Urfa biber is a Turkish spice that has become increasingly popular around the world. It is made from a specific type of chilli pepper grown in the Urfa region of Turkey. Urfa biber has a distinct smoky, earthy flavour with a touch of sweetness. It is commonly used in Turkish cuisine but has now found its way into various dishes worldwide.

Spice Description

Urfa biber is made from a specific type of chilli pepper that is dark red and has a wrinkled appearance. It is similar in size and shape to the Aleppo pepper but has a unique flavour. The spice is produced by drying the chilli peppers under the sun and then smoking them for several days. The smoking process gives the spice its smoky flavour and dark colour. The final product is ground into a fine powder and used in cooking.

Hotness Scale

Urfa biber is considered a mild to medium spice, with a heat level between 3 and 7 on the Scoville scale. The Scoville scale is a measure of the spiciness of chili peppers, ranging from 0 (no heat) to over 2 million (extremely hot). Urfa biber’s heat level is comparable to the Ancho pepper, which has a Scoville rating of 1,000 to 1,500.

How it is Used in Cooking

Urfa biber is a versatile spice used in many dishes, including meat dishes, stews, soups, and salads. It can be used as a rub for meat or added to marinades to add flavour. The spice is also used to add depth and complexity to sauces and dips. One popular dish that uses Urfa biber is lahmacun, a type of Turkish pizza. It is also commonly used in kebabs and other grilled meats.

Urfa biber pairs well with garlic, onion, cumin, and paprika. It is often used in combination with other spices such as sumac, za’atar, and coriander to create unique and delicious flavour profiles.

Health Benefits

Urfa biber not only adds flavour to dishes but also offers various health benefits. It is high in antioxidants, which can help protect the body from oxidative stress. The spice is also a good source of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy eyesight. It has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Plant Description and Cultivation

Urfa biber peppers are grown in the Urfa region of Turkey. The plants are a type of Capsicum annuum, which is a species of chili pepper. The plants grow up to 60-80 cm tall and produce small, red or green peppers. The peppers are harvested when fully ripe and then dried under the sun for several days. After drying, they are smoked over wood fires for up to two weeks. The smoking process gives the peppers their unique flavour and colour.

Other Names

Urfa biber is also known as isot pepper or Urfa pepper. “Isot” is the Turkish word for spice, while “Urfa” is the name of the region where it is grown. The spice is sometimes confused with Aleppo pepper, which is a similar spice from Syria.

Scientific Name

The scientific name of the plant that produces Urfa biber is Capsicum annuum. This is a species of chili pepper that is native to Central and South America but is now grown in many parts of the world.

Recipe Using Urfa Biber

Here is a delicious recipe that uses Urfa biber as a key ingredient:

Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Urfa Biber Marinade


1 1/2 pounds lamb leg or shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Urfa biber
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste


In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Urfa biber, honey, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Add the lamb cubes to the marinade and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Remove the lamb cubes from the marinade and thread them onto skewers.

Grill the lamb kebabs for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through.

Serve the grilled lamb kebabs with a side of salad, rice, or pita bread.
This recipe is perfect for a summer barbecue or any time you want to enjoy the delicious flavour of Urfa biber. The smoky, slightly sweet flavour of the spice pairs perfectly with the tender, juicy lamb.