You won't find many other peppers like Peppadews, a brand name for the sweet piquanté peppers that appear in grocery stores as hot, pickled peppers in a jar. Their heat varies, though, depending on which version you buy. The manufacturer incorporates more of the ground seed of the piquanté pepper for the hotter variety of red Peppadews and less of the seed for the milder red and yellow products. Although Peppadew peppers, with their sweetness and mild heat, are pretty much one of a kind, if your recipe calls for them and they're nowhere to be found, a few alternatives to this small, cherry tomato-size, sweet-and-sour red pepper do exist.
Use Sweety Drops
With their bright-red color, Sweety Drop peppers, made from Inca red drops, look like tiny versions of whole Peppadews. Sweety Drops, which are rich in vitamin C, make the best substitute for Peppadews because they come already pickled and have a sweet, gentle heat. Use them in any recipe in place of Peppadews, toss them on pizzas and baked potatoes, or slice them up to take sandwiches and garnishes to a whole new level.
Try Chile Peppers
If your plan is to stuff Peppadews with cream cheese or hummus for an appetizer, choose another pepper that works for the same purpose, such as red baby bells, an excellent source of vitamins of A and C. For chiles that resemble large Peppadews, use moderately hot Hungarian cherry peppers, or – if you can stand the heat – very hot, but simultaneously sweet and citrusy, rocoto chiles, which are also known as manzanos or manzanas. Soak rocotos overnight in water to reduce their heat.
Various other chile peppers, such as pickled cherry peppers and pimentos, also work well as alternatives to Peppadews in sauces, salads and stir-fries. If you need the higher heat index of hot Peppadews, you can boost the temp of any peppers with a dash or two of hot sauce or a sprinkling of chili powder or cayenne pepper. You'll likely find any of these peppers in the olive bar or specialty canned-goods section at your local grocery store.
Remember that all hot chile peppers pack big health benefits along with their heat, which comes from capsaicinoid chemicals. According to Harvard Medical School's "Harvard Heart Letter," capsaicinoids may help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. Plus, chiles are loaded with potassium, magnesium, iron, and vitamins C and B.
Experiment With Other Pickled Vegetables
Like Peppadews, other vegetables, such as cauliflower, carrots, celery and green beans, for example, come in pickled versions that you can find in the specialty section or canned-vegetable section of your market. These veggies won't have the exact sweet-spicy flavor profile of Peppadews, but they may work in a pinch.
For the pickled taste in a stuffing mixture, add diced, pickled vegetables. If you need a substitute for salsas and relishes, opt for giardiniera, a sweet-tangy Italian mix of various pickled vegetables. Or try spicy Korean kimchi, which often has the same colorful appeal and heat as Peppadews and, depending on the product you buy or the recipe you follow, may be very salty, sour or sweet. With these products, you get a boost of flavor in addition to plenty of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Peppadew International: Peppadew® Piquanté Peppers Range
- Fine Cooking: Sweety Drop Peppers
- Peppadew International: The Peppadew Story
- Harvard Medical School: Harvard Heart Letter: Vegetable of the Month: Peppers
- EatingWell: How to Pickle Anything (No Canning Necessary)
- Berkeley Wellness: Chili Peppers: Spicy and Nutritious
- Los Angeles Times: Rocoto Chile: For Pepper Lovers Who Can Take the Heat
- Live Naturally Magazine: Peppers, Please
- The Spruce Eats: Kimchi - Flavor, Nutrition, Uses, and Availability
- Wegmans: Mediterranean Bar Nutrition Facts
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.