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Jimmy Nardello Peppers – A Delicious Italian Heirloom

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.

So, in this article, we’ll share the history, plant traits, flavor, and uses of the famous Jimmy Nardello pepper. Let’s get started!

Ripening Jimmy Nardello peppers
Jimmy Nardello peppers ripening up.

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History

So, who do we have to thank for this gorgeous and tasty Italian heirloom pepper? Well, 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 as 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 here have further adapted it to our region?

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

Flavor and Uses

These peppers are truly one 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 more sweet and 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:

  • Eaten fresh
  • Chopped for salads
  • Fried with other veggies
  • Roasted and seasoned
  • Pickled
Long Jimmy Nardello pepper on plant

Plants and Growing

When it comes to growing these peppers, you can basically substitute them out for another variety. 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, growing to a final height of around 3′. The pods also started forming sooner 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 6a), our plants produced 2-3 waves of fruits before the 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 can help prevent wind damage.

Jimmy Nardello Pods

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