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All About the Burning Peter Pepper

Peter and pepper aren’t only fun to say together because they’re an alliteration that reminds you of the tongue twister. For decades, the Peter pepper has been the talk at dinner tables, especially near Louisiana.

If you’re thinking about bringing this fun pepper to your home garden, I’ll tell you all about it first.

Peter pepper on a table

History of the Peter Pepper

A Peter pepper is considered to be an extremely rare nightshade. Its name was inspired by its provocative shape.

Although the pepper’s origins are unknown, it became popular because of journalist Frank Tolbert. While working for the Dallas Morning News, he discovered that one of his favorite peppers had an unusual shape. He used it to make what he believed was the best chili in all of Texas.

Today, these peppers are predominately grown in East Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico.


Peter pepper


Its comical cone shape is what distinguishes the Peter pepper from all the rest. Many pepper enthusiasts swear it shares an oddly similar resemblance to an uncircumcised male member.

Taste and Texture

The pepper’s taste is similar to a jalapeno pepper. It has a vegetal taste, though it can be hotter and juicier than a jalapeno. It can reach up to 30,000 SHU, which is six times hotter than most jalapeno peppers. Its heat level is similar to a serrano pepper.

Its flavor heightens and sweetens when roasted.

The pod is wrinkled and has a cleft tip. Its skin is glossy, waxy, and firm. The texture under the skin is semi-thick, crisp, and watery. Enclosed is a chamber with round, flat, cream-colored seeds.


It grows around 3-4 inches long and averages 1-1.5 inches wide. They were once considered ornamental, but they have become popular in cooking in recent years.

An unripe pepper is green; then it ripens to orange, yellow, or red. The red peppers are the hottest!

Using the Peter Pepper at Home

peter pepper in hand

Why You Should Use the Peter Pepper

Adding this pepper to a recipe or using it as an ornament is always a great conversation starter.

Growing them in your home garden is also a great way to form a conversation with your neighbors.

Jokes aside, they’re great at spicing up a variety of dishes and can replace jalapenos and serrano peppers in recipes.

Health Benefits

Peter peppers contain exceptional vitamins A and C. These antioxidants help strengthen the immune system and restore damaged skin.

They also contain capsaicin, which is a chemical that triggers the brain to feel a hot or spicy sensation.

Capsaicin also contains antioxidant properties and has been shown to help with inflammation. People who suffer from inflammatory diseases like psoriasis, diabetes mellitus, IBD, and arthritis may improve their condition by consuming capsaicin.

How to Grow and Harvest

Fortunately, planting the Peter pepper isn’t too different from planting other hot peppers.

It takes 100 days for it to reach maturity. Start planting the seeds in containers 8-10 weeks before the last frost to get a head start. Seeds can be dipped in diluted hydrogen peroxide before planting if your soil is prone to mold growth.

After the seedlings have sprouted, leave the peppers in small containers until a few sets of leaves have formed. You can then move the peppers to large containers or your outdoor garden.

If you’re moving the plants outdoors, strengthen seedlings by exposing them only to screened sunlight for one to two weeks. Thin the plants to three to four feet. Rows should be six to ten feet.

From this point on, your pepper plant needs plenty of sunlight to grow.

The plant should go to be about three feet tall and two feet wide.

Harvest after it starts to take on its phallic shape and ripens to orange, yellow, or red.

Where to Buy Seeds

Lafayette, Louisiana, is home to the only commercial Peter pepper chile farmer. Papa Jeabert’s is a spice company that uses this pepper in their cajun seasoning called Spice de Terre. The company also pickles them in a jar called Nature’s Family Jewels.

You will not find them fresh in traditional grocery stores, but you can keep an eye out for this rare pepper at your local farmer’s markets.

Seeds and powders can be purchased online.

When is the Peter Pepper in Season?

They are in season from late summer through fall.


Peter Pepper Poppers

Peter Pepper Hot Sauce

Try them in your favorite chili, salsa, and marinade. Peter peppers are versatile and can be used to complement many recipes you already use and love.

Turning the Peter Pepper into Powder

Turning the pepper into a powder is one of the most popular ways to preserve it.

Dehydrating this pepper is no different than dehydrating other peppers. Wash and dry your peppers, then cut up the fresh peppers. If they show signs of rotting, don’t use them.

Put on gloves, then remove the stems. Slice the larger peppers into rings and the smaller ones in half. You do have the option to keep them whole, but it will take much longer to dehydrate.

Place them on the trays of a dehydrator and spread them evenly. Turn the dehydrator to 135-140 degrees.

After the peppers are dried, grind them with a spice grinder until they are a fine powder.

Store in baggies or containers, and keep them in the dark place like a pantry for optimal freshness.


Peter peppers were ornamental for giggles before they were used in cooking. Bright red peppers shine beautifully for the holiday season.

You can even turn them into ornaments for your Christmas tree.

Gather an odd number of peppers by their stems, and cut 12 inches of embroidery floss. Tie the stems together with the embroidery floss. Make a loop with the remaining floss that will be large enough to hang on a tree branch tip and tie it tightly.

Cover the floss securing the stems with a raffia strand and make a secure knot in the front. Tie in a few corn husks, then snip their ends so they are about two to three inches from the knot. Finally, sew the knot that holds the corn husks to the ornament.

Enjoy Your Peter Peppers Today!

Whether you’re planning on adding Peter peppers to your cooking or adding them to your Christmas tree, you’re sure to enjoy your newfound knowledge of this rare pepper.

Want to learn more about pepper plants? Check our Peppers page for all about assorted varieties, uses, and more!