Trinidad pimento pepper - What is it?

23.7.23 | Recipe by Renz
In this article, we take a look at what the Trinidad pimento pepper is along with its uses and suggestions on how to use it. This "seasoning pepper" brings a distinctly Caribbean flair to any culinary creation, leaving a memorable and mouthwatering impression on those lucky enough to taste it.

A bowl of Trinidad pimento peppers of all colors, on a brown backdrop.

Today, we're diving into the vibrant world of Caribbean cuisine, where flavors dance, and taste buds tango with every bite. Prepare to embark on a culinary adventure as we uncover the delightful secrets of the Trinidad pimento pepper (Capsicum chinense), a little gem that holds a special place in the hearts of Caribbean food lovers.

When it comes to Caribbean cooking, one thing is abundantly clear: the locals have an unwavering passion for fresh herbs and spices. It's as if their kitchen cupboards are filled with a magical arsenal of flavor, waiting to transform even the simplest of dishes into a tantalizing feast. And at the heart of this gastronomic alchemy lies the mighty pimento pepper.

With its seductively balanced combination of heat and sweetness, the Trinidad pimento pepper effortlessly steals the show in many Caribbean recipes, especially Trinbagonians. This fresh pepper is known for its distinctive aroma and vibrant color, this pepper packs a flavorful punch that's impossible to ignore. It's the kind of pepper that saunters into a dish and demands attention, leaving you craving just one more bite.

Caribbean cuisine is a tantalizing medley of influences, shaped by the diverse cultures that have settled on these sun-kissed shores. From indigenous traditions to the bold flavors of West Africa, and the spicy influences of India and Southeast Asia, the Caribbean kitchen is a melting pot of culinary heritage. And what ties it all together? The liberal use of herbs and spices creates a symphony of flavors that will have your taste buds dancing in delight.

So, get ready to explore the enchanting world of Caribbean cuisine, where the Trinidad pimento pepper reigns supreme. From adding it to savory stews and deserts, and tantalizing chows, this pepper adds a touch of Caribbean magic to every dish it graces.

Let's bring the sizzle and spice of the Caribbean straight to your plate and dive into discovering this popular cooking pepper.


What is Trinidad pimento pepper (Capsicum chinense)?

Locally known as "the seasoning pepper", Trinidad pimento pepper, is an essential ingredient in a lot of dishes. This elongated pepper variety is characterized by its mild heat and distinct flavor, making it a tastier substitute than bell peppers. They typically run around an inch in diameter, and the trees can reach heights of several feet tall

Unlike other types of hot peppers, this type of pimento pepper does not usually have a spicy kick, making it a favorite ingredient in mild sauces and dishes that require a hint of peppery flavor. It is often used in green seasoning, our blend of fresh herbs and spices that is a common ingredient for Caribbean cooking.

The plant itself can grow up to a few feet tall and produces elongated peppers that can be green or red when ripe.

Pimento pepper tree with bunches of peppers ready to to picked.

In Trinidad and Tobago, pimento pepper is so popular that it is grown in the National Herb Garden, where hybrid seeds and pimento seeds, averaging around 500-700 counts, can be found. The leaves of the plant, including the broad leaves and leaf thyme, are also used in certain dishes, giving a unique flavor to food.

Pimento peppers are ubiquitous in Trinidad cooking, but they are NOT the same pepper that is called pimento in the United States; they do not look or taste the same other than both being non-spicy.
How hot is pimento pepper?

Though well-known for its delectable flavor rather than its heat level this does not mean that it does not carry any level of spiciness.

Peppers are categorized based on their Scoville scores, which indicate spiciness. The higher the score, the spicier the pepper. With a Scoville score of 100 to 500 units, Trinidad Pimento Pepper is classified among the milder peppers for pepper enthusiasts. In comparison to other hot peppers, pimentos fall very low on the heat spectrum.

