What’s the difference between bell peppers and chili peppers?

July 3, 2009


Bell or sweet peppers and chili peppers are actually from the same family of plants (same as the tomato, in fact!). They were first discovered by the Western world when Columbus travelled to America. At that time, peppercorns were a very prized condiment, so he called these vegetables “peppers”.

dried chili peppersThe main difference between bell peppers and chili peppers is the spiciness. The spiciness of peppers is measured by using Scoville’s method. This involves extracting the pepper’s spiciness through heat and measuring it on a scale.

Bell peppers measure 0 on the Scolville scale. Chili peppers measure 100. The hottest pepper? The Habanero, which clocks in at 100,000 on the Scolville scale.


Cinzia Cuneo
Cinzia Cuneo, founder of SOSCuisine.com, never wanted to neglect the quality of her food. She shares her special expertise to make good food quickly and without complications!

17 comments to “What’s the difference between bell peppers and chili peppers?”

October 22, 2009 Sandy said:

3/4 dried chili pepper(s), minced

So the above is not dried pepper flakes? Can I find dried chili peppers in metro?

Cinzia Cuneo
October 25, 2009 Cinzia said:

I recommend to buy the dried chilli peppers, whole, in 50-75 g. bags, because they are inexpensive and keep for a very long time. If you do not find them, you can also use the flakes. To find out more about this subject, you may read About certain foods – Hot (chili) pepper.

November 9, 2012 vanessa said:

may i correct you on a certain fact? The habanero isnt t spicest chilli. It is actually an indian chilli known as ‘bhut jolokia’ which means the ghost chili it measures more than 1,000,000 scoville units and is in t guiness book of world records as the world’s spiciest chillies. Jus wanted to inform you. Id also like to thank you for t information on chili n peppers it was very useful. Thanks alot =)

August 1, 2017 James said:

> Sorry grandma, it may have been the spiciest when you were a kid but not anymore. That title goes to the “Dragon’s Breath Chili” which measures at 2.6 mil. Scovel. Pepper spray only measures at 2mil. Scovel just to give you an idea.

July 28, 2014 Lindsay M said:

What’s the difference between tomatoes, bell peppers and chili peppers? I can eat tomato sauce with no problem, and chili is delicious too but bell peppers make me sick to my stomach. I thought it might be just the capsaicin but now I find out tomatoes are related, too- I am confused.

February 10, 2017 Jill said:

I am relieved to hear someone else is intolerant to green peppers but OK with other members of the capsicum family like chilli peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. Within 10-15 minutes of eating (by mistake) peppers I am violently sick with diahorrea and remain ill for 24 + hours. When younger I used to be able to eat peppers in any form – raw or cooked – but after my first pregnancy I noticed the problem, which has got worse over the years. So I guess something happened to my auto=immune system during pregnancy.

November 15, 2020 Kevin said:

It is so nice to hear that there are others with the same issue. Same problem here: I’m very allergic to Bell peppers, green worse than red. Just the fumes makes my eyes water, my nose run, and my breathing become labored. It gets much worse if I actually consume any. I can also detect even the slightest bit. I find the taste is absolutely, almost indescribably, disgusting and completely overpowers and ruins the taste of anything they are in; rather a good thing as I can detect it easily and in the rare case I don’t detect it by smell or watery eyes and put it in my mouth, I taste it and spit it out immediately without actually eating any. They are—for some unfathomable reason giving their absolutely disgusting and overpowering taste—so often put in so many things too. I have absolutely no problem with other peppers or nightshades (though jalapeños taste bad to me and give me major burping issues).>

July 29, 2014 Cinzia said:

Hi Lindsay,
Most of the problem is with the bell pepper skin and with the green pepper which has not reached full maturity. Use only red bell peppers and try our recipe for Oven-roasted peppers (http://www.soscuisine.com/en/recipes/view/oven-roasted-peppers?sos_l=en), then peel off the skin. If you can digest them, then you know this trick works for you! :=)

February 1, 2015 Sam G. said:

Linsay M. I have the same problems as you with bell peppers. I’m gonna give Cinzias recommendation a try. Will let y’all know how it turns out. Thank y’all

April 14, 2016 Susan Shaver said:

I cannot believe bell peppers and hot peppers are from the same family. There must be some difference.

Even though I love bell peppers they make me horribly nauseated to the point of throwing up all over the place. It´s gotten to even just the smell does it.

Hot peppers do not do that to me. Not at all. I can only eat a small amount v¡because of the heat, but they do not make me sick.

February 26, 2017 Brent Burnie said:

I feel ya all I can eat the hottest of the hott and I love them but I cannot tolerate bell peppers or jalapeño I agree though that the green does me in the worste orange or red peppers are not as hard on my tummy .. I have Google searched everything I can and nothing comes up but the skin of the pper not being ripe makes sense because I have trouble with any undigestable foods husk (corn peas ect.. ) hope this helps

March 16, 2017 DougF said:

I have the same issues with bell peppers, and certain paprikas. Turns out the paprika that I cannot tolerate is made from Bell Peppers (go figure) the stuff that I can is made from chillis. Took years to figure out the paprika issue as when I had paprika in Japan (a lot) I had no problem, but here in the states I did and through researching I found there were differences in paprika from around the world so I have to read the ingrediant label on paprika and if it does not say what is in it or bell pepper I now avoid it. Unfortunately limits what I can eat at restaurants. 🙁 and many foods just list ‘spices’ so have to take my chances. At least generally I can taste the bell flavor and can avoid it. And I can smell a cut bell pepper as soon as I enter a room, but not chillis so there must be something in the bells that is not in the chillis.

March 31, 2017 dawlatzai said:

i didn,t understand the amount of the vitamine c ? in both

September 9, 2018 Mary C said:

I too have trouble with bell peppers, but otherwise love hot peppers of every kind. Even the smallest amount, thoroughly cooked etc. will cause terrible indigestion. I actually like the smell but just can’t seem to tolerate them. I am glad to know this is not unknown, because until now I have never seen this documented. I will try to get the courage up to try the skinless method, but i’m a bit sceptical.

October 26, 2018 Marilyn said:

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I am terribly allergic to red, green, yellow bell peppers!! The smell of them make me break out into hives. If my husband has eaten them and kisses me, I break out into hives.
I can enjoy tomatoes and chilli peppers…but Bells are Hell for me!!!

April 13, 2019 Sandra said:

At Last! No one believes me when I say Bell Peppers make me really ill but I can eat Chillies, Tomatoes and Potatoes with no problems (apart from antagonizing my arthritis)
It is great to know I am not alone in this Unfortunately they seem to be appearing in more and more foods.

April 25, 2019 Shane Murphy said:

Ear all peppers bell super hot and of course all tomatoes, No adverse effects. Love the super hot can eat any thai or sri lamkan hotter than the locals. But please take my advice not more than a pinhead of 1,000,000+ ( I have a 4,000,000 million) or you will weep, handle with gloves! ( I have ! And never touch your lips eyelides or crotch afcter handling……. I did) ouch

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