Quick Guide to Caper Berries

What’s a caper berry? Here’s what to know about caper berries and how to use them in salads, cheese boards and more.

You’ve heard about capers, but what are caper berries? The two may come from the same plant, but don’t go about substituting one for the other! The elegant shape of these berries make them suitable as a fancy garnish on salads or cheese boards, but they’re not for sauces and pastas like the smaller round capers. Alex is a big fan of this salty, briny ingredient: and he’s converted me, too. Here’s what to know!

What are caper berries?

Caper berries are the seed-filled fruit of the Mediterranean caper plant. They look like an olive with a long stem, oblong and green-gray in color. Caper berries are sold pickled in jars: you can find them near olives at the grocery store. They’re common in Mediterranean cuisine like Spanish, Italian and Greek foods.

Don’t confuse caper berries with capers! Capers are the small round flower buds of the caper plant. They’re much smaller, completely round, and more commonly used in recipes (like in Chicken Piccata, Caper Sauce, or on a Smoked Salmon Bagels). Capers have a saltier, brinier flavor and are great for flavoring pastas and sauces. Caper berries tasty tangy and briny, like a mild version of a caper; they’re more commonly used as a garnish for salads or charcuterie boards.

Caper berries
Caper berries are large and oblong, with a long stem

Ways to use caper berries

Can you substitute caper berries for capers? No, contrary to what you might think. The berries are much larger than capers and have seeds inside, which adds a crunch to their texture. Their elegant stems make them suited to using as garnishes in salads, not as a component of sauces. Do not add caper berries to pasta like you would capers!

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When you serve caper berries, the eater should remove the stem before eating. It’s more like a garnish than a salad component. Here are the best ways to use caper berries:

Hummus Bowl
Scroll down for the recipe for this Hummus Bowl with Caper Berries

More quick guides

Mystified by an ingredient, or want to learn more about flavor secrets? Here are a few more quick guides to peruse:

Print

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  • ⅓ cup hummus
  • 8 English cucumber slices (or standard cucumber, peeled)
  • 1 handful red onion slices (or shallot)
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 handful Kalamata olives
  • 3 caper berries
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese, to sprinkle (optional or use vegan feta for vegan)
  • 1 handful baby greens or chopped lettuce (optional)
  • ½ cup cooked rice or packaged pre-cooked rice (optional) or Easy Couscous or Easy Orzo
  • 1 pita bread, pita chips, or gluten free crackers
  • Optional toppings: Jarred Calabrian chilis or roasted red peppers, fresh herbs, frozen or homemade falafel, etc.


  1. Place greens and rice in the bowl, if using (try packaged pre-cooked rice for a quick shortcut). If using rice, season it with salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
  2. Top with hummus, sliced cucumber, sliced red onions, sliced tomatoes, olives and feta cheese. Garnish with caper berries. Eat with pita wedges, using the hummus as a dip / dressing for the veggies.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Caper berries, caper berry

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