You may think I don’t know any pimento, but in fact, you know it, as pimento or pimiento is translated from Spanish as “pepper”. Pimento, though, is not just the same as large red bell peppers. Pimento is a specific variety of chili peppers, also red, sweet, large and heart-shaped, mildly spicy, aromatic, and succulent.
It is hard sometimes to find fresh ones so you may need a good substitute for pimento. You can simply use jarred or canned pimento, or different types of sweet peppers. If you want to substitute paprika, you’ll go with chili powder, allspices, and some more ideas I’ll share with you in the post.
What are pimentos?
Pimento (also known as cherry pepper) is a popular ingredient – a large, mildly hot, chili pepper, and the material to make paprika. Pimento can be found fresh, ground (we know it as paprika), and canned or jarred (diced, striped, and sliced). Each pepper is 2-3 inches wide and 3-4 inches long.
Some most known recipes are stuffed Spanish green olives and pimento cheese. At the end of the article, I share simple recipes.
Is pimento pepper spicy?
Pimiento peppers are sweeter than red peppers and barely spicy: on the Scoville scale (which measures heat) they have 500-1000 SHU (while jalapeno pepper has 2,500 – 8,000 Scoville Heat Units).
Even if pimento is not hot, there are other varieties with more pungeant flavor: Santa Fe Grande and Floral Gem
Other names for pimento: Myrtle pepper, Allspice, jamaica pepper, pimiento pepper.
Can I grow Pimento pepper seeds?
If you really want to have fresh pimento when you need it, you can simply grow it. Buy pimento pepper seeds, plant them, and water. If you will take care of them properly, you can harvest pimento peppers from late summer through early fall. Pick the deep, deep red, and very firm pimentos – they are ripe.
Pimento health benefits
Pimentos are high in vitamin C, A, B, K, iron and potassium. It has anti-inflammatory effect, and can also ease nausea. It is low in calories.
Pimento peppers may be good for skin, joints, eyes health.
As we can use pimento fresh or in form of paprika, I will suggest to you 9 ideas on how to substitute fresh pimento as well as 10 substitutes for ground pimento or paprika. I will also mention why pimento wood has nothing in common with pimento peppers.
- Jump to Substitute for pimento
- Jump to Substitute for paprika
- Best pimento recipes
- Pimento vs Pimento wood
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Substitutes for fresh pimento
The closest alternative to substitute fresh pimento is more common and easy-to-find pickled pimento. If you can’t find any pimentos, fresh nor pickled, the best option is to go for red bell peppers or any other sweet peppers.
You can also, as I said, grow or pickle your own peppers.
9 Substitutes for pimento
- Canned pimento
- Red bell pepper.
- Cherry peppers.
- Holland sweet peppers.
- Peppadew peppers.
- Piquillo pepper.
- Corno di toro pepper.
- Banana peppers.
- Italian sweet pepper.
1 – Canned pimento
Easy to find, the most obvious and closest replacement for fresh pimento peppers is to buy tiny jars or a can of pimento.
Canned pimentos can be sliced, chopped or diced which makes it even easier to use cooking. They are great for all recipes with pimento: dips and sauces, salads, sandwiches.
Before using canned or jarred pimento peppers drain the liquid and pat them dry.
Canned pimento are low in calories and fat, but will be high in sodium, as usually they are marinated with sea salt.
2 – Red bell pepper
The best substitute for pimento pepper is the red bell pepper. Pimento and red bell peppers are both sweet, not spicy, and quite meaty. But red bell peppers are so much easy to find!
For the most popular pimento recipe – the pimento cheese – some roasted red peppers (and skinned) will work really well.
Marinated roasted peppers (both red bell peppers and Piquillo peppers) can also be a good option, as they will add some texture and pickled flavor to your dish. To know how the marinated peppers will work, look for the brine ingredients.
Substitute ratio is: 2 tablespoons pimentos = 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped red bell peppers.
Pimento vs Bell Pepper: what’s the difference?
If pimentos and bell peppers are so similar, are they the same? At the first glance they are truly very alike, but:
- pimento is more heart-shaped than a bell pepper
- bell peppers can actually be not only red but yellow, green, orange, brown, purple, and even white. Bell peppers are so-called “cultivars” meaning they come in a variety of colors.
- pimento is mildly spicy, as it is a variety of chili peppers, while bell peppers are sweet.
3 – Cherry peppers
If you need more heat to your peppers, little cherry peppers can be the good substitute for pimento.
Cheery peppers look like little red bombs. They are spicier than pimento peppers – cherry peppers have 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville heat units. They are also very meaty and great for stuffing.
They are available fresh, or jarred (easier to buy). Do not substitute 1:1 as you will have hotter dish.
Also, cherry peppers have anti-inflammatory effect, as they contain Capsaicin (it makes them spicy).
4 – Holland sweet peppers
As all sweet peppers, Holland sweet peppers can substitute pimento peppers. You can also know them as Dutch chillies.
Holland peppers can be red, yellow, orange, purple, brown, and white. They are mildly spicy, sweet, have thick walls and they are quite large, which makes them great for grilling, roasting, stuffing.
Substitute ratio is 1:1.
5 – Peppadew peppers
Peppadew peppers are spicy and sweet peppers from South Africa. The heat is mild, don’t worry. Available fresh and jarred (whole or chopped). Peppadew is actually a brand name for these sweet peppers.
