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Italian Fried Peppers

Italian Fried Peppers are delicious and easy to prepare. These are so good, so tasty and smell divine! Be prepared for the heady scent to bring the whole neighborhood to your doorstep.

White plate of multi colored strips of fried bell peppers.

The smell of these Italian peppers takes me right back to my childhood and to my mother who made them regularly. We especially enjoyed them with steak or roast chicken.

While these fried peppers are a great side dish, they also make a delicious bruschetta and excellent appetizer. And it’s hard to beat a summer lunch of Italian fried peppers with some crusty bread or grissini breadsticks and a little wedge of cheese.

Make double the amount, keep it in the fridge for a quick lunch or side dish. In my house we love to serve it with some Italian Rice Balls.

If you love all types of peppers like we do, don’t miss these recipes – peperonata, roasted peppers and stuffed cherry peppers.

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Ingredients

Ingredients for this recipe viewed from above.
  • Bell peppers – Choose firm, unblemished bell peppers that are heavy for their size. This means they’ll have thick flesh. Different colored bell peppers can be used but always include at least one red pepper because they are the sweetest. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil – This gives the best flavor but if you only have regular olive oil that will be fine.
  • Black olives – I like to leave them whole because my family are accustomed to eating around the stones. However it’s a good idea to use pitted black olives to lessen the chance of any mishaps with olive stones.
  • Capers – For this recipe, I’ve used capers in vinegar. If you have salted capers, you can use those. Be sure to wash off excess salt.
  • Garlic cloves – Fresh garlic cloves gives the best flavor. The garlic cloves goes in whole so the flavor is  subtle. At a pinch, you could use ½ teaspoon of bottled, minced garlic. The flavor will be different but still good.
  • Ground black pepper – Grind the black pepper freshly for the best result.
  • Salt – Use sea salt with no additives.

Variations

  • When in season, you can use Italian frying peppers. These are the long, tapered variety and excellent for frying. Also known as Italian sweet peppers or Cubanelle. My personal favorite is the Corno di Toro variety. Italian frying peppers are sweet at every stage from green through to red. The flesh is thinner than bell peppers which means they’ll cook more quickly.
  • Substitute pitted green olives instead of black olives.

Instructions

Four step process of making this recipe.
  1. Wash and dry the bell peppers, core, deseed and remove any white ribs. Slice into ¼ inch (6mm) strips.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. When hot add the peppers and fry for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add olives, capers and garlic and continue to fry for a couple minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat a little and continue to cook over medium heat until the peppers are tender. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Equipment

You’ll need a wide shallow frying pan or skillet for this recipe. The wide pan allows the bell peppers to be spread out and the moisture to evaporate. A pan that is too small will mean the bell peppers will stew instead of fry.

Tips for success and FAQs

Overhead view of fried multi colored bell peppers on white plate.

Be sure to dry the peppers well before slicing and if they’re really juicy, pat dry with a paper towel. This is important because you’ll be adding them to hot oil and any moisture will cause the hot oil to spit.

Use a wide shallow pan so that the moisture evaporates quickly out of the bell peppers and it doesn’t stew.As the peppers cook spread out in the pan to ensure the moisture evaporates and the peppers fry well. 

The real secret to making Italian fried peppers is to watch them closely and pay attention that they don’t burn, stick or stew. Frying at medium high heat is important because peppers contain a lot of water which is released as the vegetable cooks. If the moisture doesn’t evaporate quickly the peppers won’t fry but instead will stew.

It’s important for the peppers to brown and caramelize on the edges for optimum flavor. Don’t cover with the lid or the steam will be trapped and the peppers won’t fry. 

Add salt at the end. Salt draws out moisture which again means the peppers will stew instead of fry.

Which peppers are best for frying?

Red or yellow bell peppers are good for frying. Green bell peppers are a little bitter so be sure to mix them up. Italian frying peppers are great if you can get them. We grow them in our backyard garden but you can also find them at most supermarkets when in season.

Can this recipe be doubled?

Yes however be sure to have a pan large enough that doesn’t crowd the peppers. As I said earlier, the enemy of these Italian style fried peppers is moisture and if the peppers are crowded, evaporation is limited.

Q. How long will Italian fried peppers last?

Store in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Serving Suggestions

Close up of fried multi colored peppers on a white plate.

These flavorful peppers make a tasty sandwich tucked into crusty bread with some marinated eggplant. We also love eating this with mozzarella in carrozza – a delicious fried sandwich.

