Everything You Wanted To Know About Lemon Drop Pepper

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the Lemon Drop Pepper! This unique pepper, Aji Limon, is popular in South American cuisine. Its distinctive shape and bright yellow color make it easy to spot in any dish. But there’s more to this pepper than its appearance – it packs quite a punch, with its heat level ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units. In this guide, we will explore the history and origins of the Lemon Drop Pepper, its cultivation and culinary uses, and some interesting facts about this fiery pepper. So, let’s dive in! 

What is Lemon Drop Pepper?  

Lemon Drop Pepper, also known as Aji Limon, is a medium-sized chili pepper that belongs to the species Capsicum baccatum. It is native to the Andean region of South America, particularly Peru and Bolivia. The name “Lemon Drop” comes from its distinct lemon-like flavor and aroma. This unique pepper has a thin skin and an elongated shape, sometimes resembling a lemon. It starts as green in color and turns bright yellow when ripe. 

The Lemon Drop Pepper is known for its high heat level, similar to the popular Habanero pepper. However, it has a more fruity and citrusy flavor than the Habanero floral notes. This makes it popular for adding a spicy kick to dishes without overpowering the other flavors. It is also commonly used in hot sauces, marinades, and salsas.

Harvested Lemon Drop pepper

History and Origins of Lemon Drop Pepper

The Lemon Drop pepper is a popular chili pepper known for its bright color and intense flavor. It is sometimes called the “Aji Limon” or “Hot Lemon” pepper. While it may seem like a relatively new addition to the world of peppers, its history can be traced back centuries.

Originating in Peru, the Aji Limon pepper has been a staple in Peruvian cuisine for hundreds of years. It is believed to have been cultivated by the Incas, who used it in their traditional dishes and as a natural remedy for various ailments.

As time passed, the Aji Limon pepper spread beyond Peru and became popular in other countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia. In the late 20th century, it made its way to the United States, gaining popularity among chefs and chili pepper enthusiasts.

In recent years, the Lemon Drop pepper has gained even more recognition, with its appearance in food competitions and inclusion on lists of hottest peppers worldwide. Its popularity has also led to various hybrid varieties, such as the “Lemon Spice” pepper, a cross between the Aji Limon and Habanero peppers.

Characteristics of Lemon Drop Pepper

Here are some notable characteristics of this unique pepper:


  • The Lemon Drop Pepper typically grows to about 2-3 inches long and has a thin skin.
  • When fully ripe, it turns from light green to bright yellow.
  • It is similar to other chili peppers, long and slender with a pointed tip.


  • As the name suggests, the Lemon Drop Pepper has a distinctly citrusy, tangy, and slightly sweet flavor.
  • Despite its small size, this pepper packs quite a punch in terms of heat, ranging from 30,000-50,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
  • It is often described as having a fruity and floral taste with hints of lime and grapefruit.

Heat Level 

  • The heat level of the Lemon Drop Pepper is similar to that of a cayenne pepper.
  • It is considered to be on the upper end of the medium heat scale, making it suitable for those who enjoy a bit of spice in their food. 
  • The heat of this pepper is concentrated in the seeds and ribs, so removing them can reduce its spiciness.

Seasonality and Availability Throughout the Year of Lemon Drop Pepper

The Lemon Drop Pepper is a warm-season crop that thrives in hot and sunny climates. It is typically harvested between late summer and early fall, with peak season varying depending on location. In the United States, it is usually available from July to October.

Due to its growing popularity, the Lemon Drop Pepper can now be found in many farmers’ markets and specialty grocery stores throughout the year. However, its availability may still be limited to certain regions and seasons due to its specific growing requirements.

In countries like Peru and Chile, where it originated from, the Lemon Drop Pepper is a staple in their cuisine and is available year-round. As it continues to gain popularity worldwide, many farmers have started cultivating this pepper in greenhouses or using hydroponic methods, making it available throughout the year.

Growing Conditions Required for Lemon Drop Pepper

There are several key factors to consider regarding the growing conditions for lemon drop peppers. These include soil, sunlight, water, temperature, and nutrients.


Lemon drop peppers prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. This soil type allows for proper root development and helps with nutrient absorption. Peppers are heavy feeders, so it is important to amend the soil with compost or fertilizer regularly.


Lemon drop peppers need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. They thrive in full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. A lack of sunlight can lead to stunted growth and decreased fruit production.


Peppers require consistent moisture, but not too much or too little. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause wilting and poor fruit development. It is important to water deeply and evenly, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again.


Lemon drop peppers are native to South America and prefer warm temperatures between 70-85°F (21-29°C). They are not frost tolerant, so they should be planted after the threat of frost has passed. If temperatures drop below 55°F (13°C), peppers may suffer from cold stress.


As mentioned earlier, lemon drop peppers are heavy feeders and require regular fertilization. A balanced fertilizer with equal nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is ideal for pepper plants. Supplementing with micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur is also important.

