What Is Aleppo Pepper?

Buying, Using, and Recipes

Aleppo pepper from Syria

With a unique salt-meets-raisin flavor, Aleppo pepper’s popularity has skyrocketed globally, and for good reason. Originating in Syria, the Aleppo pepper has long been a staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean kitchens, but the rest of the world has discovered how delicious this pepper is as an accoutrement to everything from meat braises to the perfect finishing touch on eggs, avocado toast, and grilled veggies.

Fast Facts:

  • Flavor: Moderate heat with notes of raisin, tomato, cumin, and citrus
  • Origin: Syria, Turkey, but also grown in the U.S.
  • Substitution: Ancho chile powder plus salt

What Is Aleppo Pepper?

The Aleppo pepper, also known as the Halaby chile pepper, is named after the Syrian city of Aleppo. The naturally oily pepper is de-seeded, sun-dried, and coarsely ground. It's then mixed with salt and olive oil, resulting in a bright red, earthy, moderately hot spice that can be used as a condiment of garnish in place of red chile flakes. Due to the ongoing civil war in Syria, most Aleppo pepper found in stores is grown in Turkey, and it’s also being cultivated in the United States to meet the growing demand. 

How to Cook With Aleppo Pepper

There’s no wrong way to use Aleppo pepper. It works well any dish to which you’d like to add slow-building, complex heat. It’s commonly used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine for seasoning grilled meats and kebabs; it's also key to the taste of the red pepper dip known as muhammara.

Aleppo pepper works wonders on grilled meats and veggies. Combine it with garlic powder, sugar, and spices such as turmeric and cumin for a delicious rub that will add loads of flavor to pork, steak, or chicken. Sprinkle Aleppo pepper on eggs and avocado toast. You can even use it to rim your margarita glasses in place of salt for a spicy kick. Infuse oil with Aleppo pepper to use as a finishing oil on pasta or dip for bread.

Close-up look at Aleppo pepper
Aleppo pepper on eggs
Aleppo pepper braised lamb
Aleppo pepper on shawarma

What Does It Taste Like?

Aleppo pepper is about half as spicy as red chile flakes, clocking in at about 10,000 Scoville Heat Units, with heat that builds slowly. It has a mild sweetness and tanginess with hints of raisin, citrus and tomato notes, as well as a cumin-like earthiness and a roasted flavor.

Substitutions

If you can’t find Aleppo pepper, the closest substitute would be ancho chile powder with a little salt added. You can also use paprika, cayenne or red chile pepper flakes, but the flavor will be nowhere near as complex—you’ll miss out on those sweet and tangy notes.

Aleppo Pepper Recipes

Use in place of red pepper flakes in the following recipes. Aleppo pepper will give you a much more nuanced, complex flavor.

Where to Buy Aleppo Pepper

Aleppo pepper can be found in the spice aisle at some, but not many, grocery chains. You’ll also find it at specialty or Middle Eastern grocers. It can be found online, too, but if possible, read the reviews and purchase from a seller you trust. As Aleppo pepper has grown in popularity, some third-party sellers have been pushing fake Aleppo pepper.

Storage

Keep the crushed Aleppo pepper in an airtight container, and store in the pantry away from light and heat. It should stay fresh for several months.

Nutrition and Benefits

Chile peppers, Aleppo peppers included, are known for their antioxidant properties. Capsaicin, the component of chile peppers responsible for their heat, is an anti-inflammatory with myriad benefits including boosting metabolism and lowering blood pressure. In addition, Aleppo peppers are high in vitamins A and C.