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Bell Peppers: Differences Between Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red

Margaret Minnicks is a health-conscious person who researches the health benefits of foods and drinks.

Green, red, yellow, orange . . . what's the difference?

Green, red, yellow, orange . . . what's the difference?

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

In reality, the different colors don't taste the same—nor do they have the same nutritional value. Bell peppers vary in more ways than color, and what color pepper you choose should depend on what you are hoping to get out of it.

Why Do They Come in Different Colors?

You may have wondered at some point whether the different colors of bell pepper come from the same plant. They do! There are two major factors that determine a pepper's color:

  1. The time of harvesting/degree of ripening
  2. The varietal

All bell peppers start out green and change color as they mature. If it's not picked, a green pepper may become yellow, orange, or red, depending on its varietal. The longer the fruit stays on the vine, the sweeter it becomes and the more nutritional value it gains. Since they were less ripe when picked, green peppers have longer shelf lives but are less nutrient-dense than peppers that have matured to another color.

Less common bell pepper colors include purple and white.

Less common bell pepper colors include purple and white.

What Colors Do They Come In?

The bell peppers seen most commonly in grocery stores' produce sections are green, yellow, orange, and red. Many additional colors exist, but they are rarely available in major stores. Dark purple, brown, white, and lavender varieties also exist and can sometimes be found at farmers' markets and specialty stores.

Why Do Some Colors Cost More Than Others?

People often wonder why bell pepper prices vary so much depending on color. Most store clerks don't even know why the green peppers are cheaper than the yellow, orange, and red ones. The answer is quite simple.

The yellow, orange, and red peppers are more expensive than the green ones because they are harvested later and spend more time on the vine. The green ones are the cheapest because they are picked earlier while they are still unripe.

The ripe yellow, orange, and red peppers available at stores are left on the plant longer, meaning they receive additional time, water, and care from farmers. The additional time and resources that go into cultivating ripe bell peppers are factored into their prices.

Green Bell Peppers

  • People purchase more green peppers than any other color—likely because they are the cheapest.
  • All yellow, orange, and red bell peppers are green before they ripen.
  • Because they are harvested before they are ripe, green peppers don't have as high a concentration of nutrients and aren't as sweet as others.

Yellow, Orange, and Red Bell Peppers

  • Yellow, orange, and red bell peppers are sweeter and less bitter than green ones.
  • Non-green peppers have a shorter shelf life and are typically more expensive.
  • Red bell peppers have 11 times more beta-carotene, twice as much vitamin C, and 10 times more vitamin A than green bell peppers, which are harvested earlier.

A Comparison of Bell Pepper Color Varieties

ColorHarvestedTasteNutrient ConcentrationPrice

Green

Unripe

Less sweet, more bitter

Lower

Lower

Yellow

Ripe

More sweet, less bitter

Higher

Higher

Orange

Ripe

More sweet, less bitter

Higher

Higher

Red

Ripe

More sweet, less bitter

Higher

Higher

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Which bell pepper is harvested when it is unripe?
    • Red
    • Green
    • Yellow
    • Orange
  2. Which bell pepper is the cheapest?
    • Red
    • Green
    • Orange
    • Yellow
  3. Which bell pepper is the most bitter?
    • Green
    • Red
    • Yellow
    • Orange
  4. Which bell pepper is the least expensive?
    • Green
    • Yellow
    • Orange
    • Red

Answer Key

  1. Green
  2. Green
  3. Green
  4. Green

References

Comments

Beth Barnat on April 15, 2020:

A pepper (preferably yellow, orange or red) a day, truly keeps the doctor away!

Ronald on January 02, 2020:

Well i have a purple/ maroon pepper currently on the vine. It turned from green to purple /maroon. As a matter of fact i have a variety of colours on my vines. Mine takes two weeks to change colour

Angus on November 26, 2019:

Tim got it on the money! Its all about genetics. What you are saying about green peppers being cheaper because they are easier to produce is entirely true.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on November 10, 2019:

Marie, I think any of the bell peppers would be good for stuffing; however, most people use the green peppers.

Marie on November 10, 2019:

Which pepper is best for stuffing?

Tim on October 17, 2019:

Orange and yellow capsicums are not partially ripe. They are distinct varieties that are fully mature with these colours. Sure, you can get an orange-looking red capsicum if not fully ripe, but that’s because of a mixture of yellow (lutein) with a still low concentration of red (capsanthin): yellow plus red equals orange. The orange capsicum accumulates zeaxanthin, and the yellow accumulates lutein. Hope this helps! Why they are priced differently is a commercial decision based on colour uniformity.

jerald greenpepper on October 17, 2019:

send me red peppers as I got 100% on ur quiz.

cheers,

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on October 03, 2019:

Korresha, I am so glad my article was helpful and now you know why green peppers are so much cheaper than the other colors. I see that you just joined HubPages. I am following you to see some of the articles you will write.

Thanks for reading my article and commenting positively.

Korresha Walker from FL, USA on October 03, 2019:

This was quite informative. I would have to admit that before this article, I was one of the shoppers who stood there so perplexed at the grocery store trying to figure out why the other color peppers were so much more expensive than the green peppers. Not anymore! Thanks for sharing.