For those who prefer their food to be hotter, there are plenty of substitute pepper varieties that are hotter. Some of these include bird's eye chili, cayenne pepper, habanero pepper, and even the infamous Carolina Reaper.

Overall, Pimento Pepper is an excellent option for those who are looking for a mild level of spiciness to enhance the flavors of their dishes. Its flavor profile is unique and can add a distinctive taste to various delicacies.

What can I use instead of Trinidad pimento pepper?

When it comes to finding a substitute for the unique flavor of Trinidad Pimento Pepper, it can be a challenge. However, with some careful consideration, you can find an alternative that will work well in your recipe.

One factor to keep in mind is the relative level of heat that the dish requires. If a milder option is needed, consider substituting with bell peppers or banana peppers. These options have a milder taste and will not overwhelm your dish with spice, though banana peppers are way more tangy.

For those who prefer a slightly hotter alternative, Thai chilies or jalapenos can be used as a substitute. These peppers have a similar level of heat and will provide a kick to your recipe.

To enhance the flavor profile of your dish, try adding other seasonings such as black pepper, and chives, or even try some Spanish thyme. These additions will help to bring out the flavors in your dish and provide an extra layer of depth.

So while there may not be an exact replacement for the Pimento Pepper, there are several alternatives you can try. Whether you opt for a milder option like bell peppers or a spicier one like Thai chilies, experimenting with different substitutes can lead to delicious and unique flavor combinations.

What is the difference between red bell peppers and Trinidad pimento peppers?

When it comes to peppers, there are numerous options available, each with its unique flavor and uses.

The key difference between these two types of peppers is their flavor profile. In Trinidadian cuisine, pimento peppers are the go-to ingredient for flavoring dishes and marinating meats due to their sweet and rich flavor. On the other hand, red bell peppers are sweeter and milder in taste, making them perfect for salads, roasting, and stuffing.

Another noticeable difference between these peppers is their shape. While red bell peppers are round and plump in shape, pimento peppers are elongated and mild. This shape difference also contributes to the difference in their taste, as it affects the pepper's texture and how much heat is released when cooked.

In terms of availability, red bell peppers are more widely available and popular in other parts of the world, whereas pimento peppers are mostly known in Caribbean countries or among the West Indian communities.

Trinidad pimento peppers and red bell peppers bring their unique flavor and texture to dishes, and the choice of which to use largely depends on personal preference and the dish's requirements.

Where to buy Caribbean pimento peppers?

If you're looking to buy Trinidad pimento peppers, it can be a bit challenging to find them depending on where you live. These peppers are mostly known in Caribbean countries or among West Indian communities, but they are becoming increasingly popular as people seek out new and exciting flavors.

One option for purchasing fresh pimento peppers is to look for them at ethnic markets or specialty food stores that specialize in Caribbean or West Indian products. You can also search online for stores that sell pimento peppers or other hard-to-find ingredients. Many online retailers like Lime Distribution and Produce City Market offer fresh pimento peppers that can be delivered directly to your doorstep.

Another option is to grow your own peppers. These peppers are relatively easy to grow in warm climates and can provide a steady supply for seasoning and flavoring your favorite dishes. You can find pimento seeds online or at specialty gardening stores. Once you have the pepper seed packs, you can grow the freshest peppers in your backyard or even in pots on your balcony or patio.

A pimento pepper tree in a pot being grown on a fire escape.

And for another option, you can also buy already-made pimento sauce from Bertie's. This is a sauce made from grinding up pimento peppers with garlic and vinegar. You can purchase this on Amazon.

By exploring specialty stores, online retailers, and gardening resources, you can easily acquire the ingredients you need to create delicious Caribbean-inspired dishes at home.

What recipes use Trinidad pimento peppers?

