Can Chickens Eat Peppers? (Health Benefits & Risks)

Group of chickens on wooden perch outdoors

Chickens often encounter peppers in gardens, but it is unclear whether they are safe for the birds to eat. After all, peppers are hot and spicy — hardly the kind of food you’d expect a chicken to enjoy.

On top of that, many people believe that feeding your chickens peppers may pose health risks. From all the talk about capsaicin, it is easy to think these plants could be harmful to your flock. But is this true?

In this article, we’ll look at some of the risks and benefits associated with feeding your feathered friends peppers. We will also provide simple recipes for safe pepper treats that you can make at home! Let’s begin!

Can Chickens Eat Bell Peppers?

Bell peppers to feed chickens

Yes, chickens can safely eat bell peppers of all colors. Despite being part of the nightshade family, the fruits of bell pepper plants are free from solanine, a toxic compound found only in the flowers, stems, stalks, roots, leaves, and their other green parts.

Below is a list discussing the different shades of bell peppers and how they affect your chickens:

  • Green bell pepper: Green bell peppers are unripe peppers with a bitter, earthy taste. They have fewer nutrients compared to their ripe counterparts but are still a good source of manganese.
  • Yellow bell pepper: Sweeter and more nutrient-rich than green bell peppers, yellow bell peppers are partially ripe. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, which not only boosts chickens’ immune systems but can also darken the color of egg yolks, making them more appealing.
  • Orange bell pepper: With a sweet, light, and fruity flavor, orange bell peppers are rich in beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A. This is essential for maintaining good vision and overall health in chickens, supporting their growth and immune function.
  • Red bell pepper: Red bell peppers are the ripest, sweetest, and most nutritious, which makes them a favorite among chickens. Also, they are low in solanine and high in lycopene, which is an antioxidant that helps protect chickens from toxins like aflatoxin B1.
  • White bell pepper: While less sweet, you can be sure that white bell peppers offer a varied nutrient profile that is beneficial for chickens. Specifically, they are an excellent source of vitamins C, A, E, K, and B6, along with fiber, copper, and folate.
  • Purple bell pepper: Low in calories but high in fiber, purple bell peppers generally provide chickens with excellent digestive support.
  • Brown bell pepper: With a unique mahogany exterior and often red interior, brown bell peppers are high in vitamin A and its derivatives like beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

It is evident that bell peppers, regardless of coloration, can be a healthy and enjoyable addition to a chicken’s diet. Each color offers its own set of health benefits, from immune-boosting vitamins to antioxidants.

Check out this short video of chickens eating differently colored peppers:

Happy Chickens Eating Super Hot Peppers Mini Dinosaurs with Feathers!

Fun Fact: Did you know that bell peppers contain around 92% water content? That aspect alone makes them a great treat for your chickens!

Can Chickens Eat Hot Peppers?

Hot peppers to feed chickens

Chickens can indeed eat hot or chili peppers without any issues. Different from humans, these fowls don’t feel the heat from peppers because they lack sensitivity to capsaicin, which is the compound that makes peppers spicy.

Basically, a 2018 study revealed that chickens don’t have the VR1 receptors that react to capsaicin, which is why they don’t experience the spicy sensation.

This means they can consume hot peppers without discomfort or harm, unlike people who feel a burning sensation.

In terms of nutritional benefits, chili peppers are high in vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and magnesium. Further, they act as a natural dewormer, helping to control parasites in your chickens’ digestive system.

Additionally, the spiciness of these peppers can deter rodents from your birds’ feed. They also serve as an antibiotic and are known to darken the yolks of eggs and potentially boost egg production.

Fun Fact: Interestingly, chickens have a limited taste palette. In addition to being immune to the heat of spicy foods, they also can’t taste sweetness. They are believed to detect only four tastes: sour, umami, salt, and bitter.

