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Are Peppers Fruits Or Vegetables? Botanist vs Chef Opinion

Are Peppers Fruits Or Vegetables? Botanist vs Chef Opinion

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The world of plants is full of surprises, which is one of the main reasons I decided to pursue this career in the first place. 

I have to admit that cooking isn’t really my thing – I prefer eating! But when it comes to plants you use in cooking, that’s my master skill!

“Are peppers fruits or vegetables?” is a surprisingly common question I get, and it’s completely legit since we use peppers in salty dishes. 

I’ll give you the answer to this question from a botanical perspective and also tell you why chefs think the opposite. 

Let’s get started!

What Does Science Say?

Science is clear on this one, all pepper varieties are fruit! Wait, what?! Yes, it’s shocking but there’s a perfectly understandable reason for this. 

We’ll first start with the definition of fruit in botany: “the ripened ovary which includes the seeds placed in it.” (1)

To understand this, we need to take a look at the pepper ovary wall, which shields the ovules that contain female gametes. 

The process goes like this: the sperm from the pollen fertilizes the egg cells found in the ovules, and the pepper ovules mature into seeds whereas the ovary develops into a pepper fruit. 

Peppers develop from the flower, which contains the seeds, so they’re classified as fruits in botany. 

I’m sure you’re wondering what makes a vegetable a vegetable. A scientific definition of vegetables actually doesn’t exist. It can be any part of the plant species that is not developed from the flower’s reproductive section. (2)

Why Do Chefs Disagree?

To all the chefs out there; you’re doing a great job, but you can really confuse us sometimes! All jokes aside, we connect savory dishes mainly to veggies, and that’s the main reason we confuse some fruits, such as peppers and tomatoes, with vegetables.

You can either cook peppers or eat them raw. Most veggies are eaten processed, which is another reason we think of peppers as vegetables.

The question is, why do botanists need to observe peppers as fruit if they’re known as vegetables to the majority of people?

Well, botanists use features of fruit described above to observe and sometimes create new cultivars. It helps them identify certain varieties without thinking much about taste or nutritional value. 

On the other hand, nutritionists observe all the nutrients found in fruits and veggies, and if some plants, such as peppers, have similar nutritional value as other veggies, they’ll be classified as such. Pepper plants have excellent nutritional value and should be a part of a regular diet. (3) 

Which Term Should We Use?

The last thing we need to decide is if we should consider peppers as vegetables or switch to observing them as fruit. The answer is you can use both, depending on what you want to do with them. 

If you are a future nutritionist or chef, observe peppers as veggies. If you are studying botany, then you must refer to peppers as fruit. 

One thing is for certain, peppers make a perfect addition to many dishes! Here’s my favorite recipe for peppers:

I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe!

Until next time.


1. Michaels, T. (2022, June 20). 8.1 Fruit Morphology. Pressbooks. 

2. Vincent M. Russo (2021) The editor’s field – what is a vegetable? International Journal of Vegetable Science

3. Rdn, M. M. M. (2019, March 21). 11 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Black Pepper. Healthline.