Are Peppers Fruits or Vegetables?

Growing up, we are usually told that peppers and tomatoes are vegetables. Fruits, on the other hand, include apples, pears, peaches and other, more sweet foods that can are mostly eaten fresh, as a snack.

But what would you say if a botanist asked you whether a pepper is a fruit or a vegetable? Today, you’ll have a clear answer to settle the disputes once and for all: Are peppers fruits or vegetables?

Bulgarian Carrot peppers on plant
Some fresh, ripe peppers.

Peppers Are Fruits…To A Botanist

Whether peppers are fruits or vegetables comes down to who you are hanging out with. Are you chatting with a trained botanist? If so, your definition will differ from that of the casual gardener or home cook.

In short, peppers are technically fruits from a botanical standpoint, as they are the seed-bearing body of a flowering plant. This applies to tomatoes, eggplants and many other foods typically thought of as vegetables.

“It’s a fruit,” said botanist Joe Schmo.

However, in the casual home kitchen, these foods are considered vegetables, mostly due to their historical use in cuisine.


Peppers Are Vegetables…To the Rest of Us

Of course I’m not suggesting you go and start casually calling peppers and tomatoes ‘fruits.’ Just because they are technically fruits to a botanist doesn’t mean they are to the rest of the community.

Peppers and tomatoes, although they are technically seed-bearing fruits, are vegetables when used in cooking. They are distinguished from culinary fruits simply through a historical use as veggies.

Jalapeno Pepper half ripe
“It’s a vegetable,” said Sally Bobally.

You could say fruits are “sweet” and veggies are “savory,” but that is not always true, even in a culinary sense. Tomatoes have plenty of sugar, and even some peppers are full of sugars, especially when ripe.


So, what did we learn?

  • Peppers are fruits (to a botanist)
  • Peppers are vegetables (to a cook)
  • Peppers are awesome (to us)

Read Next: How to grow peppers from seed

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Calvin

One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

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