What Are Cherry Peppers? A Guide to Your Cheese Board’s Secret Weapon

published Aug 24, 2023
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farmers market cartons of bright red cherry peppers, 6 containers
Credit: Kristina Razon

You may already be familiar with the most well-known pepper varieties — the sweet bell pepper or the pleasantly piquant profile of the jalapeño pepper — but if you’ve ever wondered what that mildly spicy, briny stuffed pepper on your favorite cheese board was, you’ve probably come into contact with a cherry pepper. But what are cherry peppers? Neither blisteringly hot nor super-sweet, this underrated snack isn’t always available in the fresh produce section of your local supermarket. Even though they’re sometimes hard to find, the versatile cherry pepper is worth the search — here’s what you need to know to add them into your pepper portfolio. 

Quick Overview

What Are Cherry Peppers?

Cherry peppers are a mild-to-moderately spicy small red pepper most commonly found in jarred and pickled form near other preserved produce like sundried tomatoes. Pickled cherry peppers are often used as a condiment in sandwiches, as part of an antipasto or cheese plate, or stuffed with soft cheese and enjoyed as an appetizer. While raw cherry peppers can be hard to find, they are sometimes available at farmers markets during the summer.

What Are Cherry Peppers? 

Cherry peppers are a variety of the Capsicum annuum, a flowering plant of the nightshade family. A small, round red fruit with thick skin that somewhat resembles a sweet cherry, cherry peppers are vastly different in flavor profile from their juicy cousins, though both are scientifically considered berries.  

What Do Cherry Peppers Taste Like? How Spicy Are Cherry Peppers?

Cherry peppers have a mild-to-moderate spice profile, ranging from 2,500 to 5,000 on the

Scoville scale

Hungarian cherry pepper, which fall on the spicier end of the Scoville scale. For comparison to other hot peppers, the spiciest cherry pepper falls just below the mildest jalapeño pepper, which
ranges between 4,000 and 6,000 on the Scoville scale.

What’s the Difference Between Pimento Peppers, Peppadew Peppers, and Cherry Peppers? 

Cherry peppers are often confused for pimento peppers, which are another variety of the Capsicum annuum and are used to make paprika. Pimento peppers are similar in size and color to cherry peppers, but are heart-shaped and sweeter than the cherry pepper. Peppadew peppers (officially known as sweet piquanté peppers) are another small, red pepper commonly pickled and stuffed, but are sweeter and originate from the Capsicum baccatum variety of pepper. 

Credit: EzumeImages for gettyimage

Where Can You Find Cherry Peppers? 

Cherry peppers are most commonly available jarred and pickled in the specialty foods section of the grocery store, often near items like pickled sun-dried tomatoes. While most grocery stores don’t carry raw cherry peppers in the produce section, they can be found at farmers markets and some gourmet food stores during the summer

How Should You Store Cherry Peppers?

According to the FDA, whole, fresh cherry peppers should last between 4 to 14 days in the fridge and 4 months in the freezer. Unopened, jarred, pickled cherry peppers should last 12 to 18 months in your pantry and once opened, 9 months in the fridge. 

What Can You Make with Cherry Peppers? 

Pickled cherry peppers work well as the star ingredient in your antipasto platter, a briny, slightly spicy topping in your favorite sandwich, or stuffed with your favorite soft cheese on your perfect charcuterie board. While it’s easy to purchase already-pickled peppers, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try pickling your own cherry peppers!