Italian Pickled Peppers (peperoni sotto aceto)

Italian pickled peppers recipe, known by its original name peperoni sotto aceto, is such a great way to preserve your summer produce. Try our super simple recipe and learn everything you need to know about this authentic dish.

Italian pickled peppers in jars with various spices scattered around.

About Italian Vinegar Peppers

Italian pickled peppers are a staple in Mediterranean cuisine. The recipe consists of crisp fresh peppers slightly cooked in brine and then packed in jars with vinegar and spices.

The method of preserving food under vinegar is named sotto aceto or sott’aceto in Italian and it literally means “under vinegar”. This method has been used for centuries, as a way to preserve the abundance of vegetables and fruits in some seasons.

So, is not a surprise you can find similar dishes with that prefix following the vegetable’s name of the main ingredient. Think of zucchini sott’aceto, funghi sott’aceto, etc.

So, as you may have guessed by now, Peperoni sotto aceto is the Italian name for this pickled pepper recipe.

Italian pickled peppers have a tangy, slightly-pungent taste profile and a crisp texture, they are eaten mostly as an antipasto (appetizer) along with crusty bread, on top of pizza, or stuffed in panini.

They are also a staple ingredient for the traditional Italian rice salad and are sometimes used as a condiment for cold pasta salads.

Peperoni sotto aceto. Aka, Italian pickled peppers in jars.

Ingredients Needed

  • Bell Peppers. Any color you prefer, but yellow and red bell peppers are the sweeter.
  • Vinegar. White wine vinegar is the one recommended for this recipe, but feel free to use apple cider vinegar, just take in mind it will change the taste a bit.
  • Garlic. I am using 8 large cloves for this recipe, but you can add more if you want.
  • Bay leaves. As a general rule, I use 1 leaf for each jar I’ll pack.
  • Peppercorns. For an earthy taste, use black peppercorns.
  • Water. For parboil the peppers.
  • Salt. Coarse salt or fine salt.

How To Make Italian Pickled Peppers

First, prepare your jars. There are many ways of sterilizing jars for canning foods, I suggest doing a little research and going with the method you prefer.

I boiled mine in water, Spruce Eats has an easy guide to sterilize jars, if you want to check it out.

Jars boiling in a pot.

Wash thoroughly the peppers, pat dry them with pepper towels and slice them into 3-inch (7,5cm) strips.

Cutting green peppers on a cutting board.

Place half of the vinegar in a medium pot and add about 4-5 cups of water, salt, garlic, and the bay leaves.

Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring to dissolve the salt.

A pot with the brine and spices.

Add the peppers, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Allow resting for about 10 minutes.

This will help the peppers to soften a little bit but leave them with a nice crunch too (al dente, as we say in Italian).

Peppers boiling in water.

Place a large, clean, kitchen towel on a working surface. Remove the peppers from the water mixture with a slotted spoon and place them on a single layer on the towel.

Then, dry them as much as possible with kitchen paper towels.

Pat drying peppers with a kitchen pepper towel.

Fill the jars with the peppers, adding also some peppercorns, bay leaves, and garlic. You can use 4 small jars or 2 medium.

A jar half filled with peppers.

Pour in the vinegar, filling completely the jars. Press with a clean spoon the peppers, so they will submerge very well in the vinegar.

Use a toothpick to burst the air bubbles in the liquid and prevent the peppers from spoiling.

Filling a jar with peppers with vinegar.

Seal the lids and place the jars with vinegar peppers in a dark and cold place for 30 days before consuming. Read more below about storing this recipe.

Useful Recipe Notes

  • Try to cut the peppers the same size so they will cook evenly.
  • You can use any color of Italian bell peppers, but I suggest getting at least one of each color for a bright and colorful dish.
  • Prefer a softer texture for the peppers? Make sure you parboil them for 2-3 minutes or until they reach the desired texture.

Recipe Variations

You can add a spin to this peperoni sottaceto recipe. Here are some ideas:

  • Add other spices. A bit of dried oregano or thyme adds an earthy taste.
  • Make it spicy. Add a few fresh or dried peperoncini, red pepper flakes, or a pinch of cayenne powder.
  • Add other veggies. Spring onions, sliced red onions, carrots, cauliflower, artichokes, or zucchini add a different crunch and taste to those pickled Italian peppers. Just make sure to cook them separately as every veggie needs a different time to cook.

How To Eat

Italian pickled peppers are eaten in Italy as an antipasto (appetizer), side, to stuff in a panino, or to top pizza.

