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Italian Long Hot Peppers

A staple in the Philadelphia area, Italian long hot peppers are very popular as a topping in hoagies or roasted and served alone with bread. They are also stuffed and served as an appetizer. Delicious!

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What exactly are these peppers?

Italian long hot peppers are very popular in the Philadelphia area and are widely available at many produce and grocery stores. That said, it appears that they are much more difficult, if not impossible, to find outside of the area.

Know simply as “Italian long hots”, I had often wondered if the Italian long hot peppers were referred to by another name. The answer is debatable (see Substitutions below)…

Italian long hot peppers belong to the Capsicum annuum species, which is one of five major Capsicum species, and are considered to be a hybrid pepper. A hybrid pepper is one that develops when two self pollinating varieties are intentionally crossed.

Growing Italian long hots is super easy! They don’t require a lot of water, just plenty of sunshine. I bought two plants this year and they yielded about 2 dozen peppers each.

General characteristics

The Italian Long Hot Pepper is about 6 to 9 inches in length, thick walled, and the heat (ie, measured by Scoville heat unit [SHU]) varies greatly from pepper to pepper.

In fact, one of the hallmarks of the Italian long hots is that they vary greatly heat-wise from pepper to pepper. Consequently, they have been know as the “Russian roulette” of peppers because you never know how mild or spicy each pepper will be.

Many sites now list the Scoville heat index of Italian long hots from 100 to 1000. However, I have found some of the spicier long hots can be as spicy as a jalapeno pepper, which is rated as up to 8000 SHU. A much more accurate description of the Italian long hots heat index, according to one Philadelphia chef, is somewhere between a Poblano pepper (1000 to 1500 SHU) and a Jalapeno (2500 to 8000 SHU).

Other sources have rated the Scoville of an Italian long hot from 1000 to 50,000 SHU. In short, these peppers vary substantially in heat.

It has been postulated that the wide variability of range of heat associated with Italian long hot peppers may be one of the reasons that this pepper is not widely produced/available in the USA (because production plants need to be consistent).

To me, part of the allure of Italian long hots, as crazy as it might sound, is you never know what you are getting from the standpoint of heat. It’s like a surprise in every bite!

To get a better idea of heat index, see the Scoville heat unit scale shown below for selected varieties of peppers (Italian long hots not shown).


Although there are no direct substitutes for the Italian long hot peppers, consider the following varieties of Capsicum annuum species:

  • Anaheim peppers (500 to 2500 SHU)
  • Banana peppers (0 to 500 SHU)
  • Cowhorn peppers (2500 to 5000 SHU) (sold by Bonnie Plants and said to taste very similar but they are not exactly same)
  • Cubanelle peppers (1 to 1000 SHU)
  • Friggitelli (peperoncini NOT peperoncino) (100 to 500 SHU)
  • Mesilla peppers (2000 to 4000) (some say this hybrid pepper is the same pepper as the Italian long hot; they are probably different)
  • Poblano peppers (1000 to 2000 SHU)
  • Portuguese long hot peppers (5000 to 30000 SHU) (some claim this is the same as an Italian long hot; they are probably different)

Overview of cooking

Most people cook Italian long hots directly on the stove in a pan with a little olive oil and salt. Or, you can roast them in the oven with olive oil and salt for about 15 to 20 minutes (450 degrees). Pretty simple.

How to serve

These peppers are not typically skinned or seeded when roasted whole. Some serving suggestions include:

Where to buy

These peppers are widely available in the Philadelphia area.

If you are having trouble finding them (ie, you do not live in the Philly area), consider purchasing the Italian long hot seeds online.

You can also buy the peppers already cooked/jarred. Please see Mancini Italian long hots from Amazon or gourmet Italian groceries online.

More appetizer ideas…

📖 Recipe

overhead view of italian long hot roasted and set in glass bowl

Italian Long Hot Peppers

A staple in the Philadelphia area, these delicious peppers are very popular as a topping in hoagies or roasted and served alone with bread. They are also stuffed and served as an appetizer. Delicious!
5 from 20 votes
Author: Marie
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 98 kcal


  • 12 Italian long hots washed and dried
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt


To Cook in the Oven

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Place peppers on baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt.
  • Roast peppers in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until the peppers soften up.

To Cook on the Stovetop

  • Add peppers, oil, and salt to a large saute pan and heat over medium high heat.
  • Continue heating until the peppers are slightly brown. Make sure to turn peppers every minute or so to avoid burning.
  • After peppers have picked up a bit of browning, cover pan, reduce heat to medium/low, and continue cooking until peppers have softened up. (15 minutes or so)


Peppers may be stored in the refrigerator in a jar filled with olive oil for at least one week. 


Calories: 98kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 202mgPotassium: 290mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 857IUVitamin C: 129mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg
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  1. 5 stars
    My mom used to fry them in olive oil and make a sandwich with them. I do the same thing. The ones she got was really hot. When she will fry them I’ll walk in the kitchen and chock LOL.

      1. Lol ..I always know how hot they will be. If I makes them sauteed I cut them open while washing them and omg, my hands will burn like crazy! Yup they’re going to be HOT. BUT if my hands don’t burn then it means they will be medium. My hands don’t lie! Roasting them? Well, then you just don’t know so when I roast them I stuff them in a good Atlantic City Randos Roll with fried onions, eggs, cubanells and sliced provolone cheese to cut the hotness. Sometimes I make peppers, sausage , onions and eggs with roasted long hots and provolone too.

  2. I’m from Jersey and live on the coast in NC. Grew cow horn peppers this year and they taste and look like long Italian hots. I fry them in olive oil and then add a can of stewed tomatoes. Purchased At Lowe’s. Try them you won’t be disappointed.

