Carmen Peppers – Corno Di Toro Sweet Pepper

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Bell peppers can be tricky to grow. They are often susceptible to diseases and pests, and can deliver underwhelming yields as a result. But what if there was an alternative?

Carmen peppers are exactly that: a sweet pepper that is less fussy and more productive than many bell varieties. While these red peppers don’t have the stuffable shape of a bell, they deliver on yield and flavor.

Carmen peppers
Ripe red carmen peppers.

Carmen Pepper Info

The Carmen pepper is a hybrid variety based on the classic corno di toro pepper. Also known as Italian bull’s horn peppers, these sweet peppers are perfect for roasting, salads, stuffing, and even making homemade sweet paprika powder.

NameCarmen, corno di toro
TypeHybrid (F1)
SpeciesCapsicum annuum
Heat level (Scoville)0 SHUs (no heat)
FlavorSweet and fruity, similar to red bell pepper
UsesStuffing, roasting, frying, homemade paprika
LightFull sun or afternoon shade
WateringEvenly moist, good drainage
SeedsJohnnys, Seeds n Such, Totally Tomato

This variety was originally bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds and was named after the gypsy Carmen in the French opera. It went on to win an AAS award in 2006 for it’s unique shape, sweetness, and earliness to ripen (about 75 days after transplanting).

Carmen Pepper Flavor and Uses

One of the highlights of the Carmen pepper is its sweet flavor. Not only are they sweet when red, but they are also plenty sweet before ripening, when green.

Calvin from Pepper Geek holding carmen peppers

This is a great characteristic, as many bell peppers will be bitter and vegetal. With Carmens, you can harvest anytime after they reach their full size and expect great flavor. However, we prefer to allow them to ripen before picking for the best flavor.

Other than being sweet, the peppers have a fruity, red bell pepper like taste. The walls of the peppers are not quite as thick as a big bell pepper, but are still thicker than most peppers, great for stuffing.

Carmen pepper uses:

  • Stuffing
  • Roasting and peeling
  • Fresh eating (salads, dips)
  • Fresh salsa
  • Frying
  • Paprika powder

Carmen Pepper Growing

The Carmen pepper is just as easy to grow from seed as any other large sweet pepper. If you have grown bell peppers, then you can grow this variety using a similar approach. I recommend using a container of at least 5 gallons, but growing in the ground is ideal for maximum plant size and yield.

In ideal growing conditions, these plants can grow to be very tall. Just look at this Carmen pepper plant grown by a Pepper Geek reader at well over 6 feet tall!

Carmen sweet pepper plant growing up trellis - plant is just over 7 feet tall
Tall Carmen pepper plants.

As you would expect, these plants do require adequate support to prevent broken branches and bent plants. As the fruits swell and become heavy, the branches tend to droop.

I recommend using a sturdy, tall stake, or a large metal cage made from strong steel for support. If the soil is full of nutrients, the plants will thrive.

Also, these plants grow well when clustered together in groups of 2 or 3 plants (planted within a few inches of each other. The extra foliage helps shade the fruits from direct sun exposure, reducing sun scald.

Carmen red pepper

The Carmen pepper is a great choice for newer gardeners who want a reliable, high-yielding sweet pepper. There are also great bell pepper varieties, but we have found the Carmen to be particularly successful in our gardens.

Calvin Thumbnail


One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

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  1. I haven’t had much luck with bell peppers as far as produce. I have to grow peppers in containers and I know the yield will be less. Can you give a good soil to use for containers. Thanks, Dave

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