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Fried Italian Sweet Peppers

Fried Peppers on Platter
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Fried Italian Sweet Peppers are the perfect, delicious accompaniment to so many things–Italian sausage, scrambled eggs, bruschetta, pasta, or, quite honestly, any fork headed directly to my mouth. Seriously, though, it is not summer without them. If you see them at the market, buy them, fry them, enjoy them, repeat. Their beautiful colors are just the beginning!

Fried Peppers on Platter

I grew up eating Fried Italian Sweet Peppers and have so many special memories of my mom frying a big batch of them at the stove. During the summer, you could often find a bowl of them on the table adorned with nothing more than salt and a few basil leaves, Sometimes, they were seeded and sliced before frying. But, more often than not, my mom fried them whole and we were left to deseed them or not at the table ourselves.

The Garden State . . .

I was lucky to grow up in New Jersey where we had access to lots of different varieties of these peppers throughout the mid-late summer. They came in all colors; some were thicker than others; some were super-hot and others were sweet, like the ones I made here. They were always just referred to as “Italian frying peppers”, “Italian sweet peppers”, or “long sweet peppers”, plain and simple. These were my favorite! Their sweetness meant you could eat as many of them as you wanted, without having to worry about burning your mouth for hours upon end. Plus, their mild flavor are a bit easier to digest than regular bell peppers!

We added them to eggs for classic Italian-American peppers and eggs, put them on our sandwiches (or made them the main ingredient in the sandwich itself), ate them with crusty bread, dipping the bread into the residual oil at the bottom of the bowl, or just simply as is by holding the pepper by its stem. Seriously–they are the best and bring back so many memories! Ask any east coast Italian American and they will know these peppers very well.

So Easy To Make!

This recipe is easy, and only requires a large, deep pan or Dutch oven, oil and salt (ideally, coarse sea salt). As the peppers used for this recipe are generally thin and long, the easiest way to handle them is to just pan-fry them whole. But, they can absolutely be stemmed, sliced and seeded before frying if you have the time and are so inclined. Choose the red, orange or yellow varieties of the peppers if possible, as they are sweeter and more flavorful than the green variety, in my humble opinion. (Typically, the green peppers will eventually turn red if allowed to ripen on the vine.)

What is Pan-Frying?

Pan-frying is a dry heat method of cooking that relies on oil or fat as the heat transfer medium. The oil creates a little steam which helps cook the immersed part of the pepper, while the exposed topside allows any steam to escape. In practice, pan-frying is cooking technique that uses more fat or oil than sautéing and less than deep-frying (in which the product is fully immersed). The food also cooks at a lower temperature than both sautéing and deep-frying. As a guideline, about 25% of the food being pan-fried is generally immersed in the oil or fat.

Ingredients

To make Fried Italian Sweet Peppers, we will be using the following ingredients:

  • Sweet Peppers: Use long, thin-skinned frying peppers for this recipe. They may be called “Italian frying peppers”, “Italian sweet peppers” or “long sweet peppers”. Jimmy Nardello peppers are a popular, specific variety of sweet, Italian frying peppers.
    • This pan-frying technique can also be used for common bell peppers or cubanelle peppers, if they are stemmed, seeded and sliced first. As bell peppers have a thicker skin than frying peppers, they will take longer to cook and brown.
  • Oil: Use an oil with a neutral taste and a high smoke point for this pan-frying technique. I used avocado oil. Canola oil, peanut oil and vegetable oil are also good options. Of course, olive oil is always wonderful, but may cause more smoke in your kitchen than you would like. If you use olive oil, I suggest using regular olive oil and not extra-virgin.
  • Coarse Sea Salt: To sprinkle over and season the final, fried product.
  • Basil: As an optional, flavorful garnish mixed into the finished fried peppers.

A complete and detailed list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is included in the recipe below.⁠

Step-By-Step, Pro-Tips included!

