Capers Guide: Finding, Benefits & Varieties

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Find capers easily in the grocery store! Look in the condiment aisle near pickles and olives, or check the international section. Small and elusive, capers are essential for Mediterranean and Italian cooking.

where are capers in the grocery store
capers in the bowl on the light blue background 2021 08 26 15 35 09 utc

🛒 Where are Capers in the Grocery Store?

Look for capers in the standard condiment section of your grocery store near olives, pickles, mustard, etc. Some stores also place capers near specialty foods.

Some stores keep capers with the gourmet ingredients or specialty foods area. If your store has an olive bar, check there too. When I managed the Boat Basin Cafe, I bought most of our capers from the condiment aisle at Kroger.

What Can You Use Instead of Capers?

If you can’t find capers, brined green olives or pickled pearl onions make decent substitutes in a pinch. But the true caper’s verdant, saline notes are impossible to replicate. For the best flavor, keep hunting those capers down!

SubstituteBest Used InFlavor Profile
Green olivesMediterranean dishesSalty, vinegary touch
Dill picklesSalads, TartaresCrucial piquancy
Thyme + lemon zestSauces, DressingsHerbaceous zing
Tahini + vinegarSpreads, DipsTanginess with some creaminess

🌍 Ethnic Adventures: Unveiling Unique Capers

Venturing beyond standard grocery chains opens up more unique caper varieties and flavors. Gourmet delis and Italian specialty stores often stock imported Italian capers packed in sea salt brine or with lemon and herbs.

Type of StoreExamples of Unique Capers
Italian GrocersSicilian capers packed in sea salt brine
Greek DelisCapers from the Greek islands barreled in wine vinegars
Middle Eastern MarketsCapers from Turkey and Lebanon preserved with olive oil and citrus

I suggest trying Pricked Bufala Capers for their bright, grassy flavor. Their floral aroma adds lovely depth to salads and fish dishes with ingredients from your local grocery store. Their floral aroma adds lovely depth to salads and fish.

If you can’t find capers, brined green olives or pickled pearl onions make decent substitutes. But the true caper’s verdant, saline notes are impossible to replicate.

🛍️ Bulk Buys for Caper Lovers

Capers Guide: Finding, Benefits & Varieties 1
bowl of capers 2022 12 17 04 06 07 utc edited

For regular caper users, buying in bulk saves money. Stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s, and restaurant supply shops sell large jars of capers for much cheaper per ounce than small jars from the supermarket.

A 64 oz. jar of capers at Costco is $14.99. That’s only $0.23 per oz. compared to $0.43 per oz. for a 6.7 oz jar at Kroger!

StoreSizePricePrice per Ounce
Costco64 oz$14.99$0.23
Kroger6.7 oz$2.89$0.43

As a chef, buying bulk capers allowed me to keep costs low for the cafe while providing quality. The key is proper storage in an airtight container in the fridge to prevent mold.

📱 The Convenience of Online Grocers

Ordering groceries online makes locating specific caper brands and varieties much simpler. Search directly for “capers” and compare prices, brine types, sizes, etc without leaving home.

Services like Instacart and Shipt allow easy caper shopping and delivery:

App/SitePricingRange of OptionsDelivery Areas
InstacartVariable feesExtensive4,000+ US cities
Shipt$99 annual fee50K+ items5,000 US cities/towns

I suggest trying Orlando Italian Specialties whole capers in sea salt or garlic vinegar for robust flavor to elevate salad dressings. The floral taste shines through beautifully.

🔍 Hidden Gems in the Grocery Store

Grocery cart in the middle of a grocery store aisle
Grocery cart in the middle of a grocery store aisle

The caper hunt isn’t limited to the condiment aisle! Explore global flavors in the Asian section for finds like Japanese kombu-pickled capers. The Middle Eastern shelves may stock piquant capers packed in brine with harissa or za’atar spice blends.

And don’t forget the olive bar! Some grocery and specialty food stores sell capers by weight from self-serve bars along with olives, peppers, and other marinated veggies. This lets you control the exact quantity you need.

As a forager of funky ingredients for my exotic cafe recipes, scoping out the store’s forgotten corners often yielded delicious surprises! You never know what you’ll uncover.

🧐  Decoding the Pickle Aisle  

When searching the pickled foods section, read labels carefully. Some brands sell “non-pareil capers” which are not packed in vinegars. Their flavor is more concentrated.

I suggest buying both kinds – brined for bold pops of briny juice, non-pareil for pure caper essence. 

As a chef, I use non-pareil capers to add a strong punch to salad dressings and sauces without diluting flavors. Brined ones are better for garnishes.

🍲 Beyond the Salad Bowl  

While capers famously pair well in Mediterranean pasta salads and marinara sauce, their briny zing also enhances many savory dishes. And they can shine in sweet recipes too!

Lemon Caper Chicken Piccata

Capers Guide: Finding, Benefits & Varieties 2
Chicken Piccata 0
  • 1 lb chicken cutlets
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt, pepper, parsley

Pasta Salad with Sundried Tomatoes, Artichokes and Capers

Capers Guide: Finding, Benefits & Varieties 3
Mediterranean Pasta Salad 4 710x1065 1
  • 8 oz farfalle pasta
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts
  • 3 Tbsp brined capers
  • 1/4 cup olive oil red wine vinaigrette
  • Shaved Parmesan

Toss pasta with tomatoes, artichokes, capers and dressing. The capers’ briny juice cuts through rich flavors for a bright pop. Garnish with shredded Parmesan.

💧 The Briny Hack

If store-bought capers seem too salty, here’s my simple hack: 

Soak capers briefly in cold water – about 15-30 minutes maximum. Drain and pat dry. This mellows saltiness but preserves the caper’s signature tang.

Bonus – use the leftover brine when making salad dressings! I’ve made vinaigrettes with it that customers raved over. A little briny kick goes a long way.


With so many types and flavors now available, capers are no longer boring kitchen staples. A world of briny possibilities exists on the grocery shelves!

I hope these insider tips help you uncover tasty caper surprises. And maybe inspire your own signature caper creation.


What are capers and what do they taste like?

Capers are the unopened flower buds of the caper bush (Capparis spinosa), a plant native to the Mediterranean. They are typically pickled in vinegar or brined and have a tangy, lemony flavor profile with a subtle hint of floral sharpness. They are salty due to the brining process and often bring a burst of brightness to dishes.

What do you use capers for?

Capers are used for their bold flavor to add piquancy to a variety of dishes. They are often found in Mediterranean cooking, particularly Italian and Greek cuisine. Their most common uses include sauces like piccata or tartar, garnishes for seafood dishes, flavor boosters in pasta and salads, and even incorporated into condiments such as tapenade.

Do capers taste fishy?

No, capers do not have a fishy taste. They have a salty, tangy flavor with a slight lemony zest. Their association with fishy flavors might come from their frequent use in seafood dishes where they complement the rich flavors of fish.

Should you rinse capers before using?

Whether or not to rinse capers before use depends on your taste and the recipe. Rinsing capers can reduce their saltiness and vinegar tang, which could be desired if you’re looking to achieve a subtler caper flavor in your dish. However, for most uses, especially in sauces where the briny flavor is a focal point, rinsing is not necessary.

What are non-pareil capers?

Some brands sell “non-pareil capers” packed without vinegars so their flavor is more concentrated. I suggest buying both kinds!

How long do jarred capers last?

Properly stored, capers can last over a year but best flavor is within 6 months.

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