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Jimmy Nardello Peppers – A Delicious Italian Heirloom

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We love a good pepper backstory, and the Jimmy Nardello certainly has one! To top it off, this pepper variety is both delicious and easy to grow.

In this article, I’ll share the many reasons that the Jimmy Nardello pepper is one of my personal favorite pepper varieties. I’ll cover its history, plant characteristics, flavor, uses in the kitchen, and more. Let’s get started!

Ripening Jimmy Nardello peppers
Jimmy Nardello peppers ripening on the plant.

History

So, who do we have to thank for this gorgeous and tasty Italian heirloom pepper? In the late 1800s, Giuseppe and Angella Nardiello are said to have grown this pepper in Southern Italy in their home garden in the Basilicata region.

They brought the seeds with them when they migrated to America, settling in Naugatuck, Connecticut. There, they continued growing this pepper and named it after their 4th son, Jimmy.

Fun fact: We live in CT as well, and this pepper grows exceptionally well in our climate. Could it be that the generations of growing in New England have further adapted it to our region?

Jimmy Nardello pepper ripening on plant
Jimmy Nardello pepper ripening on the plant.

Now, after years of growing Jimmy Nardellos, they are a favorite of ours. That’s why we now include a seed packet in our pepper seed starter kit!


Flavor and Uses

These peppers are truly some of the most delicious sweet peppers you can grow. They have thin skin, meaning they are not tough or chewy, making them perfect for snacking or frying.

While you can harvest them green, the best flavor comes when they are fully ripened to bright red. The flavor is similar to that of a fresh red bell pepper, but even sweeter and more satisfying.

Despite looking like a hot pepper, Jimmy Nardello peppers are completely heatless. The flavor has a slight resemblance to that of hot chilies, but is mostly overpowered by the sweetness.

I think this is a great example of what separates an heirloom variety from a modern hybrid. You just can’t beat the centuries-old hand-selected varieties when it comes to taste!

How to use Jimmy Nardello peppers

Since these are essentially a more flavorful red bell pepper (only long and skinny instead of blocky), they can be used as a bell pepper substitute. Here are some great ways to enjoy Jimmy Nardellos:

Long Jimmy Nardello pepper on plant

Growing Jimmy Nardello Peppers

When it comes to growing these peppers, it is very similar to growing other sweet pepper plants. If you’ve never grown any peppers before, use our growing guide to get started.

Plant size and productivity

Our Jimmy Nardello plants grew faster than most of the surrounding pepper varieties, reaching a mature height of around 3.5 feet. The pods also started forming earlier than other types, with our first harvest ready in late-July!

Since the peppers are on the large side, each plant typically puts out about 10-15 peppers at a time. However, in our climate (zone 6b), our plants produced 2-3 waves of fruits before the first fall frost, making these plants highly productive.

Unripe Jimmy Nardello pepper on plant
Jimmy Nardello plant early in the season with a bamboo stake.

Given that the plants are relatively tall with heavy fruits, I highly recommend staking Jimmy Nardello plants. A tomato cage would work perfectly, or even just a simple central stake to help prevent wind damage.

Jimmy nardello fruits

If you hadn’t already noticed, Jimmy Nardello peppers are huge! These long, slim peppers resemble a large chili pepper, but with thicker walls.

Jimmy Nardello peppers in hand
Handful of freshly-picked Jimmy Nardello peppers.

As I mentioned, the skin is very thin, making them easy to eat fresh or stir fried. I particularly enjoy harvesting these and biting straight in for the freshest flavor – delicious!


I hope this article inspires you to try this incredible Italian heirloom pepper. Our Jimmy Nardello plants have been truly impressive, in terms of yield, flavor, and even disease resistance. Happy growing!

Calvin Thumbnail

Calvin

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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8 Comments

    1. It’s my first time growing jimmy nordello peppers they are growing like crazy. I can’t wait until they are fully ripen.

  1. Jimmy Nardello tastes OK when green, but is so delicious when red I pick them green only as a last resort. In the fall they gain some extra tanginess to add to the sweetness (that tanginess comes from vitamin C) — this makes them even more delicious.

    Love the “gymnast” pose of the ripening pepper in the second photo. I’ve only seen that pose in Jimmy Nardello.

  2. essentially a bell pepper except…… Yeah, except they are nothing like a bell pepper. Bells have a characteristic shape and they are often bitter when green. That’s why people choose these instead.

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