What Are Non-Pareil Capers?

November 5, 2013 | By | Comments (4)

capersIn the Cooking Light world, we love capers. They introduce an acidic, salty, and briny punch to a dish, which is a great way to add complexity to your cooking. The Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite Cooking Light recipes that uses capers.

You might assume that I would know a lot about capers because I love to cook with them so much. You would also think that I knew what the phrase, “Non-Pareil” meant. I have seen it for years, prominently displayed on the front of each jar of capers and also, curiously absent from other bottles of capers. I finally got tired of just shrugging my shoulders on the matter and vowed to look it up. I passed the question out to my fellow Test Kitchen peers with no avail.

I finally turned to my trusted friend, the internet. The bottom line is that capers are sold by size. The smaller the caper, the more delicate in texture and flavor it is. The smallest of capers, which measures under 7mm, is considered “non-pareil” (pronounced \,nän-pə-ˈrel\). Translated from French, “has no equal.”

So there you go, non-pareil capers are the best for flavor and texture. If the jar does not say “non-pareil,” your capers will be a little tougher, larger, and not as delicate.


  1. matthiasleue


    June 10, 2016 at 4:35 pm
  2. Sage

    Capers are categorized and sold by their size, defined as follows, with the smallest sizes being the most desirable: non-pareil (up to 7 mm), surfines (7–8 mm), capucines (8–9 mm), capotes (9–11 mm), fines (11–13 mm), and grusas (14 mm).

    November 25, 2015 at 9:30 pm
  3. Hearty Kale and Kabocha Salad with Farro and Apple | Petit World Citizen

    […] pear) 1/2 cup dried cranberries 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in slivers 2 tablespoons non-pareil capers pumpkin seeds, for […]

    October 27, 2014 at 6:19 pm
  4. Betty johnson

    Where can I find info on uses of capers? Thanks

    April 11, 2014 at 9:46 am

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