Peppers need to be prepared correctly if you’re going to show them off to the best of their ability.

Bell peppers are a key part of many dishes, from adding color and sweetness to your vegetable platter, to rounding out a gazpacho, or even taking center stage as a stuffed dish. But their odd shape can make them a little tricky to break down. So here is a primer on how to prep your peppers.

Choose Your Pepper

Regardless of how you intend to use your bell pepper, it is important to choose a good one. Look for peppers whose stems are a bright green and not brown or shriveled. You want the pepper to feel firm to the touch, not soft, and the skin should be unblemished and bright. Avoid peppers whose skin is at all wrinkled, spotted, or has bruises. If you are not working from a specific recipe, know that green bell peppers will have a more intense vegetal flavor while red, yellow or orange peppers will be milder and sweeter. Store in the crisper drawer of your fridge until you want to use.

Remove the Core

Credit: Stacey Ballis

Stacey Ballis

The core of the pepper is inedible, and while the seeds are edible, they don’t add much to a dish, so most recipes will call for removing them. The easiest way to do this is to stand the pepper on its end, and slice off the outer layers in large pieces around the core. Some peppers are more three-sided and some are more four-sided, so you will end up with either three or four large slices of pepper. You can then discard the core and shake out any remaining seeds from the slices.

Remove the Ribs

If there is a lot of thick pale rib in your slices, this should be removed, as the flavor is minimal, and the texture can be off-putting. To remove the ribs, simply lay your knife flat against the rib and carefully slide it between the base of the rib and the flesh of the pepper.

Get the recipes: 7 Ways to Cook With Bell Peppers


Credit: Stacey Ballis

Stacey Ballis

If you want pieces of pepper that can scoop dips, you want slices about an inch wide. For strips for fajitas or sandwiches, about a half an inch is wide enough. And if you are putting on pizza or decorating the top of something then a quarter inch is plenty. Peppers will always slice easier if you cut from the interior side and not the skin side.


Credit: Stacey Ballis

Stacey Ballis

If you need dice, slice the peppers first to the width that you want one side of your dice to be, then turn the strips and cut across into whatever size dice your recipe requires.

Get the recipe: Green Bell Pepper Sauce


Credit: Stacey Ballis

Stacey Ballis

To prep a pepper for stuffing, use a small paring knife to cut through the top around the stem, removing the stem and core with a twisting motion. Shake out any remaining seeds from the pepper, and if there are excessive ribs inside, you can scrape them out with a spoon. If your recipe calls for retaining a lid, slice the core with the seeds off of the stem, leaving the rest intact.


Credit: Stacey Ballis

Stacey Ballis

Sometimes you want to use the natural round shape of the pepper to make ring for everything from frying like onion rings to topping salads decoratively. To make rings, simply prep the pepper as you would for stuffing, then lay the pepper on its side and slice into rings as thick as you like.