What Is Aleppo Pepper—And How Do I Use It?
If you can find it, this sweet and smoky chile is worthy of a place in your spice cabinet.
Aleppo pepper is made from dried and coarsely ground Halaby chile peppers and can be used much like crushed red pepper in recipes and dishes. Named for Aleppo, a town in northern Syria, this spice is a staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. It has a smoky, sweet (almost fruity) backbone and a tanginess that makes it more of a condiment than a garnish, according to Cooking Light Test Kitchen Professional Robin Bashinsky.
Aleppo pepper is moderately spicy, ranking at about 10,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). To give you a point of comparison, jalapeño peppers can be anywhere between 2500 to 5000 SHU.
How to Buy Aleppo Pepper
Aleppo pepper is probably not at your standard grocery store, but it's readily available online from retailers such as Amazon or Penzeys. You can buy a half pound for less than $20—and unless you're feeding a 10,000-man-strong Persian army, that should last you a year or more.
If you can’t find Aleppo pepper, you can substitute a mixture of Hungarian sweet paprika and cayenne pepper. Make sure to not go overboard with the cayenne—just a small pinch should be plenty. If you don’t have either of these spices, crushed red pepper works as a substitute in a pinch.
Cooking With Aleppo Pepper
What’s the best way to cook with Aleppo pepper? Bashinsky reaches for a healthy pinch to add flavorful complexity and visual panache to simple eggs, roasted veggies, or pasta in mere seconds. One of his favorite uses for it, however, is sprinkled over a pimiento cheese sandwich.
Cooking Light Food Editor Josh Miller is a fan of Aleppo pepper’s “gentle spice and flavor like toasted sun-dried tomatoes.” Here are three delicious recipes from Miller that showcase the versatility of Aleppo pepper.
Spicy Dark Chocolate and Tahini Bark
“This treat will keep you from raising your kids’ stash of Halloween candy,” says Miller. Here, Aleppo pepper teams up with flaky sea salt to add depth and complexity to dark chocolate, peanut butter chips, and tahini.
Get the Recipe: Spicy Dark Chocolate and Tahini Bark
Aleppo-Spiced Meatball Salad
To take this hearty salad to the next level, Miller roasts the cherry tomatoes with the meatballs to concentrate their flavor.
Get the Recipe: Aleppo-Spiced Meatball Salad
Roasted Chickpea Snack Mix
Miller loves to sprinkle this fiber-filled, gluten-free snack mix over salads to give them a little spicy crunch.
Get the Recipe: Roasted Chickpea Snack Mix
Aleppo pepper can certainly enhance any number of recipes—but how long can you actually keep it in your cabinet? Read this handy guide to learn how to tell when it's time to toss out your spices.