Banana peppers are an interesting warm season crop to grow. At this time of year, your thoughts may be turning to making the most of this ingredient you’ve grown in your garden.
Or perhaps you’ve got overexcited at your local farmers’ market and stockpiled a load of these delicious peppers.
So how do you use up an abundance of banana peppers while they are fresh and in season?
In this article, we’ll explore some of the interesting ways to use banana peppers – both in recipes to eat now, and to store over the winter months for later use.
But before we get to the recipes, let’s take a brief look at what banana peppers are, and how to grow them.
If you haven’t grown them this year, you’ll definitely want to next year!
What Are Banana Peppers?
Banana peppers are either sweet peppers or hot peppers, depending on the variety. When harvested, they are typically yellow, and they take their name from their color and long and curving form. Though they don’t really look that much like bananas, truth be told, the moniker is well established.
It is more usual to harvest them when they are yellow. But you can also often leave them to turn orange or red over time. The longer you leave them, the more mellow and sweeter the fruits will tend to become.
The most common type of banana pepper to grow in a domestic garden is the sweet banana pepper. However, there are also hot banana peppers that you can grow. Later in this article you will find plenty of recipe ideas that work with both the sweet and spicy kinds.
How To Grow Banana Peppers
In all but the warmest climate zones, it is usual to start peppers indoors, to be transplanted into the garden once the weather warms. When you start them indoors, it is possible to grow these right down to zone five or even below with some protection, with row covers, a greenhouse or polytunnel.
Start the seeds indoors around 40 days before you wish to transplant them outdoors. (You should wait to transplant seedlings until the soil temperature has warmed to at least 60 F in your area.)
When choosing where to grow your banana pepper plants, remember that they will need a rich, free-draining soil, and should receive at least 8 hours of sunshine each day.
Make sure you use an organic mulch around your plants. This will help in conserving moisture and keeping weeds at bay. Water plants at the base and try to avoid overhead watering. This can help reduce the incidence of disease.
You can harvest banana peppers as soon as they are full-sized and have firm skins. You can harvest them, as mentioned above, when they are yellow. Or you can wait for their color to change to orange or red if there is a long enough season where you live.
Banana peppers will slow fruit production when the temperatures cool at night. When the season comes to an end, the entire plant can be pulled and hung to dry.
Fresh fruits will keep in the fridge or a cool, dark location for a week or so. If you cannot use them up within this time, don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to preserve them. You’ll find a few suggestions below. (You can also roast and freeze them for winter use, or dry them for later rehydration.)
Here’s our guide to drying peppers.
16 Ways To Use Banana Peppers
There are plenty of ways to use this versatile sweet pepper. Here are just some ideas that might give you some inspiration:
1. Stuffed Banana Peppers
One of the classic ways to use any sweet pepper is to stuff them and roast them in the oven The recipe below is for meat-eaters, but there are also plenty of ingredients you could use to make a vegetarian or vegan-friendly option.
For example, you could stuff sweet banana peppers with rice, beans and onions. Various cheeses or vegan cheeses also work well. Ands tomatoes, Mediterranean herbs, and olives are other great options to consider.
You can stuff them in a huge range of different ways. So this one idea actually gives you weeks worth of varied recipes if you ring the changes and stuff the peppers with different things.
Stuffed Banana Peppers @ chillipeppermadness.com.
2. Fried Banana Peppers
Another way to cook your banana peppers is to fry them. It works very well to give them a crumb crust, as in the recipe below.
You could also consider stuffing the banana peppers that you fry with cream cheese (or a vegan alternative).
If you are using hot banana peppers for the purpose, these are an alternative to the classic jalapeno poppers.
Crumb Fried Banana Peppers @ vahrehvah.com.
3. Pan-Charred Peppers
If you like to keep things simple, another great way to cook sweet banana peppers is to simply roast them in a pan, allowing them to char and soften.
Pan-charred peppers really bring out the sweetness of the fruit, and you can use these peppers as a side dish, or in a range of other ways.
I like to pan roast some sweet peppers along with some onions in olive oil, toss in some beans and some herbs, and serve them with some rice or a baked potato for a simple mid-week meal.
Pan-Roasted Peppers @ thespruceeats.com
4. Banana Pepper Fritters
There are also plenty of ways to make fritters with your banana peppers. If they are sweet, you can ramp up the flavor with a wide range of herbs and spices to taste. If they are hot, they can have a fiery kick.
Fritters are another very versatile recipe that can be altered in a range of ways to add variety to your diet.
This recipe below uses a chickpea batter, which adds protein to the dish, as well as giving a somewhat different flavor.
Savory Chickpea Banana Pepper Fritters @ suesnutritionbuzz.com.
5. Banana Pepper Pizza
Pizza may be a tried and tested favorite, but it definitely does not have to be boring. You can go well beyond a simple margarita with cheese and tomato sauce, and experiment with adding a huge selection of different toppings from your garden.
