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Mad Hatter Pepper Guide: 9 Interesting Things to Know

Mad hatter, a hybrid variety of the medium-heat Bshop’s crown pepper, is a unique pepper with a one-of-a-kind appearance and taste.

Mad hatter peppers are mild, sweet peppers that develop from vibrant green to bright red. They have a crisp texture making them perfect for eating raw or enjoying in many dishes.

Photo of red mad hatter peppers in a bowl
Mad Hatter peppers have a very unique appearance that looks somewhat like a bishops crown. Photo by Julie Craig

Mad Hatter Pepper Facts

The Mad hatter pepper, which belongs to the capsicum baccatum species, has a unique shape that makes it easy to identify. It is a small, mild pepper that ripens to a bright red color within three months of planting.

These peppers are short and wide, with their widest point usually measuring between 2 and 3 inches (5.1 and 7.6 cms). The bottom of the pepper looks squished, giving it a shape that is often compared to a bell or a bishop’s hat.

Mad hatter pepper plants usually take around 65 days to produce green peppers, and it will take about 90 days after planting to see bright red, ripe peppers.

The Mad hatter pepper usually falls between 500 and 1,000 heat units on the Scoville heat scale, making it a relatively mild pepper, although it still packs a tiny pinch of spice.

Immature Mad hatter peppers are green, but they turn bright red as they ripen. The green peppers are much milder and less sweet than red Mad hatters, so most people wait until the pepper is fully ripe before harvesting them. 

What do Mad Hatter Peppers Taste Like?

If you like the taste of peppers, wait until you try a Mad hatter!

Mad hatter peppers taste like sweeter, more complex Bell peppers. They are crunchy and crisp and have a superbly sweet, floral, citrus flavor. Only the areas around the seeds taste mildly spicy, and even then, the pepper’s sweetness often minimizes its heat.

Mad hatter peppers have a flavor like no other, and that’s why it was selected as the 2017 All America Selections Winner in the pepper category. This hybrid plant tastes like a refined, spicier Bell pepper.

It offers a robust, full-bodied pepper flavor that fills your mouth and nose with fragrant, floral, fruity flavors, all without burning your taste buds.

Many people eat Mad hatter peppers raw because of their sweet, aromatic taste and crisp texture. So, this little pepper packs fantastic flavor into a small package!

Are Mad Hatter Peppers Hot?

Mad hatter peppers never get too spicy. They are classified as mild peppers, and they are far less intense than most other varieties of peppers.

Mad hatter peppers are mild peppers and are three to sixteen times less hot than

Jalapeño peppers, and they are even milder than Poblano peppers. The Bell pepper is closest to the Mad hatter in terms of heat.

Since Mad hatter peppers are so mild, they are a favorite among people who do not like spice. They are an excellent substitute for other, spicier peppers such as Scotch bonnets and Bishop’s crown peppers if you want the similar flavor profile without the heat.

These peppers are the perfect choice for anyone who wants to use peppers in cooking, pickling, or snacking but does not like spicy foods.

Can You Eat Mad Hatter Peppers When They Are Green?

You can eat Mad hatter peppers when they are green, but green Mad hatters usually have a crunchier, less complex taste than the more mature red peppers. Green Mad hatters don’t contain as much water or sugar as their ripe counterparts, so their flavor is less robust.

When picking green Mad hatters, you should wait until the color is a dark, red-streaked green color. This mature green color should appear within 65 to 70 days of planting your peppers. If you pick the peppers when they are light green, they will be so immature that you won’t get much taste or sweetness from them at all.

Most people recommend letting Mad hatter peppers ripen before eating them since the green ones don’t have the same sweet and complex taste as mature red Mad hatters.

That said, the green peppers have a tough, crunchy texture that lends itself well to cooking since they won’t get soggy as quickly.

So, although green Mad hatters don’t have the same intense flavor as ripe red peppers, they have a texture that can add a bit of crunch to any dish.

Do All Mad Hatter Peppers Turn Red?

Mad hatter peppers are well-known for their stunning bright red color. These peppers will become redder as you allow them to ripen.

All Mad hatter peppers turn red when they are left to fully ripen on their plants. If you pick your Mad hatter peppers while they are at the immature green phase, they will turn red within about a week of harvesting them.

Mad hatters only come in two colors: green and red. The green peppers will develop reddish-brown streaks that eventually blush into a vibrant crimson hue as they ripen.

The reddening of peppers is a sign that they are ripe and ready to eat. As a pepper brightens and gains vibrant color, it becomes more attractive to birds, who carry the pepper seeds to other places where the plant can spread and grow naturally.

So, generally, the brighter your pepper is, the better it will taste. 

How Long Does it Take for a Mad Hatter To Turn Red?

Mad hatter peppers generally turn red within 85 to 90 days, or in about three months, of planting your pepper plant. However, peppers will change color a bit earlier if kept in excellent condition and grown in warmer climates.

The three-month ripening period only applies to young pepper plants. If you start your Mad hatter pepper plant from seed, you will need to allow an extra six to eight weeks for your pepper seeds to sprout.

Mad hatter pepper plants grow fastest in warm conditions. So, to support your pepper plant’s growth, you should ensure that you only plant it outside when the weather is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius), including at night.

