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Urfa Biber (Isot Pepper) Spice Guide

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What is Urfa Biber?

Urfa Biber (also known as Isot Pepper) is a crushed dried chili pepper. The spice gets its name from the region in Turkey it's grown in (Urfa) and the Turkish word for pepper (Biber). 

It's typically described as having chocolate, raisin, and coffee flavors (smoky, sour, and sweet all in one). It has a little bit of heat as well. 

Urfa is a red pepper that turns a dark red on the vine. The peppers are sun-dried and go through a sweating process, where they are wrapped tightly at night, which helps preserve the moisture. This process darkens the skin. The pepper flakes range from deep purple to black. 

urfa biber spice in a small bowl
How to use Urfa Biber and recipes with Urfa Biber

Urfa Biber Recipes

Urfa Biber is used in many Turkish and Kurdish recipes. It's great in eggplant and lamb dishes, but it works with just about any meat, in eggs, and in pasta sauces. Here's a bunch of delicious recipes that use Urfa Biber:

Eggplant with Urfa Biber Yogurt Recipe from Serious Eats

Turkish Style Poached Eggs with Urfa Biber from Wild Greens & Sardines

Turkey Kebabs with Urfa Pepper from New York Times Cooking

Grilled Cheese with Urfa Biber Chili from MJ's Kitchen

Venison Chops with Urfa Biber Blackberry Coulis from The Spice House

Chicken Schwarma with Tahini Yogurt from A kitchen in Istanbul

Egg Salad Recipe from David Lebovitz

Urfa Biber Brownies from Taste

Turkish Feta Walnut Dip with Urfa Biber Chili from Woodland Foods

Urfa Biber Garlic Infused Oil from A Brown Table

How to Use Urfa Biber?

Urfa biber is delicious sprinkled on vegetables, eggs, salads, and meat. You can also blend it with cumin, onion powder, cardamom or ginger for a great spice blend to use in soups and rubs for meat.

It’s got a nice amount of heat as well as a smoky sour flavor that adds dimension to a dish.

Where to Buy Urfa Biber

Urfa Biber is often carried in Middle Eastern grocery stores. We use and love the urfa biber from The Spice House

What’s a Good Substitute for Urfa Biber?

Urfa biber can be substituted for other kinds of chili flakes, cayenne powder, or chipotle powder.

What’s the difference between Urfa Biber and Aleppo Pepper?

Aleppo pepper is a Syrian pepper flake that’s bright red and has a moderate amount of heat. Urfa Biber (isot pepper) is a Turkish pepper that’s darker red and has deeper, smokier heat.

More Spice Guides

Love spices and spice blends? Check out some of our other favorite spices.