You can simply add banana peppers alongside other favorite toppings, or make them the stars of the show, as in the recipe below:
Banana Pepper Pizza @ twitchetts.com.
6. Banana Pepper Sandwiches
Sandwiches are something else that doesn’t have to be boring. When you grow your own, you have access to a staggering array of sandwich options and can really push the boat out and try new combinations.
Sweet banana peppers can work really well in a wide range of sandwiches, so you are sure to find a way to incorporate them in your lunchtime sandwich in a way that suits you.
Best Banana Pepper Sandwiches @ yummly.co.uk.
Banana peppers, both the sweet and spicy kinds, also work really well in tacos.
As with sandwiches, you can get really inventive about what you put in your tacos, and how you combine fresh flavours from your garden and local area.
One interesting and more unusual combination is that in the link below, which adds banana peppers alongside feta cheese and shrimps.
Feta Shrimp Tacos @ tasteofhome.com.
8. Banana Pepper Salsa
And to go with tacos, in sandwiches, or to use as a dip or side, banana peppers can also be used in making salsa.
Sweet varieties can be combined with more spicy and/or flavorsome ingredients and peppers, while the spicy kind can be used to crank up the heat.
Easy Banana Pepper Salsa @ mamainthemidst.com.
9. Vegetarian Chilli
Chilli is one of the those things that elicits strong opinions. Everyone has their favorite chilli recipe. Some like it hot, hot, hot, while others like things to be much milder.
The great thing about growing your own peppers, whether they are chilli peppers or sweet peppers, is that you can find your own perfect balance. Whatever kind of banana pepper you are growing, they can work well to add spice or a mild sweet flavour to a homemade chilli.
Vegetarian Chilli With Banana Peppers @ veggiebalance.com.
10. Banana Pepper Curry
Banana peppers also work well in a wide range of curry recipes. One example can be found below. But you can experiment and add sweet or spicy banana peppers to a wide range of vegetable curries and other rich and flavorsome dishes of this type.
I have added sweet peppers to a range of different curries, from Indian lentil daals, to light, gingery Thai curries, and a range of other curry recipes. Sweet banana peppers can be used wherever you might use bell peppers in a recipe. And spicy ones can be added instead of other chilli peppers.
11. Banana Pepper Vinaigrette
You can, of course, add sweet banana peppers to a range of salads, and this is one of the easiest ways to use them. But you might not have considered that you could also use them to make a dressing for salads made with other crops from your garden.
One example of a salad dressing you could make is this banana pepper vinaigrette:
Banana Pepper Vinaigrette @ vegetarianrecipes.fandom.com.
12. Pickled Banana Peppers
If you want to preserve your banana peppers to enjoy over the months to come, pickling them is the classic way to do so. It is very easy to pickle some banana peppers and to can them for future use.
Check out the link below for a simple banana pepper pickle recipe.
Easy Pickled Banana Peppers @ thecountrycook.net.
13. Piccalilli / Chowchow
A piccalilli or chowchow is another classic preserve – a great way to use up and keep not only your banana peppers but also other produce from your garden.
Everyone’s grandmother, it sometimes seems, made this classic. And many family recipes have been lovingly handed down. T
here is plenty of scope to experiment a little to find the perfect blend for your tastes. However, here is one recipe to consider:
WV Chow Chow @ justapinch.com.
14. Banana Pepper Jelly
A banana pepper jelly is another preserve option to consider. There are recipes that use both sweet and spicy banana peppers, and plenty of ways to add additional ingredients and play around with flavours.
If you have a lot of banana peppers to use up, this is a recipe I would most definitely recommend.
Once you have made it, you can spread it on bread, enjoy it with cheeses, or use it in a wide range of other ways.
Banana Pepper Jelly @ beyondgumbo.com.
15. Cowboy Candy
Cowboy candy is a favourite for preserving hot peppers. And many people who are into canning find that supplies quickly dwindle over the winter months.
This is a firm favourite with many who love the lively combination of spicy sweetness. While the recipe below calls for hot banana peppers, to use in place of jalapenos, you could also mix things up with a combination of both the sweet and hot types.
Cowboy Candy with Hot Banana Peppers @ i-am-within.blogspot.com.
16. Banana Pepper Honey Mustard
This final recipe is a new one on me. And I personally can’t say I have tried it. But it is intriguing and so I have added it to this list.
Banana peppers certainly work very well in other condiments, so I am guessing they work well in this one too. So why not try out this recipe and see how it goes? It might just be a new favourite for your family.
Banana Pepper Honey Mustard @ mycatholickitchen.com.
This list by no means covers all the possible options. Banana peppers are such a versatile ingredient that we could try something new every day and still not run out of options!
But I hope this has given you some inspiration about how to use up your crop of banana peppers, or, if you haven’t grown them yet, to give them a go in your garden next year.