I've been reading some Italian (written in Italian, by Italians) cook books and web sites and I find that many recipes call for peperoncini. I thought I knew what these are, but according to this article in Wikipedia:

While called peperoncini in American English, peppers of this particular kind, in Italy, are called friggitello (plural friggitelli) or more generally peperone (plural peperoni) like other sweet varieties of peppers, while the term peperoncini (singular peperoncino) is used for hotter varieties of chili peppers.

There are, of course, many varieties of hot chili peppers. My question is, what variety of peppers would most commonly be used by a cook in southern Italy when a recipe calls for peperoncini?

  • I think you solved it yourself. I believe it would depend on the origin of the recipe.
    – Mien
    Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 22:15
  • 1
    All the recipes I'm talking about are southern Italian cuisine written in Italian, by Italians. I don't see how that answers my question. Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 22:22
  • The photo that you can see on Wiki, shows "peperoncini" under vinagre "alla Milanese", probably yet cooked. What they write in the text is half wrong. What you find into recipes of south Italy, as seasoning means, is probably "peperoncino", like "pasta aglio, olio e peperoncino". If singular, it indicates a "spice", i.e. the powder, which can be dosed according to the taste. Commented May 1, 2013 at 20:57
  • @violadaprile Thank you for the clarification, but the part of the Wiki article that seems correct and which my question revolves around is that the word "peperoncini" has a very different meaning in Italy and the US. If I were to use what Americans think of as peperoncini in a recipe written by an Italian, I would be using the wrong ingredient. Commented May 1, 2013 at 21:40

2 Answers 2


What varities of chili peppers are most commonly used in Italy

Peperoncini (=literally little big peppers)

Grown and used in all Italy

enter image description here

The green ones - Peperoncini verdi

Used in north Italy, made under vinagre, typical Milano's recipe. They make it in airtight glass jars and open them in December for Christmas (or whenever)

The red ones - Peperoncini rossi

Grown and used most af all in shouth of Italy. They are put to dry, then made in powder, like chili. Can be from medium hot to high hot. Used for seasoning many recipes in all Italy. Many types of red small peppers are used to be dried and for seasoning recipes.

enter image description here

Peperoncini verdi fritti

http://www.cookaround.com/yabbse1/showthread.php?t=8358 (see the photo 1 and 2)

Typical of south Italy. They are fried in oil, then dried on a cooking paper, then seasoned with salt.

"Pepperoncini" is a contaminated word by a wrong spelling pronunciation of southern Italy, and "friggitelli" (like "puparuolilli do’ sciumm", in the text) is a local/dialectal denomination, not even known in north Italy.

Peperoncini rossi corti ripieni (=red short filled pepper) Typical of South, filled with tuna and other ingredients.

enter image description here

Peperoni = (literally = big peppers)

Used in all Italy (the two varieties = the shorter are sweeter) - but any color changes the flavor, so the result, depending on the blend color, changes.

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They are used most commonly used to make "peperonata", made with onions, oil and tomatoes (some like a ratatouille). With celery in north of Italy. They can be from sweet to hot.

enter image description here

Can be made in oven also, usually filled. Or passed on any fire to burn the skin, then peeled from the burned skin, reduced in large stripes, put into a container, seasoned with garlic, oil and salt and covered with oil. They let rest at least 24 hours for the flavors to blend.


Peperoncini literally means chili pepper. That's any pepper belonging to the Capsicum Annuum family, and it's really up to personal taste. I think you'd be hard-pressed to pin down the "most common" type of pepper used in any country, as there are so many intra-regional variances which also change from season to season and year to year.

I'm not even sure I could answer that for just the city I live in; some people immediately think of Jalapeños when they hear "hot pepper", others think of Serrano peppers, others think of New Mexico peppers, and still others think of Habaneros, and these are all pretty different; some are at opposite ends of the Scoville scale. It depends on how hot the person you're asking likes their food.

That being said, I think a reasonable proxy is a Google search for peperoncini al mercato ("[hot] peppers at the market") restricted to Italian pages, which should give you a pretty good idea of what the average Italian actually considers to be a "chili pepper". As one might expect, there's an almost endless variety. However, the most common ones I see - and this coincides with my own not-inconsiderable experience eating Italian cuisine (some in southern Italy) are, in descending order of frequency:

  • Pimentos


  • Cayenne


  • Friggitelli


  • Greek Peperoncini

    Greek Peperoncini

  • Wax Peppers AKA Hungarian Wax Peppers AKA Hungarian Yellow Peppers

    Hungarian Wax Peppers

Here's an actual picture of a market stall in Italy, showing that they actually do grow all of these varieties and more:


Really, it's almost a bit like asking what kind of wine they drink in Italy. You might be able to narrow it down to a general area (Chianti for wine - Capsicum Annuum for peppers) but within that area there's still endless variety, so IMO this is probably as specific an answer as it's possible to give.

  • Don't downgrade your answer. I didn't ask what kind of wine (peppers) they drink in Italy; I asked for a general idea of the predominant hot peppers used in southern Italy. And you provided an excellent answer. I wasn't expecting anything as specific, actually. So I'll give it a day or two to see if someone else comes up with a really stellar answer, but otherwise I'll happily accept this answer. Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 4:34

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