Pimento peppers are a key ingredient in many popular Caribbean recipes that are loved for their unique and spicy flavors. Here are some popular recipes that incorporate these elongated peppers:

  1. Green seasoning: This blend of seasoning is a mix of peppers in conjunction with other spices and herbs such as Spanish thyme, chives, and even black pepper, to create the perfect seasoning blend for various dishes. It can be minced using a food processor or used whole, adding its flavor to different sauces or meat dishes.
  2. Stew chicken: This tangy and creamy spread is a Southern classic, and adding diced Trinidad pimento peppers to the mix gives it a spicy kick. Mix cream cheese, grated cheddar, mayo, and diced peppers for a delicious spread that can be served with crackers, bread, or veggies.
  3. Curry Shrimp: In Trinidadian cuisine, curry shrimp is a popular dish that uses sautéed Trinidad pimento peppers along with onions, garlic, and a blend of spices like turmeric, coriander, and cumin to create a flavorful shrimp curry. Served over rice, this dish is hearty, spicy, and sure to satisfy any hunger pangs.
  4. Pepper sauce: For a versatile condiment that adds heat and flavor to any dish, try making your own hot sauce with Trinidad pimento peppers. Blend the peppers with vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar to create a homemade hot sauce that can be used to add a fiery kick to eggs, meat dishes, or even cocktails.

Incorporating pimento peppers into your cooking is a great way to add a unique twist to classic Caribbean cuisine.

These flavorful peppers can be used in a variety of dishes once you are looking to add a level of flavor and not too high a level of spice.

A close up of a bunch of pimento peppers.

How to store Trinidad pimento peppers

These peppers are a find when I do find them, so I always want to make sure that I keep them well when it's time to use them.

Here are some great options for storing these peppers for immediate use and over time. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the exceptional flavor of the pimento peppers even when they are out of season. Properly storing them ensures that their robust taste and flavor are preserved for future culinary adventures.

The ideal storage conditions for these fresh peppers are in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. A temperature range of 45-50°F (7-10°C) is recommended to maximize their shelf life.

To preserve the freshness even further, you can store them in the refrigerator. Simply place the peppers in a perforated plastic bag, allowing some airflow to prevent moisture buildup. Stored this way, fresh pimento peppers can last for up to two weeks.

For longer-term storage, you can also freeze the peppers either whole or chopped. To ensure that these peppers retain their freshness and flavor for future use, proper storage in the freezer is essential.

Start by washing and drying them thoroughly. Remove the stems and seeds if desired, then slice or chop the peppers to your preference. Place the prepared peppers in an airtight container or freezer bag, ensuring all the air is removed. This prevents ice crystals and freezer burn from affecting the flavor and texture of the peppers.

Frozen pimento peppers can retain their flavor and heat for up to six months. I suggest labeling the packaging with the date of freezing to keep track of their freshness.

When using frozen pimento peppers in recipes, it is recommended to thaw them before cooking. This can be done by leaving them in the refrigerator overnight or by thawing them in a bowl of cold water.

Remember though that the freshest peppers provide the best flavor and spice, so it's recommended to use them as soon as possible for culinary purposes.

By following these specific techniques in storing fresh peppers, you can enjoy the delightful taste and mild Scoville heat units of Trinidad Pimento peppers for an extended period.

A close up of fresh pimento peppers on a tree.

So now you have found out about our Trinidad pimento pepper. From the tropical shores of Trinidad and Tobago to kitchens around the globe, this vibrant pepper has taken center stage, infusing dishes with its unique blend of heat and sweetness.

Its unmistakable aroma, fiery flavor, and vibrant color have left an indelible mark on the palates of those who appreciate the wonders of Caribbean cooking. So, next time you're in search of a culinary adventure, reach for this pepper and let it transport you to the sun-soaked islands of the Caribbean, where flavors burst and spices reign supreme.

Learn about some other Caribbean culinary items:

Here are some recipes using pimento peppers:


  1. where can i find Pimento peppers in California ?

    1. Hey. I am not sure about Cali. I know here we get a lot at the Caribbean supermarkets. Do you want to try to grow a plant? Check out this shop on Etsy


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