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Capsicum vs. Pepper: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 6, 2023
Capsicum refers to bell or chili peppers, while pepper can mean the capsicum family or the spice from Piper nigrum.

Key Differences

Capsicum is the scientific genus encompassing various types of peppers, including bell peppers and chili peppers, known for their distinctive flavor and heat profile. Peppers are a diverse group of spices and vegetables that range in flavor from sweet to extremely hot, including black, white, and green peppercorns.
The word capsicum is often used in countries outside of the United States to refer to bell peppers and is associated with the mild, sweet variety of the plant. In contrast, pepper in the culinary context usually refers to the ground spice derived from the dried fruit of the Piper nigrum plant and is characterized by its pungent flavor and sharp heat.
Capsicums are part of the nightshade family and are rich in vitamins, especially vitamin C and A, and can be eaten raw or cooked. The term pepper can refer to the capsicum vegetables or the unrelated Piper species, which are dried and used as a spice; these include black pepper, which is a staple seasoning in many cuisines around the world.
When discussing capsicum, one might be referring to the colorful vegetables that are stuffed, roasted, or used in salads. However, when using the term pepper, it might relate to either the vegetable types, including hot chilies, or the black pepper spice used to season dishes.
In horticulture, capsicum plants are perennial shrubs that can grow in a variety of climates, while black pepper is a climbing vine requiring tropical conditions. The culinary uses of capsicum are broad, featuring in many dishes worldwide, whereas pepper is used as a seasoning and is one of the most common spices.

Comparison Chart

Botanical Classification

Genus Capsicum
Piper (spice), Capsicum (vegetable)


Bell peppers, chili peppers
Black, white, green peppercorns, bell peppers


Ranges from sweet to hot
Typically pungent and spicy

Culinary Use

Eaten raw or cooked, in various dishes
Primarily used as a seasoning

Global Usage

Called capsicum in Commonwealth countries
Called pepper in most countries

Capsicum and Pepper Definitions


The fruit of a plant from the nightshade family, varying in color and size.
She added red capsicum to the salad for a pop of color.


The fruit of any of these plants, used whole or ground as a condiment or spice.
The recipe called for freshly ground pepper.


A vegetable commonly used in cooking, also known as bell pepper.
I stuffed the capsicum with rice and meat for dinner.


Any of various tropical plants belonging to the genus Piper, especially the black, white, and green peppercorns.
Black pepper is derived from the unripe fruit of the Piper nigrum.


A genus of flowering plants known for producing fruits with a range of heat.
The green capsicum is milder compared to the red one.


A pungent hot-tasting powder prepared from dried and ground peppercorns, used as a spice or condiment to flavor food.
She seasoned the soup with a pinch of black pepper.


Any of the various tropical American plants yielding peppers.
Capsicum thrives in warm climates with plenty of sunlight.


Capsicum vegetables, including bell peppers and chili peppers, used in cooking for flavor.
He diced the pepper and tossed it into the stir-fry.


A mild or pungent spice obtained from the fruits of certain plants.
He sprinkled some ground capsicum over the dish for extra heat.


To sprinkle or season with ground pepper.
He peppered his eggs generously, adding to the flavor.


Any of various tropical American pepper plants of the genus Capsicum, especially any of the numerous cultivated forms of the species C. annuum and C. frutescens.


A perennial climbing vine (Piper nigrum) native to India, widely cultivated for its long slender spikes of small fruit.


The fruit of any of these plants, especially the dried pungent types used as a condiment and in medicine.


A pungent black or white spice produced from the dried fruit of this plant, used as a condiment.


What is capsicum?

Capsicum is a genus of plants that includes bell peppers and chili peppers.

Are capsicums hot in flavor?

Capsicums can range from sweet (bell peppers) to very hot (chili peppers).

How is pepper used in cooking?

Pepper is often used ground as a seasoning to add heat and flavor to dishes.

What does pepper refer to?

Pepper can refer to the spice from Piper nigrum or vegetables from the Capsicum genus.

Can capsicum be eaten raw?

Yes, capsicum like bell peppers can be eaten raw.

Is the heat level the same in all capsicum varieties?

No, the heat level varies widely among different capsicum species.

Is black pepper the same as capsicum?

No, black pepper is a spice from the Piper nigrum plant, while capsicum is a vegetable.

Are green peppers the same as capsicum?

Green peppers are a type of capsicum.

Can pepper be grown in any climate?

Pepper, specifically black pepper, requires a tropical climate to grow.

Is white pepper different from black pepper?

White pepper comes from the same plant as black pepper but is processed differently.

Can capsicum plants be grown at home?

Yes, capsicum plants can be grown in home gardens if the climate is suitable.

How should pepper be stored?

Pepper should be stored in a cool, dark place, ideally in an airtight container.

Where does black pepper come from?

Black pepper comes from the dried berries of the Piper nigrum vine.

Can you cook with whole peppercorns?

Yes, whole peppercorns can be used in cooking for flavor and are often ground before serving.

Can pepper lose its flavor over time?

Yes, pepper can lose its flavor and potency if exposed to air and light for extended periods.

Is capsicum good for health?

Capsicum is rich in vitamins and considered healthy when included in a balanced diet.

What are the health benefits of pepper?

Pepper has antioxidant properties and can aid in digestion.

Do all countries use the term capsicum?

No, some countries use the term bell pepper or simply pepper.

Is capsicum an annual or perennial plant?

Capsicum plants are perennial in tropical climates but often grown as annuals in temperate regions.

Are capsicums only red?

No, capsicums come in various colors including red, green, yellow, and orange.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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