pizza with ham, mushrooms, and red bell peppers

What are the peppers that come on pizza?

Many pizza joints list “peppers” as an ingredient — which is an incredibly nondescript term considering how many types of peppers exist! If you recently had a phenomenal slice only to be unable to identify a delightful pepper that MADE the slice, we’re here to help. Read on to learn about some of the most common types of peppers used as pizza toppings and how to tell which one you’re looking for.

Peppers commonly used as pizza toppings

Here are some of the most popular peppers, commonly found as a topping on pizza menus.

Bell peppers

If you noticed small chunks or long strips of peppers on your pizza that were red, green, or orange, which carried zero heat, they were likely bell peppers. Most supreme pizzas have diced bell pepper, and they are common on other types of combo pizzas as well.

How to identify bell peppers on pizza:

  • The pepper was not spicy at all
  • It was on a supreme pizza
  • The pepper was not pickled
  • It was sliced into strips, diced into small chunks, or cut into large rings with a diameter of 2″+

Photo of bell peppers on pizza

Jalapeños — pickled or fresh

Jalapeños are another extremely common pizza topping; you may find them fresh or pickled. They can be slightly spicy, although pickled jalapeños tend to be milder than fresh ones. Typically, they are sliced into small rings that are less than 1″ in diameter, and they will be a bright (fresh) or dull (pickled) green color. However, they are sometimes chopped into small pieces as well. They are common on their own or in combination with other toppings like pepperoni, sausage, onions, and mushrooms.

How to identify jalapeños on pizza

  • The pepper is green and cut into rings less than 1″ in diameter.
  • The pepper is noticeably spicy, but not extremely hot
  • It may be referred to generally as “hot” or “spicy” peppers on the menu

Photo of jalapeño on pizza

a pizza with jalapeno rings and pickled onions on wood background

Banana peppers

Banana peppers are an extremely mild pepper that are commonly used as a pizza topping. While they can be eaten fresh or pickled, the pickled form is by far the more popular option for pizza. You may find rings or chunks of banana peppers on pizza, and they add a bright acidic note that perfectly balances against heavy cheese.

How to identify banana peppers on pizza

  • A pickled, yellow pepper
  • The flesh of the pepper is thick, and the skin is firm
  • They are very mild, with just a hint of heat

Photo of banana pepper on pizza

a square personal pizza with peppers and orange sauce

Pepperoncini (or pepperoncino) peppers

Pepperoncini are the final pepper commonly found on pizzas around the world, and they are commonly confused with banana peppers. Similarly, they are yellow-colored pickled peppers on the milder end of the spice scale. They have a bright and briny flavor that add tang and a little bit of heat to your slice.

How to identify pepperoncini peppers on pizza

  • A pickled, yellow pepper
  • The flesh of the pepper is thin, and the skin might be wrinkly
  • They are slightly spicier than banana peppers and should carry a noticeable (albeit still mild) heat

Photo of pepperoncini and pizza

slices of pizza on a round dish with two pepperoncini peppers

What is the pepper that comes with Papa John’s pizza?

You may also wonder what the pepper that comes with Papa John’s pizzas is. Every box of Papa John’s pizza comes with a small pepperoncino pepper. This tradition stems back to Papa John’s founder John Schnatter’s days working as a dishwasher at a local restaurant, where they always included pepperoncini with pizzas. He saw how delighted customers were with the peppers and decided to include them with all pizza orders from the very start of Papa John’s.

Other types of peppers on pizza

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it covers all of the most common peppers found on pizza. If you are making pizza at home, you can experiment with any pepper you enjoy to add the complexity, fruitiness, and heat that your favorite peppers bring.

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