In addition to these key factors, it is also important to consider the plant’s overall health. Regular pruning and pest management are essential for promoting healthy growth and fruit production. Lemon drop peppers can be prone to pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites, so monitoring for any signs of infestation is important.

Providing the right conditions and care for your lemon drop peppers will result in a bountiful harvest of spicy and delicious peppers. Experiment with different growing techniques and companion plants to see what works best for your garden.

Preparing for Planting for Lemon Drop Pepper

This section will discuss the steps you need to take to prepare to plant your Lemon Drop Pepper. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced gardener, this guide will provide the necessary information to ensure a successful growing season.

Choosing the right location

The first step in preparing to plant your Lemon Drop Pepper is choosing the right location. This pepper plant requires full sun, so choosing a spot that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day is important. Choosing a location with well-draining soil is also important, as this plant does not thrive in waterlogged soil.

If you are planting in containers, ensure drainage holes are at the bottom and use a high-quality potting mix for best results.

Preparing the soil

Once you have chosen the perfect spot for your Lemon Drop Pepper, it’s time to prepare the soil. Start by removing any weeds or debris from the area. Then, mix a generous amount of compost or aged manure into the soil. This will provide essential nutrients for your pepper plant to thrive.

It is also recommended to test the pH level of your soil. Lemon Drop Peppers prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 5.5-6.5. If your soil is too alkaline, you can lower the pH by adding sulfur or acidic fertilizers.

Starting from seeds or transplants

Lemon Drop Peppers can be started from seeds indoors, about 8-10 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Use a seed starting mix and moisten the soil until the seedlings emerge.

If you prefer to start with transplants, purchase healthy and disease-free plants from a reputable source. It is also important to harden off your transplants before planting them in the ground or transferring them to larger containers. This will help them adjust to outdoor conditions and prevent transplant shock.


Once your soil is prepared, and your seeds or transplants are ready, it’s time to plant your Lemon Drop Peppers. If you are planting in the ground, space the plants 18-24 inches apart for proper air circulation. This will also prevent overcrowding and competition for nutrients.

If you are using containers, choose a pot at least 12 inches in diameter with good drainage. Fill the pot with a well-draining potting mix and plant your seedlings or transplants at the same depth as they were in their original container. Water thoroughly after planting and place the containers in a sunny location.

Caring for Lemon Drop Pepper

 Caring for Lemon Drop Pepper plants is as important as enjoying their flavorful fruits. Here are some tips for keeping your Lemon Drop Pepper plants healthy and happy.

Providing Adequate Watering

Lemon Drop Pepper plants prefer consistently moist soil but be careful not to overwater them. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings, and always check the moisture level before watering again. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other diseases, so striking a balance is important.

Fertilizing Regularly

Lemon Drop Pepper plants are heavy feeders, requiring regular fertilization to produce healthy, flavorful peppers. Use a balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium once a month during the growing season. Alternatively, you can use a slow-release fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season.

Pruning for Better Growth

Pruning is an important aspect of caring for Lemon Drop Pepper plants. Regularly pruning off dead or damaged leaves and branches can help stimulate new growth and prevent diseases from spreading. It’s also recommended to pinch off any flowers before the plant reaches 12 inches in height to redirect its energy toward establishing a strong root system.

Pest and Disease Control

Like all plants, Lemon Drop Peppers are susceptible to pests and diseases. Look for common garden pests such as aphids, mites, and whiteflies, which can be treated with natural insecticidal soaps or neem oil. To prevent diseases like powdery mildew and bacterial spots, keep the foliage dry by watering the base of the plant and providing adequate air circulation. 


Mulching can greatly benefit Lemon Drop Pepper plants by helping to retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth. Use a layer of organic mulch, such as shredded leaves or straw, around the base of the plant, making sure not to cover the stem. This will also add nutrients to the soil as it breaks down.

These tips and techniques can help ensure a successful and bountiful harvest of Lemon Drop Peppers. Remember always to observe your plants closely and make adjustments based on their needs. With proper care, you can enjoy these delicious peppers in your garden year after year.  

Harvesting of Lemon Drop Pepper

This section will review everything you need to know about harvesting lemon drop peppers.

When to Harvest Lemon Drop Pepper

The timing of when to harvest your lemon drop peppers is crucial as it can greatly affect the taste and heat level of the pepper. Generally, you can start harvesting your lemon drops around 80-90 days after transplanting the seedlings into your garden. However, it’s best to wait until the peppers are fully ripe before picking them.