  3. 5 stars
    Great post! I too find that they can be unpredictable – either hot or really really hot. Eating some right now with gnochi and a nice spicy tomato sauce. The peppers are plated separately. I make them on my barbeque grill in a disposable foil pan. I cut them in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Medium heat on the grill, pour in a little olive oil (I don’t care for them when they are drenched), and monitor. I find they can cook on the grille somewhat unevenly so they do need some attention and be removed before they turn burnt and crunchy. I sprinkle salt on them when they are still hot. The Publix supermarket chain carries them, and my store has them all of the time, even during this coronavirus crisis. Be well. Thanks for posting!

      1. My first exquisite taste of gnocchi was homemade by my ex-mother-in-law who came here from Calabria. She could cook my shoe and I woudl eat it. Her gnocchi has never been equaled by any restaurant in which I have dined, since they probably get it from Cysco or someone else. I promise this is not a commercial, but I used Gia Russa’s refrigerated mini-gnocchi and their Spicy Sicilian sauce for a quick and delicious meal, wonderfully paired with a side dish of Italian long hots..

      2. My uncle’s wife is Calabrian and boy oh boy she is the best cook EVER! They are known for being the best Italian cooks and when we went to Rome to see them, she put out a spread for us fit for Royalty. My Roman uncle still follows her around the kitchen like a smitten teenager after 35 years of marriage…they are so cute together.

  4. 5 stars
    I have been looking for Long hot peppers plants to grown. It is next to impossible to find them, especially here in Texas, Do you have any suggestion and point me to where I am able to purchase these plants and grown them myself. I can eat these all day with just everything – and they MUST be hot.

    1. So hard I know! I’ve seen them on Etsy I think and you may be able to get some ideas in comments from other readers….our local nursery sells them (once they reopen) but I’m not sure if they’d ship them. Email me for more info

  5. Italian long hot peppers were always available to purchase in NJ, either from the supermarket or local farms. I now live along the Eastern part of NC and these peppers are not readily available. I was unable to find anything online and I was wondering if you or anyone else would happen to know where I can order online or local farm that would ship to me.

    Much appreciated

    1. I believe there are people who sell the seeds on Etsy..I would start there. My local nursery sells the plants in the spring but I’m not sure they are in the business of shipping plants

    2. I also live in SE NC. The closest to NJ/Phila long hots I’ve found are called “Cow Horn” peppers. Plants are from “Bonnie Plants” which are sold at many stores. Grow well in southern humidity. You won’t be disappointed.

  6. 5 stars
    Great way to prepare them. Growing up they were always on the table as a side. Wonderful on italian bread with a sprinkle of grated cheese or a slice of provolone. Making them tomorrow to go along side my pasta with bolognese. I also like to add these to my sausage and broccoli rabe pasta after they are cooked. Just yummy 🙂

  7. I am so happy to have found this. I just harvested over a dozen of these beauties and am at this moment roasting them slowly with salted beef heart. I and the fur babies are getting impatient. Anyway, the seeds I have are called pepperoncini by that company. I tried these before and they sure didn’t look like pepperoncini. I did some research and discovered the peppers produced are actually Italian Long Hots. I wrote the company and two years later purchased same which are the Italan Long Hots. LOL I picked up the same packet because the seeds are hard to find and are not viabe for long here in Ecuador.

    1. They are great when slow roasted! This is about the time for me to get my plant started. Fortunately, my local nursery sells the plants. It’s a short growing season here too but the same nursery that sells the plants also sells the peppers year round, so I’m fortunate. It’s much more fn to grow your own though!

  8. 5 stars
    Hi Maria – south Philly Italian born and raised near 9th street Italian market – surprised no one mentioned serving these long hots with blue point crabs and spaghetti – such a favorite all timer- plus the aroma is spiritual – ciao Bella

    1. Spaghetti and crabs!!! My all-time favorite food! My dad would always make it but I’ve never had long hots with it! I’ll definitely try it next time…thanks so much for the suggestion 🙂

  9. am also from the Phila/SoJersey area……….love long hots. Have since moved to NC. When I ask about them…..they don’t have a clue. Started searching and have found a pepper plant very close to Philly long hots. They are called “cowhorn” peppers and are grown by Bonnie Plants. Try them, you won’t be disappointed!!!

    1. They look almost exactly like long hots! I’m going to compare if I can find a cowhorn plant locally – plently of long hots here 🙂

  10. I am looking for fresh Italian long hot peppers I can buy on line or near Seattle.

    Thank you,

  11. Over 25 years ago I ate my first Italian Long Hots while visiting a friend in Philly. Since then I’ve cooked all sorts of peppers but just like the hoagie roll, they’re not the same. I live in St Lou and wondered if you could help me with finding seeds.
    Thank you

    1. I just saw some for sale on Amazon.com of that doesn’t work, send me an email in late spring or early summer and I’d be happy to send you some seeds from my plant. I buy long hots every at the local plant nursery

  12. Mesilla peppers are a cayenne hybrid, and not the same as long hots. Long hots are 500-1000 on the Scoville scale, so much much milder than a jalapeño. Also, seeds do not contain any capsaicin, so removing the seeds does not make a proper less spicy.

    1. Hi Franklin – thanks for the information! Interesting to hear that about the seeds…as far as long hots, my info is from the local nursery here is Philadelphia suburbs. Are you in the northeast region of the US too? My hunch is that the Italian long hots are a Mesilla hybrid since they are unique to this area and they vary so much in intensity from one pepper to another. Thanks for calling attention to this!

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