Just imagine a nice, large, antipasto board overflowing with all kinds of Italian goodness, such as salami, prosciutto, Italian vegetables, mozzarella, provola, olives, and various pickled veggies like those peppers.

And as mentioned before, those peppers are a wonderful addition to panini (sandwiches), on top of homemade focaccia, pizza, or even burgers and tacos!

Also, you can chop the peppers and add them to pasta or rice salads.

Rice salad with Italian pickled peppers.

Storage And Preserving Tips

Italian pickled peppers last up to 1 year if canned and conserved properly in a cold and dark environment.

Once a jar is opened, add a few tablespoons of olive oil on top, this will act as a natural sealer, then transfer to the refrigerator where they will last for up to one week.

Make sure the ingredients are always covered with the brine as any oxygen in contact with the vegetables will spoil them.

Always use a clean utensil to pick up the peppers from the jar and do not use it again right away if touched other foods or surfaces, to prevent cross-contamination.

In Italy, vinegar with at least 6% of acidity is what’s recommended for pickling vegetables. While in the US, one with 5% is acceptable. Fonts: salute.gov.it and extension.psu.edu.

Watch How To Make This Recipe

We love making this vinegar peppers recipe whenever we have the chance to use also our own fresh produce. We think this Italian appetizer is:

  • Flavorful
  • Crispy
  • Traditional
  • Customizable

Pickled Italian Peppers

author Maricruz
4 jars
Italian pickled peppers, aka peperoni sotto aceto, are a traditional and tasty appetizer, side, or ingredient for many dishes. Learn how to make them at home with this easy recipe.
prep 20 minutes
cook 10 minutes
total 30 minutes

Equipment

  • 4 small jars, sterilized.

Ingredients 

  • 2 ½ lb bell peppers, any color you prefer (cut into 3-inch strips)
  • 4 ½ cups vinegar
  • 4 ½ cups water
  • 8 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 ½ Tbsp coarse salt

Instructions
 

  • Place half of the vinegar in a medium pot, and add the water, salt, garlic cloves, and bay leaves. Mix to dissolve the salt and bring it to a boil.
  • Add the peppers, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Allow resting for 10 minutes.
  • Place a clean kitchen towel on a working surface. Remove the peppers from the water and place them on a single layer on the towel.
  • Pat dry the peppers as much as possible with kitchen paper towels.
  • Fill your jars with the peppers, adding in between some peppercorns, bay leaves, and garlic.
  • Fill the jars with the remaining vinegar and press the peppers with a clean spoon so they will submerge very well in the vinegar.
  • Use a toothpick to burst the bubbles in the liquid and prevent the peppers from spoiling.
  • Close the lids and place the jars in a dry, cool, and dark place for 30 days before consuming.

Notes

  • Cut the peppers the same size so they will cook evenly.
  • You can use any color of Italian bell peppers, but I suggest getting at least one of each color for a bright and colorful dish.
  • Prefer a softer texture for the peppers? Make sure you parboil them for 2-3 minutes or until they reach the desired texture.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 155kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2648mg | Potassium: 662mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 8897IU | Vitamin C: 364mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 2mg
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FAQ

What are Italian sweet peppers called?

In Italian, sweet bell peppers are called peperoni. Written and pronounced with one P only.

How do you keep vinegar peppers crisp?

To keep your Italian peppers crisp make sure you don’t allow them to simmer or stand too long in the hot water. You can also try and give them a quick rinse under cold water for stopping the cooking process, then drain them and proceed with the recipe.

How to pickle Italian peppers?

1) Wash, dry, and cut the peppers into strips. 2) Make a brine with vinegar and water, bring it to a boil, then remove from heat. 3) Soak peppers in the hot brine for some minutes. 4) Drain peppers, dry them with kitchen towels, then use sterilized jars to pack them with spices.

More Pickled Recipes

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Recipe Rating




14 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Ohh I love this recipe, some same steps and ingredients for when I make adobo so that’s a nice set up for a shift during the week

  2. 5 stars
    What a perfect Italian pickled peppers recipe! The jar with the label make it perfect for gifting. I know I would love to receive this as a gift. 😊 thank you for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    OK, this looks AMAZING. I’m pinning this post for later because I have tons of peppers from my garden that I need to do something with. Thanks for sharing!

  4. 5 stars
    It’s interesting to learn that Italian peppers are called pepperoni. This recipe reminds me of my Jamaican escovitch pickled dressing. This is a great way to preserve sweet peppers. I have no doubt that these will add a lot of flavor to salads and other dishes. Thank for sharing.

  5. Ohhhh! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to pickle peppers! My friend just brought us fresh ones from her garden so my fiance and I will definitely be giving this a try.