Fresh peppadew peppers are great for pimento substitute for baking and stuffing or served raw, the jarred ones can be used for salads or cornbread, or added to a martini.
Substitute ratio is 1:1.
6 – Piquillo pepper
Piquillo peppers are a variety of chillies (and they look like), and as well as red bell peppers are some of the best pimento substitutes. They have no heat, they are sweet, large, can be easily grown at home.
Compared to bell peppers, piqillo have thinner walls, and more complex flavor. Compared to pimento they have a different shape – piquillos are long while pimentos are heart-shaped.
The piquillo pepper is good for stuffing, roasting, pickling, and frying. You can also buy canned grilled piquillo peppers and use them in sauces.
Interesting fact, that piquillo peppers have the same amount of vitamin C as citrus fruits.
7 – Corno di toro pepper
Corno di toro pepper, or “horn of the bull” pepper, is an Italian sweet pepper. Long, horn-shaped, quite big (8 inches), sweet, and with no heat at all (even less than pimento) and thick flesh. In one word, another great alternative for pimentos.
They are red, orange and yellow, mainly, and you can eat them raw. They are also great roasting, baking, grilling, frying, and sautéing. They are good for stuffing too, but remember that they are quite massive.
As many other peppers, Corno di toro peppers are excellent antioxidants. They are also rich in vitamins A and C and very good for skin health.
Alike pimento, you can grow them at home. Seeds are even available on Amazon.
8 – Banana peppers
Another chili peppers variety that can substitute pimentos is Banana peppers. They are medium-sized, as pungent as pimento, slightly sweet. They are long and mostly yellow (that’s why banana), but can also be red, green or orange.
Good as a raw ingredient, but also for stuffing and pickling. Pickled banana peppers are one of the most popular recipes with them. Jarred banana peppers are easy to find in a grocery store.
9 – Italian sweet peppers
Sweet Italian chili peppers are Italian Sweet Relleno Pepper or a Sweet Italian Frying Pepper. Sweet, meaty, fruity, not spicy – they are amazing replacement for pimento. Corno di toro is also a variety of Italian sweet peppers.
Their health benefits and cooking option are the same as for other sweet peppers: stuffing, roasting, grilling, eating raw, etc.
Substitutes for paprika
Pimento is mostly harvested to make paprika and sometimes saying pimento people may mean ground pimento or paprika. If you are one of those, I thought it would be useful to list paprika substitutes too when a recipe calls for it and you don’t have one.
Paprika may also be called ground allspice.
All alternatives are affordable and rich in flavor. It is mostly ground spices, allspice substitutes as well.
- Ancho chili powder – one of the best substitutes for paprika. To make it taste even better, mix chili powder with tomato sauce.
- Black or white pepper – the most simple alternative. Freshly ground pepper is better.
- Red pepper flakes – great and flavorful alternative. Flakes may not be always good in the recipe, though.
- 5 spice powder – Chinese spice for curries and woks.
- Pumpkin pie spice is a mix of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, allspice, and a pinch of cinnamon. The perfect combination to enhance a dish’s flavor. Both for savory and sweet dishes.
- Ground cayenne pepper – a great substitute for ground pimento. The substitution ratio is 1/2 – 1/3 of a teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper to 1 teaspoon of paprika.
- Ground nutmeg or mace – a versatile spice to imitate paprika. Mix with ground cloves for better taste.
- Ground Cloves – one of the best alternatives for ground pimento in terms of taste.
- Cinnamon – a good substitute for paprika, but not the best one. Mix with nutmeg and cloves.
- Anise-star may be a stronger substitute for paprika.
- Mixed spice – mildly spicy and sweet combination of different spices (basically, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon)
- Bay leaves
- Adding Worcestershire sauce
If you need to replace paprika specifically in the fish sauce, you can mix tamarind, red wine vinegar, salt, soy sauce, brown sugar, molasses, lemon, and lime juice, ketchup to imitate a mildly spicy and sweet taste.
Pimento and Pimento Wood
Pimento known as heart-shaped pepper has nothing in common with pimento wood. Pimento wood is the wood from allspice tree (or pimento tree) and mostly grows in Jamaica.
Pimento wood sticks are though used in cooking, especially for Jerk chicken recipe.
As pimento wood chips are hard to find, cooks substitute it with fruit wood, pecan or other hardwoods.
But again, pimento we were talking about is not the same.
Pimento peppers are great for stuffing, pickling, sauces, and many other recipes. Stuffed Pimento Peppers and Pickled Pimento Peppers are the most common recipes you may know, but the most famous way to cook pimento is southern pimento cheese.
While cooking here is the equivalents you may look for:
- 2-oz jar pimento peppers = 1/4 cup of diced pimento
- 4-oz jar, diced = 1/2 cup
Easy pimento cheese recipe
Pimento Cheese Recipe is a savory, cheesy sauce and it has 3 main ingredients: cheese, pimento, and mayonnaise. You can make it in 10-15 min by mixing all the ingredients in a mixer or food processor.
More Pimento recipes:
- Pimento-stuffed green olives
- Pickles pimentos
- Pimento in quesadillas
- Oven-roasted pimentos with olive oil and meat (chicken), etc.