When to Pick Peppers (& How) + 2 Ways to Store Your Chillies

Are you wondering when to pick peppers? Chillies are generally ready for harvest in 60 to 150 days (after transplant), depending on the variety. Learn the signs of ripeness, how to pick chilis and more in this complete harvesting peppers guide.

harvesting peppers

After all these months, your plants are finally starting to grow peppers. (Congrats! 😀) Now, how do you know when peppers are ripe and ready for picking?

A lot depends on the pepper variety and whether you’re going for a spicier flavor. And, do you want your plants to keep producing as much as possible? (I know I do!)

This guide goes into the specifics of how and when to pick peppers.

You’ll learn the right timing whether you’re harvesting chilies for fresh eating, saving seeds or storing your peppers for later use.

Let’s begin!

How Do I Know When My Chili Peppers Are Ready To Pick?

how do I know when my chili peppers are ready to pick

Peppers are usually ready for harvest during the summer and early fall months. As for when to harvest chili peppers, the appearance will tell you when the pepper is ripe.


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Pepper Color

Most peppers start off green and change into the color that they’re supposed to be when ripe. For example, banana peppers are traditionally pale yellow.

You can wait for unripe chillies to change color or eat them green. Peppers are edible at any stage. You might even prefer the flavor of an immature pepper.

Pepper Size

Another sign that the pepper is ready is when it’s the size it’s supposed to be when ripe. Cayenne peppers, for instance, can be ~5 inches (13 cm) long and 0.5 inches (1 cm) in diameter when they’re harvest-ready.

Pepper Corking

Some chillies like jalapenos can develop thin, tan lines on the skin known as “corking.” These little stretch marks are seen as a desirable trait. Corking is another way to tell when a pepper is ripe and ready to pick.

jalapeno peppers corking
Corking on Jalapenos

grow tips

  • For chillies, “days to maturity” usually refers to the amount of time you can expect ripe fruit after transplanting outdoors. Note your transplant date and then count 60+ days out to get an idea of the first month that you might start harvesting peppers.

  • Some pepper seed companies include harvesting information on the seed packet. Botanical Interests, for example, has data on pepper size, color and days to maturity on the back and inside flaps of the envelope.

Harvest times depend on the variety of pepper you’re growing so we’ll go more into that below.

Pepper Harvest Time By Variety

The following charts have harvest information for popular types of chillies in the sweet to mild and hot pepper heat levels. 

Sweet To Mild Pepper Varieties

Generally, sweet to mild peppers are ready for picking in 60 to 90 days. 

anaheim pepper banner

When To Pick Anaheim Peppers

when to pick anaheim peppers

Days To Maturity: 70 to 90 days from transplanting

Appearance: 6” to 8” (15 to 20 cm) long and 2” (5 cm) diameter when fully grown; harvest green chillies for a sweeter flavor or red for more heat.

Buy Anaheim Pepper Seeds

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When To Pick Cubanelle Peppers

when to pick cubanelle peppers

Days To Maturity: ~75 days from transplanting

Appearance: 4” to 6” (10 to 15 cm) long and 2” (5 cm) diameter; usually harvested in premature yellowish-green stage.

Buy Cubanelle Pepper Seeds

gypsy pepper banner

When To Pick Gypsy Peppers

when to pick gypsy peppers

Days To Maturity: ~ 65 days from transplanting

Appearance: ~4” long by 2” (5 cm) diameter; can be eaten in any of the light green to reddish-orange color stages.

Buy Gypsy Pepper Seeds

mini sweet peppers banner

When To Pick Mini Sweet Peppers

when are mini sweet peppers ready to pick

Days To Maturity: ~60 days from transplanting

Appearance: 2” to 3” long (5 to 8 cm) and 1” (2.5 cm) diameter; harvest in any green, yellow, orange or red color stages.

Buy Mini Sweet Pepper Seeds

pepperoncini pepper banner

When To Pick Pepperoncini Peppers

when to pick pepperoncini peppers

Days To Maturity: ~75 days from transplanting

Appearance: 3” to 5” (8 to 13 cm) long and 1” (2.5 cm) diameter; pick in yellowish-green stage or when red for a sweeter flavor.

Buy Pepperoncini Pepper Seeds

shishito pepper banner

When To Pick Shishito Peppers

when to pick shishito peppers

Days To Maturity: 60 to 75 days from transplanting

Appearance: 2” to 4” (5 to 10 cm) long and 1” (2.5cm) diameter; usually harvested in the green stage.

Buy Shishito Pepper Seeds

When To Pick Hot Peppers

Hot peppers are typically ready for harvest about 90 to 150+ days after transplant

fresno peppers banner

When To Pick Fresno Peppers

when to pick fresno peppers

Days To Maturity: ~75 days from transplanting

Appearance: 2” to 3”  (5 to 8 cm) long and 1” (2.5cm) diameter; pick green peppers or red for a hotter flavor.