Here are the main steps for how to make these Fried Italian Sweet Peppers:

  • Gather all ingredients. Be sure to rinse in cold water and completely dry the peppers before frying.
Fried Peppers Raw Ingredient on Counter
  • Add enough oil to a large pan with high sides or a Dutch oven to about ¼” depth. Heat it over medium-high heat.
  • Place the whole peppers in a single layer on the bottom of the pan and let them brown before turning. Brown on multiple sides and until tender.
    • PRO-TIP: Do not crowd the pan! If you put too many peppers in the pan, the temperature of the oil will decrease and not allow moisture to dissipate, causing the peppers to steam, become extra-greasy, and/or not brown properly. Make the peppers in batches, if necessary.
  • Transfer the fried peppers to a platter or bowl, then sprinkle them with coarse sea salt and (optional) fresh basil leaves. That’s it!
Fried Peppers in Bowl near Fire Escape

Recipe Variations for Fried Italian Sweet Peppers

A couple of different variations on this basic Fried Italian Sweet Peppers recipe include:

  • Anchovy: Dissolve some anchovy in the frying oil prior to adding the peppers for a briny punch.
  • Add Vinegar: Red or white wine vinegar makes a great addition to the finished fried peppers and results in a more salad-like dish.
  • Add Garlic: Mix some sautéed garlic, roasted garlic or garlic confit into the final fried peppers for extra flavor! (NOTE: do not fry the garlic along with the peppers as it will surely burn. Sauté it separately, then fold it in to the finished product.)

My Favorite Ways To Eat Fried Italian Sweet Peppers

My all-time favorite way to eat these Sweet Italian Fried Peppers is by holding their stem and placing them directly into my mouth while they are still warm! Having said this, here are a few other great ways to enjoy them:

  • Mixed into scrambled eggs for the popular Italian-American recipe Peppers and Eggs;
  • On grilled or toasted bread with additional extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil, for a quick bruschetta or crostini;
  • With sautéed Italian sausage in sausage and peppers;
  • Mixed with sautéed potatoes as a side dish;
  • As a condiment on almost any sandwich, or as the main ingredient in a sandwich with some in-season tomatoes and fresh basil;
  • With pasta–just add some olive oil, lots of grated Pecorino Romano cheese and fresh basil; and
  • As a side dish with a simple grilled steak, pork chop or chicken breast.

Kitchen Tools & Cookware for Fried Italian Sweet Peppers

To make this Fried Italian Sweet Peppers recipe, you will need the following:

Fried Peppers on Platter

More Great Recipes to Try

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Fried Peppers on Platter

Fried Italian Sweet Peppers

Michele
Fried Italian Sweet Peppers are the perfect, delicious accompaniment to so many things–Italian sausage, scrambled eggs, bruschetta, pasta, or, quite honestly, any fork headed for my mouth. Seriously, though, it is not summer without them. If you see them at the market, buy them, fry them, enjoy them, repeat!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • Oil for frying, enough to cover bottom of pan + ¼” (See NOTE below.)
  • 2 pounds whole frying peppers (See NOTE below.)
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Gather all ingredients. Rinse the whole peppers in cold water and completely dry them with a paper towel before frying.
  • Add enough oil to a large pan with high sides or a Dutch oven to about ¼” depth. Heat it over medium-high heat.
  • Place the whole peppers in a single layer on the bottom of the pan and let them brown before turning. Brown on multiple sides and until tender. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Work in batches if necessary and do not overcrowd the pan! If you put too many peppers in the pan, the temperature of the oil will decrease and not allow moisture to dissipate, causing the peppers to steam, become extra-greasy, and/or not brown properly.
  • Transfer the fried peppers to a platter or bowl, then sprinkle them with coarse sea salt and (optional) fresh basil leaves. That’s it! Buon Appetito!

Notes

  • Use an oil with a neutral taste and a high smoke point for this pan-frying technique. I used avocado oil. Canola oil, peanut oil and vegetable oil are also good options. Of course, olive oil is always wonderful, but may cause more smoke in your kitchen than you would like. If you use olive oil, I suggest using regular olive oil and not extra-virgin.
  • If you prefer, remove the stems and all seeds and thinly slice the peppers prior to frying. Rinse the peppers in cold water after deseeding to remove any remaining seeds. Be sure to completely dry the peppers before adding them to the hot oil.
  • Do not overcrowd the pan! If you put too many peppers in the pan, the temperature of the oil will decrease and not allow moisture to dissipate, causing the peppers to steam, become extra-greasy, and/or not brown properly. Make the peppers in batches, if necessary.
  • The pepper skins may crack during the frying process and this is normal. In fact, many people prefer to peel off the skin before eating.
  • Leftover fried peppers should be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge. They will keep for about 1 week if stored properly.
Recipe by Mangia With Michele. Please visit my site for more great cooking inspiration!
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Keyword fried peppers, pepper recipes, sweet peppers, peppers, frying peppers, summer recipes, vegetarian recipes

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1 thought on “Fried Italian Sweet Peppers

  1. 5 stars
    So delicious when in season. Thank you for this delicious recipe!

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