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This Weird New Pepper Has a Cult Following

Remember when it was impossible to find Hatch chili peppers unless you were in the region in New Mexico where they grow? Now they're everywhere, spreading their addictive fiery heat. Well, Cubanelle peppers seemed poised to become the next big thing in the chili world. Here are three cool things every pepper fan should know about this trendy chili.

cubanelle peppers photo by Leslie Kelly

Photo by Leslie Kelly

1) They're Spicy, Sweet

The Cubanelle, which has roots in Cuba, is beloved for its brilliant sweet flavor. Yet there's also an undercurrent of heat that can break out into a raging inferno, depending on growing conditions. (Drier soil yields a slightly spicy pepper.) It's impossible to predict just how hot each pepper's going to be, so eating Cubanelles is like playing pepper roulette.

2) Prime for Stuffing

Sturdier than Anaheims, Cubanelles are a prime candidate for stuffing. While they're not a traditional choice for chili relleno preparations, they might leap into the preferred position as they become more widely available. They're versatile enough that you could even give them the popper treatment.

3) Roasting Mellows the Flavor

Like all peppers, Cubanelles change character when kissed by flames, whether cooked on a campfire, the backyard Q, or under the broiler. If you've got a gas-powered cook top, place the top portion of a broiler pan directly over the element and fire it up to high. This quick trick beats using tongs to hold peppers over the flames. Once lightly charred, place peppers in a paper bag or a covered container so they steam slightly, making the skins easy to peel off. Those recipe-ready peppers make memorable salsa, an amazing aioli, and roasted pepper soup.

Cubanelles might not be the easiest things to find - but we've spotted 'em at Whole Foods and other upscale markets.

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About Leslie Kelly

Always hungry to learn, never had my fill of oysters, Memphis dry rub ribs, wild salmon, chocolate chip cookies or a well-rolled lumpia. Washington state wine lover, bourbon fan. Totally obsessed with brunch!