Buy Fresno Pepper Seeds

ghost peppers banner

When To Pick Ghost Peppers

when to pick ghost peppers

Days To Maturity: ~100 days from transplanting

Appearance: 2” to 3” (5 to 8 cm) long and 1” (2.5cm) diameter; wear gloves when picking red peppers.

Buy Ghost Pepper Seeds | More Sellers

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When To Pick Habanero Peppers

when to pick habanero peppers

Days To Maturity: 75 to 90 days from transplanting

Appearance: 1” to 2” (2.5 to 5 cm) long and 1.5” (4 cm) diameter; pick green for a grassy heat or orange for a hotter and citrusy flavor.

Buy Habanero Pepper Seeds

serrano peppers banner

When To Pick Serrano Peppers

when to pick serrano peppers

Days To Maturity: ~80 days from transplanting

Appearance: 2” to 3” (5 to 8 cm) long and 0.5” (1.2 cm) diameter; usually harvested in the green stage.

Buy Serrano Pepper Seeds

tabasco peppers banner

When To Pick Tabasco Peppers

when to pick tabasco peppers

Days To Maturity: 75 to 90 days from transplanting

Appearance: 1” to 1.5” (2.5 to 4 cm) long; harvest when dark red for the best flavor.

Buy Tabasco Pepper Seeds

trinidad scorpion peppers banner

When To Pick Trinidad Scorpion Peppers

when to pick trinidad scorpion peppers

Days To Maturity: 90 to 120 days from transplanting

Appearance: 1” to 3” (2.5 to 8 cm) long and 4” (10 cm) diameter; wear gloves when picking red peppers.

Buy Trinidad Scorpion Pepper Seeds

grow tips

  • Those first peppers may be smaller than the expected size. Pick these smaller chillies when they turn the ripe color or develop any corking.

  • When do you pick green peppers? This can be confusing because they’re usually harvested in the same color they start off in. For green peppers like jalapenos and green bell peppers, it helps to refer to the approximate days of maturity and look at the size.

When To Pick Peppers For Drying

when to pick peppers for drying

When drying peppers, it’s best to pick them when they’re ripe or even slightly overripe. This means they might be a little wrinkled on the plant.

And, choose your best peppers. You don’t want to harvest chillies that have insect damage, disease or issues like brown spots or tears in the skin.

When To Pick Peppers For Seeds

when to pick peppers for seeds

If you want to save pepper seeds to grow later, harvest mature chillies. These peppers can either be their color of ripeness or red when they’re fully mature.

When the chile is its ripe color, let it sit on the plant a few days afterward to give the seeds a better chance of being viable. Otherwise, you can leave peppers until they turn red. (Many chile varieties end up red if left on the plant to mature.)

grow tips

Don’t save seeds from hybrid peppers. Peppers grown from hybrids won’t be as robust, and they can have many differences from the parent plant.

» Related – Heirloom Peppers vs Open Pollinated vs Hybrid Seeds: What’s the Difference?

How To Pick Peppers

You can pick peppers off the plant by plucking them off or using garden shears

Small to medium peppers like jalapenos can be pulled off by hand. Gently grasp the branch and use the other hand to bend the pepper up so that it comes off with its stem. 

how to pick peppers
Picking A Pepperoncini Pepper

Use clean shears for large chillies like bell peppers so that branches aren’t damaged from pulling. Hold the pepper and then cut anywhere along the stem. (The piece of leftover stem eventually dries up and falls off.) 

cutting pepper off of plant
Cutting Pepper Off Plant

grow tips

Wear gloves if you’re picking hot peppers. The oils from these spicy chillies can irritate skin and eyes!

How To Store Peppers

how to store peppers

If you plan on eating chillies within two weeks, store them in the vegetable drawer of your fridge. You can simply toss the dry, unwashed peppers in a sealable bag until you’re ready to eat them.

Use your freezer if you want to store peppers for up to eight months. For hot peppers or smaller varieties like Thai chillies, wear gloves while washing and placing them in a freezer bag.

If you’re freezing bells or other sweet peppers, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recommends washing, cutting out the innards (stems, seeds, etc.) and slicing them into strips. Place these strips on a cookie sheet in the freezer for about an hour (tray freeze). When ready, transfer these frozen strips to a freezer bag.  

Harvesting Peppers FAQs 

What’s Next?

Knowing when to pick peppers is key to enjoying your harvest and keeping your plants producing. Make sure to experiment by picking chillies in different stages to see what flavor and heat level you like best. 

Up next, don’t miss the overwintering pepper plants guide. This process helps keep your plants alive during the colder months so that they can grow again next season.

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