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All About the Mad Hatter Pepper

I can’t write about the Mad Hatter pepper and not cite Alice in Wonderland. Fortunately, you won’t need to follow the White Rabbit down a long rabbit hole to bring these whimsical tiny hats into your garden.

This is the tale of why the award-winning Mad Hatter pepper is loved all over the United States.

Mad Hatter pepper

History of the Mad Hatter Pepper

The Mad Hatter is a hybrid of the Bishop’s Crown pepper from South America.

It was formed from the baccatum species of the Capsicum genes.

Pan-American Seeds, an American seed company, developed this hybrid pepper in the United States. The company’s focus was creating seeds that would survive in the vast temperature changes in North America.

The hybrid also tends to be more productive, clocking in sometimes over 100 peppers per growing season.

It also won a 2017 All-American Selections Award, so this pepper is certainly one you won’t want to miss out on trying.

Characteristics of the Mad Hatter Pepper

mad hatter pepper ripe on the vine


The pepper is three-sided and whimsical, shaped like a hat. Due to its fiddly shape can be difficult to cut, so be careful when slicing it up for cooking.


The bushy plant can grow quite large—up to five feet tall and three feet wide. The actual pepper is usually only two to three inches wide.


The pepper turns green, then charming red, and it can be picked in either color. Many prefer to wait until the peppers turn red and mature.

Specifics about the Mad Hatter Pepper


The pepper’s rich flavor is a mix of sweet fruit, citrus, and floral. It only falls between 500 and 1,000 SHU, so the pepper barely has a touch of heat.

For reference, this pepper is between 3 and 16 times milder than a jalapeno pepper. It’s also much tamer than the Bishop’s Crown pepper, which can carry between 5,000 and 30,000 SHU.


Because it’s not spicy, the pepper is the perfect snack for adults and kids alike. You can munch on it raw right out of the garden. Or you can bake them or sauté them for an extra sweet snack.

Health Benefits

The Mad Hatter pepper is of the Capsicum baccatum variety, meaning it contains capsicum. Capsicum is used to relieve nerve pain. It also lowers your risk of cancer, contains antioxidant properties, cures iron deficiency, and improves your metabolism.

The pepper is also rich in Vitamin C after it turns red. Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that boosts immunity, helps prevent iron deficiency, protects your memory, may help manage high blood pressure, and may reduce your risk of chronic diseases.


Since this pepper usually provides plenty, it’s great for salads, pickling, and appetizers. You can trade your bell peppers for Mad Hatter or try any of these recipes:

Growing At Home

mad hatter pepper unripe

All peppers demand a long, warm growing season. The Mad Hatter pepper is no different. It’s recommended to start your seeds indoors around March or eight weeks before planting outdoors.

You’ll want to start your indoor peppers with two to three seeds at 1/4″ deep in 1×1 cells. Constant moisture is the key to keeping your indoor peppers healthy. They should also be kept in a room that is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

After the seedlings develop two to three leaves, transport them to larger 2×2 containers.

Make sure to provide plenty of sunlight or artificial light. If you choose to place your plants by the window, be careful of especially hot days or cold nights, both of which are dangerous for pepper plants.

Plants need time to adjust to the outdoors before being planted. Gradually give them time to warm up by placing them outside on a warm shaded day, then work up to more sun, wind, and cooler temperatures. Then leave them out overnight.

Permanently place or plant outside after the final spring frost of the season. Since these plants grow quite large, make sure you leave plenty of space between each one to allow room for growth. Plant them 18 inches apart in rows that are 30 inches apart.

Make sure to check moisture levels throughout the day and water when necessary. Providing enough water is especially important when the plants begin producing fruit.

Sit back and enjoy watching the green and red hats sprout, turning your garden into a hat-filled wonderland and causing your neighbors to wonder what pepper you’re growing.

Fertilize throughout the season, and keep a watchful eye out for insects. Avoid excessive fertilizing, which can cause poor fruit production. Temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit will cause leaves to drop and poor fruit production.


The Mad Hatter pepper takes about 65 days to turn green and 90 days to turn red. Depending on whether your desired recipe calls for green peppers or red, you can harvest the pepper at any point during this time frame.

Note that the green peppers are nowhere near as sweet as the red peppers, so don’t get too eager during your first planting season and harvest all the green ones. I recommend harvesting some of both for a visually appealing mix.

Where to Buy

During peak pepper season, from late July through fall, you may be able to find these gems at your local grocery store. Also, check local farmer’s markets and specialty health markets.

They look similar to some hot peppers, so be 100% certain you’re buying the mild heat Mad Hatter pepper. Otherwise, you might be in for a spicy surprise.

Seeds can be purchased online on Amazon.


The Mad Hatter pepper is commonly frozen to preserve for use in soups, stir fry, omelets, and stews.

Frozen peppers can last up to a year. To freeze, begin with inspecting for bruises. Bruised peppers will not freeze well. Then wash and cut to your liking. Remember to slice Mad Hatters with special care, because their small, unusual shape can be dangerous for fingers in the way.

After slicing, prepare to be frozen by placing them in the freezer on a baking sheet for one to two hours to prevent peppers from sticking together. Then transfer them to a large freezer-safe bag.


Do you see why the Mad Hatter pepper is so incredible? Give it a try!

Would you like to learn more about peppers? Check out our peppers page to learn more about other varieties.