What Is A Pimento?

Pimentos are a type of sweet pepper that has many uses in our cuisines today. You can stuff them into the olive in your martini, or purée them into a cheese dip.

What Is A Pimento?

Why not try them out and turn them into paprika? So many uses, and totally delicious ways you can incorporate them into your cooking. 

Pimentos are a sweet pepper that are mostly associated with Spain, and they are a triple treat, since they work well as a garnish, a spice, and as an ingredient too. They are incredibly versatile and taste amazing. 

But, if you are not familiar with them, then let us give you the low-down on these peppers, what they are and all you need to know to fully enjoy them. 

Pimentos: What Are They?

Pimentos, which are sometimes called pimientos, are a sweet pepper. They have nearly no heat at all. Often, these are also known as cherry peppers, thanks to their vibrant red color, and the fact that their fruit is round, and heart-shaped. 

Generally, they will measure at about 3–4 inches in length and 2 to 3 inches in width. They have a short, thick green stem. 

You will probably have eaten these without even knowing it. Many areas in Spain, and in the United States will use pimentos to make paprika, which is a very commonly used spice that is constructed by grinding up various types of pepper into a fine powder.

A majority of chefs will prefer milder, sweeter paprika that is made with pimentos, instead of the roaring heat of other spices, such as that of cayenne pepper.

Pimento Uses

Much like other peppers, you can simply discard the stems when you prepare a pimento pepper. These peppers are often diced and then stuffed into Manzilla or Spanish olives when prepared in Mediterranean cuisines. 

In the US, pimento-stuffed olives are often served with a Martini, and they are typically found in pimento loaves, which you may have had at grandmas once as a child. 

Pimentos are often also used as an ingredient in many dinner party appetizers, such as pimento cheese. This also goes by the name “the caviar of the South”, and it is typically spread on bread, or on crackers.

They can also be stuffed with rice, or with cheese, making them into a small handheld appetizer, a bit like stuffed mini peppers, but definitely sweeter. 

Aside from these applications, you could use pimentos pretty much anywhere you would want to use a bell pepper in theory. Consider options such as chili, soups, Mexican fare, tacos, beans, risotto, pasta, and mixing in the peppers with grains. 

There are plenty of options, and these little peppers are much more versatile than you may think! 

What Is A Pimento?

Pimento Taste

So, what exactly do pimentos taste like? Well, they are mild and sweet, and it is not likely that they will cause you any problems, even if you struggle to tolerate any spicy peppers. 

They are really low on the scoville scale. Coming in at 100 to 500 heat units, this makes them one of the mildest of all chili peppers there are. 

They are a bit like a sweeter, and more aromatic version of a red bell pepper. 

For more reference, if you were to compare them, in terms of heat, to a jalapeño, then a pimento would be 40 times milder than a jalapeño pepper.

However, that being said, if you want to add something special to a dish, or maybe just the air of mystery, consider pimento’s as they are not a massively familiar ingredient to most people. Even though they’re actually quite common, most people don’t know what they are.

Yet, once you have tried these peppers, you can instantly recognize their peppery but sweet presence in any dish.

Where To Buy Pimentos 

When you go to your local grocery store, pimentos are often found in jars, typically found next to the pickles and the olives. That being said, if you go to a grocery store, and they have their own self-serving olive bar, you can probably get them here. 

The option by the olive bar is best as you can try them before you buy them, and then only buy what you need. 

Some larger supermarkets who stock more types of produce, will often allow purchasing many types of pepper fresh. Which is easy enough to do if you know what you are looking for. 

If you enjoy these peppers, however, you could also grow them yourself. Be aware, doing this can be a long term commitment, however, as they have a long cycle. They also do best in climates which are conducive to growing outdoors. 

Grow them in your garden in a south or west facing position, and ensure that they have a steady supply of water. They will be ready when they show their shiny and classic red color. As is with many other peppers, you can usually harvest them in early fall or late summer.

Storing Pimentos

Jarred pimentos keep well in the fridge, and after you open them you can keep them for 9 months. Alternatively, fresh pimentos will last longer if you buy them from a farmers market, and you can even freeze them for 6 months without losing any quality.

You can refrigerate them but remember they won’t last as long, so if you want them to last a while, you should freeze them.


Pimentos are a type of small sweet pepper that is used in a lot of Mediterranean cuisine, and we enjoy in the US in paprika. However, pimentos have many uses, and their divine sweetness makes them a very sought after pepper. 

Since many of us are not actively familiar with these peppers, it is worth trying them, because they are definitely much better than you probably think!

Mark Williams
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