Aleppo Pepper: A Syrian Chili
The Aleppo pepper, also known as the Halaby pepper, is named after the Syrian city of Aleppo. It is commonly used as chili flakes in Mediterranean cuisine. Big flavor.
SCOVILLE HEAT UNITS: About 10,000 SHU
About the Aleppo Pepper
The Aleppo Pepper bears the name of its place of origin – Aleppo, Syria. Aleppo pepper is used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, although it has become very popular around the world as an alternative to crushed red pepper flakes or paprika, due to its beautiful deep red color, rich fruity undertones and aromatic flavor.
There is hardly any Mediterranean cuisine that doesn’t benefit from the spicy Aleppo pepper, along with its wonderful fragrance.
The Aleppo pepper is also called the Halaby Pepper. When growing, the pods ripen to a vibrant burgundy color.
It is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family. After they mature, the pods are plucked by its farmers where they are typically semi-dried before being de-seeded and coarsely ground or crushed. Aleppo peppers are rarely used before they are turned into powder or flakes.
In Turkey, these pepper flakes are also called “pul biber”, and in Armenia, they are called “haleb biber”.
History of Aleppo Pepper
Though it may have originated from Syria, it is used widely in the United States and other parts of the world. With the violence and strife in Syria, obtaining Aleppo pepper is becoming more and more difficult.
Though it is now a common condiment, Aleppo pepper wasn’t used outside the borders of Syria, Armenia, as well as Turkey, until the end of the twentieth century.
What does it look like?
The Aleppo pepper is similar in size and shape of a jalapeño, growing two to three inches long, with a long, curved appearance, with a tip that is more narrow than a jalapeno.
As the peppers age, they mature to a deep red color. You will more likely encounter the pods dried and ground into flakes in markets, however. They are more rarely found fresh.
I have grown these pods in my own home garden and the plants were quite productive. Here is a shot of some fresh pods picked directly from my garden. You’ll notice the vibrant red color.
What does crushed Aleppo pepper taste like?
Crushed Aleppo offers moderate heat level and great flavor, with a fruitiness offering hints of sun dried tomato, with a welcomed earthiness and slight tang. You’ll also notice a touch of salt is that it is used in the traditional method of drying Aleppo pepper.
The Aleppo flavor is reminiscent of the ancho chili, though a bit saltier and oilier, with a fruity raisin-like flavor.
How Hot is the Aleppo Pepper?
Conventionally, the Aleppo pepper is about half as hot as your typical chili flakes, offering a moderate level of heat. It measures in at 10,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale. Compared to a typical jalapeno pepper which averages 5,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), that makes it about twice as hot as a jalapeno.
Cooking with Aleppo Pepper
Aleppo pepper is used mostly in crushed pepper flakes form, is slightly oily and offers a mild heat level that slowly builds. With its inherent saltiness and somewhat raisin-like flavor profile, it is used in a big variety of recipes. It is different from other ground red pepper; it doesn’t possess seeds or inner flesh.
The ground Aleppo pepper is a great substitute to ground paprika or red pepper.
Imagine using the Aleppo pepper in your delicacies; there is a great chance that you will swear off using ground red pepper. Its taste profile is out of this world and will leave you begging for more.
It is perfect for chili, pizza, sauces, pasta, any grilled meats (think kebabs) or roasted chicken, or anywhere you may normally use paprika, if you like the extra heat. However, it is not as hot as conventional crushed red chili pepper, because it is de-seeded and hotter innards removed before it is crushed.
Aleppo is also great as a colorful and tasty topping for potatoes, chicken, and even deviled eggs.
What’s a Good Substitute for Aleppo Pepper?
Use a combination of smoked paprika or sweet paprika with a pinch of cayenne pepper in place of Aleppo chili flakes. Cayenne is quite a bit hotter, but you’ll find a good balance. A mix of ancho pepper and cayenne will work as well.
Looking to Buy Aleppo Pepper? Find Aleppo Pepper Products here (affiliate link, my friends).
You can sometimes find Aleppo red chile flakes in grocery stores, though you may need to order it online. Or, grow them yourself and grind them into a powder with a food processor or food mill. Learn more about dehydrating peppers, or dehydrating peppers to make chili powders.
NOTE: This post was updated on 6/8/21 to include new information. It was originally published on 1/18/22.