When To Pick Banana Peppers – How To Know When To Harvest

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Harvesting your garden bounties is always exciting. Months of anticipation finally pay off, but timing your harvest is important! In this article, I’ll share when to pick banana peppers and how to do it properly.

Banana peppers are typically harvested a bit earlier than other varieties. Harvesting them sooner brings the freshest flavor, crunchiest texture, and more production out of each plant.


When to Harvest Banana Peppers (Video):


Types of banana peppers

First, you should determine what type of banana peppers you have grown. Some are spicy, while others are sweet without any heat. Your goals may differ based on heat level.

  • Hot banana peppers. Spicy banana peppers will get spicier right up until they ripen. For this reason, you may want to wait for the peppers to fully mature to a red color before picking. The drawback is that the peppers may become less firm as they ripen.
  • Sweet banana peppers. Sweet banana peppers are typically used for pickling or eating fresh. They are usually picked when they are immature and have a light-yellow color. You can still allow them to ripen to red, but they will lose some of their crispness and become slightly sweeter.
Banana Peppers
Sweet Banana Peppers.

When to pick banana peppers

Growing banana peppers is pretty easy, but picking them at the right time can be tricky. This is because they are ideally picked before they are fully ripe.

Traditionally, banana peppers are ready to be picked when they have a pale yellow color and are mature in size (4-8″ long). If they are left on the plant longer, they will continue to change color to orange and finally red.

Banana Pepper - various colors
Banana pepper colors (light green, to yellow, to orange, to red).

Avoid harvesting while the peppers are still growing in size. Banana peppers are a light green color during the growth stage. Shortly after maturing in size, they change to pale yellow, which is a great time to harvest.

Don’t overthink it! If your peppers look and feel ready, then pick them. The plant will continue to produce more peppers as the season goes on, and harvesting promptly will encourage the plant to grow more fruits.

If you plan to save seeds for growing next year, allow your banana peppers to ripen fully to a deep red color. This will ensure the seeds are fully developed and viable.

Banana peppers can be eaten at any stage of growth, so as long as you’re ready to eat them, they can be picked. I suggest harvesting your banana peppers at various levels of ripeness to test what you like best.

Do banana peppers turn red?

If you grow lots of different pepper varieties, you probably know that (almost) all change color when fully ripe. This is also true of banana peppers, but most growers choose to pick them before they fully transform.

Banana peppers from unripe to ripe
Banana peppers at all stages of ripening.

To put it simply, banana peppers will eventually turn red if allowed to fully ripen. This can even happen after the peppers have been picked. It is not unusual to see a pepper change color on the kitchen table over the course of a week or so.

Learn more about harvesting different pepper varieties here.

Why Pick Banana Peppers Before They Are Ripe?

Banana peppers are not the only variety that is typically harvested early. Many pepper varieties are traditionally picked before they change colors, including jalapeños, green bell peppers, serranos, shishitos and many others.

So why pick all of these peppers early? There are two main reasons:

  • One reason is to reduce the time it takes to harvest your food. This is the primary reason peppers are picked unripe from a commercial perspective. Ripe peppers take an additional 3-4 weeks to be ready for harvesting.
  • Another reason is the texture and flavor. Under-ripe peppers have a crisp, crunchy texture compared to fully ripe peppers. Fully-ripe banana peppers have a softer skin and a sweeter flavor. The crunchier texture makes for perfect, crisp pickles.

One final reason to pick early is that peppers are vulnerable to pests and disease the longer they sit on the plants. To avoid critters from stealing your harvest, it’s always best to pick as soon as the peppers are ready.

Blossom end rot on banana pepper

How to pick banana peppers

You should now feel confident in when to pick your banana peppers. The only thing that is left is to actually harvest them! It may seem simple (and it is), but I’d like to share a few words of advice for picking banana peppers properly.

If harvesting by hand, I find that using an upwards motion works best. Banana peppers often have thick stems, so they can be stubborn to come off of the plants. Hold the pepper’s stem with one hand and the plant’s branch with the other, pulling the pepper up and away for a clean break.

Large banana pepper on plant
Harvesting a banana pepper from the plant.

