Learn When To Pick Serrano Peppers – The Ultimate Guide

One great way to add a little spice to your garden, and your palette, is to get planting some delicious peppers. Once ready, they can be used for a whole variety of things; salsa, pico de gallo, and sauces. 

And when it comes to increasing the heat, nothing does it quite as well as the Serrano pepper. Did you know that it is five times spicier than the jalapeno pepper?

Learn When To Pick Serrano Peppers - The Ultimate Guide

Yep, you might want to ensure you’ve got gloves on when it comes to picking these bad boys. One accidentally broken pepper followed by a quick rub to the eye and you’ll know about it…trust me, I’ve been there. 

Speaking of picking peppers, knowing when it’s actually time to do so can be pretty tricky.

That’s why I thought this guide would probably come in handy, as you read on expect to learn all the tips and tricks of the pepper-picking trade until you’re so good that you’ll put Peter Piper, who picks his pickled peppers, to shame with your expertise! 

How To Know When Serrano Peppers Are Ready For Picking

So, how do you know when a pepper is ready to be picked? Generally, you can start picking them once they’re ripe enough to eat.

Which is easier said than done. Tons of fruits and veggies, several peppers included, often change color once they’re ripe. For example the cayenne pepper changes from red to green. 

Serrano peppers go through something similar. They will turn red when they’re fully ripe, but they are often picked before then.

You may notice that if you purchase these peppers from the store, they are almost always still green, meaning knowing when to pick them based on color can be a little complex.  

With that being said, though, there are still a few telltale signs that your pepper is ready to be picked.

Typically, once they reach the 70-85 day mark they’re good to go, and you can also refer to the planting guide of any seedling purchased.

However, there are a few things to keep an eye out for that will let you know that it’s picking time. Let’s take a look at these now. 


Color can help you decide whether you’re ready to pick your peppers. As I mentioned before, not everyone will wait for these peppers to be completely ripe and turn red before they pick them. Some will. 

You’ll find that those that can hack some serious heat will leave them to turn red. Let the color be its warning signal – they are hot-hot at this stage.

Those, like me, who can’t quite bear the intense heat will pick them when they’re still green and not quite as spicy. 

Another thing to look out for is brown lines. Brown lines on your fruits are one of the best indicators that you can start picking away at your peppers. 


If you take a look at your peppers, you can usually gauge whether they’re ready to be picked or not by their size. A pepper that is anywhere between 2 and 4 inches long is all good to go. 

At what length you decide to pick them will be a matter of personal preference. You see, a smaller pepper will be a whole lot spicier whereas the longer ones will have a slightly-milder flavor. 

But whether you want to just tingle your taste buds or scorch them completely is down to you. I tend to pick mine around the 4-inch mark. But that’s just because I can’t handle the heat. 


Another great way to check if your peppers are good to go is to do a thickness check of the skin and walls of the pepper.

Place one pepper between your thumb and index finger and squeeze slightly, if it feels weak and thin, then they can probably do with a few more days, if not, you can get picking. 

Please, please, remember to wear gloves as you do this test. Squeezing a pepper could easily break it and you don’t want that spiciness on your fingers, I promise you that. 

They Come Off The Plant With Ease 

When a pepper is ready to be picked, it’ll basically help you with the process. So, give the stem a slight pull upwards.

If it comes away with ease, then you’ve got the all-clear to get picking. If there’s a fair amount of resistance, then you’ll need to be pepper-picking-patient and wait a couple more days. 

This is actually a really handy trick to use to know when your peppers are ready, especially if you like them green and are struggling to tell the difference between a still-ripening or mature green Serrano pepper. 

Learn When To Pick Serrano Peppers - The Ultimate Guide

When To Pick Your Serrano Peppers 

Peppers are very particular and almost peculiar when it comes to picking them. Did you know that the time of day that you pick your pepper can impact its flavor too? Well, now you do. 

One of the best times for pepper picking (see also: Best Time To Pick Banana Peppers From The Garden)is late morning, just before midday. This is when all the dew will have dried.

Pick them before then and it’ll impact the flavor of the pepper, but leave it much later and the flavor will be affected by the afternoon heat. 

Green Vs Red Serrano Peppers

You may be wondering if you should pick your peppers when they are green or wait until they turn red. Well, there is no right or wrong answer.

As I mentioned above, picking them when green will allow for a milder flavor whereas waiting for them to turn red will turn the heat up a notch. It’s all about what kind of pepper you’d prefer to eat. 

Fun Fact – Red Serrano peppers actually tend to be a lot sweeter than green ones but our brain perceives that sweetness as them being much hotter. 

How To Harvest Serrano Peppers

This should be music to your ears – harvesting Serrano peppers is a pretty easy job. The only thing that you need to be cautious of is not hurting the plant while doing so. 

As we’ve already learned, these peppers are very easy to pull straight off the plant when they’re ready to be harvested.

They’ll basically do half of the work for you. All you need to do is handle the stem and then pull upwards and you should find that the stem will come apart from the plant. 

Sometimes though, they may be a little harder to pull. For example, they can be more difficult to harvest while they are still green. In this instance, you can always use pruning shears to cut them at the stem. 

How Many Peppers Will You Pick Per Plant? 

Obviously, there is no exact number of peppers. But you can typically expect to produce around 50 peppers that can weigh upwards of 2.5 pounds. And that is a lot of Serrano peppers. 

And when they are grown in the perfect conditions and given all the right things, you can produce even more than that! 

How To Use Serrano Peppers

I mean, really, you can use them any which way you’d like to. There’s no end to the sauces you can make, the salsas, pico de gallo, you can even make jams.

You can chop them up and put them on pizza. You can add a few to a salad to give it a fiery kick. It’s really up to you. 

My advice when it comes to salsas and pico de gallo would be to use your peppers sparingly.

A little goes a long way, you don’t really need more than one for a milder option and certainly no more than two for a blow-your-head-off-hot one. 

Also if you follow a recipe and decide to substitute your jalapeno pepper for a Serrano pepper please keep in mind that they have very different Scoville Heat Units.

Jalapenos tend to be anywhere between 2,500-10,000 SHU whereas Serrano peppers are around 10,000 – 25,000 SHU.

So they’re a fair bit spicier, you may want to consider this when you decide how much to use. 

Final Thoughts

And there you have it. You now know everything there is to know about Serrano peppers and you should be ready to go out and pick them like a pro. 

The only question now is how hot will you want your peppers to be? 

Amelia Haslehurt
Scroll to Top