Other Types of Peppers for Chickens

Red and yellow banana peppers

Aside from bell peppers, there are many other types of peppers that are great for chickens. For easy reference, the following list includes some of the most popular varieties:

  • Banana pepper: Known as yellow wax peppers or banana chilis, banana peppers usually turn a bright yellow as they ripen, though they can also be red, orange, or green. They offer a mild taste that chickens can enjoy.
  • Jalapeño pepper: Often plucked green, jalapeños are also called chipotles when dried. If left to ripen, though, they turn red and develop a slightly fruity flavor. They’re a common garden pepper that chickens can eat.
  • Poblano pepper: Also referred to as ancho, poblanos are somewhat large and heart-shaped. They provide a mild flavor profile, making them a suitable chicken snack.
  • Shishito pepper: Shishito peppers are small, bright green, and somewhat wrinkled-looking.
  • Anaheim pepper: Sometimes called California green chile, chile verde, or New Mexican chile, Anaheim peppers are medium-sized chilis that grow between 6 and 10 inches long. They’re a safe and nutritious option for chickens.
  • Sweet Italian pepper (Pepperoncini): Often mistaken for banana peppers, sweet Italian peppers offer a juicy flavor suitable for chickens to ingest.
  • Cherry pepper: Also known as pimiento or pimento, cherry peppers are small, red chilis that are notable for their rounded shape. 
  • Cayenne pepper: Otherwise referred to as finger chili, Ginnie pepper, or bird pepper, cayenne peppers are characteristically bright red and resemble a crooked finger. While spicier than other varieties, these chilis are safe for chickens.

From the list provided, it is clear that chickens can eat a wide variety of peppers. However, make sure to give them such chilis in small amounts to avoid any health risks.

Any Downsides to Feeding Peppers to Chickens?

Brown chicken foraging in green grass side view

Although chickens do not taste capsaicin the same way humans do, extremely spicy peppers can still cause discomfort or irritation. This can occur if they are eaten in large quantities or over a long period of time.

Moreover, unless the peppers are organic or thoroughly washed, they might contain pesticides that can be harmful to chickens.

A friend of mine once lost several chickens after unknowingly feeding them peppers contaminated with pesticides.

In particular, she was unaware the peppers were not organic, and she had been feeding them to her chickens for quite some time before noticing something was wrong. Sadly, she was left with only one chicken after this incident.

Additionally, chickens can develop a preference for certain foods, which might cause them to eat less of their more nutritionally complete feed. This can lead to long-term nutritional deficiencies.

What Part of a Pepper Can Chickens Eat?

Rooster with colorful feathers pecking on the ground

Chickens can eat the fruit of the pepper, which includes the flesh and seeds. In particular, this part lacks the harmful solanine, making it a safe and nutritious option for chickens.

Generally, like potatoes and tomatoes, peppers belong to the nightshade family, which is known for containing solanine.

Fortunately, this toxin is mostly found in the non-fruit parts of pepper plants, such as the stems, flowers, leaves, stalks, and roots.

A colleague of mine shared a valuable lesson about feeding peppers to chickens. On one occasion, he accidentally included some pepper leaves and stems in his chickens’ feed.

Soon after, he noticed some of his chickens exhibited signs of gastrointestinal distress. This incident highlights the importance of strictly following the fruit-only rule when dealing with peppers.

How to Safely Feed Peppers to Your Chickens

Chickens pecking in a fenced area with a garden

Feeding peppers to your chickens safely involves following a few basic guidelines to ensure their health and well-being. To help you out, here are eight ways to do so:

  • Introduce gradually: If your chickens have never had a pepper before, make sure to introduce it gradually into their diet. This allows them to adjust to the new food and prevents any digestive issues from arising.
  • Observe your flock’s reaction: Keep an eye on your flock after introducing peppers. Look for any signs of digestive upset or changes in behavior, and discontinue feeding peppers if any adverse effects are noticed.
  • Feed them in moderation: Peppers should be fed to chickens in moderation. They should be a treat, not a replacement for your feathery friends’ regular diet.
  • Remove the green parts: Before offering peppers to your chickens, remove the green parts. They contain solanine, meaning they can be toxic if ingested.
  • Wash thoroughly: Ensure the peppers are thoroughly washed to remove any pesticides or chemicals, especially if they are not organically grown. This reduces the risk of exposing your chickens to harmful substances.
  • Chop into small pieces: Cut the peppers into small, bite-sized pieces. Doing so will help ensure that the chickens can easily eat them and prevent choking.
  • Offer a variety: Instead of using just one type of pepper, offer a variety of peppers over time. This ensures a wider range of nutrients and keeps the chickens interested in their treats.
  • Balance with other foods: Make sure that the peppers are part of a balanced diet. Chickens need various foods to stay healthy, including their regular chicken feed, grains, other vegetables, and occasional protein sources.

By following these guidelines, you can safely incorporate peppers into your chickens’ diet as a healthy and enjoyable treat.

