Aleppo pepper is a popular Middle Eastern spice known for its fruity, slightly sweet taste with a mild heat that adds a delicious depth and complexity to grilled meats, chicken, lamb, and beef kabobs. However, finding this pepper can be challenging in some areas, leading many home cooks to search for a suitable alternative for Aleppo pepper.
Some of these are cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and pasilla chili powder. While they may not be an exact match, they can definitely add a delicious kick to your dishes and homemade sauces. We’ll then dive into some of the best substitutes for Aleppo pepper spice so you can still enjoy its delicious taste even if you don’t have it on hand.
What is Aleppo Pepper?
The Aleppo pepper has a distinctive flavor that’s characterized by a mild to moderate level of heat and a fruity, earthy taste. It’s usually dried and crushed into flakes, commonly used to add flavor and spiciness to various dishes, such as meats, vegetables, and salads.
This type of pepper is often described as having a sweet and tangy flavor with a hint of saltiness, making it a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
What Meals to Use It
Aleppo pepper is used in meat, vegetables, and soups and often as a seasoning for grilled meats, such as chicken and lamb. It can also be added to stews and casseroles for a touch of heat and flavor and sprinkled over dishes just before serving to add a pop of color and flavor. For a snack, try sprinkling it on popcorn or roasted nuts or even adding it to your pizza toppings for a spicy twist.
Best Aleppo Pepper Substitute
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon of chopped Aleppo pepper = 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
Crushed red pepper flakes are an easy-to-make spice that can add a nice touch of heat and flavor to many of your dishes. They are also a convenient and cost-effective option when you need to add some spice to your food.
They are often used to spice up everything from soups and stews to marinades for meats and vegetables. For example, you can add them to your favorite chili recipe, sprinkle them on top of grilled chicken or fish, or mix them into a creamy salad dressing. They also work well in ethnic dishes like Indian curries or Thai stir-fries.
1 teaspoon of chopped Aleppo pepper = 1 teaspoon of powdered Korean gochugaru
Korean gochugaru is a subtle spice commonly used in Korean recipes but can also be added to roasted vegetables, meat rubs, soups, and desserts. This spice is made by drying red chili peppers and crushing them into flakes, resulting in a moderate level of heat, a smoky flavor, and a slightly sweet taste.
Although gochugaru has a distinct flavor profile that may not be identical to other spices, it can be used as a substitute for Aleppo pepper in many dishes as a garnish or sprinkled on top of dishes to add some texture and flavor.
Pimiento De Padrón
1 teaspoon of chopped Aleppo pepper = 1-2 teaspoons of Pimiento De Padron
Pimiento de Padron, a mild and sweet Spanish pepper usually served as a tapa in Spain, where they are fried in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. They can also be used in other dishes, such as salads, pizzas, and pasta.
Unlike Aleppo pepper, it has a sweeter taste and less heat. However, it can still add mild heat and a subtle level of flavor to your dishes. Like with all peppers and spices, it’s best to start with a small amount and adjust according to your taste preference to get the right balance.
This pepper is great in a salad with fresh greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers. It can also be added to a pizza with mozzarella cheese and other toppings. Pimiento de Padron can even be used in a pasta dish with olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.
Pasilla Chili Powder
1 teaspoon of chopped Aleppo pepper = 1-2 teaspoons of Pasilla chili powder
Pasilla chili powder is a smokey-flavored spice made by grinding dried Pasilla chili peppers into a fine powder, resulting in a smoky flavor with moderate heat. This spice is commonly used in Mexican cuisine and found in many grocery stores and specialty shops.
While the flavor profile may differ slightly, Pasilla chili powder can still add a pleasant level of heat and smokiness to dishes. This flavor is used in chili, tacos, enchiladas, and soups, and especially as a rub for meat, poultry, and fish.
Ancho Chili Powder
1 teaspoon of chopped Aleppo pepper = 1-2 teaspoons of ancho chili powder
Ancho chili powder is another smoky flavored ingredient made from dried poblano peppers with a slightly sweet and rich smoky flavor commonly used in Mexican cuisine. It’s often added to soups, stews, and sauces to enhance their flavor.
Although ancho chili powder is a great substitute for Aleppo peppers, it does have a slightly different flavor profile. While Aleppo peppers have a fruity and acidic flavor, ancho chili powder is sweeter and has a more pronounced smoky flavor. However, by using a mix of ancho chili powder and smoked paprika, you can create a flavor that closely resembles that of Aleppo peppers.
1 teaspoon of chopped Aleppo pepper = 1/4 teaspoon of chopped cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper is a very popular replacement for Aleppo pepper, derived from dried and ground cayenne chili peppers with moderate to high heat. They are also slightly sweet and fiery, commonly used in Cajun and Creole cuisine, and readily available in grocery stores and specialty shops.
The heat level of cayenne pepper may also vary from that of Aleppo pepper. While Aleppo pepper is generally considered to have a mild heat level, cayenne pepper can be quite spicy. So you should start with a small amount and adjust the quantity according to your personal preference.
1 teaspoon of chopped Aleppo pepper = 1/2-1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
Smoked paprika is another popular spice made from dried and smoked red peppers that have been ground into a fine powder, resulting in a deep, smoky flavor with a mild level of heat. This spice is commonly used in Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine and can be found in many grocery stores and specialty shops.
Its heat level may also differ from Aleppo pepper. While Aleppo pepper has a mild heat level, smoked paprika can range from mild to moderately hot. So, starting with a small amount and adjusting as you go is your best bet.
Smoked paprika can be used in vegetables, dips, marinades, and even desserts. It can also add a smoky depth of flavor to roasted sweet potatoes, elevate the taste of hummus, give a kick to salad dressings, and even enhance the flavor of chocolate desserts.