might still find some red pepper flakes of this kind if they are imported directly from Italy. Still, your local restaurant will likely have pepperoncini in pickled style too.

You can find pepperoncini in the Central and Southern regions of Italy. This is one of the main ingredients in arrabbiata sauce, a Roman delicacy. In Calabria, this pepper is so popular that it has been an annual Peperoncino Festival every year since 1992.

Nutrition Facts

One serving of pickled pepperoncini (100 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 18 calories
  • 0 g protein
  • 0 g fat
  • 3.57 g carbohydrate
  • 36 mg potassium
  • 1180 mg sodium

Are Pepperoncini Healthy?

For the most part, pepperoncini are a healthy pepper. They contain virtually no calories but do have some vitamins and nutrients. The preparation method plays a role in nutrient density.

Since pepperoncino is a member of the Capsicum family, it has some vitamins A and C. These two vitamins are essential for various purposes in your body. Vitamin A plays a role in vision and is an antioxidant, while vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron and the creation of collagen while keeping your immune system strong.

There is also some amount of minerals in pepperoncini, including iron, calcium, and potassium. These minerals also have essential roles in the body. Iron helps transport oxygen to your blood cells, calcium keeps your bones and joints strong, and potassium helps keep your heart stable and electrolyte levels balanced.

Because it is a vegetable, pepperoncini also have some fiber. Eating fiber can help keep your gut healthy and regular. Having this nutrient can also help keep you full longer.

Like other members of the Capsicum family, pepperoncini contain capsaicin. This compound is what gives them the spice level. It also happens to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain aid.

It is important to note that pickled pepperoncini have a lot of sodium. Eating excess sodium can cause bloating and might raise blood pressure. You can rinse your pepperoncini before eating them to remove some extra salt.

What Are Banana Peppers?

The banana pepper is a medium-sized pepper from the chili family. It is very mild in heat and slightly tangy. They are often not considered spicy and thus are easier to use in food.

Usually, banana peppers are bright yellow but can become red, orange, and green when they ripen. You can often find them pickled and stuffed, but you can also use them raw. This pepper also comes from the Capsicum annuum.

This pepper only ranks about 0 to 500 in the Scoville units, but the older it is, the hotter it can be. The name comes from the distinct yellow color and shape of the pepper that resembles the fruit. Do not confuse them with the spicy varieties of banana peppers called Hungarian wax peppers.

Banana peppers require the direct sun to grow, and the plant can reach up to one to two feet tall. Common cultivars include Early Sweet Banana, Long Sweet Yellow, and Sweet Hungarian. The flavor depends on maturity and preparation.

You can often see banana peppers used in pizza, sandwiches, salads, and antipasto. Because they can look similar to pepperoncini, they are confused with them too. Nonetheless, the flavor and spice levels are very different.

You can store banana peppers for weeks at home when fresh. Many like to pickle them for longer storage time. This pepper can also be used as a vegetable when immature.

Nutrition Facts

One serving size of pickled banana peppers (100 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 18 calories
  • 0 g protein
  • 0 g fat
  • 7.14 g carbohydrate
  • 3.6 g fiber
  • 3.57 g sugar
  • 71 mg calcium
  • 1790 mg sodium

Are Banana Peppers Healthy?

As with other peppers, their preparation is key in how healthy banana peppers can be. They are often very low in calories and contain a good amount of micronutrients. Be sure to use fresh banana peppers for the best health benefits.

Banana peppers contain some vitamin C, which makes them beneficial for different purposes. This vitamin is good for absorbing iron and producing collagen to keep your muscles and tissues strong. It is also immune-boosting and can help prevent disease.

You can also see B vitamins in banana peppers. It has vitamin B6, which is particularly good for your nervous system. You can improve sleep and mood by eating more of this vitamin.

You can also get some fiber from eating banana peppers. As you know, this nutrient is good for digestion and satiety. The fresher the pepper, the more fiber it will have.

As with pepperoncini, banana peppers contain capsaicin. They contain less of it, but you will still obtain some of this compound. Ultimately, they can help fight off pain and inflammation. 

You can also see above that pickled banana peppers contain more sugar and sodium. Be careful with the amount you eat, as it can raise blood glucose and pressure. If you want, pickling them up at home is a safer choice.

What Are The Key Differences Between Pepperoncini and Banana Peppers?

Let us begin with the scale of spiciness of these two peppers. Pepperoncini ranks around 15,000 to 30,000 on the Scoville scale, which is not extremely hot but also not mild. Banana peppers only rank around 0 to 500 on this scale, making them much milder.

Their origin and tradition are also different. Pepperoncini is almost always Italian or Greek. Banana peppers are considered South American but have made their way to American cuisines.

Although they look very similar, one key difference is their texture. Pepperoncini has tougher and somewhat wrinkler outer skin. Banana peppers are always smooth, shiny, and thick.

The time when these peppers are harvested also varies. Pepperoncini are harvested when they are a bit more mature and green. Banana peppers should be harvested at their earliest when they are yellow.

Although both peppers can be sweet, their flavor is not the same. Pepperoncini are sharper and spicier. Banana peppers are sweeter but also have a tangy edge to them.

Although they seem to have the same shape, these two peppers are not shaped the same. Pepperoncini are shorter and wrinkled. Banana peppers are long and curved, resembling a banana.

Main DifferencesPepperonciniBanana Peppers   
Origin Italy and Greece  South America  
Spice Level   15,000 to 30,000 Scoville Units 0 to 500 Scoville Units 
Taste Sweet, spicy, and sharp Sweet and tangy 
UsesPizza topping, salads, sandwiches, pickle, paste, and seasoning Salads, antipasto, pizza, and sandwiches 
Cost$1.59 to 4.79 per container  $1.59 to 6.99 per container  
Calories per 100 grams 18 calories 18 calories 

Are Pepperoncini or Banana Peppers Healthier?

Either pepper is a good choice for you. Whether you want a spicier option or not is truly what makes the difference. The pickled form of both peppers is also slightly higher in calories and salt.

In general, pepperoncino has more fiber and flavor, so it can be a better choice. It is also slightly higher in capsaicin because it is more mature. If you find these peppers, you can try them first.

Depending on how spicy you want your food to be, choose either pepper. Pepperoncini pack more heat and are somewhat bitter. Banana peppers are milder and much sweeter.


If you are looking to spice things up, do not make the mistake of choosing the wrong pepper. These two foods are not the same, but each packs its benefits. Choose pepperoncini or banana peppers on their own or both at the same time.

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