If you keep your pepper plant in excellent condition and protect it from the cold, you should have brilliant red peppers in a bit less than three months.

Photo of red pepper ripening on a green stem
Photo by Nogmarta

How Do You Eat a Mad Hatter Pepper?

Mad hatter peppers are fantastic peppers for eating, and they lend themselves well to many recipes!

There are many ways to eat Mad hatter peppers. You can eat them raw, add them to salads, pickle them, or use them in dishes as a fantastic seasoning ingredient or texture-rich addition.

There’s nothing like raw Mad hatter peppers, and they make a fantastic snack on their own. Because they are so sweet and flavorful, they go well with charcuterie, especially cheese. They are also excellent with dips like hummus or artichoke dip.

You can also cut them up and put them on salads to add a crunchy texture and unique flavor to your vegetable plates.

One of our favorite ways to use these peppers is to make stuffed peppers with them. We find that they taste fantastic when stuffed with cheese, especially incredibly smoky or sharp-tasting cheeses like parmesan, gouda, feta, and many others. Additionally, they’re also excellent with ricotta and mozzarella.

Another of our favorite recipes is roasted Mad hatters. All you have to do is toss the peppers in olive oil and roast them in the oven to make a fantastic tapenade-like roasted pepper topping.

When it comes to cooking, Mad hatter peppers are most commonly used in Peruvian and Bolivian dishes. In these traditional recipes, the peppers are often roasted with chicken or beef, used to make kebabs, or sauces like sweet chili sauce and salsas.

They taste fantastic when grilled with meats, used in marinades, sliced on top of pizza, chopped up in sandwiches, and so much more.

Mad hatters, with their sweet and crunchy texture, are also fantastic when pickled or jellied. Even after months in a brine, they keep their crisp crunch, so give them a try during harvest season!

Mad hatter peppers also make the perfect pepper substitute for almost any pepper, especially when cooking for people who can’t tolerate spicy food.

These peppers are some of the most versatile peppers out there. They have a sweet taste suitable for people who dislike spice, and their texture can add a flavorful crunch to any dish.

Where Can You Buy Mad Hatter Peppers?

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Mad hatter peppers are not the most common pepper variety sold at grocery stores, produce stands, or plant nurseries, so you may have to go to a specialty pepper shop or look for Mad hatter pepper seeds or plants online.

Mad hatter peppers can be challenging to find at grocery stores or plant nurseries, but can be found online. If you want to buy these peppers, you may need to purchase seeds or plants online from specialty shops or retailers and grow them yourself.

Mad hatter peppers aren’t too common, although some specialty shops may sell them. You can check out any local Peruvian or Bolivian grocers to see if they have them, but it can be difficult to find them.

For most people, the only option is to grow the pepper plants yourself. Still, when looking for seeds, try to find a reputable retailer since many people sell Bshop’s hat peppers, which are spicier than Mad hatters, under the wrong name.

If you want to start your Mad hatter pepper plant from seed, you can purchase seeds from many online retailers. If you are looking for a reputable seller on Amazon, we recommend buying seeds from David’s Garden.

You can also find pre-sown seeds and rooted pepper plant cuttings available from online specialty retailers if you want a plant that already has adult leaves and roots.

How to Store Mad Hatter Peppers

At harvest time, Mad hatter pepper plants usually produce 30 or more peppers, which can be overwhelming if you don’t know how to store them. Still, there are some tips and tricks to storing peppers that can help you keep yours fresh and delicious year-round.

When storing Mad hatter peppers, you can refrigerate them for around a week. For long-term storage, you can freeze, dehydrate, pickle, jelly your Mad hatter peppers to make them last for up to a year, until the next harvest season.

If you plan on using your peppers soon, you can refrigerate them, which will make them last for about a week after picking. To refrigerate them, store the unwashed peppers in a half-closed container or plastic bag and keep them in a crisper drawer to keep rot-causing moisture out.

If you don’t plan on using all your peppers within a week, there are many ways to make them last.

Your peppers will last up to a year in the freezer. To freeze them, you will have to remove the stems and seeds with a knife. For the best results, cut the peppers into quarters or small chunks, which will help keep them from accumulating moisture. Then, lay the peppers flat on a baking sheet and freeze them.

After they are frozen, you can transfer them into a freezer container or bag and store them for up to a year.

If you want to pickle your peppers, they will last for two to three months before they get soggy. To pickle them, put them in a brine with any other peppers, some garlic, and a 1:1 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. Add a tablespoon of salt and sugar to the mix, then seal your sliced peppers in the brine for 24 hours before it’s time to chow down!

You may also choose to make pepper jelly from these sweet peppers or cook with them and freeze the food until later. One of our favorite ways to do this is to purée the peppers and seal them in a Ziploc bag. Then, flatten the bag and freeze it so that you have pepper seasoning paste on hand!

Closing Thoughts

Mad hatter peppers are definitely one-of-a-kind, with their fresh, crisp texture and mild, sweet taste. They are bright red when mature, and once they’re ripe, there are tons of things you can do with them. Feel free to get creative and try new dishes after your first harvest, such as stuffed, roasted, pickled, jellied, or puréed peppers!