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What's the Difference: Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red Bell Peppers

Updated on September 22, 2017
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks loves sharing interesting thingswith others.

Various Colors of Bell Peppers

Most people wonder why green, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers don't cost the same in grocery stores. Some people even argue that since they taste the same, they should be priced the same.

The various colors don't taste the same, and neither do they have the same nutritional value. Bell peppers are different in more ways than their colors.

The color you choose should depend on how you are going to use it.

Colors of Bell Peppers

The bell peppers you see in the produce section of the grocery store are usually green, red, orange, yellow, or red. Actually, they come in many other colors, including purple, pink, blue, rainbow, aqua, violet, maroon, white, black, and brown, depending on when they are harvested.

Why They Come in Different Colors

All these peppers come from the same plant. However, there are two major factors that determine why they come in different colors.

  1. Time of harvesting
  2. Degree of ripening

They all start out green and change colors as they mature. The green pepper changes to yellow or orange before reaching its the most ripened color of red.

The yellow, orange, and red bell peppers are more expensive than the green ones because the red ones take more time to be harvested. The longer they stay on the vine, the sweeter they get and the more nutritional value they have. Also, the different colors have different shelf lives.

Price Depends on Color of the Pepper

Most people wonder why the prices of bell peppers are so different. Sometimes, even store clerks don't know the reason a green bell pepper is much cheaper than a yellow, orange, or red one. The answer is quite simple.

  1. Green ones are the cheapest because they are unripe.
  2. The other colors were left on the plant longer, meaning they needed additional time and care from farmers. The consumer pays for that extra time on the vine.

Green Bell Peppers

People purchase more green peppers than any other color.

All bell peppers start off being green. Then they gradually turn yellow, then orange, then red, as they ripen. Because they are harvested before they are ripe, the green ones lack a lot of nutrients, and they are not sweet.

Yellow Bell Peppers

The yellow version is quite akin to the orange one. Both of them are harvested at the midpoint of maturity. They come in between the unripe green and the completely ripe red pepper when harvested.

The yellow and the orange ones aren't as bitter as the green but aren't as sweet as the red.

It is safe to say that the yellow and orange are the "in-between" bell peppers. The one you choose depends on your personal preference and the dish you are going to use it in.

Orange Bell Pepper

The orange bell pepper has thick flesh and is much sweeter than the green, but it is not as sweet as the red ones. The orange one is more expensive than the green. However, it is not as expensive as the red.

Red Bell Peppers

Red bell peppers started out being green. Then they changed to the other colors. Because they were left on the vine the longest, they turned red and became the sweetest with the most nutrients. For example, red bell peppers have 11 times more beta-carotene, about two times more Vitamin C and ten times more Vitamin A than the first-harvested green bell pepper.

They have a shorter shelf life. This has an impact on the price of red bell peppers. Because of these things, red variety is the most expensive of the other colors in the grocery store.

When Harvested
Less sweet, a little bitter with few nutrients
Mid Point
Slightly sweet
Mid Point
Mildly sweet
Fully Ripe
Sweetest with more nutrients

Prices Depend on the Color

Least expensive
More expensive then green
About the same price as yellow
Most expensive


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      Mary 6 months ago

      Thanks for the information. I had thought that the red ones were dearer as they were more popular, but it turns out the green ones are more popular and cheaper too. I had wondered if the different colors were different varieties.

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      Ernestine Gay 8 months ago

      This was a very interesting article. In fact I was just in the grocery store buying a green pepper and saw that the red one was more expensive. I stood there for a moment pondering why is that. Very good information. On my next visit I will try a red one.

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 9 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Karen, for reading and commenting about the different bell peppers!

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      Karen Graham 9 months ago

      Excellent article, and I, too, learned something.

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 9 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Coffeequeeen, thanks for reading and commenting. The inspiration for this article came about because of a Facebook post where someone was questioning the prices of bell peppers based on the colors.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 9 months ago from Norfolk, England

      This was a really interesting hub to read. I love peppers, and often buy them.