Signs that Lemon Drop Peppers Are Ready for Harvest

  1. Color – When lemon drop peppers are ready for harvest, they turn bright yellow or golden. This indicates that they have reached their peak ripeness and are ready to be picked.
  2. Firmness – Another way to tell if your lemon drop peppers are ready for harvest is by gently squeezing them. Ripe peppers feel firm and slightly soft, while unripe ones are hard. Avoid picking any peppers that are mushy or shriveled.
  3. Size – Lemon drop peppers can range in size, typically around 2-3 inches long. When they have reached their full size and are turning yellow, it’s a good sign that they are ready to be picked.
  4. Taste – If you need clarification on whether your lemon drop peppers are ready for harvest, you can always taste one. Ripe peppers will have a strong heat level and a citrusy, fruity flavor. If the pepper tastes bitter or has no heat, it’s not yet ripe.

How to Harvest Lemon Drop Pepper?

Once you have determined that your lemon drop peppers are ready for harvest, follow these steps to ensure a successful harvest:

  1. Use sharp scissors or garden shears – Avoid pulling on the peppers as this can cause damage to the plant. Instead, use clean and sharp scissors or garden shears to cut the pepper from the stem carefully.
  2. Cut close to the stem – When cutting the peppers, cut as close to the stem as possible without damaging it. This will help prevent any potential rot or disease in the plant.
  3. Avoid touching your face – Lemon drop peppers, like many other hot peppers, contain capsaicin, which can cause a burning sensation on the skin. Avoid touching your face or any sensitive areas after harvesting to prevent irritation.
  4. Wear gloves – If you have sensitive skin or are harvesting a large amount of peppers, it may be beneficial to wear gloves to protect your hands from irritation.
  5. Harvest in the morning – It is generally best to harvest peppers when they are cooler and less likely to wilt. This will also help preserve their freshness.
  6. Rinse off peppers – Once you have harvested your peppers, it’s important to rinse them off with cold water to remove any dirt or debris that may be on them.

Storing of Lemon Drop Pepper 

When storing Lemon Drop peppers, it’s important to keep them fresh for long periods. Here are some tips on how to properly store Lemon Drop peppers:

  •  Harvesting: The best way to ensure that your Lemon Drop peppers stay fresh is by harvesting them at the right time. Please wait until the peppers are fully ripe and have turned a bright yellow color before picking them. This will guarantee maximum flavor and heat.
  • Drying: Drying is one of the most common methods to store Lemon Drop peppers. Lay the peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet or mesh tray to dry them. Please keep them in a warm and well-ventilated area for about three to four weeks until they are completely dried out.
  • Freezing: Another effective way to store Lemon Drop peppers is by freezing them. Wash and dry the peppers, then cut them into small pieces or leave them whole. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and freeze them for a few hours before transferring them to a freezer-safe container. This method allows you to use the peppers in small portions without thawing out the entire batch.
  • Pickling: Pickling is another popular method of preserving Lemon Drop peppers. The process involves submerging the peppers in vinegar, water, and salt. The pickled peppers can last for several months when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Canning: Canning is another great way to store Lemon Drop peppers for long periods. You will need jars with tight lids and a pressure canner to can the peppers. After washing and cutting the peppers, please place them in the jars and add a brine solution of water, vinegar, and salt. Process the jars in a pressure canner according to instructions.

Proper storage is key to ensuring that your Lemon Drop peppers stay fresh for as long as possible. Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. They can also be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or frozen longer.

Uses of Lemon Drop Pepper

Lemon Drop peppers are known for their unique flavor and heat and their versatility in cooking. Here are a few ways you can use Lemon Drop peppers in your dishes:

  • Spice up your sauces: The spicy and citrusy notes of lemon drop peppers make them a great addition to marinades, dressings, and hot sauces.
  • Add a kick to your soups and stews: Adding chopped or diced Lemon Drop peppers to soups and stews can give them a spicy twist.
  • Infuse oils and vinegar: Infusing oils and vinegar with Lemon Drop peppers can add a tangy, fiery flavor to your dishes. Place whole or sliced peppers in a jar of oil or vinegar and let it sit for a few days before using.
  • Make flavored salt: Grind dried Lemon Drop peppers with salt to make a zesty seasoning for meats, vegetables, and more.
  • Create spicy rubs: Mix ground Lemon Drop peppers with other spices to create a fiery rub for meats, seafood, and vegetables.

Remember, Lemon Drop peppers are hot and pack a punch, so use them sparingly in your dishes. Start with small amounts and adjust the quantity according to your preferred heat level.


In conclusion, Lemon Drop peppers are a unique and delicious addition to any dish. From their history and origins to their uses in cooking, these peppers bring a fiery kick and citrusy flavor that is hard to find in other pepper varieties. Whether you grow or purchase them from your local market, properly store and use Lemon Drop peppers for the best results. So go ahead and give these peppers a try in your next meal, and add some spice to your life! 

Seeking some culinary excitement? Look no further than Capsicum Chinense – the pepper that brings the heat! Wondering what makes it special? Dive into our article to discover the world of Capsicum Chinense, its origins, tantalizing taste, and how it can transform your cooking game.

Mitch Baylis

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