The other option is to use scissors or pruning shears. This makes it much easier on your plants, as there is no risk of pulling off branches while harvesting your pods. Make a clean snip anywhere along the pepper’s stem, careful not to accidentally snip any branches or leaves.

In any case, the goal is simple: Remove the peppers from the plant. Any way you achieve this is the correct way, so don’t overthink it.


Will banana peppers keep producing?

After harvesting an entire plant full of peppers, you may wonder if it will continue to produce more. The answer will ultimately depend on how many warm months are left in your climate.

In general, banana peppers will continue to produce more peppers until the warm season ends. In fact, harvesting peppers promptly will encourage the plants to begin producing new ones!

This is the main reason that I recommend checking on your plants every day during the mid-late summer and picking any that are ready. The plant will ‘know’ that a pepper has been removed and will re-direct energy towards making more.


How to use banana peppers

After you’re finished picking your banana peppers, you’re going to have to use them! We love pickling banana peppers, using them fresh in salads, and even stuffing them for a tasty dinner.

See our list of banana pepper recipes to get some ideas for using your banana pepper harvest. There are so many ways to use the crunchy, tasty banana peppers in cooking!


I hope this article helps you feel confident about when to pick banana peppers in your garden. We love picking fresh peppers and using them in the kitchen or preserving them for later. Enjoy!

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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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22 Comments

  1. In your “When To Pick Banana Peppers” video, you are kneeling next to what looks to be Rooster Spur pepper. I used to raise them years ago. I saved seeds in the freezer but they are apparently too old as I can’t get them to germinate. I’ve looked online all over, but am not convinced that the offerings are what I once had. The one I’m speaking of in your video pale green with purple hues. If that is indeed a Rooster Spur, I am interested in buying fresh seed next spring. Thank you sooooo much, David

    1. The two plants next to me are banana “Goddess” and the Candy Cane peppers. Never grown the rooster spur variety. Hope you can track it down!

  2. Your information was just what I needed. I planted my banana pepper seeds from a banana pepper a friend gave me last year. I froze the seeds and used them this year in my “raised bed” “large pots” garden. I knew nothing about banana peppers. Some have turned orange now. Thank you Calvin.

  3. What can you tell me about Havasu peppers?
    Also, it’s almost mid August and my hot peppers are all doing great. However, I have had 4 bell pepper plants since late April and not yet one bell pepper. I’ve sprayed Neem oil a couple ti.es.this summer but they just bloom and nothing happens from there. Any advice?

  4. I like the spicy banana peppers. Cut them in long strips and make ham roll ups is delicious

  5. My yellow sweet peppers Are Very green and in Alaska it has been raining for 3 weeks and cold. If it doesn’t warm up in September can I just pick the peppers and will they ripen after they are picked?

    1. They won’t ripen off the plant unfortunately. They are still edible while green, but they may have a more bitter flavor. Still worth trying!

  6. Hi, I’m a first grower this season and my banana chillie fruits are about 4/5” and quite thick and firm to touch, looking good actually, they’re yellowish/ light green in colour, there are plenty of them too, should i pick one now ?

  7. Hello,

    What might cause brown, mushy spots on hot banana peppers still on the vine? So far, each pepper produced by this plant has developed soft, brown patches (not at the blossom end, though).

    Thanks!

    1. There are some bugs that chew into peppers and lay their eggs or larvae. It can also be caused by too much water – we have this going on with several plants after getting a foot of rain in the past week

  8. Can you post a Scoville rating list for some common peppers? I keep having to look each one up and sometimes I’d just like to have a LIST, you know? Thanks

      1. How often should I water pepper plants I want to over-winter? Can I over-winter them in an unheated shed? Or do they need to be kept above a particular temperature?

        1. An outdoor shed is likely too cold. Ideally kept around 60-70°F. They will need less water as they won’t be growing much. The cooler temps slow down growth and reduce water usage.

  9. Thank you for the great article Calvin (and all your great articles)! I made the mistake of picking the first long banana pepper too soon and it definitely tasted green. I was also trying to stay ahead of the birds who seem to know exactly when my other peppers are ripe :/

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