How to Use Aleppo Pepper: Origins, Flavour, Heat & Recipes
This recently trendy pepper packs a fruity, heat-filled punch and complex flavours. We’d recommend using Aleppo Pepper in all sorts of dishes, both sweet and savoury. Because of its versatility, it might just become your go-to chili. But first, what is Aleppo Pepper exactly? What are its origins? And most importantly, what does it taste like... and how spicy is it?
The Origins of Aleppo Pepper
Named for the city in northern Syria, we think the Aleppo Pepper could become your new favourite chili. Known also as the Halaby pepper or pul biber, these chilies are now frequently grown in Turkey due to the crisis in war-torn Syria. The deep red Aleppo Pepper is allowed to ripen before it is picked, partially dried, and de-seeded. It’s then coarsely ground, seasoned with salt, and cured with oil which allows it to retain its bright colour.
Zest & Zing’s Aleppo Pepper is cured with sunflower oil. Buy it here.
Used widely in Middle Eastern cuisines, Aleppo Pepper is traditionally found in grilled meats, kebabs, beans, dips, and salads. It’s also a common table condiment for sprinkling over prepared meals.
What does it taste like? How hot is it?
The Aleppo Pepper isn’t spicy enough to be afraid of. In fact, it’s about half as hot as those everyday red chili flakes you definitely have lying around in your kitchen. But the key is that it’s so much more flavourful!
This chili has a deep complexity with a hint of tanginess and a rich aroma. Slightly fruity with a mellow Mediterranean taste and fragrance, it’s got a savoury finish quite like sun-dried tomatoes. Some compare its complexity to cumin, because the Aleppo Pepper is earthy while at the same time remaining bright, tart, and fresh.
As for its heat, the spice level is brief and intense, more like a kiss of heat than a burn that lingers too long. It’s slow-building and mild, so that makes it versatile. You can definitely handle this level of heat. Along with its nuanced flavours, it’s great for adding depth and balance to a dish.
Texture-wise, it’s similar to a finishing salt, and because it’s so mellow, you can add it to dishes just as you would a finishing salt - right before serving. After trying it, you may want a little dish of Aleppo Pepper sitting on your table just like a proper Middle Eastern restaurant!
Need to stock up? Shop our small-batch Aleppo Pepper here.
Where can you use it?
It’s seriously versatile. Use Aleppo Pepper on meats, salads, vegetables and even on desserts and fruits. We think it pairs especially well with tomato-based dishes and grilled meats. Here are a few simple ways you could use Aleppo Pepper that don’t even require recipes:
- Add it to tomato sauce for pastas.
- Sprinkle it on summer salads of melon and mint.
- Mix it with oil to marinate your roast chicken. Here’s a fancy version.
- Blend it into yogurt with chopped cucumbers and a little salt.
- Top scrambled eggs in the morning.
- Add it to salad dressings.
- Include it in an aioli for roasted asparagus.
- Toss it into the seasoning for any meat that’s bound for the grill.
- Rim cocktail glasses with it. Fruity drinks or those of the Bloody Mary variety.
- Throw it into a pickling mixture (to make Quick Aleppo Dill Pickles).
- Sprinkle it onto pizza to replace to those flavourless red chili flakes.
- Finish off your soups with it, like we did with our Butternut Squash Soup.
A Few Recipe Ideas
Of course, there are a few ways to use this Middle Eastern pepper that might not come to mind when cooking with it for the first time. Here are a few unique dishes that caught our eye:
- Try this deceptively simple Grilled Clams with Aleppo Pepper, Tumeric, and Lime Butter.
- Make your own kebabs with this recipe for Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kebabs with Aleppo Pepper.
- Replicate Middle Eastern flavours with a flatbread dip, Beef and Aubergine Fatteh
- Add it to your steak seasoning blend and an accompanying aioli, like this Flank Steak with Artichoke Potato Hash and Aleppo Pepper Aioli
- Use it in your meat rub for these Turkish Lamb Chops
Be careful with Aleppo Pepper when using it on simple vegetables. Use it sparingly so that you don’t overwhelm them, and make sure that you’ve chosen veg whose flavour can stand up to it.
- Mix it into hearty greens like kale and broccoli rabe in this recipe for Braised Greens with Aleppo Oil and Feta
- Keep things authentic with this Middle Eastern Muhammara Dip
- Spice up Roasted Broccoli and Tofu with Miso Dressing
- Make carrot salad a little fancier with these Moroccan Carrots with Aleppo Pepper and Mint
- Add complexity to a simple poached egg dish by cooking Turkish Eggs
Try it in desserts!
After you’ve gotten a feel for the flavour of the Aleppo Pepper, start experimenting in sweet foods and desserts. Its heat helps balance out rich foods like chocolate and sugar and it pairs extremely well with the also-spicy cinnamon. Try it in things like brownies, pumpkin bread, candied nuts, or cookies.
Are you convinced yet? Dying to try it? Shop Aleppo Pepper at Zest & Zing here.