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

Updated on August 5, 2018
revmjm profile image

Rev. Margaret Minnicks writes for HubPages and has accumulated more than 500,000 pageviews over many different topics.

Photo includes popular colors of bell peppers.
Photo includes popular colors of bell peppers.

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 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.

Slices of bell peppers
Slices of bell peppers

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.

Healthy looking green bell peppers
Healthy looking green bell peppers

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
Yellow bell peppers

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 peppers
Orange bell peppers

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 pepper
Red bell pepper

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.

Colors of Bell Peppers

Color
When Harvested
Taste
Green
Unripe
Less sweet, a little bitter with few nutrients
Yellow
Mid Point
Slightly sweet
Orange
Mid Point
Mildly sweet
Red
Fully Ripe
Sweetest with more nutrients

Prices Depend on the Color

Color
Cost
Green
Least expensive
Yellow
More expensive then green
Orange
About the same price as yellow
Red
Most expensive

Comments

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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      4 weeks ago from Richmond, VA

      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!

    • profile image

      Neil L Linden 

      4 weeks ago

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

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      7 weeks ago from Richmond, VA

      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.

    • profile image

      Jim Henry 

      7 weeks ago

      Would like an estimate of time between each color.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      2 months ago from Richmond, VA

      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.

    • profile image

      Ebba 

      2 months ago

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

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      5 months ago from Richmond, VA

      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.

    • profile image

      kirkanthony 

      5 months ago

      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.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      5 months ago from Richmond, VA

      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.

    • profile image

      Deborah Whitt 

      5 months ago

      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.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      5 months ago from Richmond, VA

      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.

    • profile image

      Shannon A. 

      5 months ago

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

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      5 months ago from Richmond, VA

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

    • profile image

      Meg Marcelo 

      5 months ago

      Thank you for sharing. This is very informative. Kudos

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      5 months ago from Richmond, VA

      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.

    • profile image

      Brenda 

      5 months ago

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

      Thank you

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      6 months ago from Richmond, VA

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

      I love sharing information like that.

    • profile image

      Mahmadali Qureshi 

      6 months ago

      A very good information...

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      7 months ago from Richmond, VA

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

    • profile image

      G'pa J. 

      7 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Mary 

      15 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.

    • profile image

      Ernestine Gay 

      17 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 imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      18 months ago from Richmond, VA

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

    • profile image

      Karen Graham 

      18 months ago

      Excellent article, and I, too, learned something.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      18 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 

      18 months ago from Norfolk, England

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

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