Aleppo pepper is one of those ingredients that are just too good to be true. However, it is a wonderful thing to add to sauces, dips, soups, and meat. If you don’t like spice, or you can’t seem to find this type of pepper, you may be better off trying a substitute.
What Is Aleppo Pepper?
It carries the name of its city of origin, Aleppo in Syria, but it now grows mostly in Turkey and nearby regions. It comes from a pepper known as Halaby pepper, which is ripened, then dried, and ground into a fine powder.
If you like Syrian food, then you surely have had this pepper, but it also makes part of dishes like Muhammara dip, beans, salads, and meat stews.
Unlike what most people believe, Aleppo pepper isn’t too spicy. It is not as hot as red pepper flakes, but it is more flavorful and a bit sweet. When you need to buy this ingredient, look for deep red color, a fruity smell, and a flavor reminiscent of sun-dried tomatoes.
Since it comes from Syria, an area that is not easily accessible these days, then finding Aleppo pepper has become more and more difficult.
While not the same, you can find Aleppo-style pepper grown in the US, but you can also try for the real deal in your local Middle Eastern store or restaurants.
What Can I Replace Aleppo Pepper With?
Since it is difficult to find, you may want to include these Aleppo pepper substitutes in your grocery list for next time:
Best For Cooking, Chili, and Muhammara Dip
#1. Ancho Chili Powder
This may be the closest ingredient to Aleppo pepper, and it is the dry version of the poblano pepper. It is slightly sweet, but also smoky, which makes it great for making dishes like chili, Muhammara dip, sauces, and stews.
It is particularly famous in Mexican and Tex-Mex food, so you will certainly find it at your local Latin American food market.
Keep in mind that unlike Aleppo pepper, this option has a smokier flavor that can alter your final dish, so you may want to add a bit more sweet as well. Also, the color of ancho chili powder is darker and could alter the final look of your dish.
If you are looking for vibrancy and color, then paprika is the perfect substitute for Aleppo pepper. You can find sweet paprika and smoked paprika, both of which add their unique taste to any dish. This option works great in cooking Muhammara dip, stews, and sauces.
Like Aleppo pepper, paprika isn’t too spicy, so your dish won’t change. However, keep in mind that smoked paprika will add a bit of its smokiness to the dish and may alter the final aroma as well.
See More: Paprika Substitution
#3. Chili Powder
This option makes sense since it contains chili flakes, but it is also a bit spicier. Use chili powder especially when you make chili, meat stews, or dips. Keep in mind that chili powder also has a smoked flavor, so you may want to counterbalance with something sweet.
Some brands of chili powder contain more cayenne pepper than others, so you may want to taste before you add it. This mix also contains cumin, oregano, garlic, and other spices, so the flavor can vary.
See More: Chili Powder Alternatives
Best For Chicken, Lamb, and Eggs
#4. Tomato Sauce and Red Pepper Flakes
When you want a bit of color and a kick of spice, this mix of red pepper flakes and tomato sauce is perfect.
You can use about one tablespoon of tomato sauce with one teaspoon of red pepper flakes or less, depending on how much heat you want. Since you are adding more liquid, you may want to alter the other liquids in the recipe.
Use this mixture when you prepare meat stews, like chicken and lamb, or in dishes with eggs. If you prefer it, you can crush the red pepper flakes and blend everything to make it into a smooth sauce or puree.
See More: Tomato Sauce Replacements
This Korean seasoning is a good substitute for Aleppo pepper when you want the color, sweetness, and a hint of heat. Gochugaru goes well in dishes that contain chicken, eggs, vegetables, and pickled foods. You can find this spice in any Korean food market or Asian store.
You should be aware that gochugaru is a bit smoky too, so it may alter the rest of the flavors in your dish. If you like, you can mix a bit of tomato sauce or paste to dissipate the heat.
#6. Chile de Arbol
Chile de Arbol is a small but very powerful Mexican chili pepper. As you can imagine, the flavor is full of heat and a bit of acid. Keep in mind that this choice is much spicier than Aleppo pepper, so you may want to use dry and ground Chile de Arbol that is also mixed with something sweet.
Use Chile de Arbol when you prepare chicken, lamb, dips, and other sauces. You may be able to find this choice when you go to Mexican or Latin American food markets.
#7. Pimenton de la Vera
This choice is also known as Spanish smoked, sweet paprika, so it makes sense to use it in place of Aleppo pepper.
Pimenton de la Vera is very popular in Mediterranean cooking, especially seafood, chicken, lamb, potatoes, and stews. While it may seem similar to regular paprika, this choice is a bit sweeter and more intense, making your dish more complex.
You may be able to find Pimenton de la Vera in any Mediterranean restaurant or food market, but since it is rarer, it may be more expensive. To save money, you can mix ½ teaspoon of regular paprika with ½ teaspoon of pimenton de la vera.
Aleppo pepper is moderately spicy, with a measure of about 10,000 on the Scoville scale. It has fruit undertones and a bit of citrus, similar to cumin. Usually, this type of pepper also has a hint of oil and salt.
Yes, Aleppo pepper can also be called pul biber, Halaby pepper, or Turkish red pepper flakes. It is originally from Turkey and Syria, but it is becoming increasingly popular elsewhere.
You can use Aleppo peppers in many ways, including as a rub on chicken, fish, and meat, in marinades, on vegetables, and mixed in with any oil. If you truly want the flavors of Aleppo peppers, add them during the middle of the cooking process.
While not everyone can buy and use Aleppo style pepper, once you do, you want to keep cooking with it. However, it is expensive and hard to find, so you may want to use any of these 7 substitutes. Remember that these all have varying degrees of heat and flavor, so you should always try them before you use them.
*image by depositphotos.com/bhofack2