James on August 11, 2019:

At my Grocery store the Yellow and the Orange peppers are more expensive than the red bell peppers.

Jeanne on July 23, 2019:

Where do you get your information I’ve grown peppers for years they don’t go from green to yellow to orange to red if you let a green pepper on the vine too long it will start to get red never yellow or orange. Red peppers go from green to red and yellow peppers will go from green to yellow and so on. I don’t think there such a thing as a rainbow pepper that goes to all the colors

Handymandan on June 04, 2019:

Yous got to pinch peppers so they can fill out on the vine and they love food just like tomatoes same family

Brach Tennebaum on May 21, 2019:

Yes food is good.

Gloria on April 15, 2019:

Thank you for your article.

Dan on March 07, 2019:

Hey so you said the green goes in a ordered color sequence to final red. But you also said and can go straight from green to red so I’m not sure what the technicality of is? Also how do you get the other more exotic purple whites black etc colors? And do the colors have different sugar nutrition? Where does the sweetness come from...sugars?

Drifty One on September 13, 2018:

Spraying your peppers with an epsom salts solution, during growing, will help yield bigger fruit.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on July 20, 2018:

Neil L. Linden. I wrote the article about different kinds of bell peppers because I found them interesting to write about. I am not a farmer or gardener. Therefore, I do not know the answer to your questions.

Perhaps you can do research on your own to find the answer. Sorry!

Neil L Linden on July 19, 2018:

How do I get bell peppers to grow larger? They ripen ro red while very small and I never get them to grow bigger.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on June 28, 2018:

Jim, it depends on weather conditions such as sunshine and rain and the soil where the peppers are planted. Going from green to the most mature color could take could take up to 2 months.

However, other colors are available before then and can be plucked from the vine and eaten.

Jim Henry on June 27, 2018:

Would like an estimate of time between each color.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on June 15, 2018:

Ebba, I am glad my information was helpful. I have plenty of other informative articles. Feel free to check them out. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Ebba on June 15, 2018:

Thank you Margaret Minnicks for the information on bell peppers. Have learnt a lot and most of my questions have been answered.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 20, 2018:

Kirkanthony, what I stated in my article is correct, according to the sources I used.

As I stated in the above article, all the peppers come from the same plant. They all start out green and change colors as they mature. The pepper comes on the vine as green. Then it changes to yellow. If it stays on the vine longer, it turns to orange. If it stays on the vine longer, it gets to the ripest stage of all and it is red.

That's as simple as I can put it. Hope you understand it a little better now.

kirkanthony on March 20, 2018:

I'm so confused? Ms. Minnicks, Thank you very much for a very thought inspiring article. May I ask if there has been a general consensus reached between you and Ms. Whitt, and Shannon A., regarding the color of ripeness related to maturity on the vine and the nutritional value reached at each stage? Do all bell peppers originate from the same seed, seed family, or species?

I am 62 years old and just now learning how to "cook" for myself and wanting to get away from meat. Thank You again.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 14, 2018:

Deborah Whitt, thanks for reading and commenting on my article about the different colors of bell peppers. May I suggest you go back and read it again because the information is factual? It wasn't written as you have indicated.

This is what was written: "They all start out green and change colors as they mature. The green pepper changes to yellow or orange before reaching its most ripened color of red."

Thanks for reading the article, but your comment makes it seem as if the article is in error when indeed it is not.

Deborah Whitt on March 14, 2018:

Bell peppers do not go from green to yellow to orange to red. If you are so wrong about that, what else is wrong. Some bell peppers ripen yellow - they go from green to yellow. Others do the same thing turning red, or orange or purple when ripe. It depends on the species or cultivar, not when it is picked. Yeesh.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 12, 2018:

Thank you, Shannon A., for reading my article about the different colors of bell peppers. I am glad you learned something from the article. I also learned something when I was doing research to write the article. I like sharing interesting information like that.

Shannon A. on March 12, 2018:

I love all bell peppers. I learned that all colors come from the same seed. Very interesting. Thank you so much!

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 02, 2018:

Thank you, Meg Marcelo, for reading my article about the different colors of bell peppers. I really enjoy sharing information like that with others.

Meg Marcelo on March 02, 2018:

Thank you for sharing. This is very informative. Kudos

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on February 27, 2018:

Brenda, I am glad you learned something from reading my article about the various colors of bell peppers. Most people didn't know that all bell peppers are not the same and do not cost the same in the grocery stores.

Brenda on February 27, 2018:

Good information. Got to know the difference in colours after reading this article.

Thank you

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on January 30, 2018:

Thanks, Mahmadali for reading and commenting on my article. It is one of my most read articles.

I love sharing information like that.

Mahmadali Qureshi on January 30, 2018:

A very good information...

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on January 03, 2018:

G'pa J for reading and responding to my article. I write about things I am curious about. Then I share with my readers.

G'pa J. on January 03, 2018:

I honestly didn't know that. Really thought they were different varieties. 77 and still learning. Thanks a lot.

Mary on May 08, 2017:

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.

Ernestine Gay on March 16, 2017:

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.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on February 04, 2017:

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

Karen Graham on February 04, 2017:

Excellent article, and I, too, learned something.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on February 04, 2017:

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.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on February 04, 2017:

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