Aleppo pepper is a versatile Middle Eastern spice that adds subtle heat and a complex, earthy flavor to dishes.
However, it can be difficult to find in regular grocery stores in the US and Europe. If you don't have access to Aleppo pepper or run out while cooking, several handy substitutes can mimic its unique taste and moderate spiciness.
Best Aleppo Pepper Substitutes
When you need a substitute for Aleppo pepper flakes, turn to spices and pepper blends in your pantry that provide similar flavors.
Here are the top options for replicating the complex Aleppo taste:
1. Sweet Paprika + Cayenne
A blend of sweet paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper makes an excellent Aleppo pepper substitute.
Sweet paprika mimics the fruitiness, herbaceous notes, and smokiness in Aleppo pepper without much heat. Then a bit of cayenne replicates Aleppo's moderate spiciness.
Pro tip: For an even closer match, add a pinch of salt to mimic the savory edge of Aleppo pepper.
2. Hot Paprika or Smoked Paprika
If you have hot paprika or smoked paprika on hand, either provides enough complexity to substitute for Aleppo pepper.
Hot paprika contains spicy chilies, so it has intrinsic heat along with sweet red pepper flavor.
Use hot or smoked paprika in a 1:1 ratio in place of Aleppo pepper in recipes.
Pro tip: Since paprika lacks the saltiness of Aleppo pepper, add a small pinch of salt when using it as a sub.
3. Harissa Powder or Paste
Harissa is a red chili pepper blend that originated in North Africa but features heavily across the Mediterranean and Middle East. With its mild heat, this spice mix makes an excellent Aleppo pepper substitute.
Harissa paste has a similar blend of spices and chilies but with the addition of olive oil. Use about 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon of the wet paste to replace 1 teaspoon of dry Aleppo pepper flakes.
4. Ancho Chile Powder
Ancho chile powder is made from the dried version of poblano peppers. Its flavor profile is similar to Aleppo pepper - subtly smoky with mild heat and a hint of raisin-like sweetness.
Pro tip: Add a small pinch of salt to replicate the savoriness of Aleppo pepper.
5. Turkish Urfa, Marash or Antep Peppers
Urfa, Marash and Antep are all Turkish chile peppers similar to Aleppo but with their own unique flavors. Of the three, Marash makes the closest sub for Aleppo's taste profile.
Urfa biber has an intensely earthy, smoky flavor and deep red color but brings more heat. Use 3⁄4 as much urfa pepper as you would Aleppo.
Marash pepper is also quite smoky but closer in spice level to Alepppo. Replace Aleppo with marash in a 1:1 ratio.
Antep pepper is milder and fruitier. Use a bit more antep to substitute for Aleppo pepper's heat.
These Turkish pepper flakes can be hard to source. But they make great substitutions if you can find them at specialty grocers.
Pro tip: Add a pinch of salt when using these substitutes to balance the savoriness of Aleppo.
6. Ground Korean Gochugaru
Gochugaru are Korean sun-dried chile flakes with a similar coarse, flaky texture to Aleppo pepper. They range from mild to fiery hot.
Mild gochugaru makes the ideal substitute with its fruity, subtly smoky flavor comparable to Aleppo. Use it in equal amounts to the Aleppo pepper called for in any recipe.
If you only have hot gochugaru, use about half as much and be prepared for extra spice.
7. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
A less ideal but handy substitute is crushed red pepper flakes. You likely have this basic chili pepper mix in your pantry.
Red pepper flakes lack the complexity and savoriness of Aleppo pepper. But they can provide substitute heat and a hint of fruitiness. Use about half the amount of red pepper flakes to replace Aleppo pepper.
Pro tip: For a closer match, create your own blend by combining 3 parts red pepper flakes with 1 part sweet paprika and a pinch of salt.
8. Chili Powder
Chili powder is another standard pantry item that makes an easy, if imperfect, Aleppo pepper substitute. The heat will be similar, but chili powder doesn't have the sweet fruitiness of Aleppo pepper.
When using chili powder in place of Aleppo pepper, start with about 3⁄4 of the amount called for and adjust to taste. Add a pinch of salt to balance the flavors.
Pro tip: For best results, use a chili powder with minimal added seasonings, or the flavors won't align with Aleppo's taste.
How to Substitute Aleppo Pepper in Recipes
Aleppo pepper works well in many dishes thanks to its versatility. Here are some of the most common uses for Aleppo pepper, along with the best subs to use:
Marinades and rubs: Blend Aleppo pepper with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs for a perfect marinade base or dry rub. Substitute with urfa, Marash or Antep peppers, harissa powder or ancho chili powder.
Roasting vegetables: Lightly coat sliced veggies with oil and Aleppo pepper before roasting. Substitute with any of the pepper options or paprika.
Salad toppings: Aleppo pepper adds the perfect pop of flavor and color when sprinkled on finished salads. Substitute with red pepper flakes, harissa powder or paprika.
Eggs: Aleppo pepper beautifully seasons poached or fried eggs. Substitute with urfa pepper, harissa or hot paprika.
Baked fish: Coat fish fillets with oil and Aleppo pepper before baking for a flavorful crust. Substitute with dry harissa rub, ancho powder or hot paprika.
Yogurt sauce: Whisk Aleppo pepper into plain yogurt with lemon and garlic for an easy sauce. Substitute with Marash pepper, harissa paste or ground gochugaru.
Hummus: Sprinkle Aleppos on topped hummus for flavor and crunch. Substitute with any ground Turkish pepper, paprika or harissa powder.
Pasta: Toss pasta with olive oil, Aleppo pepper, parsley and Parmesan. Substitute with red pepper flakes, any ground Turkish pepper or harissa paste.
With all substitutions, start with 3⁄4 of the Aleppo measurement and adjust to taste to match the heat level you want.
Is Aleppo pepper the same as paprika?
No, Aleppo pepper flakes are not the same as paprika. But sweet paprika makes a good substitute because it has a similar fruity flavor without the heat. Cayenne or red pepper then adds the spice element.
Can I just use crushed red pepper instead of Aleppo?
Crushed red pepper will provide heat, but it lacks the complex flavor of Aleppo pepper. For best results, use a blend of 3 parts crushed red pepper, 1 part sweet paprika and a pinch of salt to better mimic Aleppo's taste.
Is Aleppo pepper very spicy?
No, Aleppo pepper is moderately spicy. It ranks around 10,000 SHU, which is hotter than a jalapeño but much milder than cayenne. The pepper also has a very flavorful fruitiness.
What's a quick Aleppo pepper substitute for this recipe?
For a fast, easy sub, use hot paprika or smoked paprika in a 1:1 ratio. The paprikas mimic the flavor well and contribute some heat. Or use chili powder in a 3⁄4 to 1 ratio.
Aleppo pepper delivers a unique combination of gentle heat, tangy fruitiness and savory depth of flavor. With its growing popularity in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, this singular spice can be tricky to find when you need it.
Thankfully, several handy pantry items like sweet paprika, ancho powder, harissa and dried Turkish peppers make excellent Aleppo pepper substitutes. With their balanced heat and complex tastes, they can mimic the Aleppo experience in your cooking.