Creative Pepper Treats: Recipes for Your Chickens

Now that you know how beneficial peppers can be to your chickens, it is time to use them in some creative ways. Here are three recipes for you to try out on your flock:

Flock Block Knock Off


  • 2 cups of layer feed
  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds (shelled or unshelled)
  • 1 cup of scratch feed or wild bird seed
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • ½ cup of coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons of molasses
  • 3 eggs (with crushed shells)
  • ½ cup of ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup of quick-cooking oats
  • ½ cup of dried mealworms
  • 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat your oven to 163°C (325°F).
  2. Spray your chosen pan, such as a muffin tin, with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir well to ensure thorough mixing.
  4. Gently melt the coconut oil in a microwave-safe jug, using short time increments to prevent overheating.
  5. Add the melted coconut oil, eggs, and molasses to the dry ingredients, tucking everything together until well blended.
  6. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan.
  7. If you plan to hang this treat, create a hole through the center of the mixture using the end of a wooden spoon.
  8. Bake the mixture in the preheated oven for up to 30 minutes.
  9. Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  10. To remove the treat from the pan, run a butter knife around all the edges.
  11. Serve the cooled treat to your flock.

Homemade Suet Cake


  • 1 ½ cups of tallow, lard, or meat drippings (melted)
  • 1 cup of unsalted sunflower seeds (shell included)
  • 1 cup of mixed dried fruits (such as cranberries, raisins, or diced apples)
  • 1 cup of whole grains (options like scratch mix, whole wheat, or millet)
  • A variety of spices (options include black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne, and garlic)


  1. Prepare a 9×5-inch loaf pan or a similar-sized one by lining it with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Combine seeds, spices, fruits, and grains in a mixing bowl, then transfer them into the prepared pan.
  3. Pour the liquid fat over the dry mixture, ensuring it covers everything evenly. 
  4. Use a fork to mix and eliminate any air pockets.
  5. Let the suet cake solidify completely. To hasten this process, place it in the refrigerator.
  6. To remove the cake from the pan, lift the edges of the liner. It can be cut into smaller portions or used whole by either placing it in a feed pan or securing it against a wall using a piece of chicken wire.
  7. Let your chickens feast on it.

Pepper Chicken Snack


  • 4 cups of layer pellets
  • 4 cups of chicken scratch
  • 3 cups of sunflower seeds (shelled or unshelled)
  • 2 cups of dried mealworms
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 2 cups of peanuts for birds (shell-free)
  • 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of oregano
  • 2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups of molasses
  • 1 cup of coconut oil (liquid form but cooled)
  • 8 to 10 eggs (including crushed shells)


  1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a spacious mixing bowl.
  2. Gradually incorporate the wet ingredients into the blended dry ingredients.
  3. Prepare the baking pans by lightly greasing them with cooking spray or oil, then fill them with the prepared mix.
  4. Set the oven temperature to 175°C (350°F) and bake the mixture for 20 minutes.
  5. After the initial baking, take the pans out and firmly compress the mixture.
  6. Return the pans to the oven for a further 20 minutes of baking.
  7. Once done, let the baked treat cool completely.
  8. Serve it to your chickens.

Pro Tip: Do not hesitate to mix other vegetables with these pepper recipes. The more diversity you can add to your chickens’ meals, the better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Rooster feeding on corn cobs on the ground

Can Chickens Eat Raw Hot Peppers?

Yes, chickens can eat raw hot peppers safely. Yet, it is important to remove the flowers, stems, stalks, roots, and leaves first, as these parts contain solanine, which can be toxic to birds.

Can Chickens Taste Hot Peppers?

No, chickens cannot taste the heat in hot peppers. They lack receptors for capsaicin, which is the spicy component in chilis.

So, regardless of a pepper’s spiciness, you can expect that your flock will not experience any discomfort from eating it.

Can Chickens Eat Black Pepper?

Although it is not part of the capsicum family, chickens can indeed consume black pepper. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and can improve the respiratory system of laying hens.

In addition, a 2014 study found that dietary supplements containing black pepper improved both the broiler chickens’ performance and health status.

Can Chickens Eat Bell Peppers Every Day?

Generally speaking, chickens should not eat bell peppers every day. Despite their benefits, excess consumption can cause issues.

Therefore, it’s best to offer bell peppers in moderation, limiting them to a few times a week for optimal health.

So, have you tried adding peppers to your chickens’ diet? If so, please feel free to share any recipe ideas in the comments section below. Also, if you have any questions about this topic, please do not hesitate to ask!

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