You can serve these Italian fried peppers warm or cool and they make a great side dish to grilled, barbequed or roast meats like my butterflied roast chicken. Complete the meal with a serving of cauliflower made in the instant pot and pasta with garlic butter sauce.I’ll guarantee that you’ll make these Italian fried peppers once and be wanting to make them all the time. Yes, this recipe is that good!!

Made this recipe?
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White plate of multi colored strips of fried bell peppers.

Italian Fried Peppers Recipe

A classic Italian summer favorite of fried multi colored bell peppers with olives and capers. Serve warm or at room temperature.
5 from 76 votes
Print Pin Review
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings:6 servings
Author: Marcellina

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds bell peppers 900 grams
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup black olives
  • ¼ cup capers
  • 2 cloves garlic cloves
  • teaspoons ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Wash and dry the peppers. Cut in half, remove the core, seeds and white ribs. Slice into long slices. Try to slice the peppers equally so that it all cooks at the same time.
  • Place a fry pan or skillet of about 11 inches (28 cm) over medium high heat. Add oil.
  • Fry sliced peppers in hot oil for 10-15 minutes stirring gently every now and then until the peppers begin to brown on the edges. The peppers need to FRY! Otherwise at a lower heat the peppers will sweat and the skins will come off
  • Don’t leave because they will stick and burn easily. Stir gently so as not to break the slices. This initial frying is the hardest part because you have to pay attention that the peppers don’t burn and the oil tends to spit.
  • Once the peppers have started to brown on the edges (around 10-15 minutes of frying), add the garlic, olives and capers. Don’t add salt yet because salt draws out moisture and again the peppers will sweat and stew instead of fry.
  • Continue to fry, stirring at medium high heat for another 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat and cook over medium heat for another 5-10 minutes or until the peppers are cooked through. Regularly stir gently so as not to break up the peppers.
  • Taste and season with a little salt and ground black pepper to your taste.

Notes

Tips for Success
  • As the peppers cook, spread out in the pan to ensure the moisture evaporates and the peppers fry well.
  • The real secret to making Italian fried peppers is to watch them closely and pay attention that they don’t burn, stick or stew.
  • Frying at high heat is important because peppers contain a lot of water which is released as the vegetable cooks. If the moisture doesn’t evaporate quickly the peppers won’t fry but instead will stew.
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 155kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Sodium: 559mg | Potassium: 336mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 4833IU | Vitamin C: 194mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

This post was originally published on January 5, 2018. It has been updated with new photos, more information and improved recipe. 

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5 from 76 votes (71 ratings without comment)

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21 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious side…..I added dried thyme and a chopped red onion shallot at the end….coz I like the taste of a semi-cooked red onion….a bit of crunch…..oh….I also stirred in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice too….tnx…..this is so appetizing and flexible to add other things that take your fancy!!

  2. 5 stars
    My Nana made these all the time.
    Our family called that dish “Bebe”
    Does any else know it by that name?

  3. Oh Marcellina my mouth is watering over this dish. It has all the ingredients that I just love. I’m just going to have to try harder to grow more capsicums, we’ve had moderate success, but boy can I grow chillies. Cant’ wait to try this dish. Thanks for sharing a family recipe. Best wishes, Pauline

    1. Pauline, you’d love this! Have you ever tried to grow the long sweet capsicums? They are easier in our climate. My husband has great success with the Corno di Toro variety.

  4. Yes you’re so right Marcellina. This recipe is one of our classic favorites, here in South Italy. Your tips for frying the peppers correctly are perfect. Thank you.

      1. 5 stars
        Hi I was born in Calabria and now live in British Columbia CANADA….my mom made these all the time and now I make a freeze them for the winter. I just made 25 lbs. DELICIOUS over mashed potatoes 💜💜💜💜💜

  5. A classic! I practically live on fried peppers in the summer… 😉

  6. 5 stars
    I made is with peppers I roasted on my gas flame and rubbed the skins off of. It is totally delicious.

      1. 5 stars
        I like to add a bit of white wine vinegar. My Late Mother in law was from Napoli. She used to steam the whole peppers with say a ratio of 1 Cup water to half a cup vinegar. Then after drying she put the Origano, garlic and Olive oil. Or some times she roasted the peppers then peeled. Added the above.

  7. Hello Marcellina,
    How long does this keep in the refrigerator? And if it does, would one just take out to return to room temp before serving?

    1. Hi Michelle, this would keep easily 3 or 4 days maybe longer. It can be eaten directly from the refrigerator (which is nice in summer) or return it to room temp or heat it before serving. Thanks for stopping by xx