Turkish Hot Milk With Cinnamon (Salep)

Turkish Hot Milk With Cinnamon (Salep)

The Spruce / Chelsea Ross

Prep: 0 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 12 mins
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
735 Calories
32g Fat
82g Carbs
32g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 735
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 41%
Saturated Fat 18g 91%
Cholesterol 98mg 33%
Sodium 420mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 82g 30%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 74g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 1131mg 87%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 1311mg 28%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Turkish salep (sah-LEP) is a rich, hot beverage made with hot milk and sugar that is thickened with flour made from wild orchid tubers. After the recipe instructions below, see more information on this interesting drink. 


  • 1 tablespoon flour, salep or wheat starch

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 4 cups whole milk

  • Ground cinnamon, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Turkish Hot Milk With Cinnamon (Salep) ingredients

    The Spruce / Chelsea Ross

  2. In a small saucepan, mix salep flour or wheat starch together with sugar.

    mix the salep flour and sugar in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Chelsea Ross

  3. Add milk and stir slowly until sugar dissolves.

    milk and sugar mixture cooking in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Chelsea Ross

  4. Over a low flame, stir mixture constantly at scalding temperature until very thick, about 10 minutes.

    salep cooking in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Chelsea Ross

  5. Pour salep into warm mugs and sprinkle top of each with generous amounts of cinnamon. 

    Turkish Hot Milk With Cinnamon (Salep)

    The Spruce / Chelsea Ross

All About Salep

In Turkey, the beautiful orchid grows wild in forests, meadows, and even on the roadside. It's prized not only for the flower trade but also as one of the key ingredients in salep.

Once the orchid tubers are harvested, they are washed, boiled, dried, and then pounded into a fine flour that gives the drink a unique, earthy flavor and creamy texture. 

Milk and sugar are cooked together with this flour until it becomes thick and rich. Once the hot milk is thickened, each mug is sprinkled with generous amounts of cinnamon and consumed piping hot. There's nothing better than a steaming mug of salep on a cold winter day.

Different versions of salep are common throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East, especially in countries that were once part of the Ottoman empire. Salep also became popular beyond the borders of the empire a long time before tea and coffee were the norms.

It's even said that a version of salep made with orchids native to the British Isles was served in English tea rooms during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Salep Is Prized for Its Healing Qualities

In Turkey, salep is valued not only for its delightful taste but for its health benefits. It's said to relieve chest congestion and bronchitis, be good for the heart, increase energy levels and sexual desire. It's also believed to relieve constipation.

Salep Today

Unfortunately, the popularity of this delicious drink over the centuries has led to the decline of wild orchid populations in Turkey―so much so that exporting authentic salep is now restricted.

As a result, pre-packaged versions of salep that contain other types of starch as thickeners have become popular in recent years. These packets can be mixed with hot milk or water and can be found in markets throughout the country.

Areas around the province of Kahramanmaraş in the southeastern part of Turkey are known for the cultivation of orchids for salep production. Many desserts from this region also contain salep flour like ice creams and milk desserts.

Where to Find Salep

If you're lucky enough to travel to Turkey, you may be able to purchase some authentic salep flour to take home with you. The city's historic spice bazaar is a great place to start. If you live outside of Turkey, you can also try Turkish, Greek, and Middle Eastern markets or on websites that sell Turkish ingredients.

The ready, prepackaged versions of salep drink mix will be easier to find. Similar to packets of hot chocolate, simply mix the powder with hot milk or water.

If you can't find authentic 'salep' flour, you can substitute with wheat starch.